Air Travel with Pets

Dog traveling with suitcaseWhen going on a trip, it can be hard to imagine leaving our best furry (or feathered) friends behind at home. If you’re not enthused at the prospect of leaving your pet at home or in a pet hotel, you can always bring them along with you! It requires a lot of forward planning, but as long as you’re prepared, you and Fido won’t have to spend a night apart!

Step 1: Planning

Firstly, you’ll need to figure out which airline you intend to travel on, and what their rules and regulations are regarding pets. Check for size limits, breed limitations, types of carriers required, and additional fees. Your destination may also influence whether or not your pet can travel with you, since some destinations are simply too warm or too cold to accommodate cargo pet travel. The most ideal type of flight for an animal is direct. However, if you need to travel multiple legs, check restrictions for each leg. Similarly, if you’re traveling on multiple airlines to reach your destination, ensure Fluffy can too.

Once you choose your airline and flight plan, be sure to book your flight well in advance. Pet travel space is limited, and you’ll want to confirm that your pet is on the list.

Your pet’s size will also be a consideration. Smaller dogs, such as a chihuahua, and cats can usually travel on board with passengers, provided they can fit under a seat while standing, in their carrier. You won’t be able to take your animal out during the flight, but they’ll be able to be near you for the duration.

Larger pets will need to be in their own carrier as well, but will need to travel in the cargo area of the plane. If your pet has never been in a carrier before, get them used to being in it a few weeks before the flight.

Before leaving, get your pet groomed, including nail clipping. This will help greatly once you arrive, especially if it’s a long stay.

Step 2: Packing

This part is fun! Pack your pet’s suitcase with the following essentials:

  • Napkins and cleaning solution or stain remover for any spills or accidents
  • Favorite toy and blanket
  • A leash
  • A collar or harness with an ID tag
  • All health and medical paperwork, including vaccinations
  • Pet wipes (bathing will be tough in a new place)
  • Medications
  • Treats
  • Pet Food
  • Food and water dishes
  • Poop bags
  • Emergency contact information at your destination

Step 3: Travel

Be sure to let your pet get plenty of exercise before heading to the airport. All feeding, watering should be done about 4 hours before departure to the airport…this way everyone gets to go to the bathroom before you leave! Also, bring a current picture of your pet with you. In the event of an emergency, it will help the authorities locate your furry friend.

When you arrive at the airport, empty all water bowls so nothing spills during travel, and do one final bathroom break. Leave the bowls in the carrier in case of delays, and a favorite toy for comfort. Then check in at the counter; if your friend is traveling in cargo, here is where you’ll part ways. Although you may feel like your pet is agitated, sedating them can be risky due to air pressure changes. Always consult your veterinarian before medicating your pet prior to air travel.

When you arrive, take your pet for a walk outside. Fresh air and a chance to get back on the ground will help them acclimate, and you’ll be ready to start your vacation!

Thinking of planning your next trip? Take a look at our list of great pet friendly hotels in California.

About Divya Valluri

Divya Valluri