Traveling with Pets
Stress-less Travel with Pets
The first thing you need to do when you decide that Fido is traveling with you is - and this is important - call the airlines 800 number or go to the airline's website, specifically that section about pets. There are general rules to follow when traveling with pets, but there are also differences in the way airlines handle pet travel.
There are many ways to make our pets comfortable when they are flying with us. Some of these ways are actually required by the airlines. The airlines pretty much have almost the same policies regarding airline pet travel, with the exception of some embargo days and pet fees. To be sure that you ready and in compliance with the rules in pet travel, be sure to contact the airlines of your choice a few days before your travel. You may also visit the individual airlines' websites for clarification. There are some websites listed at the bottom of this page.
If the pet will be without inside the cabin, be sure you have a comfortable kennel for the pet. There is a certain weight and size requirement for a pet to be able to be carried on in the airplane. Please make sure that you are not trying to squeeze a medium size pet into a small kennel. Remember that if the pets are uncomfortable, chances are - the pet will be making a lot of noise inside the airplane. Some people do not have any patience with noisy or crying pets and you do not want the crew members to divert the flight because of some arguments that might ensure because of an aggressive crying pet. We all know that no matter how nice and loving our pets are, some environment may make them behave differently.
Most airlines also carry soft-sided ones. You can also buy designer kennels if you want. When you come to the airport and you need a soft-sided kennel, just ask an airline employee if they selling one. If their answer is no, you may ask the other airlines. usually there is an airline or two that carry those soft-sided kennels. The reason why airline prefer the soft-sided kennels for carry-on pets is it serves as their security blanket. They feel like they are in their own bed (especially if it is the regular kennel that the pet is used to - or the one the pet is using at home. The softness of the kennel conforms to their body contour so they do not feel tightness or feeling of confinement.
Be sure the size fits under the seat in front of you:
I purchased a soft kennel from Walmart - the size told me they were the right size (check with the airline the size of space under the seat infront of you. Believe me - they vary!). When I got home, the small cat could not fit comfortably, so I went to a discount home store and found one...but it smells like kerosene. I didn't want my old cat to be smelling this throughout the flight so I ended up at Pets Smart (usually expensive pet items there). I found one that that large enough to make my old cat comfortable. Perfect, I thought! When I got on board (the agent was nice enough to leave an empty space between me and the aisle passenger) - and put the kennel under the seat - the stiff plastic that is used on the edges of the RIGHT SIZED KENNEL - would not allow the whole kennel to go under the seat! Small detail but it makes a lot of difference. Fortunately, the flight attendant did not notice that the kennel was protruding. Also, the "lock" on top is made of Velcro. That's fine with a pet that is not active, but a Velcro closure is no match to active pets. So, don't buy one that is closed with a Velcro on top. Buy one that has a metal closure at the end of the zipper. That makes it sure that the pet will not escape.
Be at the airport early.
It is important that if you are traveling with pets, you need to be at the airport earlier than usual. There may be some unforeseen events that may cause you to be delayed or may cause you to miss your flight due to the pets. Also, flying with pets will incur pet charges. Some airlines allow for online payment, but YOU STILL HAVE TO SHOW THE PET TO THE "Special Services" agent so that he/she could visually inspect the pet; inspect the kennel (whether it is the right size); and still have to put a "Hand Carry" tag on the bag. Some agents look at the tags during boarding. So, make sure you have it visible or be sure to show your receipt for pet charge. Believe me, after working a lot of flights, there were some instance when a passenger was delayed due to the wrong kennel, no pet charges, etc. Also, when you get to the airport after checking in at the electronic check in, make sure NOT TO GO TO THE ELECTRONIC CHECK IN AGAIN. PROCEED DIRECTLY TO THE LINE FOR SPECIAL SERVICES. Ask someone. There are usually traffic directors who can tell you where to line up for special services.
Pets Fed and Given Water before the Flight.
Before you come to the airport, make sure that the pets have been given food and water. You may also want to have some water and food with you in case that the pet asks for some. But be very neat and tidy if you have to give your pet some snacks on board. It is better that you have some dry pet snacks you can give when he is comfortably inside his soft-sided kennel.
I personally do not want any of my pets to be traveling inside the cargo bin. I think that the pets can be traumatized seeing other creatures inside the cargo hold, although I know that the kennels are covered. There are so many different kinds of creatures that are shipped by cargo, not only dogs or cats. Even with the same species as your pet, they may still be feeling scared, afraid, or may feel threatened. However, when it is necessary, be sure that the pets have the right size of kennel for their size and weight. Do not put a large dog inside a small kennel. It is not right for the pets, and it is against the department of agriculture. The dogs need to be able to stand, sit and turn around. My personal rule of thumb is: use medium kennel for a small pet; large kennel for a medium pet; and an extra large kennel for an large pet. You will have peace of mind knowing that your pet is comfortable.
