A Guide To Flying With Pet

Can I Fly With A Pet Feature Image

If you think it is challenging to fly with your dog or cat, you are absolutely right! Like traveling with your loved ones, flying with your furry friend can be a nerve-wracking experience especially if you are not well prepared for it. Flying with dogs is not as straightforward as purchasing a ticket and turning up at the airport. There can be documents to acquire, fees to pay and medicine to buy.

But it’s not impossible. According to the Department of Transportation, over two million animals travel aboard commercial aircrafts each year.

To help you work out a strategy for dog or cat plane travel, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide as well as answers from experts to the most frequently asked questions.

What Should You Consider Before Flying With Your Pet?

It’s common knowledge that the airline you choose will have the final say if your pet can fly. If you’re considering flying with a pet, it’s recommended to call potential airlines to ensure you’re familiar with their requirements.

Your pet’s age, breed, size, and health will all be taken into consideration when the airline determines whether your pet can travel.

Age Of Your Pet

Your pet must be at least 8 weeks old and have been weaned for no less than 5 days. However, it’s important to note that some airlines may have older age restrictions too. 

Cat inside a cage

Your Pet’s Breed

Brachycephalic or snub-nosed breeds are vulnerable to respiratory problems while flying. Such breeds include Boxers, Pugs and Boston Terriers, as well as some felines such as Burmese, Persian and Himalayan cats. Some airlines prevent them from flying, whether in cargo or checked luggage. 

Owners of smaller brachycephalic breeds can stay with their pet in the cabin. However, owners of large brachycephalic breeds, like Mastiffs and Pitbull Terriers, are out of luck because their pets are too big for in-cabin flights.

Size Of Your Pet

If your dog is too large to fit in a pet carrier under your seat, you have no choice but to consider keeping them in cargo. However, this is highly discouraged. Unless your pet is small enough to fit in the carrier under the seat, experts advise pet owners to avoid flying with their pets.

Moreover, many airlines have set various limits on crate sizes for traveling with dogs. This means that larger dogs may be blocked from flying.

Health And Mental Condition Of Your Pet

Pets with existing health issues can experience serious complications associated with air travel. Heart complications and respiratory difficulties are the most common causes of death among animals during plane travel. If your dog or cat has an injury or a health issue, it’s best to leave him at home.

Can your pet fly with you in the airplane cabin

Type Of Airline Considerations For Flying With Your Pet

Can your pet fly with you? Yes, you can fly with your pet. However, there are certain restrictions and regulations you need to consider before you buy air tickets. Learning the process is vital so your four-legged friend can stay happy and healthy while traveling.

Destination Restrictions

Different flight destinations may have different rules and regulations for flying with a dog or a cat. Before making the final decision, make sure to browse your airline’s pet travel guide page to ensure your pet can accompany you on your journey.

Types of Pet Restrictions

As we’ve already mentioned, short-nosed or brachycephalic pets are not allowed to fly in the cargo section on most flights. Veterinary experts advise that brachycephalic breeds can experience breathing problems during flights. The stress and anxiety associated with flights can exacerbate such conditions.

Traveling Method For Pets

The size of the pet plays a huge role in the arrangements for taking a dog on plane. If your dog is small enough to fly in a carrier that will fit in the plane seat in front, you can always bring him onboard for a fee. However, this will vary based on the airline in question.

The other traveling method for pets small or big is checking them or flying them as cargo. However, some airlines have strict policies on cargo size, meaning that larger pups might not be accepted.  

Temperature Restrictions

Dogs and cats are not allowed if the ground temperature is less than 45°F at any destination unless the pet has an acclimation certificate. Some airlines may not accept temperature acclimation certificates, but it’s definitely worth getting. Thick-coated and long-haired dogs that are used to low temperatures would be good candidates for the certificate provided your vet approves.

What To Prepare When Traveling On An Airplane With Your Pet?

To prepare your pet for traveling on an airplane, you may refer to the following steps: 

Veterinarian checking on dog

1. Vet-check

Take your pet to a licensed vet and have them tested for a traveling health certificate [1]. It is advisable to get two copies of this certificate, taping one on your pet’s carrier and leaving the other with your boarding documents.

