Pet Travel: Tips on Booking an Airline Ticket for You and Your Pet

Airline pet travel tips for booking tickets for you and your petMany of our pet owners fly with their pets when going on vacation or traveling to see family or loved ones. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 2012, 623 million people flew safely in the United States alone.

Whether it be the holiday season or any other time during the year, if you are interested in booking a trip with your pet in the near future, here are some tips for saving money when booking airline tickets during the holidays or any time of the year.

Book online, but always contact the airlines prior to booking your flight to verify there is room for your pet in the cabin or cargo hold of that flight. Online ticket prices will most likely always beat booking on the telephone with a reservations agent. Call back after booking to make a reservation for your pet.

Fly direct. Layover only when there is not a direct flight between your origination and destination cities. Keep layovers to 2 about 2 hours and avoid laying over in the UK and Japan if at all possible when traveling internationally to keep costs down. Do not change airlines if you are traveling with a pet. You will have to claim and re-check your pet. Changing planes is OK; changing airlines is not. It is fine to book a one way ticket to transport you and your pet to your destination and a different airline for the return trip. This can be a great way to save money on your airline tickets.

Consider alternate airports. Oftentimes, it can be easier and cheaper to fly into a nearby large airport, rent a car, and drive to a smaller city. If your pet likes riding in the car, this will certainly be more fun for your pet than landing and transferring to a smaller plane to take off again.

Book your flight about 6 weeks prior to the departure date if possible. Tickets tend to be below the average price at this time.

For impending weekend travel, book on a Tuesday around 3:00 PM EST. This is when the airlines have re-priced their seats on flights for the following weekend. Always verify on the telephone that there is room for your pet in the cabin or cargo hold prior to booking online and notify them after you make your reservations.

Fly on a Wednesday if you are traveling domestically. Business traffic is heaviest on Mondays and Fridays so fares tend to be more expensive on those days.

Take either the first flight out in the morning or the red eye at night. Ticket prices on early morning, dinner time, and red-eye flights tend to be cheaper than flights during normal daytime hours. Just be sure that, if you are flying internationally, your flight’s arrival time is during normal business hours during the week so you will not have to pay extra for a veterinarian to clear your pet.

Check Facebook and Twitter for special promotions. The airlines occasionally advertise special fares on social media. If you find one, move fast, as these bargains go quickly.

Check both large and small airline booking websites. Orbitz and Expedia are good to check, but don’t forget the smaller sites like Kayak which could have differing prices and deals on airline tickets. Also, be sure and check the airline’s website! Many airlines hold certain blocks of seats for their online booking and this can mean lower prices for you!

Fly off season. Transporting during the summer to or from hot weather cities can be challenging due to heat embargo rules. If possible, fly with your pet in the spring or autumn and avoid major holidays if possible. Baggage handlers are especially busy during holidays and time for attention to our pets and their needs may be limited. Tickets also tend to be more expensive during the holiday week due to higher demand.

Become a frequent flyer. These programs have become very popular with airline travelers and can afford significant savings. Some airlines even offer frequent flyer miles for traveling pets!

Be flexible. If you are willing and able to keep to a flexible schedule, your chances of finding inexpensive airline travel with your pet will be greater.

Airline travel can be expensive, especially if you are traveling with larger pets. These tips may help you save money next time you are booking your airline reservations.


Comments

Pet Travel: Tips on Booking an Airline Ticket for You and Your Pet — 84 Comments

  1. Victoria – certainly, the option to fly to Sacramento and fly her back in the cabin is a noble one and likely the easiest on your dog. Being a show dog, it may have experience in being in a carrier and maybe flying, so that would lessen the stress on your dog. Driving is ok as well, but you will need to verify that your dog is a good traveler in the car and is accustomed to being restrained. We would also suggest that you spend a bit of time with your dog in Sacramento if you can before setting off on any trip. The development of a bond between a pet and its owner is important before traveling with it.
    Susan

  2. Hi. I’m considering adopting a retired show dog from Esparto, California. I live in Olive Branch, Ms. Memphis International is the closest airport here. I’m a member of Pilots n Paws and have worked with local rescue groups. I have looked into numerous options of quality pet travel for this gal to have a forever home with me. I only need one-way for her and I’m open to suggestions. My first option is that I fly to Sacramento and fly back with her. She’s a miniature poodle and if we fly, I would want her in the cabin with me. Charters are out of the question (even the empty legs that I’ve researched are out of my world of reality) and my Pilots n Paws group, according to what I have read considers this a cross-country trip. Anyway, if you have some ideas, I’d be very grateful.