PETS DIE INSIDE THE AIRPLANES ESPECIALLY DURING SUMMER MONTHS! Some airlines do not accept checked in pets during Summer months. There have been a number of pet deaths due to severe heat in the cargo hold. Even when the captain and other airline representative are very careful in making sure that the pets are comfortable, they do not have any control over the weather and the temperature in the destination cities and the connecting cities. Sometimes, the aircraft has to wait a long time for a gate to open up (in case of irregular operation, this happens a lot). The pet will be inside the cargo, panting and being exhausted due to heat. Sometimes, the results are fatal. So, be careful -- when the airlines tell you that they are not accepting pets for a certain flight -- there is a very good reason for that!
Some Pets are Quarantined!
The State of Hawaii quarantines all the pets that come in to the island. Be sure you are prepared to wait for the pet. You will not get it until days later.
As much as possible, we do not want to part with our pets even during our much-needed vacation. If we follow the procedures outlined here when you are traveling with them, there should be no problem. You will be assured that your pets are safe and sound during travel. So, before you proceed to the airport with your dear cats and/or dogs, please check everything out before you go!
The preferred kennel for carry-on pets are the Sherpa-type bags (they look like our own duffel bags). Sherpa is a brand-name but a lot of companies now manufacture and sell carry-on bags for your pets in the cabin. You can even buy designer ones, such as Coach pet carrier. These carry-ons Sherpa-type are soft-sided kennels. This is the best for your pets since you can put it on your lap after take off and before landing and the pet will fell that you are cuddling them. With the soft-sided kennels, you can also pat them from outside the bag, not like the hard-sided kennels. The hard-sided kennels are good for other small hamster-type pets but may be too small for your cats. There is an age requirement before you can travel with your pets. Cats need to be at least 8 weeks old.
If you are checking in a pet, it is important that you make sure that the kennel is locked. If you did not provide a lock, make sure that the airline personnel who checked in the pet put a plastic tie or lock outside the kennel. There have been pets who check their locks and traveled inside the baggage bin. There was a cheetah that made his way outside his huge kennel and started chewing on the electrical wires in the cargo bin. You do not want that to happen. There was another incident that when the airline personnel opened the cargo bin to unload the baggage, a large pet greeted her. There were also stories of cat escaping from their kennels and ended up wandering around on the runway. You do not want that to happen. So, make sure that your kennel is locked before the airline personnel takes the pet with him to the baggage area.
< Make sure that your pet is in a good and healthy condition before you travel. Some airline still require health documents from veterinary (mandatory for international travel); some airlines don't. To be safe, be sure to call the airline for its policy on pet travel and health documentation.
Do not tranquilize your pets when they travel. Tranquilizers have a negative effect on pet's breathing on the air. If you think your pet needs something to calm down, ask your veterinarian for the best option, but please....do not use tranquilizers. Tranquilizers will cause breathing problems on board the pressurized aircraft and your beloved pet may not make it alive.
Pets need to be at least 8 weeks of age when they travel. Some airlines let the kitten be in the same kennel with the mother cat, or 2 baby kittens together in the same kennel. Ask the airline for specific requirement.
Make sure that the pet has been fed and given water within four (4) hours before your flight. That ensures that the pet is not hungry. For checked-in pets, make sure that a water and food container is included in the kennel. Most airlines, especially Northwest Airlines, take care of the pets during the connection time and when they are transferred between the flights. As the owner of the pet, you may also visit your pet during the connection time if time allows (for example, 2 hour or more). This makes the pet feel that they are not being abandoned, and for you to make sure that they are still in good condition in transit. Be sure to talk to your pets when you visit them in-transit, on lay-over. They will feel better and happier.
When Pet Airways started operating in the East Coast, they were given rave reviews by pet owners. The airline assured you that the pets arrive to their destination, safe and comfortable. They cater purely to pets, i.e., all passengers are pets. They are assigned flight attendants who only cater to the pets. All the pets that travel in this airline Pet Airways travel inside the aircraft (cabin) and not in the belly of the plane.
Unfortunately, Pet Airways is experiencing some financial troubles and was ready to close (as of February 2012). Pet Airways .
Summer Embargo - for United Airlines
United Airlines does not accept the following short-nosed-breeds, or mixed-breed dogs exhibiting the short-nosed characteristics of those breeds, as either checked baggage or cargo, from June 1 to September 30th of each year. This restriction does not apply to pets traveling with you in the cabin.
All breed summer embargo for travel to/from Kuwait
Due to extreme heat, United Airlines will not accept any pets as checked baggage for travel to/from Kuwait (KWI) from June 1st through September 30th. Pets can be carried in the cabin only if departing Kuwait. If the pet is in the cabin, the embargo time frame does not apply.
Passengers are required to make sure all health and pet travel documents are current and compliant with local, state, federal and international entry requirements and regulations. The passenger will assume full responsibility for penalties assessed by agencies for non-compliance of pet health and entry requirements.
Summer Embargo - Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines travel embargo for pets. Delta no longer ships pets during Summer months. Check with Delta Airlines before taking a pet to the airport. Northwest Airlines has merged with Delta and NWA adopted Delta's Pets Policy. See Delta Airlines' Pet Policies.
Traveling with Pets Video
Return from Pet Travel Page to Homepage of www.AirlineTravelersGuide.com>