2. Learn the Rules and Restrictions

It is important to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations concerning air travel for animals. Each airline has detailed policies regarding air travel with pet.

3. Purchase Your Ticket 

Book your ticket over the phone or in person. Let the sales rep know that you will be flying with your pet since there will be a charge for traveling with a dog or cat. The fee will usually vary based on where your pet will stay during the flight. Small pooches will usually fit in the carrier under your seat. However, larger pups will normally travel in the cargo section.

4. Get a Pet Carrier

Get a carrier that is big enough for your furry companion to turn comfortably.  The carrier should bear your personal contact details and the sides and top marked clearly with the words ‘Live Animal.’

It’s advisable to put your pet’s favorite toy inside the carrier and to cover the bottom of the carrier with a soft towel as a precautionary measure against accidents.

5. Food & water

Do not feed your pup for around 5 hours before your flight. Potty breaks tend to be very stressful at the airport.

If your pet will ride in the cargo section, attach a bowl of dog food, treats and a bowl of fresh water to the inside of the dog carrier.

Dog with collar tag

6. GPS Tracker and ID Tag

If you’re bringing Fido on vacation, it’s a good idea to invest in a GPS tracker and an ID tag. Some dogs are quite adventurous and you never know when your pooch suddenly wanders to explore the neighborhood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which airlines allow pets?

We all have our favorite airlines, but as far as flying with pets go, not all companies accept pets. Some airlines will happily allow you to travel with your pet while others will only accept support animals. Here is a list of the most popular airlines in the world that allow pets:

British Airways: Pets travel in the hold, but are not allowed in the cabin with the passenger.  On the other hand, guide dogs can travel with their owner in the cabin. For more details, visit the official British Airways website.

Virgin Atlantic: As with British Airways, dogs are allowed to travel in the cargo hold.

Easyjet: Only service animals are allowed by this airline and they are only allowed on specific flights.

Ryanair: Like Easyjet, only assistance animals are allowed.

KLM: Small pups weighing less than 8kg can be flown in the cabin on certain KLM flights. Larger pets can be flown in the hold provided they don’t weigh more than 75 kg. 

Lufthansa: As with KLM, smaller dogs and cats weighing less than 8 kg can be flown in the cabin on most Lufthansa flights. Larger pets can be flown in the cargo hold.

Etihad & Emirates: Both of these popular airlines allow pets to fly in the hold, but don’t allow them to ride in the cabin.

Flybe: Ferrets, cats, and dogs are allowed on Flybe flights only within the United Kingdom and they are transported as cargo unless they are an emotional support or service animal.

Thomson: Pets weighing less than 6 kg are allowed to fly with you in the cabin. A larger pet must travel as cargo in the hold.

Can I buy a seat for my dog on an airplane?

Yes, you can buy a seat for dogs on planes when traveling with most airlines. United Airlines allows you to book a seat for your furry friend. However, there are some strict rules and regulations you should follow. These include age, size, and breed-specific restrictions.

If you don’t meet those restrictions, you would be pleased to know that there are lots of airlines that will allow pets to travel in the cabin underneath the seat in front of you.

Is flying bad for dogs?

No, flying is not bad for dogs. It is safe to fly with dog on a plane on many airlines that have animal-friendly travel programs, including United Airlines’ PetSafe and JetBlue’s JetPaws. However, a pet must hold a valid health certificate to be allowed to fly on them.

Do airlines provide dog crates?

No, airlines do not provide dog crates. Hence, you will have to purchase your own approved crate for flying with your pet. Since most pet parents do not use travel crates regularly, it may be possible to get a used airline-approved crate and save some money.

Are dogs allowed on international flights?

Yes, dogs are allowed on international flights. In fact, your dog or cat can fly with you either in the cargo or in the cabin. However, pets are considered extra luggage and thus, they are charged depending on their size, weight, and distance involved.

Conclusion

Flying with pets is often a tricky process. By following the above tips, however, you and your four-legged companion can enjoy a safe flight. Make sure to research on the airline you’re considering traveling with dog on. Each company has different rules and regulations, ranging from restrictions on breed and destinations to medical requirements.

Also, make sure you have the right crate size for your pet and prepare well ahead of time. That way, you and your beloved pet can enjoy a stress-free flight.

Have a safe and enjoyable flight!