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Flying with pets? The dos and don’ts you must know! 

  • Air Travel
  • Gerard Stevens
  • 9 minutes

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Are you planning to fly somewhere for the holidays? Do you wish to take your four-legged friend along? Here’s the thing – flying with pets is possible since most airlines have started accommodating them in flights. However, it is a fact that flying with a pet is a nerve-racking affair, both for you and your fur babies. Why? Most airlines have distinct policies when it comes to flying with pets. Pet parents always have a whole lot of apprehensions about how safe is to take their pet along. They also need to know what must be done before and after your pet boards the flight!  

Be aware that flying with pets in 2021 has become complicated, with some airlines’ putting restrictions on pet travel. However, you can have a relaxed journey with your precious pet if you know the dos and don’ts. Read more to know about how to travel safely with your pet!  

Traveling with pets- do's and don'ts

The dos you need to follow while flying with pets 

Neither you nor your pet must have a stressful experience while flying out. Many first-timers seem to develop stress while traveling with their pet. You can avoid a stressful journey if you plan well ahead of your trip with your pet. The planning needs to start from the day you book your ticket. So what are the dos and don’ts you must follow to have a relaxed flying with pets? 

Buy a comfy carrier 

Always buy a carrier that allows your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down easily. Use soft-sided carriers while flying with pets. The carrier should have ample ventilation, strong handles, and a leak-proof base. Never forget to mark ‘Live Animal’ on the top and side of the carrier. It would be best to stick a label that contains your name, address, phone number, and destination details. Make sure to familiarize your pet with the carrier so that it will fly with less stress. 

Visit a vet and get a health certificate 

You must visit a vet and get a health certificate if you’re flying with pets. Ensure that your pet is at least eight weeks old and fully weaned before you plan to travel. The vet should certify that your pet is healthy to fly and had its immunizations on time. The airlines won’t encourage pets with illness, are violent, or are in physical distress. The certificate is valid for 30 days. If you’re returning after 30 days, be aware that you need to get a health certificate again from a vet for your pet to board the flight. 

Travel in your own car

flying with pets

It is recommended that you travel in your car with your pet to the airport. The pet is accustomed to your car, which gives it a comfy ride to the airport. Always avoid traveling to the airport in a cab or public transportation services. Your dog may get anxious and uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings, which may spoil the mood of your entire trip.

Also, ensure to book a parking spot when you drive to the airport. You will always want to avoid circling the parking lots with your pet looking for a secure parking spot. Try getting your parking spot in advance so that you can drive up the lot, park, and move for the check-in process with your pet in minutes. Use the Way.com app or website to book a secure airport parking spot at cheaper rates while flying with pets.

If you’re taking a road trip with pets this Essential Tips for Pawsome Road Trips with Pets blog will interest you! 

The don’ts you need to avoid strictly 

There are a few rules that you should follow while flying with pets. Take a look! 

Use of tranquilizers 

Never give sedatives or tranquilizers to your pet before flying. While flying in the cabin, your pet will be exposed to varying altitude pressures. If your pet is sedated or tranquilized, this will create respiratory and cardiovascular issues for them. The ones that get affected by this the most will be snub-nosed dogs.  So, if your fur baby is a Bulldog, Pugs, Lasha Apso, Pekingese, or a Boxer, be extra careful. 

Traveling in extreme weather conditions 

Pets get easily affected by extreme hot and cold temperatures. It can get worse if the pet is flying in cargo. So, choose early morning or evening flights if you’re traveling in the summer season. During winters, always choose the mid-day flights so that the temperature will be the warmest.  

Tip: Always go for non-stop flights while flying with pets. And avoid traveling during the holidays. 

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Traveling with service, comfort, or therapy animals

Many airlines have a different set of rules while flying with service, comfort, or therapy animals. Most airlines recognize only dogs as service animals. As service animals are trained to assist people with physical disabilities, airlines can fly in the cabin even if they exceed usual carry-on criteria. Comfort animals are not trained as service animals, you should inform the airline in advance that you’re flying with an assistance animal. Ensure that your comfort animal doesn’t hinder cabin operations. Their size should allow them to fly without causing trouble to other passengers. A therapy animal will ideally be a trained dog that interacts happily with humans and other animals. In most cases, these animals are not given protection under Air Carrier Access Act. So, ensure to get a certification from a professional before you fly out with your pet.

Flying with pets: Why choose between cabin flying or cargo?  

Most airlines allow pets to fly as a carry-on if they’re small in size. Such pets are put in a carrier and kept beneath the seat in front of you. However, this never guarantees your pet a relaxed flying as it may get stressed by the strange lights, sounds, cabin temperature, or change in air pressure. You can imagine how the other passengers may feel if your pet starts making loud sounds when it gets uncomfortable. 

So, does cargo holds give a better experience for the pets? Yes, to an extent! Dogs and cats could have a relaxed journey because the cargo holds are quieter. The airline employees will feed your pet if you place food and water in the carrier. However, some pets get scared when they part from their owner. Even the loud sounds of baggage falling during the flight make them terrified.  

How to prepare your pets on the day of flight 

Is it good if your pet travels with a full stomach? It is one thing that always perplexes many while flying with pets. It is not preferable to feed your pet just before the flight. Ideally, it is safe to feed your pet four hours before check-in. But, you can always feed them with water right up to the time of boarding. Ensure that you empty the vessel before getting in so that it doesn’t spill during the journey.  

Also, coming with your pet never gives you priority while checking in at any of the airports. If your pet is flying on cargo hold, better make it to the airport three hours before departure for domestic flights and five hours for international flights. 

What to do while booking the flight ticket

When you book the flight ticket, make sure to call the airline officials to enquire about space availability for your pet. Even if you manage to reserve a space for your pet, be mindful of calling them again and reminding them that you’re traveling with your pet. Advance space reservation never guarantees that your pet will fly out with you. The airlines have the right to reject your pet’s travel at any time citing reasons like illness or weather conditions. So, be in touch with the airline’s officials if you’re flying with pets. 

What should you do on arrival? 

Rush to the airline’s cargo location after collecting your baggage on arrival. Most of the airlines mention that pets will be available to pick up within two hours of arrival. The pet will be shifted to a boarding facility or veterinarian if you fail to pick them up within four hours.  

Ensure to go for a walk with your pet once you arrive at the destination airport. If the pet flew in the cabin, take it to the pet relief area and get exercised!  

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Which are the airlines that allow flying with pets in 2021? 

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines 
  • Delta Air Lines
  • JetBlue 
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines 

Flying with pets: Is it essential?

The answer will be ‘No’ unless you’re flying out for a long vacation or relocating. Another reason is that you can’t be sure if the pets are comfortable traveling in the cabin or by cargo. Various factors can induce stress in them, which makes it a frightful journey for them. So, if it isn’t essential to fly with your pet, you can always leave them with your friend or a relative. Or you can use the service of a pet-sitter. It is sure to keep your pet happy and relaxed. And, this also gives you hassle-free travel.  

Tips for flying with pets 

  • Always ensure space availability for your pet while booking the flight ticket. 
  • Airlines don’t usually permit flying with a large dog in the cabin. Use the cargo hold if you’re flying with a large dog.  
  • Choose an appropriate carrier while flying with pets in the cabin. The cabin should be spacious enough for the pet to stand, turn around, and lie down easily. 
  • Get a health certificate from a vet before flying with pets. 
  • Never use tranquilizers or sedatives on your pet before travel.  
  • Avoid traveling in extreme weather conditions. It could create health issues for your pet. 

Check out more blogs on the best parking spots in your city, the most affordable insurance for your car, and top-rated car washes near you.


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