Pet Travel Question – What are the ways my cat or dog can travel by air?

Airline Pet Travel - ways your dog or cat can travel by air.We get asked a lot of questions from pet owners about traveling with a pet by air. After all, we live in a mobile age and people move all over the world every day. Certainly, they want to bring their pet with them and knowing airline pet policies and the services offered will help save a lot of headaches on travel day.

All services for live animals offered by airlines based in the United States are covered by the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations issued in November, 2013. There are 3 ways that dogs and cats can travel on an airplane: in-cabin, checked baggage and manifest cargo.

Travel in the cabin: most airlines based in the US allow only small cats, dogs and (maybe) household birds to travel in the cabin on flights and generally only on flights under 8 hours (US-based airlines). Your pet should not exceed approximately 11-13 pounds in weight and 19 inches in length from tip of nose to base of tail. Your cat or dog will need to travel in an airline compliant carrier which has a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation and zippers for security. Pet owners usually opt for soft sided carriers like those found here because they will offer your cat or dog additional room and will compress to go under the seat in front of you. See airline compliant pet carriers.

When flying with your pet in the cabin, you will notify the airline in advance (when you make your booking is best). On travel day, you will bring your pet to the ticket counter where you will pay for your pet’s passage. You will need to clear security on your way to the gate. Refer to this article on clearing airport security with a pet.

Travel as checked baggage: If you or your designee (over 18 years of age) are traveling with your dog or cat, then, as long as your airline offers this service (most do), your pet can travel as checked baggage in the cargo hold. This service is for pets that are too big to travel in the cabin or are pets other than dogs or cats. You need to inform your airline that you are traveling with a pet ahead of time and usually a minimum of 48 hours is required.

Your cat or dog must travel in an IATA compliant pet crate with a waterproof bottom, secure, spring latch door and adequate ventilation. On travel day, you will bring your pet in its crate to the ticket counter (or PetSafe desk if you are flying with United) where you will pay for your pet’s passage. Staff at the reservation desk will take your pet to the loading area and you will proceed on to your gate. When traveling with a dog or cat as checked baggage, you should arrive at the airport in plenty of time to process your pet. Your pet should fly on the same plane as you do. You will pick up your pet in the baggage claim area of the terminal.

Travel as manifest cargo: Dogs and cats traveling as manifest cargo travel in the cargo hold as do those traveling as checked baggage. Animals traveling as manifest cargo may be too big to handle at the ticket counter, be traveling unaccompanied by their owner or be required to do so by the country they are traveling to. Many countries require live animals to arrive as manifest cargo including the United Kingdom, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Angola, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Tongo.

If your pet is traveling as manifest cargo, you will need to contact the cargo department of your airline for details. Your pet will need a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel and, like checked baggage, your pet must travel in an IATA compliant pet crate. You will take your pet and its crate to your airline’s cargo facility (United may have a PetSafe Desk in the airport). Most airlines have cargo facilities on airport grounds. There, your pet will be weighed and crate inspected and you will complete an Airway Bill which will travel with your pet. Here is lots of information on preparing your pet crate for travel.

Your pet will travel on the same plane as you do unless there is an issue with cargo scheduled with your flight. Be sure and be proactive and ask whether your pet was loaded on the plane before you get on. Tell the Captain and crew that there is precious cargo in the hold and be sure and monitor pressure and temperature levels.

When you arrive at your destination, you will pick up your pet at the cargo facility or at another processing location. You should clarify this with cargo staff when you check in your pet.

Hope this helps to clarify the ways your pet can travel by air. You can always email us at with additional questions. Additionally, you can find more information on pet transport on if you need help with travel arrangements or cannot travel with your pet.

Pet Train Travel: Amtrak Trials Program to Carry Small Dogs and Cats

Pet Train Travel - Amtrak LogoThis week, Amtrak announced that it would trial a pet program that would carry small dogs and cats in designated passenger cars (NOT luggage cars) between Chicago and Quincy, Illinois until November, 2014. Should the trial prove successful, they will consider lauching this program nationwide.

