If you’re thinking about flying with your pet, keep in mind that taking pets on commercial airlines may be difficult unless the pet is small enough to travel in the cabin. However, if that’s not possible, these tips can help make it a safer and easier experience for you both.
Tips for a safe and easy experience
- Fly direct. Book a direct flight whenever possible to help reduce the chance of delays or having your pet mistreated. This can also reduce the chance of your pet being left on the tarmac in bad weather during transfer.
- Check with your veterinarian. Take your pet to the veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. Some airlines and hotels may require health or vaccination records. Call ahead to find out if you’ll need documentation.
- ID, please. Your pet should wear a collar and ID tag that includes your contact and destination information. Collars that break away when caught on something are best for cats. You might also want to consider microchipping your pet before leaving.
- Get a crate. Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that’s big enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably. You can shop for one online or at a local pet supply store.
- Label your pet’s crate. Write "Live Animal" on the top and sides of the crate and clearly mark which end is up with an arrow. You should also write your pet’s name along with your contact and destination information on it.
- Add a photo. Glue or securely tape a photo of your furry friend to the crate for identification purposes. This can be a lifesaver if your pet manages to get out its crate. Also, keep a photo of your pet on you at all times!
- Prep the crate. Line the crate with some type of bedding, like shredded paper or towels, to absorb any accidents. When you close the crate, you’ll want to make sure the door is secure—but not locked—so airline personnel can open it in an emergency.
- Avoid tranquilizers. According to American Veterinary Medical Association, tranquilizers are not recommended because they can hamper your pet’s breathing. Check with your veterinarian if you have questions.
- Let airline personnel know. Tell airline personnel, including baggage handlers
and flight attendants, that you’re traveling with a pet in cargo so they’ll be ready in case any special attention is needed.