7 Things to Know Before Flying with a Pet

Before the pandemic, travelling was much easier for both humans and pets, but it is not as straightforward these days. Flying with a pet is more complicated than travelling alone; the restrictions are different and change constantly.

From the health implications on your pet to the regulations for flying with them, your concerns and fears are understandable. However, about 78% of Americans travel with their pets. If they can, so can you.

The following tips are the secrets to flying with a pet without a care in the world:

1. Check Restrictions For Pets

When it comes to air travel, there are airline and CDC restrictions, especially for pets. Therefore, knowing the general rules of travelling with a pet is not enough. You would need to make inquiries on the requirement for travelling with a pet. Weight and breed are two common areas with heavy restrictions.

Weight Requirement

For pets, there are size, weight, and height requirements for flying. Weight is a vital factor for air travel. Every airline, including cargo planes, has various weight restrictions for flying pets that you ought to know about in advance.

Breed

Airlines are particular about the animal types they allow to fly on their planes. When it comes to dogs, some breeds are restricted from flying as well. The short-nose dog breed (brachycephalic) is one of the several breeds banned by most airlines. Other banned types are:

Affenpinscher
Boxer
Brussels Griffon
Bulldog
Pit Bull
Presa Canario
Pug
Shar Pei
Chow Chow
Dogue De Bordeaux
English Toy Spaniel
Japanese Chin
Lhasa Apso
Mastiff (all breeds)
Shih Tzu
French Bulldog

If you are travelling to London or anywhere else in the United Kingdom, then find out what the rules and regulations are over here for bringing pets into the UK.

2. Kennel-train Your Pet

If you want to travel with your pet, you will most likely keep them in a kennel. Thus, you need to kennel-train it. Doing this will make the pet feel at home, comfortable, and safe in the small space. If your pet can feed, sleep, and play with their toys in the kennel, then you are ready to go. Airlines are strict with the airline dog carriers they allow on board. Therefore, they have kennel size, type, and weight restrictions. Ensure that you get the right kennel type early so that your pet can get used to it before the flight.

3. Get Your Pet Examined

For pets, one of the significant requirements for air travel is a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Thus, you would need to take your pet to the veterinarian for a medical checkup before travelling. Another reason for a medical exam is to ensure that your pet is in good condition to fly. Start by checking with the airline if there are any specific medical examinations your pet should have. Next, book an appointment with the vet.

Be careful with the timing of the medical exam and the flight date. A medical report signed by a veterinarian is only valid for ten days. Getting a health certificate clears your pet for air travel. Also, it puts your mind at ease knowing that your pet can travel without health risks.

4. You Have The Cargo, Baggage, And Carry-On Options

When travelling with a pet, there are three available options. These options have unique features depending on what you prefer.

Carry-on

Carry-on lets you fly on the same plane with your pet. However, your pet will stay in the cabin. The carry-on option will attract an additional travel fee of up to $200. If you prefer this option, you must contact the airline long before the flight date. It is because airlines only have limited spaces for pets in their cabins. For most airlines, only cats and dogs can be carry-on pets.

Cargo

Here, your pet will travel separately on a cargo plane to the desired location. Flying your pet as cargo is more expensive than other means. Like cargo, the pets also go through customs inspections before they are allowed into the location. Cargo planes have several restrictions for goods and pets as well. Your pet will stay in a kennel throughout the flight.

Baggage

Finally, your pets can travel as baggage. This option is similar to carry-on as your pet would be travelling in the same plane as you. The difference is that the pet will stay in the cargo portion below the aeroplane. Small to middle-sized pets are allowed to fly as baggage. They will remain in a kennel throughout the flight. There are also size, weight, and breed restrictions when travelling this way.

5. Prepare In Advance - Board Early

Most airlines share similar travel restrictions and guidelines for people with pets. Thus, contact the airline early for a breakdown of all the requirements while preparing for the flight. The preparation and paperwork could take months. Also, you might need to arrive early for the flight. As a pet owner, you could be eligible to board the flight early. Doing this would help you and the pet to settle down before takeoff.

6. Check On Your Pet Immediately After Landing

Air travel can sometimes be stressful depending on the duration of the flight. With the bathroom breaks and seat adjustments, you still need a good stretch when you get off the plane. If humans - with those options- need a stretch, then pets sitting in one position would as well. Therefore, take them for a walk and allow them to stretch to get their blood flowing upon landing.

Besides taking your pet for a walk, checking up on them upon landing helps to avoid stress. Pets are usually available for pickup two hours after landing. The owner must claim them within four hours after landing else the airline management would take them to a facility.

7. It Is Easier To Travel Without A Pet

The truth about travelling with pets is that travelling without them is easier for you. First, travel restrictions for people with pets can be overwhelming at times. It could take weeks to get the necessary paperwork for the trip. Besides, training a pet to stay in a kennel for hours is never easy, especially when they are not used to it. It takes time and an awful lot of patience. Also, tracking the arrival of the pet can be intense.

If you do decide to travel without your pet, then don't forget to take back a little souvenir for him or her, such as an edible pet treat or a small toy for their living space when you return home.

However, it is advised to fly with your pet if no one would look after it while you’re away. Likewise, if you would be travelling for a while, you may prefer to take it with you.

Final Thoughts

The safety of your pet comes first, so ensure that they are medically cleared to fly before travelling. Besides weight, other common restrictions to flying with a pet include the kennel type, breed, temperature, and more. Thus, you must contact the airline beforehand to learn about these restrictions and their varying travel rates. Take your pet for a walk and let them relieve themselves before takeoff.

Although flying without a pet is easier, flying with it is worth the trouble.

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