DOGS ON PLANES?
Scrolling through social media, you can hardly miss a video of someone taking flight with their pup. Since the pandemic, some airlines have relaxed the requirements, and have even started accommodating dogs to fly, once again.
Check your airline’s website for pet travel requirements, as all carriers are different. Pet travel on airlines should be made well in advance (a few months), as it’s based on availability. Especially, if using the cargo area.
For the sake of this article, and given the requirements are quite different, we are excluding service animals. For more information about traveling with service animals, check out one of our earlier blogs, What is and What is NOT a Service Dog.
In addition, airlines do NOT consider emotional support animals as service animals. Flying with emotional support animals would follow the same requirements below.
WHY WOULD YOU FLY WITH PETS?
The two main reasons you may want to fly with your pet are for relocations and/or an extended vacation.
If flying with your pet is not essential, it’s probably a good idea to leave your pup at home with a friend or relative, dog sitter, or boarding facility. So many factors can induce stress and make for a very frightful journey for pets.
Travel is difficult and stressful enough on people given the amount of cancellations and delays, adding another element of stress (a pet to the equation), may not make for a fun vacation.
Would you? Have you? Let’s discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly associated with pets on planes.
If flying commercial, check with the specific airline regarding weight restrictions, certifications, etc. Most airlines have distinct policies and be prepared to pay a fee.
Some airlines will allow to book the pet’s flight online, while others require you to set up with a reservationist.
Airlines will require a pet certificate from your veterinarian stating that your pet is healthy, fully immunized and safe to fly. The certificate is typically valid for 30 days. So, if your travel is longer than 30 days, you will need a new certification for the return flight.
This is a great time to have a discussion with your veterinarian regarding your pup’s anxiety/stress levels. He or she may discourage you from flying with an anxious pup. Ask about the use of CBD for calming.
The use of tranquilizers/sedatives is not recommended (most airlines will not even allow this) as they can cause respiratory/cardiovascular issues due to the changes in cabin pressure.
Snub-nosed dogs like pugs, bulldog, boxers tend to be affected most by changes in pressure and careful consideration should be taken prior to flying with these breeds.
In cabin pet passengers on most airlines need to be contained in a carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. Prior to the flight, you should acclimate your pet to the carrier so that the pup’s flight is a little less stressful.
Weeks prior to the flight, consider doing the following
- Purchase a carrier that allows your pet to stand, turn around and easily lie down.
- The carrier should be sturdy, provide for air flow, have strong handles or a pull handle, and a leak-proof base.
- Label the carrier (name of the pet, your name and address, and destination details)
- Reward the pet for entering/laying in the carrier
- Take the pet on a few errands using the carrier
If your pup is over the weight limit to ride in the cabin area, you may have the option to place your pet in cargo. Check with the specific airline to ensure the cargo is temperature-controlled.
In addition, airlines have cargo weight restrictions. Typically, the weight of the pet plus the crate cannot exceed 150 pounds.
Full consideration should also be given to the following prior to placing your pet in cargo:
- Anxiety of your pet (at times cargo may be a quieter ride, however moving baggage, can scare the pet)
- If your pet has separation anxiety, cargo may NOT be a great choice.
- Although most cargo areas are temperature controlled, extreme heat and cold weather conditions can make flying worse for your pup. For winter flights, choose mid-day departures and for summer flights, early morning or late evening flights, are best.
- Most airlines will require the crate to have a food/water dispenser
DAY OF FLIGHT!
Depending on the timing of your flight, give your pup a bit more exercise as this will tire them out for the journey ahead.
Plan on arriving to the airport a few hours prior to the flight. Even if you have checked in online, you will still need to check in at the counter.
In addition, the extra time will allow you to assemble the crate (if using cargo).
Travel to and From the Airport
It’s best to take your personal vehicle to the airport. Your pet is more accustomed to your vehicle, thus making the trip to the airport more comfortable for him. Book your parking spot in advance, so as to avoid circling the airport.
Avoid, if possible, using public transportation, a taxi or Uber Pets as unfamiliar surroundings can cause an uncomfortable and more stressful start to the trip.
A few other things:
- Your pet will walk through the metal detector with you, but their bags must go through x-ray
- For a bit more exercise, allow them to walk through the airport terminal
- Pack treats that are easy to break and low in calories to keep them busy and happy
- Bring plenty of water
- As mentioned earlier, as you are boarding, the pet must be contained in his carrier (must be able to fit underneath the seat in front of you)
Yes, this is a THING! We are not talking about owning a private jet and flying your pup. There is an actual Facebook group dedicated to traveling with your pets on a semi-private planes called, Chartered Air Travel with Pets.
There you can find flights that are already being scheduled, or hire a broker to help you book and find others to basically, “share the cost” of the ride. Groups like this exist for both foreign and domestic travel.
Flying your fur babies using a chartered jet is very expensive and may take a while to plan. However, it is possible. Dogs fly in the cabin and are not required to be placed in carriers.
LAST, BUT NOT LEAST!
Remember, not all pets do well flying in planes whether it be in the cabin, or in cargo. You know your dog best! Undue stress and anxiety on your pet from flying, may not be worth effort involved in getting your fur baby on a plane.