Traveling with a pet can be a nerve-racking experience especially if it’s your first time doing so. Chances are you might feel a bit intimidated by the idea of bringing along your pet for the ride. The simple act of booking your pet’s reservation and preparing all the necessary paperwork can be confusing and tedious. And then there is the factor of your pet’s safety and security during the flight itself. The latter could bring you so much worries that you’re considering taking the roadway instead to your destination. However, if time is of the essence in your trip or if you’re traveling to another country, then flying might be the only option you have.
Although the experience can be worrying, remember that millions of pets fly with their owners each year in the United States, and the majority of this number do arrive safe and sound in their destination, although a few tragedies and mishaps do happen. But the safety and security of your pet depends on you and the measures you take to ensure it. We’ve compiled the following tips to help you prepare your pet for your upcoming flight together.
General Pet Safety Tips While Flying
- Schedule an appointment with your vet.
Before flying out with your pet, you want to make sure he is in the best physical condition. Have your pet undergo a thorough checkup and make sure the vet has given the go signal for him to travel with you. Aside from getting approval from the vet, you’ll also need to contact the airline and your destination’s state veterinarian to confirm the kind of documentation you’ll need. For instance, it’s the norm with some airlines to demand a health certificate for your pet nearing the date of your flight.
- Look into the airline’s breed restrictions.
Nowadays, many airlines are already enforcing restrictions on pet breeds, especially dogs and cats. For instance, they don’t usually allow short-nosed breeds like boxers, bull dogs, and Boston terriers, among others. There are some that will allow you to fly with your short-nosed pet under the condition that they fall within the weight and size guidelines. Thus, it is crucial that you check with the specific airline that you’re flying with beforehand so you don’t encounter any unpleasant surprises on the day of your flight.
- Book your trip in advance.
There are other advantages that early bookings will give you aside from low flight rates, and that’s the guarantee of choosing your desired flight and having enough time to make the necessary preparations for your pet. Preparing and filing the necessary paperwork and requirements alone can take months to prepare, so give yourself a lot of time beforehand when you book tickets for your upcoming trip.
- Familiarize your pet to his kennel.
While traveling on a plane, your pet will have to be contained in a kennel. So that you don’t end up scaring your pet and traumatizing him for life, you would do well to prepare him for the experience beforehand by familiarizing him with the feeling of being in a kennel. Buy a kennel weeks ahead of the time and slowly train your pet to become used to being in such an enclosed space for increasingly longer periods of time. Your aim is for your pet to start thinking of the kennel as a safe and cozy home he can play, sleep, and hang out in for long periods of time, if necessary. To ensure the comfort of your pet, you should make sure the kennel is cozy enough for him. Line it with a dog travel bed and puppy pads and make sure your furry friend’s favorite toys are in it too so he can have something to play with during the long flight.
- Avoid giving your pet a tranquilizer or sedative.
Such medications are not recommended for pets right before a flight as they interfere with your pet’s ability to control their body heat, especially at high altitudes. If you’re worried that your pet might feel anxious during the trip, you can instead consider using treats, CBD oil, calming oil, and other such natural treatments to calm your pet and help him relax.
- Request to board early.
When you’re flying, airlines have certain conditions in place that can qualify you for an early boarding, but they usually won’t inform passengers of this unless they ask. Request the airline if you can board early or ahead of the other passengers because of your dog. Getting your dog and yourself well situated ahead of time can ensure a convenient boarding process for you and make it easier on the passengers too. Imagine the chaos if you and your dog were to board alongside them.
- Keep your pet’s health documents on hand.
As mentioned above, each airline has its own set of requirements for pets flying in cargo and in the cabin. Determine beforehand the specific documents that the airline you’re flying with would require and keep them with you at all times. This is so that in the chance when staff members of the airline would ask you for them, you can easily hand them over.
- Determine the specific pet relief areas in your airports beforehand.
Nowadays, many airports are required to have pet relief areas where human owners can take their beloved furry friends for efficient potty breaks especially during long layovers. Days before your flight, locate the closest area to your terminal so you can plan for potty breaks while you and your pet are in the airport. In instances when you’re far from such an area and your pet really needs to go, you should have a puppy pad handy.
- Don’t forget to bring their chew toys.
Just like how it is with us humans, your pet will also feel intense pressure in his ears when the plane takes off and lands. Having a handy chew toy will help them relieve some of that pressure or discomfort.
- Set up a 3G GPS tracker on your pet for added security.
Because airports can be such large and loud places, all of that space and noise can understandably overwhelm any pet and freak him out. If you don’t watch your pet carefully, there’s a chance that he might run away or wander off because of his nervousness or fear. In the event that this happens, having a topgrade tracker like Tracki attached to your pet will help you track his location instantly in real time so you can recover him just as quickly.
The Most Pet-Friendly Airlines
Traveling with pets can be a stressful experience, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be if you book with an airline that is pet-friendly and is devoted to making your flying experience with your pet as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. Here is a list of some of the world’s most pet-friendly airlines.
- American Airlines
American Airlines has a grand reputation of being the biggest airline in the world and of being a pet-friendly one—two factors that make it appealing in the eyes of many pet-loving travelers. On shorter flights, pets are allowed to fly in the cabin with their owners as long as they are contained in a small carrier. On much longer flights, however, they must be checked in as cargo to ensure their safety and comfort while on long flights.
JetBlue is another pet-friendly airline, and its reputation is so good because of its own pet perks program, the JetPaws program. This specific program supplies human owners with 300 TrueBlue points, a carrier bag for their pets, and a list of tips on how to manage pets while traveling. Talk about royal treatment!
- Air Canada
Air Canada flies to major cities in all areas of the world, and they do so while being extremely accommodating to our four-legged friends. As long as you make sure to arrive 30 minutes before your flight is scheduled to leave and your pet is secure in his own carrier, the airline actually allows them to be with you in the cabin. Bigger dogs, however, are expected to travel as cargo to ensure their safety and comfort.
Like most pet-friendly airlines, Delta allows small pets to fly with their owners in the cabin, while larger ones are stowed away in the cargo just to make sure they’re safe and comfortable during long flights. One advantage it has over other airlines, though, is that it not only allows typical pets like dogs and cats; it even allows birds kept as household pets!
- Air India
Air India will allow you to fly with your pet as long as he is in a proper crate, has the necessary documents, and has been properly vaccinated. However, they have some restrictions: he cannot fly in the cabin with you. Also, they impose additional fees on passengers flying with pets. All these restrictions aside, however, Air India is reputed to be accommodating to the needs of the animals, and their staff are known to work hard to make sure all their guests, both humans and animals, are safe and comfortable.