Holiday Flying With Your Pet

Fall is here and the holidays are quickly approaching. Maybe you are thinking of visiting family with your pet.

Even though I have several articles on traveling with your pet and one on flying I feel this blog, will be an updated version with some familiar reminders and information on some specific airlines.

Flying with your pet can be stressful on you and your pet.

It is not so bad if your pet is small enough to be carried on the plane, but putting your cat or dog in the cargo hold is traumatic for both you and your pet.

The important thing to remember is that your pet is not actually in the cargo bins.

The pets are put in an area under the aircraft cabin, it is temperature controlled and separated from the actual cargo by a curtain or door. The kennels are strapped down so they will not flop around during any turbulence and if there is any other cargo in the immediate area, it too, is strapped down.

If by chance you can take your pet on board with you, remember the carrier has to fit under the seat.

That means it cannot be taller than 10 inches and cannot weigh more than 20 pounds (pet and carrier together.)

If you are considering flying with your pet, you need to make your reservations far in advance, as most airlines only allow a few pets on board a plane.

As prices vary from airline to airline, check with each one for their rates.

Make certain you have read and understand all the airline’s regulations regarding pets.

All airlines require a health certificate, no older than 10 days and this means going and coming back.

Make certain you have copies of all your pet’s shots in your possession in case, you need to show them.

Be aware of certain restrictions on some breeds.

Be aware that there are summer and winter restrictions regarding pets riding in the cargo hold.

Some airlines may not have these restrictions, so it is up to you to consider where you are going and what the weather is going to be like getting there.

It is also important not to pick “peak” times to travel, as that may mean a chance of your pet getting bumped off the plane due to over crowding, plus if everyone is extra busy there is less chance of your pet getting any extra attention.

Due to the extra security, all pets and their carriers are security checked, this means they will pass a wand over your pet so be certain you have its collar and leash on.

Another interesting point is have good identification attached to your pet. Make certain it has a tag with your name and phone number on it.

A good idea is to write on a piece of paper all the phone numbers of where you can be reached, your vet’s name and number, where you are going and when you will be going back home. Fold this up so it will fit along the pet’s collar and tape it securely.

This may save a lot of grief, if by chance the pet gets loose.

Arrive at the airport at least 3 ½ hours early or more, especially if your airline does not take reservations.

If you are leaving on an early morning flight feed your dog later at night and make certain it has gone to the bathroom in the morning before being shipped.

If your flight is at night feed a little later in the morning and again make certain all bathroom jobs have been done before crating.

Pack a clean up bag to have ready to clean up any accidents in the crate or surrounding areas.

Garbage bags, paper towels and some liquid cleaner should be packed.

Since new security more than likely will not allow you to take it on board, you can attach it to the crate.

Use old blankets for the bottom of the crate, they will hold moisture and allow your pet to make a nest.

If you are shipping a puppy, shredded paper is a better bet.

Sedatives are not a good idea if your pet is being shipped in the cargo area. They can affect its breathing and a sedated pet can be jostled if the plane hits turbulence.

If your dog has not been crate trained, do it now.

It will be less stressful on you both if your pet feels at home in its crate before you leave.

Flying with your pet can be a test of your nerves and perseverance.

It is a case of “if anything can go wrong it will.”

It is up to you to keep your eye on what is happening around you, to make certain your pet, if it is going in the cargo area, is put on the plane and taken care of during delays.

How do you do this?

The first lesson is be nice, then make friends with everyone connected with your flight and then some.

Spread as much good will as you can and make certain everyone is aware your pet is going on board.

Mark your crate with colored tape or paint so that you can spot it from a great distance, be certain to write “live animal,” “DO NOT OPEN” and “this side up” in large letters and with a good marker. Make certain you have information of where you are going, phone numbers, your vet’s number and other pertinent information such as “you are on board,” put it in a plastic baggy and tape it to the crate.

Make certain you attach extra food and water to the crate in case of a delay.

Stay with the crate until the very last possible moment and then when you board ask the attendant to check to see if your pet has been loaded.

If the plane is delayed for any length of time ask the attendant to request the hold door be opened.

This is one time nagging is important, but only "nice nagging,” do not lose your temper, remember “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

American Airlines allows small pets in the cabin, pets can go as access baggage depending on weather conditions or as cargo. NO Pets allowed on flights longer than 12 hours and none are allowed on flights to the United Kingdom.

Continental Airlines will allow small pets in the cabin, but will not allow pets as access baggage. They will allow some as cargo depending on size and distance.

Continental will accept American Pit Bull puppies between 8 weeks to 6 months as long as they do not weigh more than 20 pounds. Other American Pit Bulls are not allowed, however an American Pit Bull Mix is allowed along with other Bull Terriers.

Delta Airlines will accept small pets in the cabin, will allow some pets as access baggage and in the cargo hold. However, there are restrictions regarding outside temperature conditions and regarding snub-nosed dogs.

United Airlines will allow small pets in cabins and restrictions on certain breeds being shipped as access baggage or cargo due to temperature problems in the summer months.

Northwest Airlines small pets in cabins allowed, weather restrictions for summer travel in effect.

Southwest Airlines do not allow pets at all.

USAirways allows small pets in cabin only. Since Oct. 1st, 2005 no pets have been allowed as cargo or as access baggage.

I hope this has helped any of you that are thinking of flying with your pet.

Have fun, a safe flight and hurry back to us.