Flying the Furry Skies

Someone recently asked for travel tips to fly the furry skies. Personally, I have not flown with Cici and do not intend to do so in the near future. But below are some tips to follow that I would observe if and when I were to take her with me on a flight. I prefer driving. But sometimes it is not convenient to drive long distances. If I had a choice of driving or flying, I would choose driving. But you may have to fly your pet so here are some guidelines.

There are airlines that have a better history with pets than others. For instance, Delta has a bad reputation for losing pets. Virgin America is a pet-friendly airline that accepts cats and dogs in the Main Cabin of the aircraft. Be sure that you feel comfortable with the airline. Does the airline have a good reputation for flying with pets? Are they pet friendly? Do they treat pets like baggage or a nuisance?  Ask other pet owners.  Our friends at Dog Jaunt have listed airline policies and other information about flying with your pet at their blog.

My first choice of airlines, if you can travel separately from your pet and you are going to one of the destinations below, then Pet Airways should be your best bet. Here’s more information about this airline for pets.

$149 each way,  compared to the fares at airlines which vary from $69 to $250 for pets to fly as baggage

On Pet Airways, passengers travel in the main cabin of the planes:

•    fully-lit, climate-controlled and pressurized
•    a trained pet attendant monitoring them
•    pets fly securely and comfortably in individual pet carriers
•    pet attendant checks on passengers every fifteen minutes during flights

Pet Airways flies to and from:

New York (NJ,CT & Philadelphia)
Washington DC/Baltimore Area
Los Angeles
Ft. Lauderdale

if your pet becomes ill during the flight, they will notify you as soon as possible, and discuss with you whether your pet should continue with planned travel. If your pet’s illness becomes life-threatening, they will divert the flight to the nearest airport as soon as possible and contact either your vet if available or their vet for the course of action they should take.

If you choose not to use a ticket you have purchased, the amount you have paid may be applied toward the purchase of another Pet Airways ticket, as long as travel is completed within one year. Your new ticket may be subject to different terms or conditions. Pet Airways does not charge a fee for the exchange of tickets.

Your pet will be available at the lounge about 30 minutes after arrival. If the arrival time is after midnight, they will board your pet until the next morning.


For all other airlines, your pet will be treated like excess Baggage and placed into the baggage compartment.  There is usually a limit of 100 pounds for your pet including pet and crate. Flying sucks for big dogs. Your pet may have to travel as cargo, fees are higher, and airlines may not guarantee that your pet flies on the same flight that you do.

Some airlines allow pets 10 pounds or less to fly in the cabin, usually not more than two pets per flight. Fees can be $100+. Requirements for health certificates and other precautions should be observed.

If your pet is traveling as a passenger, please do not take your pet out of her carrier. Some people are allergic to pet hair. And you do not want to be the person with the animal that they were forced to deal with during a flight. Be kind and considerate and keep your pet in his carrier for the duration of the flight.

Airline Pet Policies
Contact your airline through their website. Southwest has a very good reputation in dealing with pets.

Other Things to Consider Ahead of Time

Additional Costs for Bringing Your Pet
To bring your pet aboard, you will have to spend additional cash. Between buying a crate, if you don’t already have an appropriate one, air and hotel fees, and unexpected expenses, you may wish to tally up the costs to see if traveling with your pet is the best choice.

Make Sure The Destination Allows Pets
Some destinations have unique requirements for pets or don’t allow them. For instance, recently foreigners with pets had to leave their animals in Egypt. Hawaii has a quarantine period for dogs and cats of up to 120 days. You must prove that your pet is free of rabies. Your pet may qualify for a five-day or less quarantine, or even a direct release, at Honolulu International Airport after inspection if your meet their stringent requirements ahead of time.

Your pet’s collar should have a sturdy tag with rabies vaccination information, your name, address and phone number, and local contact numbers. Pets can get lost while traveling.

Train Your Pet
If your pet listens to your voice commands and hand signals and is friendly to strangers, travel will be easier for you and for them.

Is Your Pet’s Health a Factor?
Make sure your pet is able to fly. Call your vet and make a checklist of questions ahead of time. If your pet has health concerns and issues, they may have to stay home with a friend, relative or pet sitter.

A Pet’s Essential Aid Kit
Essential ingredients to bring include a pet thermometer, antibiotic or healing cream and ointments, ear drops, tweezers, scissors, cotton, wash cloth, gauze, and other items. Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy to ease stress and shock, flower essences or aromatherapy essential oils such as Lavendar that calm anxiety, music for your dog CD’s,  aloe vera gel, hydrogen peroxide, a towel, wipes, grooming supplies, pet waste bags, food, treats, toys, and familiar items. If your pet is taking medications, bring those, too.


