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Tips for Air Travel with Pets

The decision to travel with pets is one that should take into consideration the various airline rules and regulations for pet travel. There are also certain basic tips to help make travel with pets easier for them and for you.

Basic Tips for Pet Travel

The most basic first step to preparing to travel with pets is to first make sure your pet is comfortable spending time in a pet carrier. All airlines require the use of an approved carrier, and the carrier will also make your pet more comfortable being away from home. Both your pet and its carrier need to be well marked with secure ID tags that include your name, your pets name, your address and all emergency contact phone numbers. It is also advisable to attach a photo of your pet to the carrier as well as carrying one with you at all times.

Many airlines prefer carriers that are approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It may be a wise investment, especially if you do a lot of flight travel with your cat or dog, to purchase a carrier that is approved by IATA.

If you are on business travel, be sure to schedule extra time into your travel plans so that you are not feeling rushed. Travel with dog and travel with cat requires extra time and patience; feeling rushed to get to your first meeting of your business travel by a certain time will leave both you and your pet feeling anxious and under undue stress.

When scheduling your flight and your pet’s flight, be sure to make every effort to make sure you are traveling on the same flight or flights as your pet. This will ensure that you are aware of all flight changes, and will limit the opportunity for your pet to get lost. Ideally it is best to schedule non-stop flights whenever possible. Avoiding travel during peak dates and times will also help limit unnecessary delays or confusion.

Finally, in an effort to make your pet as comfortable as possible during your travels, consider limiting the amount of food up to six hours prior to your flight to help keep queasiness at a minimum. You can include a comfort object of some sort in the carrier, but avoid anything that could accidentally pose a choking or strangulation hazard. Providing your pet with some cool water in the form of a frozen hamster bottle drip, or ice cubes placed in your pets water dish, is also a good idea.

Major Airline Pet Policies

Many of the major airlines have strict pet travel policies, which are very important to be aware of before booking your personal or business travel to include your pet.  Here are some of the key terms and conditions for a few of the world’s major airlines.  Be sure to visit the website or contact the customer service department of any airline you are considering using before finalizing your travel plans.

Delta Airlines — Pets may travel as carry-on, checked baggage or cargo, depending on the type of animal. Extra fees do apply, and there are some limits to the number of pets that may travel with you. Approved carriers are required and all necessary planning for international travel must be pre-arranged by the pet owner.

United Airlines – Small, vaccinated cats, dogs and household birds of at least 8 weeks of age may accompany an adult person as carry-on luggage. An approved pet carrier must be used, and your pet will need to be stowed in a carrier under the seat in front of you. Arrangements must be made in advance for the pet’s travel, especially as there are a limited number of pet spaces per flight, and pet carrier fees will apply.  Pets may also travel as checked baggage in a kennel, or as cargo if unaccompanied. Out of safety for your pet, cargo travel will not be available when the travel temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

British Airways – Pets may travel with British Airways World Cargo in the aircraft hold. Flights from Germany, Austria and Denmark are unable to accommodate pets. British Airways works in cooperation with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which allows travel with cat and travel with dog from some countries to enter the UK without the typically required 6 month quarantine. Certain conditions must be met and there are rules to the type of carrier that must be used (their website does include a pet container calculator).

Continental Airlines – Continental Airlines pet travel program is called PetSafe® and does not allow pets as checked baggage. Pets will travel as cargo and are trackable online using Continental’s cargo web site. In some markets small pets may be able to travel in the cabin as carry-on luggage for an additional fee. These markets include flights within the U.S. and flights on Continental Connection by Gulfstream International Airlines. All pets must be contained in an approved pet carrier and will be subject to the rules and regulations of the destination country or city in regard’s to health certificates and vaccinations.

KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines – Small cats and dogs (up to 6 kg or 13 lbs, including the weight of the carrier) may be transported within the cabin as carry-on luggage, and must fit under the seat in front of you.  For flights that are under two hours, pets may also travel in the hold of KLM flights. Approved carriers must be used and an extra fee will be incurred. For larger animals, freight transportation is also available.

And also important is to reconfirm your reservation with your airline in the days before your flight to make sure you have everything in order and there are no scheduling or other changes that may adversely affect your pet’s travel. You do not want to be turned away at the gate if your reservation does not have the correct information included.

For more information on various airlines’ rules for flying with pets, check out this resource page.

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