Pet Travel Tips for the Holidays

Flying with Pets

So you’re getting on a plane for the holidays, and your dog is coming along. Make it easy on the both of you by following these simple pet travel tips. These tips can help with the holidays, or anytime you fly with Fluffy.

The number one question you must ask when flying with pets: Is my pet up to the rigors of air travel? Take a look at my video and check out the tips below.

Should Your Pet Fly?

Older animals or excitable pets may not do well on a plane, and veterinarians do not recommend sedating them (it can adversely affect a dog or cat’s sense of balance and more). Only you know if your pet is up for air travel, and make sure a vet checks them out before you fly.

If you haven’t booked your flight yet, you’ll find the lowest airfares for holiday flights with our FareCompare Holiday Flight Finder.

Find cheap flights for Christmas

Some other tips:

1. Know the Airlines’ Pet Policies

Not all airlines will transport pets, and those that do have policies that vary widely; plus, the policies can change from one year to the next (for example, Southwest’s longtime pet travel ban was lifted not long ago, but only for small animals in its cabins). Know your airline’s rules and regulations before you fly. For example:

  • Paperwork: Some airlines require filled-out forms and veterinary certificates
  • Pet Carriers: All animals must be placed in a carrier; tiny dogs in purses are not acceptable even if you are Paris Hilton
  • Space Limitations: Some airlines will only transport pets in the cabin, and these animals must fit comfortably in a pet carrier that is placed under the seat in front of you
  • Weather Restrictions: Larger animals that must fly in the cargo hold may be turned away due to temperature extremes on the date you’re scheduled to fly
  • Breed Restrictions: Some airlines refuse to carry certain breeds in cargo, especially short-snouted dogs that may encounter respiratory problems

2. Make Reservations for Pets

Never just “show up” at the airport with a pet; even those traveling in cargo must have a reservation – and only a limited number of cabin pets are accepted on any flight.

3. Understand the Pet Transportation Fees

Airline fee schedules for pet transportation vary widely, from under $70 one-way to hundreds of dollars roundtrip; this can be a serious investment of time and money (and see the FareCompare Domestic Fee Chart for more details). Be sure you and your pet are up for it.

4. Don’t Let Pets Annoy Other Passengers

If your pet is traveling in the cabin, you cannot let it out during the flight. Be sure it’s a good traveler; flight attendants take a dim view of audible animals and so will your seatmates.

So – can you and Fluffy handle all this? If there are any doubts, leave the mutt at home with a pet-sitter; it could be the smartest “pet travel” decision you make.

Read more about pet safety here, and take our pet travel quiz.

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Published: April 19, 2010