3 Simple Ways to Make Flying with Your Pet Easier
Air travel can be risky for pets
The Humane Society recommends that you weigh all the risks when deciding whether to transport your pet by airplane. Air travel can be particularly dangerous for animals with "pushed in" faces (the medical term is "brachycephalic"), such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.
1. Choose the Cabin over Cargo
If transporting your pet by air is the only option, find out whether they can travel in the cabin with you. Most airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog in the cabin for an additional fee. But you must call the airline well in advance; there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin. If you are transporting your dog, make sure they meet the size requirements. If you get overwhelmed by all the regulations, there are companies that can help you navigate through the process of flying with a pet.
Be aware of the dangers of flying your pet in a cargo hold. While most animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes are fine, you should be aware that some animals are killed, injured or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation and rough handling are often to blame.
Most U.S. airlines are required to report all companion animal incidents that occur in the cargo hold, and consumers should study the performance record of any airline before choosing to fly your pet in a cargo hold.
2. Ask Questions.
When you contact the airline, be sure to get clear answers to these questions:
- Will the airline allow you to take your cat or small dog in the cabin with you?
- Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?
- Does the airline require a specific type of carrier? Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers (which may be more comfortable for your pet), but only certain brands of soft-sided carriers are acceptable to certain airlines.
- If you can't take your pet in the cabin, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your pet in the cargo hold?
3. Take Security Precautions.
Your pet's carrier will have to pass through the security screening along with you. You have two options: Either be sure your pet is securely harnessed so you can safely contain them outside their carrier while it's being x-rayed, or request a special secondary screening that won't require you to take them out of their carrier.