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5 Steps Before You Fly with Your Pet

By Logan Baker of Jet Charters

Most animals don’t enjoy flying, and taking a trip on a plane can actually be traumatic for them. As a pet owner, you’ll need to coordinate a few things with the airline to make sure your pet is actually allowed to board the plane. Here are five of the most important things you’ll need to do if you’re flying with your pet:

1. Before you book your flight, research the policies of different airline companies.
Each airline company has a different policy regarding flying with pets. Some won’t allow you to fly with pets at all. So, it’s essential that you do some research before you buy your plane tickets. If you’ll be flying with a small animal, it’s a good idea to find an airline company that allows small animals to ride in a pet carrier under your seat. Most airline companies require large animals to ride in the cargo area of the plane, and some companies require all animals to ride in the cargo area. If you can avoid forcing your pet to ride in this area of the plane, away from you, you should. It can be quite an unpleasant experience. 

2. Get the right kind of pet carrier.
Most airline companies require that you put your pet in an IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved pet carrier before you fly. You can find IATA approved pet carriers online and at most pet stores. The carriers will usually be advertised as IATA approved or come with a sticker that indicates they’re airplane approved.

3. Make reservations for your pet early.
You will typically have to call an airline company at least 24 hours before your flight to reserve a spot for your pet on the plane. It’s best to call a few weeks before your flight because each airplane only allows a certain number of pets to fly. If a plane has reached its pet quota, your pet won’t be able to fly with you. Keep in mind that you can expect to pay around $50 to $100 to reserve your pet’s spot on the plane.

4. Get the proper documentation from your vet.
Generally, you will be required to provide documentation from your pet’s veterinarian that your pet is up-to-date on her shots and in good health. Make sure you have this documentation with you when you arrive at the airport or your pet will likely be turned away.

5. Do your best to calm your pet’s nerves.
Most pets don’t like to leave their territory (your home). Flying is usually loud, turbulent, and frightening for pets. So, do what you can to make it better for your animal companion. Talk to him in a soothing voice at the airport, put one of your old t-shirts in his crate, and do whatever else you know may help calm him down.

Logan Baker is a dog owner, world traveler, and guest post writer on the subjects of international cuisine, traveling with pets, and private jet charters.

19 comments to 5 Steps Before You Fly with Your Pet

  • Keisha

    Good to know. I do road trips with my dog. This is helpful.

  • Great information Michele.

  • Linda

    With summer travel around the corner, this is useful. Thanks.

  • Ginger

    Great info! I had never even heard of a IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved pet carrier. I just figured that you could put them in any carrier.

  • Allan

    I usually bring photos of my dog with me. I only traveled once with him via air. We were moving. We do a lot of road trips though.

  • Heidi

    I also bring a copy of the airline regulations regarding their policies towards animals with me when I fly. Sometimes an agent at reservations or at the gate hasn’t got a clue as it their own rules and regulations.

  • Robert

    Whenever I fly, I usually hire a pet sitter. But like another reader suggested, if you are moving, this is helpful info.

  • Mary Kay

    NEVER! NEVER give you furry child sedation or tranquilizers to travel.

  • Mchele,
    I fly with my pets and key to having them fly more calmly is to have their owners remain calm. A few additional tips:
    Put an 8×10 page of information on the top of the kennel, in large print.
    This way the transporters will be able to call the dog by name.
    List your destination, flight number, time of flight, name, seat number and cell phone number as well so no one has to look for that information if they need to find you.
    I place it in a gallon zip lock bag and tape it to the top of the crate.

    If your dog is not use to ‘crate life’ feed them, throw their favorite toy in to be retreived or give them treats in the crate before they travel.

    Lastly, make sure you are firm but polite about receiving conformation your dog is actually on the flight. I still give a copy of the note from on top of the crate to the captain as I get on the plane. It assures me he knows my baby is traveling below.
    Hope this provides a few more helpful tips to your readers.

  • Great write-up, I am normal visitor of one¡¦s web site, maintain up the excellent operate, and It’s going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

  • Ed

    Terrific post. I agree that it is best to leave pets at home. If you are moving and want to take your pet with you, this is a good option.

  • Adriana

    Great guest post, and timely. I think it is best, however, to leave pets at home.

  • Ellen

    Useful info! Thanks. We are planning on moving and haven’t considered flying with our pet. This is helpful.

  • Another VERY important thing to check…
    I’m a pet sitter and was asked by a client to help fly her 2 dogs (1 medium size and 1 large)to Puerto Rico where she would be working an 18 month temporary assignment. She did everything above and was all set to go. Thank goodness we got to the airport very early because the plane she was flying from home to Dallas couldn’t fit the large carrier through the door that the cargo goes through to board. There was nothing that indicated acceptable sizes for specific planes. Fortunately, we had enough time for her assistant to get another medium sized crate and bring it to us. Needless to say, there were a couple of nervous breakdown moments for us!

  • Mara

    Even your guest posts are good. Thanks M! Like the rest of your readers, I don’t think I will fly with my dog, but if I ever need to these will come in handy.

  • Karen

    If flying with a cat, be aware that when you go through security, you must take the cat OUT of the carrier so the carrier can be inspected. All this in the busy, noisy security checkpoint line. Have your cat in a secure HARNESS, with ID TAGS on it, and have a leash attached to the harness. Too many cats have freaked and gotten lost in airports during security checks. If you still feel that your cat will freak-out and run, ask to take them out in an enclosed space, like an office or dention room. Be polite, but firm.

  • Great information thanks.

  • Judy

    We do road trips with our two dogs. Flying is a whole other animal. Thanks for these tips.

  • Carol

    I don’t plan on flying with my pets, but this is good to know, and I use Pet Relocation.