  3. Alanna – when you change airlines, you will need to claim your pet from the first airline and recheck it on the second airline. This will cause you to clear customs and enter the layover country. You will need to allow enough time to accomplish this and conform to their regulations. You can find requirements to enter South Africa here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/SouthAfrica.cfm and the United Arab Emirates here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/unitedarabemirates.cfm. If you stay on the same airline and the layover is not over 3 hours or so, the airlines will transit your pet through the airport and it will not need to conform to requirements. Is there no one airline that flies your entire route?
    Phil

  4. Hi there – I’d love some advice! I’ll be transporting my dog (a rescue spaniel cross) from Zimbabwe to Canada. I have looked into all regulations and the guidelines but is there anything I should know about making the trip? I am going to have to take 2 different airlines, likely transferring in Johannesburg before continuing to Dubai and then Toronto. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated! -Alanna

  5. Gene – you need to become familiar with the requirements to import your Pom to the UK. You can find them here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/UnitedKingdom.cfm. Depending on where your pet lives in Malaysia, a titer test may or may not be required. Your pet will need to travel as air cargo in the hold unless you fly to France, get a car and travel through the Chunnel on Le Shuttle.
    Jason

  6. Hi there, I would like to bring my adopted tiny pomeranian together with me travelling to UK from Malaysia. Because this is my first time bringing pet travel together with me to study. What should i apply for or prepare for my pet to travel with me? Appreciate if you could give me advise on this. Thankyou so much x

  7. Hi my name is billy I’m in Broome an have a terrier dog name beau an I want to travel to Sydney with him but I don’t know how much its going to cost me I want him to travel with me in the cabin

  8. Hello! I want to take my 3 cats from the UAE to Australia Sydney. I’ve gotten quotes which are extremely high so i want to do it myself. I have loads of information from sites but I’m a bit confused about the blood test part. Could you give me some advice please? X

  9. John – the first thing you must do is to get your pet a good crate like these the best you can find. (http://www.pettravelstore.com/pet-crates/). Then start working on getting your Rottie used to its crate. Leave the top off for a while. Reward him when he goes in it. Leave a sweaty t-shirt of yours in it so he will have your scent with him (comforting). The earlier you can do this, the better. Put the top on but leave the door open and let him go in and out as he pleases. Also, get him out of his environment as often as you can. Rides in the car are good if that is possible for you. It is all about preparation. Millions of pets travel each year and very few have problems. More tips here: http://www.pettravel.com/news_pet_travel_airline_cargo.cfm.
    Susan

  10. hi i am john i have rottiweiler male dog fixed and i want to take it to turkey back home for vacation and i have no one to takecare him my dog is a bit pain no body can walk him but me so i want to take him yes but ive seen large dogs died in the cage and stuff it scares me i want to take him in cargo and beable to sit with him in the same room or something is there possible thing like that ohh i hope there is i dont care how much its going to be thank you people please help me send me email CANERKIRIKCI@YAHOO.CA
    THANK YOU AGAIN

  11. Its so sad that many of us have to leave their pet behind or not go in a holiday just because it cost a fortune to do so. I wanted to take my chihuauah with me on a holiday they come back to me with quotes reaching £1000 to bring him back in a cargo as they dont allow pets to travel back to UK unleas they are in a cargo which the cargo agencies take advantage of and charge u huge amounts of money to make it nearly impossible to manage

  12. I would like to transport a pitbull from houston to Seattle and understand that not all airlines take a pitbull and that they need special cages.

    Could you advice what type of special cage I need and which airline will accept a pitbull.

