How To Safely Transport Your Pet By Air

Government rules and restrictions on airlines assure minimum standards for handling pets traveling as cargo. Each airline has its own set of policies to safeguard your pet while traveling by air.  But there is a lot you can do to make sure your pet is safe and as comfortable as possible. Here is a safety and comfort checklist:
  • Call the airline ahead and inquire about their policies regarding pet travel.
  • If your pet is small enough for a kennel that fits under your airline seat, it can travel with you in the cabin on some airlines. Ask whether this is permissible before you book the flight.
  • Larger pets travel in pressurized cargo compartments. If this is true of your pet, make sure the pilot and cabin personnel know, as soon as you board the plane, that your pet is in the cargo area.
  • Provide a kennel that meets government requirements, or use an approved kennel provided by the airline.
  • Supply enough water to last your pet up to 24 hours. Attach a bag of food to the side of the kennel, along with feeding instructions. If your pet is taking medication, attach that, too, along with instructions for how much to give and when.
  • Let your pet drink moderately before flying, but don't feed your pet solid food for 6 hours prior to the departure.
  • Minimize your pet's time in transport by avoiding holiday and weekend travel. Book only nonstop flights, if possible. Flights called "direct" by the airlines actually take much longer because they include one or more stopovers along the way.  
  • Allow plenty of time for check-in, but don't arrive at the airport more than four hours ahead of departure.
  • Avoid sedating your pet without the advice of a veterinarian. Sedation can affect your pet's breathing during flight.
  • Take your pet on a short walk before check-in and after you pick him up at arrival.
  • Be prepared to provide a health certificate signed by a veterinarian to verify your pet's health. The certificate should be signed no more than 10 days before your departure.
  • Inform yourself of entry regulations for pets at your destination and bring along any health certificates required.