Traveling with Mittens the cat, Duke the dog, Archibald the aardvark can be an adventure and many airlines are happy to transport your pets, but not all will and it can be pricy. Check out these tips to insure a successful travel experience for both pet and pocketbook. And don’t miss the video below!
LISTEN: Rick’s tips go to the dogs.
7 Things to Know before Flying with Pets
Step 1 for flying with pets: Find a cheap flight
This information applies to common pets; the rules are different for guide dogs and service animals and you can find more on the airline websites. In fact, check your carrier’s site for pet travel regulations in general before making travel plans because airlines can change their rules with little if any notice.
- Pet travel isn’t free
Fees for pet travel range from about $75 to hundreds of dollars depending on the airline and depending on whether the animal travels in the cabin or as cargo. Cabin travel is almost always cheaper but not all pets qualify due to size restrictions.
- Big pets vs. small pets
Only small animals can fly in airplane cabins. They are required to stay in carriers stowed under seats and the carriers must be roomy enough so the animal can stand up and turn around in them (figure on a weight limit of perhaps 15 pounds or so, but this varies). Larger animals must fly in cargo. Note: Some airlines no longer fly animals as cargo, and some airlines forbid creatures like snakes and rodents in cabins.
- Banned pets
Some airlines refuse to transport short-snouted or snub-nosed breeds such as boxers and bulldogs and cats such as Persians or Himalayans. The concern seems to be the animals’ potential for breathing difficulties if transported in cargo. Check the airline website for breed-specific information.
- All pets need reservations
You cannot just show up with Sparky and expect to fly; he too must have a reservation (space for animals in cabins is always limited). Pet reservations almost always have to be made by phone and you may also have to fill out an online form and show proof from a veterinarian that the animal is fit to fly.
- Identification checklist
If anything happens to your pet, the airline will want to get in touch with you ASAP so do the following:
- Securely tape your name and phone number both inside and outside the animal’s crate or carrier.
- Do the same with your veterinarian’s contact information.
- If the animal will wear a collar, be sure your contact information is on that or attached tag.
- Consider getting your pet micro-chipped.
- What pets are allowed to do on planes
Not much! Pets must stay in their carriers during the entire flight. No, your seatmate probably doesn’t want to meet Fluffy but even if true, Fluffy is not allowed out. If the pet gets restless and barks a lot, you may be told he/she cannot fly. Prepare your pet in advance by getting him used to staying in a carrier; start practicing this a few weeks before the trip.
- Going through security
The TSA has a lot of useful information on getting pets through security. For example, at security checkpoints, remove pets from carriers and walk (or carry) them through. Do not place pets on conveyor belts that X-ray bags. Yes, people have done this; no, it’s not a good idea.
Final thought: Some pets may be better off staying at home, boarding in a kennel or chilling with a petsitter. Think hard before you subject your buddy to the stresses of flying.
VIDEO: Rick Seaney’s pet tips.