Everything You Need to Know About Flying with Pets
If you’ve decided to move across the country, this shouldn’t be such a difficult task. You pack up and mail your items, hop on a flight, and you’re there. All you have to deal with is unpacking your belongings and placing them in your new home. But what if you have a pet? Things get a little trickier when you need to bring your furry friend along with you. Luckily, many airlines have policies in place for those who need to bring their pet along on a flight. In this article we’ll discuss everything you need to know about flying with pets such as what your options are, how much it costs, and what type of carrier you need to buy.
What Are The Options
Depending on the type and weight of your pet, you’ll have two different options when it comes to where your pet will sit during the flight. The first is in the cargo hold. If your pet is larger in size, it will most likely need to fly in the cargo hold with the checked luggage. According to the Humane Society of the United States, this should only be done if it’s a last resort. Flying in the cargo hold can cause stress and confusion for the animal as well as possible health risks. If you have the option to drive your pet to your destination, choose this option. If you do decide to move forward with flying them in the cargo, make sure to take your pet into the veterinarian a few weeks before the flight for a check up and to get necessary immunizations.
The better option for flying with your pet is to bring them on as carry-on luggage and keep them under the seat in front of you. This is only allowed for pets that will fit under the seat and generally weigh 20 pounds or less. Your pet will still be a little stressed during this experience but they will feel much more comfortable in with you right there.
Either way, most airlines will charge a fee and they all have different policies so be sure to check with your airline first to ensure that bringing your pet is allowed.
How Much Is The Cost
Every airline is different but they almost all fall within the same general price range. To check your pet into the cargo hold, it can cost anywhere from $200 to several hundred dollars. Flying your pet in the cabin tends to be much cheaper, coming in around $100-$125 on average. The caveat with taking your pet onto the plane with you is that it may count as your carry-on, meaning you’ll have to check any items you planned on bringing on the plane besides your free personal item. Check with your airline to get up-to-date and more accurate costs.
Best Pet Carriers
Once you’ve decided whether your pet will be flying in the cargo hold or in the cabin, you’ll need to purchase an airline-approved carrier to bring them in. For an in-cabin pet, your carrier should be small enough to fit under seat, but big enough so that the animal has enough room to stretch out. Some airlines actually require that the carrier be big enough for your pet to stand and turn around. Your best bet is to choose a soft bag, rather than a hard case as it will be lighter, easier to carry, and will fit better under your seat. You’ll find plenty of great options that are airline-approved on Amazon with prices ranging from $20-$40.
If your pet is going in the cargo hold, it’s better to purchase a hard kennel so that the pet is safe from anything that may bump against it during the flight. Check with your airline for exact dimensions on what’s allowed.
Tips For Flying With Pets
If you’re bringing a pet on the flight, here are a few helpful tips:
- Call the airline and make a reservation for your pet
- Ask the airline what their requirements are for bringing pets on a plane
- Confirm with the airline if your breed of cat or dog is allowed or if they allow other types of pets on their planes
- Schedule a veterinarian visit to get your pet a check-up and required immunizations several weeks before the flight
- Put together a folder of necessary documents required by the airline
- Train your pet to get used to its kennel or bag by letting them spend time in it weeks before the flight
- Train your pet to hold its bladder
- Look up the airports that you’ll be flying in and out of as well as the layover airport. Many airports offer pet relief areas where you can take them out of their carrier to relieve themselves and stretch
- Arrive early to check in as sometimes there are limits as to how many pets are allowed on a flight
- Your pet can either go through the x-ray machine at security or you can request to have your pet and its carrier screened privately
Which Airlines Allow Pets
Many airlines nowadays allow pets on their planes. Here are several of the larger airlines that currently allow their passengers to bring pets on board:
- Allegiant Air
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Virgin America
- JetBlue Airways
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Pet Airways
Each of these airlines have different pet policies so be sure to check their website or call for more information. If you plan to fly with another airline, check their website to see if they offer any pet policies.
Once you’ve done your research, you’ve made a reservation for your pet, and you’ve prepared them for the journey, you should feel confident in bringing your furry friend up in the air. Your pet may be stressed out during the flight which is to be expected, but as long you talk to them and pet them, they should remain calm. Don’t even think about sedating them as most airlines strictly forbid it. Bring some treats to give during layovers and don’t forget to hydrate them. Good luck and happy travels!
- Nerd Wallet – Know the Three C’s of Flying with Pets
- CNN – Flying with a Dog
- Nerd Wallet – How to Take Your Cat on a Plane