You must crate train your pet if you expect them to stay inside one for any length of time. Purchase a crate that meets your airline’s standards and requirements.   You will also need  a blanket, liner or cushion for the bottom of the crate. Even if your pet is housebroken, accidents can happen. Long flights and lonely hotel rooms are not the best time to train your pet to stay in a crate. Get the crate ahead of time and work with your pet until she’s familiar and comfortable in the crate. Some pets enjoy staying in a crate, others do not enjoy being confined.

Before the flight, make sure that your pet has enough food and water in the crate and the crate is big enough for them to stand up and stretch, sit, and lie down. Identify your pet’s crate with large, colorful, easy-to-read labels. You might also include your pet’s favorite toy, blanket or a comfy pillow so that your pet has something familiar, something with your smell on it for dogs, a t-shirt or towel. Your pet and her crate should have identifying information including name and your contact information both at home and at your destination.

Pre flight precautions

Know Your Pet

Does your pet like being in their crate? Do they have allergies? Are they flexible when it comes to travel, in other words, when you are not around are they ok?  Take age, breed and personality into consideration.

Talk to Your Vet
If your pet has health, age or breed concerns such as Boston terriers and bulldogs breathing issues, Persian cats, puppies or kittens under twelve weeks, or a pet older than ten years, may not be physically able to travel by air. Medication such as drugs to calm your pet’s anxiety may not be the answer, either. If you do decide to give your pet a sedative, bring your veterinarian’s instructions with you to the airport.

Crate/Kennel Requirements
Kennels should be enclosed, with enough room and strong enough to withstand normal travel usage.

Kennels must have absorbent material at the bottom that makes the floor leak-proof.

Kennels must have enough ventilation, air holes and rims to prevent ventilation openings from being blocked.

Kennels must have outside handles so that handlers do not have to put their fingers inside the crate in order to move it.

Kennels have to be marked with the words “live animals” with letters at least one inch high, with directional arrows indicating the proper orientation of the kennel. (Front and back, this way up).

Airlines usually have these and other requirements. For specific policies, visit your airline’s Web site.

Early Birds
If you are nervous or afraid when flying, then your pet is going to be also. Calm your jitters by getting to the plane on time, or preferably early so that you can go through all of the security, get your pets handled properly and walked ahead of time.

Necessary Documentation
A health certificate is required on most airlines, and usually has to be issued within ten days of your flight. Your veterinarian should be able to give you what you’ll need, to show that they’ve had the proper vaccinations.

Book Nonstop Flights on a 747
Pets can get lost or mishandled during connections. A nonstop flight is best. Most 747’s and other wide-body jets have forced air ventilation in their cargo holds. Smaller planes do not.  Check with your airline to determine what type of plane you will be flying. All airlines have various requirements for pets. Be sure your pet meets the requirements.

Weather Concerns
If the temperature is below 45 degrees or above 85 degrees, airlines will not take your pets on board. Travel early in the day during summer and midday during winter.

Feeding Your Pet
Give your pet a little bit of food and water, maybe a biscuit or two, not a whole meal before travel. When you land at your destination, you can feed and water them. They may or may not be hungry for awhile.

Walk Your Pet
If your pet is going to be contained in an airplane for a long time, you want will them to stretch their paws before traveling. Tucker them out. Plus, they will need to eliminate on the walk. When you land, ditto.

Baggage Personnel
You will likely need assistance with your luggage and your pet. Be sure to tip the baggage personnel or porter well as incentive to take proper care of your special cargo furry friend.

Click on…

Saturday Blog Hop


Filed under aromatherapy, bach flower remedy, dog travel, pet blog hop, pet friendly lodging, pet sitter, pet sitting, pet travel, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Flying the Furry Skies

  1. Pingback: air travel tips for pet owners | Have dog blog will travel | Pets And Pet Supplies

  2. I haven’t taken Toby on a plane either. While I would like to, the whole idea gets me a little nervous. But, I would love to work for Pet Airways!

  3. Wow….that was one seriously thorough post. Loved, loved, loved it. I’ve flown with Oliver once and plan to take him to Blogpaws this August. Still considering whether to fly or drive. Thanks for all the options and tips.

  4. I agree with you that I wouldn’t feel comfortable flying with my dog. But I’d consider Pet Airways if it were absolutely necessary.

    Here’s hoping Amtrak becomes pet friendly some day.

  5. Kristine

    This is a lot of great advice! I’ve never thought of taking a dog on a plane, mostly because my dogs have always been large and I have never felt the stress of it all worthwhile. If I go on a trip that necessitates plane travel, I think my dog would rather stay at home in a kennel or with a friend. But I know there are a lot of dogs who handle the experience much better. Pet Airways sounds like a great option.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s