Planning to Take Your Pet with You on a Plane? Here Are 10 Things You Need to Know First

Dog on a Plane

Although it’s all for a good cause, airport security screening and airline rules can be stressful to comply with. For new flyers, just familiarizing themselves with the guidelines can be a lot to take in. Adding a pet into the mix makes traveling via plane that much more stressful as there are a handful of things to consider before even stepping foot on the plane.

But instead of waiting until the day of the flight to figure things out, it’s important that you understand any restrictions and instructions your airport and airline may have regarding flying with pets. Being well-informed can ensure the least amount of stress possible for both you and your pet while traveling.

Here are 10 tips before taking a pet on a plane that you should take note of:

  • Specific species or breeds might be at risk flying on a plane or banned altogether.

For safety purposes, there are certain species and breeds of animals that are banned from partaking in air travel. Some airlines even have a list of animals that can’t be brought on planes as “emotional support animals.” However, some pets are legally allowed on most planes but are recommended not to air travel via with.

For example, according to American Veterinary Medical Foundation, short-nosed or brachycephalic dogs (e.g., French bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers) are not recommended to be transported on planes. These breeds are particularly sensitive to the temperature and air quality changes on planes and may experience possibly fatal respiratory problems as a result.

  • Disabilities or medical conditions your pet might have could prevent them from flying.

Even if your pet’s species and breed is allowed by your airline, it’s possible your pet may not be fit enough to fly. If your pet is pregnant, very young or very old, sick, or suffering with a chronic health condition, your airline might not allow you to bring your pet on board at all.

Before flying with your pet, make sure to get clearance from your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy enough to fly. This can not only assure that your pet will be safe during flight but also that any other pets on board will not get sick if your pet happens to be contagious.

  • Not all pets have the right temperament for flying.

As much as some might hate to admit it, not all animals have the ideal temperament for flying on a plane. Pets that are particularly anxious or aggressive might not be suitable for air travel where people and other animals will be present as they may pose annoyance or physical danger to others.

Some pets might not initially be good candidates for air flight but might be with medication provided by a veterinarian.

  • Airlines have certain size and weight limits for pets.

Every airline has its own guidelines for the maximum size and weight pets can be to fly. Smaller, younger pets might be qualified to travel in the cabin of the plane while larger, older pets can often be transported as cargo (checked baggage). Regardless of how your pet travels on the plane, there are carrier requirements you’ll have to follow depending on your airline.

  • To be on the safe side, it’s best to bring a copy of your pet’s health certificate from your vet.

To avoid getting your pet denied from flying on the plane, always make sure to bring a copy of your pet’s health certificate even if you presume they’re healthy. Many airlines require this. This can confirm your pet has had the proper vaccinations, shots, and is clear of infectious diseases. Fortunately, these certificates don’t cost much and usually aren’t a hassle to receive.

  • If your pet is a service or emotional support animal, always bring the proper documentation.

Even if your airline doesn’t require it, bringing a copy of your emotional support or service certification can safeguard that you can legally bring your pet on a plane. As well as this, showing proof that your animal is a service or emotional support animal can allow you to steer clear from additional fees for bringing your pet on board.

However, do know that service and emotional support animals are still required to be well-behaved on the flight, papers or not.

  • It costs more to bring your pet with you on your flight.

Unless your pet is a service or emotional support animal, bringing your pet on a plane is going to cost you. Generally, most major airlines charge between $100 to $200 to bring your pet. Whether your pet travels via in-cabin or cargo might affect how much you pay. Apart from cost, airlines usually limit passengers to only have one or two pets per flight.

  • More likely than not, your pet will act differently when on a plane.

Even if you think you know your pet perfectly, when they are introduced to a new environment around people and other animals they don’t know, they might act out of character. Your calm cat might howl when in an unrecognizable place, or your beloved canine might go from nice to naughty when dealing with the noise of unfamiliar folks.

Due to the latter reasons, prepare to deal with the potentially different personality of your pet. Make sure to bring potty pads, comfortable blankets, and familiar toys and treats from home to ground your pet on the plane. However, don’t be surprised if your pet doesn’t want to eat, drink, sleep, or play while distressed.

  • To guarantee your pet’s spot on the flight, you’re going to need to make specific reservations.

Because airlines have a limit to how many animals can be flown on a plane at a time, it’s important that you make the proper reservations before assuming you’ll be able to take your pet with you. Making reservations can also help you confirm that your pet’s age, breed or species, and current health condition will be allowed on the plane to begin with.

  • Check your airport and airline’s websites for their specific rules for flying with a pet.

Since there are a plethora of guidelines, rules, and regulations for traveling with a pet that vary from different airports and airlines, make sure to research what yours specifically recommends or requires. Knowing what will be expected will help you avoid potential surprises when you actually arrive at the airport and later step foot on the plane.

Conclusion

Air travel can be hectic when it comes to getting through airport security and complying with the rules when on the plane. But bringing an animal on board with you tends to only add to the stress. It means more rules, more cost, and another living being to worry about as you travel to your destination.

Doing adequate research ahead of time can help familiarize you with the process of legally and safely flying with your pet. 

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