Best of the Best: Tips for Flying with Pets

I’m going to the BlogPaws2012 pet bloggers conference in June and registrants are encouraged that the Salt Lake City hotel and conference are pet friendly. I imagined how much less nervous I  might be to embark on this adventure if I had one of my pets accompany me. But then the prospect of researching and providing for my pet’s travel needs seem daunting too! Ooh, but I work at BaxterBoo! What great travel products are at my disposal! How great would it be to test them out for my readers’ benefit?

But ultimately, my decision to bring a pet is going to have to come down to the airline policies. So here are some tips and airline resources for flying with pets:

Consider Your Pet’s Needs

Health. Every pet is one of a kind, but not every pet would make a good flight companion. Pets that don’t fit in an airline approved carrier under the seat in front of you have to ride with the luggage, which may be prohibited for safety reasons during hot or very cold seasons. In particular, short-muzzle breeds like pugs, bulldogs, or dogs with very long snouts like collies may have difficulties breathing with altitude and temperature changes. Some of those breeds have been banned from the cargo hold for that reason. Elderly or very young pets may find the stress of air travel to be prohibitive. And sick pets are not permitted either.

Temperament. Consider if your pet will actually enjoy traveling. For example, I have three possible traveling pet candidates. While Ms. Bella Boo the cat has been known to blog for us and might be a good candidate from that standpoint, asking her to fly and stay in a hotel room is a bit of a stretch, even for a girl who enjoys riding in the car and modeling for us at BaxterBoo. Cats generally prefer consistency.

Each of my Shih-Poos (featured in my profile photo) would be good for travel as they are friendly, small, and well behaved, but Anna, the female, is getting along in years, and I know it would be tiring for her. Joey is a delightful boy who would enjoy the adventure and charm everyone he meets, so he would be the most suitable.

Airline Policies Vary Widely

Each airline carrier is different, therefore, carefully review your airline’s pet policies. Some pets are allowed in airline-approved carriers as part of your carry-on baggage allotment. Some only permit pets in the cargo area. Some companies only allow a certain number of animals in the cabin, so make sure you reserve your pet’s place when you book your own ticket. There is often a fee required even if your pet’s carrier meets the carry-on luggage requirements. Check for health certificate/vaccination requirements and ensure you bring documentation with you. This is as important as your own I.D.

Top Rated Airlines for Pets

Petfinder has rated the top pet-friendly airlines based on company policies, amenities, and fees, which might be helpful as you consider booking travel. I wish I had visited their site before booking my flight!

Incidentally, the carrier that I selected to fly with is currently involved in a $4-billion suit. A former vet tech shipped 11 dogs and 3 of them died after being exposed to 120-degree temperatures in the cargo hold in 2008. This happened on the way to Salt Lake City (where the conference is.) though my pet would be safe in the cabin with me, they still require $150 each way for me to bring Joey. Needless to say, my courage to bring a pet along is wavering with this news.

Regardless of what I choose to do, I want to leave you with another great site that is very helpful for tips for flying with pets. Trips with Pets offers several suggestions for successful flying as well as for navigating your entire trip with the unique needs of travelers with pets in mind.

Do you have any flying experiences with your pet?

Traveling Yorkie photo by Mark Lee.

5 thoughts on “Best of the Best: Tips for Flying with Pets

  1. I flew (with) my 4 pound yorkie from Phoenix to San Francisco. She needed knee surgery and her chances to make it through anesthesia in Tucson were 50/50 and in California it wasn’t a concern. I chose to fly out of Phoenix rather than Tucson because it was a shorter direct flight. We flew on Southwest and they were very accomadating. On the return trip, they re-seated me to the back of the plane and the two seats next to me were empty. I put her carrier on top of the seat. I also asked the flight attendant permission to take her out of the carrier and she sat on my lap for part of the flight. The most diificult part was SF Airport. Our return flight was delayed by fog and the waiting passengers were irratable and cranky. Also, I brought pee pads and put them on the floor in the airport bathrooms for her – that worked out great. By the way, she recovered beautifully and within 4 weeks could do a 1.3 mile walk!

  2. I used to work for the airlines and can say that most of us did try very hard to accommodate pets flying in the cabin or in cargo. Since being on disability I travel with my service dog. I have had both good and bad times with him. He is a yorkie so it is sometimes hard to have people understand he is working. On one flight he got to sit with me, on one he was under the seat, not a big help to me when I need him, another flight I had a very hard time even getting him on board. My advice is to be prepared for any situation. Every time can be different. Just dont let them push you around, but learn their rules. Everyone needs to understand the need for our dogs to be with us, especially when they are service dogs. Just do your research and you and your pup will have a good flight.

  3. I found an awesome service that actually flies pets only! My friend used their service to fly her dog to family member in Dallas who was taking over caring for the dog, and they had a great experience. Not to mention that the cost was actually cheaper than what they were quoted to fly the dog in cargo. Can’t recommend them enough!

    http://www.petairways.com/

  4. I too, have never taken my pet on an airline. I flew recently and their was the cutest dog on the flight. I never heard a sound out of that dog. He flew very well. She had him in an adorable carrier.

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