There are three basic ways you can fly with your pets and depending on your situation may have to use one or some of them. These different modes of transportation each have different costs and preparation requirements so we’d like to break them down for you. Knowing about the different methods of air travel with pets will make the planning process much easier and help you save money as well. It boils down to understanding how the airlines view your pets in transit – either as carry-ons, luggage, or cargo. The difference between each of these is comfort and cost for you and your pet. www.travelrows.com
Pets As Carry On
When flying with pets one of your options if your cat or dog is less than usually) 25lbs is to have them in the cabin with you. You’ll need the proper carrier and pet that can handle air travel in general. The cost is usually a bit cheaper than for larger animals who have to be checked in as special luggage. You can usually get a spot for $150-250 in the cabin but must remember to call ahead. Almost all of the airlines limit the total number of pets allowed in the cabin to 2 so notify them as early as you can.
Pets As “Luggage”
Don’t worry, your pets aren’t going to be placed in a suitcase but they will be considered by the airline to be luggage. This will be for any pet that’s over 25lbs or whatever the specific cabin weight limit is for dogs and cats. For flights that already have 2 pets booked for the cabin you’d need to have your pets placed as luggage as well. Basically you’ll check in your pet and crate at the checkout counter where you’ll have to take them out of their crate as it’s inspected for security. Once that process is done, they’ll be taken care of by airline staff. You’ll have to pick up your pets upon arrival near the baggage claim area. Typically this costs more than the cabin option and runs about $250.
Pets As Cargo
This is probably the least attractive option for a number of reasons. For one it means that you’ll be sending your pets on their travels without you on the same flights. You’d likely do this to send your pets to relatives or for whenever you would not be able to take the exact same route as your dog or cat. They’ll still go through the airline to make the journey except that being considered as cargo, you’ll be charge shipping rates accordingly. To say it will be expensive is an understatement. Based on the weight and size of your pet, as well as the total distance to be traveled, you could end up paying well over $1,500. We’d recommend you avoid this route if at all possible and make every attempt to travel with your pets. This will also make the customs process much easier and give you less paperwork to fill out prior to the trip.
Tips For Flying With Pets
A big part of flying with your pets takes place on the ground many months before your actual flight. It comes down to preparation and taking shorter road trips to make sure your dog and cat are accustomed to their crates and moving in vehicles. Start in your home with a crate that allows your pet to stand up and turn around, but not take more than a step or two inside. This may seem small but the restrictiveness is actually better for your pet when flying so they have less room to move and get bumped around. Of course before selecting a crate, but sure to follow our guide on international pet transportation to make sure you’ve got the right crate for your flight.
Approximately 6-12 hours before your first flight you should restrict food and water to your dog or cat. While it will make them slightly hungry and thirsty, it will help them be more comfortable in the long run as their bowels and bladders won’t be full. You want to prevent your pet from having to hold in urine too long and make it as easy as possible to hold in their pee, especially for longer flights. It is also a good idea to have a blanket or Velcro lining at the bottom of the crate or carrier in case they do have an accident. The soft material will absorb a bit of any accidents and are generally just more comfortable for your pet to sit and lay down on.
In addition to getting your pet ready, you’ll also want to make sure you are prepared as well. Keep a well organized folder with all of your pet’s information, as well as microchip number, and their latest vaccination records. Don’t pack this in your luggage, it’s essential to keep it with you in your carry on as it will be needed several times throughout your trip. Payment for your pet will also be taken when you check it, not when you book, so have your credit card handy to make the process go much smoother.
Get Them Tired
Your pet should ideally be tired when flying. You can do this by scheduling the flight around their circadian rhythms if possible. Dogs are diurnal like humans, meaning they’re more active during the day so flights at night will coincide when they are likely to be sleepy anyway. The opposite is true of cats, nocturnal animals, so if your can try and schedule flights during the day. Either way, don’t be surprised if your pet seems out of sorts at your vacation destination, they suffer from jet lag too.
A good long walk with your dog of up to an hour or a long play session with some catnip for your feline companion will also help reduce flight anxiety. You want to channel your pet’s energy so they can relax in the unfamiliar situation of flying. You’ll need to assess your pet – if you don’t feel they’ll cope well, don’t have them in the cabin as it can result in a very long flight for you and the other passengers.