This is truly great news and long overdue. It is certainly exciting that pets may soon be able to travel with their owners by train  in comfort in the United States. Of course, they will need to stay in their carriers. Amtrak’s price for this route is $25.00.  Let’s hope it is successful!

Insure Your Pet’s Health and Protect Yourself from Costly Vet Bills

Pet Health Insurance - it is important to protect your petIt’s time to plan for spring cleaning and making summer travel plans for your family and your pets. When you make your travel plans, don’t forget how important it is to have health insurance for your pet. We get health checkups, enroll kids in summer programs, make vacation plans, but, it is easy to neglect our furry family members…our pets. Health checkups are mandatory prior for international pet travel and just make common sense whether you are traveling or not.

Did you know that, every six seconds, a pet owner is faced with a veterinarian bill of over $1000? The cost of veterinarian care has sky rocketed in the past several years, and costs now rival those of human care. Consider this:

● Pet owners spent over $12 billion on veterinary care in 2009. [America Pet Products Association 2009-2010 National Pet Owner’s Survey]
● Serious illnesses or injuries can easily rack up bills over $10,000.
● Pet insurance has been available in the US for about 30 years, but, only about 3% of dog owners and 1% of cat owners have it.
● Our friends in the United Kingdom provide protection for their pets at rates over 50% for dog owners and over 30% for cat owners.

For around $2 per day, one can easily mitigate these high costs and limit the out-of-pocket expenses associated with medical treatment for our pets. With the relatively low cost of a health care policy, it is affordable for most and could prove to save a great deal of money as well as provide peace of mind for pet owners.
While we are putting our house in order for spring and summer, it would be a good time to consider insurance for your wellbeing and your pet’s as well. Get more information on health insurance for your pet.

Check Your Pet’s Microchip Before Traveling with Your Pet

When traveling with a pet, checking their microchip can save a lot of trouble and expense for youThe Guardian posted a sad, but important article recently about a dog traveling to the United Kingdom from South Africa whose microchip was faulty. Because of this, and according to the Department of Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) policies, the dog was quarantined for 4 months at great inconvenience and cost to the owner. Here is a link to the story.

This story reminds us how crucial it is for your veterinarian to scan your pet’s microchip everytime you bring in your pet for whatever reason, but especially prior to traveling to any foreign country. In this case, there were quarantine facilities in the UK, but this is not the case in other countries in the European Union and other countries worldwide. If your pet is not traveling with the proper identification and paperwork and required tests have not been done, it will be refused entry and returned to the country of origin at your cost or destroyed. This is something no one traveling with a pet wants to happen.

If your veterinarian does not have a scanner, you can rent or purchase a scanner and bring it with you.

Not all countries require a microchip, but many do including all EU countries. Just be sure that you know the regulations for your destination country before traveling with your pet. Find pet passport policies for countries all over the world. It could make the difference between a fun trip and a disaster.

Know your dog before traveling. Strong bonds and training will matter.

Dog travel - know your petJust like humans, every dog is different. They have unique personalities and needs that good pet owners are aware of and respond to. No matter how independent they may appear, every dog depends on their owner for their basics: food,  shelter and attention. And, certainly, some dogs require more love and attention than others. Is your dog one of them that has grown overly dependent on you?

We get so many questions about keeping pets safe during air travel. Getting good equipment is essential. Acclimating your dog to its carrier is essential. Being a proactive pet traveler is essential. Choosing a good route is essential.

But do owners look into their dog’s eyes and truly understand that, when traveling, the need to know that you will find them again is paramount in their mind? To many dogs, that is extremely important and it must be reinforced. The strangers handling the crate, the unfamiliar surroundings, the fact that their owner is not in sight; it can all add up to a large amount of stress for your dog.