    Helena

  13. Jennifer – if you have to change airlines along the way, you will need to claim your dogs and recheck them on the next airline. The airlines do not interline pets unless they have a very close code sharing arrangement and maybe not even then. (they want to collect the pet fees…) Anyway, in order to recheck your pets, you will need to clear customs and enter the layover country. That said, there are countries that are easier than others to enter with a pet. If you are traveling from the US or Canada, the EU would be relatively easy to conform to regulations. However the farther east you go, the more difficult it will be as the requirements become stricter in places like Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Japan. You should also be careful not to layover in a high-rabies country as this could affect entry to your final destination. If you need to see a list of countries considered high-rabies by many countries, you can find them here: http://www.pettravel.com/passports_rabies_countries.cfm
    Susan
    Phil

  14. Hi, we are a military family traveling on orders. We know we will be going overseas again but no idea of the country yet. We are trying to take our dogs this time. The rules for us are that we have to leave on a us airline most do not go all the way to the countries we could go to. If we had to change airline is that possible to do with our two dogs? Thank you Jennifer

  15. Jessica – all live animals must enter the UK as air cargo. It sounds like you are speaking with a reservations agent who is quoting you limits on animals traveling as checked baggage (which is also travel in the hold). To make reservations to transport your pets to the UK, you need to contact the cargo department of an airline approved to fly pets into the UK.
    Susan

  16. What is the best way to take 3 large cats to uk England from usa. Every airline is limited to 1 or 2 pets as cargo.are there any airlines that carries 3 pets for one passenger?

  17. Cathy – thousands of pets fly every day without incident. Have your veterinarian do a health check to be sure that your pup is healthy. Get them a good crate as early as possible and get them used to the crate. It will be their safe place when they travel. Take them out of their environment in it. Spend a lot of time doing this and it will make a difference in their stress level when they do travel. Practice often and always give lots of praise and attention.
    Susan

  18. A bit of advise please, the more I read the more confused I get!! My Weimaraner is turning 9 and is a sensitive boy! Am I taking a huge risk with his health if I fly him from Cape Town to the UK?? It sounds as if it is a very stressful business for them. He is with a friend of mine at the moment and I desperately want him here with me I am just worried that he would not fly well and be too stressed out. I am worried about his age?

  19. Elfi – try IPATA.org. You can search by country. I believe your layover city where you are changing airlines is Johannesburg, so an agent there would be helpful as they can deal with both airlines.
    Susan

  20. Thanks for your quick answer, Susan!
    This is getting more and more horrible! I am going to book a flight for about 5,000 $ and none of the mails I sent to DELTA is answered or they are transferred to someone who says he is not the right person! They always want me to phone somewhere, but what I need is a WRITTEN confirmation and a quotation.

    I cannot even use the link you specify, because they want to know the ticket number (of course I did not book yet!), and the online form tells me the (correct) flight number is wrong!

    The arrival in Managua IS in the evening – with a total travel time of 40 hours there is unfortunately not a big choice…

    Is there any pet travel service covering also Madagascar and Nicaragua who could take all this mess away from me ????

  21. Elfi – you can try contacting Delta Cargo facilities by email here: http://www.delta.com/contactus/pages/comment_complaint/index.jsp. You can also Tweet them, although we wonder about that. @Deltaassist. SA is being very accommodating, but generally, the airlines do not interline pets unless there is a special code sharing relationship and sometimes not even if there is.

    Before booking, check with the cargo department to verify they can board your pet’s crates. Your pets must fly into Johannesburg as manifest cargo, so know that the decision as to whether they fly on your flight will be made when the manifest is completed. You can verify that your pets are traveling on the same plane before you board. The decision is made according to the priority of delivery and the use of oxygen in the hold. The airlines are very careful about their loads to protect their live passengers.

    Tuesday or Wednesday would be fine to fly. Just be sensitive as to when you land in Managua as it should be during normal business hours.
    Susan

  22. Hi,

    Thank you so much for your precious advice – I have been studying everything since several months. I want to take my 2 adopted medium-size Malagasy-bred dogs with me from Antananarivo to Managua end of March.

    I already organized the 2 IATA cages, rabies vaccination, int’l health certificate, microchip and the result of the laboratory test (positive) which had to be sent from Madagascar to the lab in France (cooled!), all papers with 4 copies.

    Remain the health certificate 10 days before the flight and the export authorization of the Ministry of Agriculture (my excellent veterinary will take care of this).

    But now I have some questions concerning the flight: There is no direct flight; the shortest connection I found (still 40 hours!) is from Antananarivo to Johannesburg with South African, then further to Atlanta and Managua with DELTA.

    1) The SA cargo department in Antananarivo advised me to send them all documents scanned some days before the flight so that they can prepare everything – which is fine. But they need a confirmation from DELTA that they will take the dogs on board in Jo-burg and further transport them (so that they are not imported to South Africa).

