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Flying With Your Pet

Individual airlines may restrictions on the type and number of pets they will transport and require that pets be harmless, in good health, remain in their container (when flying pet carriers must be used) and be relatively odorless if they are traveling in the cabin. Pets that travel in the cabin must be in carriers that conform to carry-on standards. Larger pets must travel in the hold.

Every airline has different policies regarding how you may travel with your pet, but they must all meet the requirements of the federal Animal Welfare Act enforced by the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The Animal Welfare Act ensures that pets traveling on planes are, among other things, of the correct age, receive adequate food and shelter and have a recent health certificate.

Here are a few suggestions for pet air travel:
  • Be Proactive: check on the status of your pets often, alert all flight personnel that you’re flying with pet and learn all relevant regulations and procedures.
  • Mark Your Crates: distinctive fluorescent tape allows you to spot your crate at a distance so you can watch your pets being loaded into the hold.
  • Mark Your Crates Some More: it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a few “UP” arrows and”Do Not Open” signs on your airplane pet carrier.
  • Attach Flight Info: including copies of your flight information can help if your pet gets lost or transferred; be sure to include contact numbers.
  • Arrive Early: pet-space on most airlines is 1st come, 1st served, reservation or no, so get there at least an hour early, if not more.
  • Tip the Skycap: a few greased palms make for good insurance, especially if the skycaps have to go out of their way to care for your pet.