Top Tips on Air Travel with Pets

Plan your itinerary carefully.

Don’t pick the four-leg trip for your four-legged friend just because it’s $50 cheaper than the non-stop flight. Think about the stress of repeated takeoffs and the risk of missed connections.

Understand airlines’ policies and restrictions. 

Not only do airlines have complicated fee structures for flying with pets, they also restrict certain breeds and may refuse to transport your pet during certain times of year or when extreme temperatures are forecast. Research the policies fully and be sure to compare, as each airline’s policy is different.

“Package” your pet properly.

Be certain to crate your pet in the smallest airline-approved pet carrier that will still allow him to stand and turn around. Contact the airline well in advance of your flight to reserve the flight for your pet and to make certain that you understand (and follow) all regulations. Remember, these regulations are in place to keep your pet safe and ensure that airline employees can care for your pet properly while traveling.

Carrying on your pet.

If your pet is small enough to stay with you in the cabin, remember that you still must reserve space for him as a passenger — you can’t just show up and stick him under your seat! He will have to be in an airline approved, soft-sided carrier, and most airlines limit the number of pets allowed in the cabin on a single flight.

My pet is “special.”

If you have a “unique” pet…a ferret, a snake, a hedgehog, a turtle, a lizard…be SURE to check airline restrictions. Most airlines only allow dogs or cats in the cabin. You do not want to show up at the gate, only to be told that Terry the Tarantula can’t come along. This is especially important if this is your child’s pet! Besides, imagine if one passenger brought his pet rat and the passenger across the aisle brought his pet snake. No one wants to see that in-flight movie!

In the end, use common sense and good judgment when planning a trip with your pet. Consider him the way you would a small child—anticipate his needs, and meet them early and often.

Submitted by Kathryn Rutledge,
Invisible Fence of South East Ontario

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