It is the bond between you and your dog that builds your dog’s confidence that you will return to them. So, how do you build their confidence? Simply put, you simulate the experience. You crate them, leave them and come back. Crate them, take them out of their environment, leave them and come back for them. The more often you can do this, the more your dog will know that they are not being deserted.

We all expect our dogs to understand what is going on when we take them out of their routine, load them in a crate, take them to a noisy crowded airport and put them on a conveyer belt that leads them down to people and smells they don’t know. But, dogs don’t understand unless they have been in similiar situations before without their master. It is past experience that is the teacher in this case.

If you have a dependent dog, be sure and train them and expose them to experiences out of their comfort zone prior to travel. Take them to a dog park. Take them downtown. Take them to you in-laws house. Doggy day care or a dog sitter nearby will work. And when you come back for them, take extra time for hugs, rubs and a lot of verbal praise. It will make a world of difference in your dog’s state of mind.

More information on preparing your dog for travel.

Airline Pet Travel: What Cargo Crate is Best for My Pet?

Airline pet travel - what cargo crate is best for my pet?When it comes time to fly with a pet that is too large to fit in the cabin, no one likes the option of transporting a pet in the cargo hold. As a pet owner, you can help minimize those risks. The most important consideration is choosing your pet’s crate. This will be your pet’s home on their journey, their safe place. You want to be sure that the crate is the right size and that it is constructed securely. This is not the time to cut corners; get the best crate you can afford for your own piece of mind and for the safety of your pet.

Then there is airline compliance. What features must the crate have to make it airline compliant? How do I choose which size to get so my pet will be comfortable? Are there accessories I need so that my pet has hydration and is easily identifiable?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has specific regulations regarding airline cargo crates that have been adopted by airlines worldwide. If you meet these regulations, then there should be no surprises at check-in. Read more to find out IATA regulations on airline pet cargo crates.

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.

Pet Travel: Tips for Traveling with a Pet During the Holidays

Holiday pet travel - tips for traveling with a pet during the holidaysTime for the Holidays!
Holidays and travel seem to go together as we all want to be with loved ones during this special time of year. There are few reasons to leave your pet behind. With a bit of planning, pet travel can be safe and comfortable. Who would not want their pet to enjoy the holidays with them and their family?

Keep your pet safe like you would your children. Get the right equipment. Know your destination and the services it offers your pet. Get a good pet friendly hotel and understand its policies.  Be considerate of other travelers. Keep everyone on their schedule and stay calm. This is an exhausting time of year, but time to share excitement with those you love.

Make merry memories with you and your pet with these travel tips for holiday pet travel.

Pet Travel to Australia – Changes in Import Rules in 2014

Traveling with your pet to Australia? Changes are coming in 2014We get a lot of questions about traveling to Australia with a pet. It is an exciting and beautiful destination and worth spending time exploring with your pet.

Australia just announced changes to its import policies which will make it easier and less expensive for pet owners to bring their dog or cat Down Under. Starting in February 3, 2014, pets will be able subject to reduced quarantine (30 days to 10 days) if they have a Blood Titer Test (RNATT) done between 6 and 24 months prior to entry. (Presently, regulations call for 3 months ahead of time.) This will reduce costs for quarantine, much less time spent away from our pets.

There is another important change to the rules for pet import to Australia. Dogs and cats originating in non DAFF approved countries can enter Australia through an DAFF approved country as long as they meet the regulations to enter the approved country.  No longer must pets reside in the approved country for six months prior to entering Australia.

You will still need an Import Permit and your pet will need a 15 digit microchip and veterinary health certificate. There are also vaccination requirements and tests. More information on taking a pet to Australia. If you are planning a trip to Australia with a pet and you already have an Import Permit, you can change your permit as long as you remit a fee and are not importing your pet until February 3, 2014.

There are other changes as well. You can compare the old and new policies here:

Need a pet friendly hotel in Australia?