Traveling with your Pet on a Plane

Posted by: Donna Smith, Contributor on Friday, September 1, 2017 at 8:00:00 am

Traveling with a pet on an airplane can be quite an ordeal, however with some advance planning many issues can be addressed prior to the day of flying.

There is nothing I would like more than to travel with my little Papillon, Sophie.  However, she would beg to differ! The five-minute drive to the veterinarian is almost more than either of us can stand. Some pets just do not like traveling and my Sophie is one of them.

I know my colleague Adam has a darling Pomeranian, Petula, that travels with him everywhere and not only does she love it, she turns heads on the plane! JetBlue took extra special care of her when he traveled to Boston recently.

I recently traveled with a friend of mine and her two Papillons. I learned quite a bit about the process and thought I’d share it with you.

The references I will be making are regarding small dogs and cats that will be with you in the airplane cabin.  Medium and large dogs and cats as well as other animals will have more restrictions and must fly in the cargo area (unless it is a service dog).

Before traveling with your pet, contact the airline about their pet travel policies.

Book your airline reservations early to get more flexibility with things such as non-stop flights and preferred seating.  Be sure that the flights allow you to bring your pet along in the cabin. The fewer connections in your air schedule, the less amount of stress for both you and your pet.

Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations. Check the regulations of your destination to be certain your pet is in compliance. Talk with your veterinarian about the best ways to keep your dog or cat calm during the flight.

A comfortable pet carrier is a must. Make sure your pet can stand up, lie down and turn around in the carrier. Get your pet used to being in the carrier before your trip. Adam said he purchased a number of carriers from Amazon last year to test them out. He settled on the Jet Sitter Luxury Soft Sided Pet Carrier and returned the others. From the looks of it, I wish I could travel in this plush little cushy carrier!

Place identification on your pet’s collar and carrier.  A microchip is also a good idea to be sure your pet can be returned to you in case of an emergency.

Take along some of your dog or cat’s favorite toys for comfort and familiarity while traveling.

Know where the pet relief stations are located at in the airport.  This was almost a disaster when traveling with my friend and her dogs as she had not checked ahead of time. This information can be found online with airport maps.  Plan ahead to avoid missing a flight connection!

Check in early for your flight to avoid delays. Necessary paperwork for your pet may take longer than usual. 

Remember that individual airlines will have different policies about traveling with pets so be sure you know the rules and regulations well in advance.

Flying with your pet is an experience in itself. I learned firsthand the secret is to be prepared!


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