Pet Air Travel

Flying the Pet-Friendly Skies with

Did you ever get stuck in coach next to a paintball enthusiast and wish he’d quietly morph into a Malamute? Or how about next to an unpublished poet, with only peanuts and a warm ginger ale to get you through a NY – LA rendition of Beowulf in terza rima? Wouldn’t you rather be sitting next to a Maine Coon Cat, scratching it behind the ears for a few hours? Oh, sorry, we’re digressing here…

Anyway, most people feel that it’s next to impossible to take their pet on a plane when, in reality, it’s largely a matter of being well informed. While we do not recommend you take your animal on a plane (except as carry-on baggage), we know that sometimes you may not have a choice. Unfortunately, if you own anything larger than a small dog, you cannot take it in the cabin. This means your pet has to travel as checked baggage or cargo. Not a great option. But, whatever the case, knowledge is power and so we’ve gathered as much information as possible from all the major airlines so that you will be familiar with their particular rules and policies.

Airline Pet Policies

These are the airlines for which we have pet policies covered on PetsWelcome so far – we’re working on expanding this list, so if the airline you want to see listed isn’t here, please let us know!

Tips for Air Travel with Pets

Here are some general airline travel tips for pets to bear in mind:

  • Never sedate your pet on a flight. High altitudes and sedatives are a dangerous combination and should never be mixed.
  • Always have your pet’s leash and collar easily accessible for walking prior to departure, but do not take the pet out of the kennel inside the airport.
  • Identification tags for your pet and travel kennel, including pet’s name, home address and phone number, are essential.
  • Never use a muzzle on your pet during travel, as this is dangerous to the pet.
  • Familiarize your pet with the kennel prior to the trip so that it is comfortable to him/her at travel time.
  • Always make advanced reservations or arrangements with the airline when you are making your own reservations. The airline always reserves the right to refuse travel if there are too many pets on board, so make sure you advise them early.

Whether your pet will travel with you in the cabin or as checked luggage in the cargo area (this will be primarily determined by size), your pet will need to be contained in a kennel or container for the entire trip. Most pet supply stores carry both soft-sided (for in cabin travel) and hard-sided kennels approved for air travel. Additionally, the airlines also sell kennels at the counter. As always, check with the airline first to arrange for this purchase.

In selecting a kennel, you must first determine the proper size. Your pet’s size is determined by the following:

  • Length: from nose to root of tail
  • Width: length across shoulders
  • Height: in standing position with head erect, from ground to highest point

It is important that your pet can stand, sit, turn around, and lie down comfortably throughout the flight.

photo by Irumiha