Many people who fly with their pet are far more nervous about the experience than their pets are. However, traveling with a pet is commonplace and safe. US airlines transport around two million live animals every year and although you need some extra planning and additional time at the airport. Federal and state government rules apply to transportation live animals; However, airlines also have their own rules and regulations, which may vary slightly.
Most airlines allow passengers to take cats and dogs aboard their flight. Typically, you have two options; Take your animal in the cabin with you, or have it transported in the cargo hold as a checked pet. Which option is most appropriate depends primarily on the size of the animal, although various airlines can have different criteria, which may include breed or weight. In addition, you can carry your pet in the cabin only if you are traveling domestically. For travel overseas (including Hawaii), your pet must be checked. In general, dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old to travel.
If your cat or dog is small enough to fit in a container under the seat and meets all the other requirements of your airline, it can go in the cabin with you. Make sure you inform your airline that you have a cabin pet, as there is only room in the cabin for a limited number of pets; Typically between two and six. Pet space is allocated on a first come, first served basis. Your airline can check for pet space availability before you buy your ticket and can suggest alternate flights if necessary.
If your pet is traveling in the cabin with you, you may be able to sit in the bulkhead (front row) seats or the roomier exit row seats, as the pet container would then block the emergency exit access. It may seem obvious, but your pet must stay in its carrier while you are on the plane or in the gate area, so make sure that the carrier is securely fastened.
Check with your airline on their rules concerning the size and material of a pet carrier. Typically, there must be enough room inside for your pet to be able to turn around and comfortably lie down. A hard-sided container is generally safer and more comfortable for your pet than a soft-sided container and most pet carriers sold at pet stores are usually adequate.
If your pet is too big to go in the cabin with you, it may have to be checked. If you are checking your pet, try to avoid connecting flights and flights that leave later in the day, as these are more prone to delays. You may not be able to check your pet depending on the season. Some airlines have a checked pet embargo during the hotter summer months, prohibiting animals from being carried in the cargo hold.
If you are checking your pet, the container should be big enough for the animal to lie down and freely move around. The outside of your container should be clearly labeled "live animal" and you should attach your name, address, and flight itinerary to the outside. You might be asked to verify that you have given food and water to the animal immediately before the flight.
If you are flying with your pet, it is a good idea to consult with your vet to make sure it is healthy enough to fly. Your vet may recommend a sedative to help keep your pet calm on the flight; And your airline may require a health certificate or proof of rabies vaccine. If you are traveling overseas with your pet, the requirements can be even more complicated, so it is important to check the regulations in your destination country.
Traveling with the family pet is not free and the charges can vary by airline and can be different for a carry on or checked pet. Typically, you can expect to pay anything from $ 75 and up to carry your pet in the cabin with you, and $ 150 or more to check your pet. These charges are one way and most airlines allow you to prepay the pet fee to save time at the airport. Seeing Eye dogs are usually exempt from these charges and are allowed to be carried on most airlines free of charge.
Traveling with your cat or dog can be a fun filled experience. Many airlines have different rules relating traveling with a pet but with the proper research and planning you can bring your pet along on your next vacation. Two ways to travel with your pet are to check your pet or bring them with you on the plane. If you do not check your pet it has be able to fit underneath the seat. Consider these tips next time you are planning a vacation and want to bring your pet along for the ride.