How to fly with a pet and tips for a smooth flight
Flying with a pet is a bit more complicated than just adding an extra bag. It can be nerve-racking flying with your loyal companion – after all, they are precious cargo. The best way to ensure everything goes smoothly is to plan ahead and try to anticipate any potential stressors. If all goes well, neither you nor your pet will have anything to worry about.
What to consider before flying with a pet in-cabin
Picture flying from your pet’s perspective – the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells can be very scary. Even worse, they’ll spend the whole flight in a crate underneath the seat in front of you with no view. However, getting to your destination can be more comfortable if you follow these tips.
Visit the vet
We recommend talking to your vet about your pet’s health before flying with them. Discuss any concerns that may arise with air travel, and if your vet gives the all-clear, reserve a spot for your pet.
Reserve a spot early
As mentioned above, most airlines only allow a limited number of pets on their flights. You’ll need to reserve your spot early to guarantee your pet a spot on the plane.
If possible, book a direct flight, and try flying during the week when airports are less busy. This reduces the amount of time to reach your destination allowing your pet out of their crate sooner.
Get a carrier
Most airlines only allow pets to fly in the cabin in their carriers. Check the airline’s carrier size restrictions to know which type will fit under the seat and still have enough space for your cat or dog to move freely.
Crate train your pet
Flying is already a stressful situation for your fur baby, and this will only worsen if they associate their crate with a scary place. You’ll need to crate train your pet early enough so that they associate their crate with a safe space.
Tips for travelling with pets through airports
Prep the carrier and get them ready for downtime
If it’s not already lined, place a liner or absorbent pad at the bottom of the carrier. Pack some food and water for your pet and make sure to pack extra in case of delays. Also, try to play with your pet and give them lots of attention before heading to the airport to help reduce the nervous energy they might experience while travelling.
Arrive early with a plan
We recommend arriving at least two hours before your flight. This will give your pet just enough time to drop the nervous feelings and adjust to the new environment. You’ll also want to have a plan in case of delays. Where will you take your dog for walks? Where are the pet relief areas? It’s better to figure out these scenarios ahead of your flight.
Remember to check in with the airline
It doesn’t matter if you checked in online – you will need to check in at the airline counter if you’re flying with a pet. Your airline should be aware of your pet from the reservation, but you will want to double-check this and get crucial information like the location of pet relief areas and your gate assignment.
Familiarize yourself with the rules for pets in airports
The FAA requires you to have your pet in its carrier as you travel through the airport. This rule has two exceptions: When passing through the metal detector and when accessing the pet relief areas. Other than that, your pet should stay put in their carrier.
Think through your arrival
You will also need a plan for when you arrive at your destination airport. Try to look up where the pet relief areas are ahead of time and organize pet-friendly transportation from the airport.