    Unfortunately DELTA does not react to my mails, and when flying to Managua last time, my 2 suitcases did not come with my flight – although in Atlanta they confirmed they will be on board. Now I am afraid this could also happen to my dogs – or do they give priority to “living animals”?

    2) Which is the best procedure for booking: First book my flight, then send both airlines all flight details incl. weight and dimensions of the cages and book their transportation?

    DELTA has no representation in Madagascar, and on their website they have only phone numbers. What I want is a written confirmation that they will transport the dogs – how can I get this?

    3) Would a flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday be best ? And is 2 weeks before Easter enough?
    Easter is the most important holiday in Nicaragua, so I do not want to get into a mess…

    Thanks for your reply + best regards

    Elfi

  23. Randi – entering Korea from Australia with a pet requires that your pet be microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and accompanied by a veterinary certificate. A titer test is not required as South Korea considers Australia to be rabies-free. You can find details here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/korea.cfm You will need to be familiar with Australia’s export requirements which can be found here: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/export/live-animals/companion. Find an airline that flies the entire route and keep layovers less than 2 hours. Be sure and avoid transiting Taiwan as they have a practice of quarantining pets in transit.
    Susan

  24. Hi, We are considering to bring our 18 month old Weimaraner over from Brisbane, Australia to Busan, South Korea in 6 months time. Can you please give us some advice. Thanks.

  25. Tatiana – the only commercial airlines we could find that fly the route from Calagary to Managua with one stop are Air Canada and United. Would suggest that you try Air Canada as United will not fly your pet in the cabin. We could find no reasonable options other than those unless you change airlines which should not be a first choice.
    Phil

  26. Hi, Could you please help me with the info I need. I will be traveling with my dog(Whippet) from Canada Calgary to Nicaragua. Pease help me to choose the easy way to travel. What airline I should consider? What should be done with the dog prier flight? I whoud like to take her to the cabin.
    Thank you.
    Taiana

  27. Melanie – if your kitten enters Canada prior to being 3 months old, it will not be subject to vaccination requirements. However, most airlines will not ship a puppy or kitten prior to 15 weeks of age as their lungs are not fully developed and there is risk to your pet if shipping it too young. We would recommend waiting until your kitty is old enough to be vaccinated for rabies (12 weeks) and longer than that if possible, prior to shipping it. You will need to verify export requirements from Shanghai. You will contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route. (changing airplanes is OK; changing airlines is not.) Keep the layovers to 2 hours. Avoid London if possible. You will need a health certificate issued no more than 10 days prior to travel by your veterinarian.
    Susan

  28. What about travelling from Shanghai to Canada? I bought a kitten in China and now want to ship her to Canada (although I will not physically be on the plane)

  29. Rachel – the US is very pet friendly. Your dog will need to travel with proof of rabies vaccination at least 30 days prior to entering the country and a health certificate. Your kitties should be vaccinated for rabies and it will probably be a requirement of Malaysia to leave. You will have no problems entering the US with 4 animals. You can find details here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/unitedstates.cfm

    Poland’s requirements are a microchip followed by a rabies vaccination at least 21 days prior to entering the country. You will need an Annex II form for Poland. The number of pets you travel with to the EU are limited to 5 on a non-commercial transport. You can find details on taking a pet to Poland here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/Poland.cfm
    Jason

  30. Hello Ryoko – Myanmar is considered by the UK to be a high-rabies country and so there is a specific process to be followed: microchip, rabies vaccination (in that order), 30 day wait, then Blood Titer Test. Assuming an acceptable result, your Lab can enter the UK 3 calendar months after the day the blood was drawn. Your pet will need an Annex II form completed within 10 days of entry as well as a tapeworm treatment between one and five days of entry. Details and links to instructions and all forms required here if you need them: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/UnitedKingdom.cfm.
    Susan

  31. Hi,
    I may be relocating to either Tampa, Florida or Warsaw, Poland for work in 2015. I am from Malaysia. I am planning on bringing along my fur-kids – 2 or 3 cats plus 1 dog. what would be the best and most cost efficient method of bringing them to either one of these 2 locations? And would there be any restrictions as to the number of pets I can bring in to either one of the 2 locations stated above.

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