Taking your pet with you on vacation can be fun. But flying with your fur baby can present a few challenges, so it’s important to educate yourself before you take your next trip and choose a pet-friendly airline. Here’s what to consider.
The first step: Visit the vet before you book your flight. Your veterinarian can look for health issues that make flying risky for animals. The vet can also make sure that your pet is up to date on the vaccinations most airlines require, like those for rabies, kennel cough (bordetella), flu, and FVRCP (rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia).
The American Veterinary Medical Association has a few tips for making sure you find an appropriate flight for you and your pet. Be sure to:
Check with the airline before booking to make sure your pet doesn’t fall under any size or breed restrictions
Avoid layovers — book non-stop flights where possible
Work around busy holidays — try to fly during off-peak travel times
Consider the temperature and book accordingly. Aim for morning or evening flights during warmer months, and afternoon flights during cooler months
Reserve tickets for yourself and your pet at the same time to ensure a spot for your pet, as many airlines limit how many pets are allowed on each flight
One of the most important things you can do is choose an airline that lets your pet fly with you in the cabin.
Dogs are generally much safer in the cabin as opposed to the cargo area, where changes in air pressure and other factors can pose serious risks like heart attack and suffocation. And certain breeds face additional risks.
It’s easier to fly with smaller pets than larger breeds, especially if you want to keep your pet with you in the cabin. In fact, most airlines only allow larger pets to fly in the cargo area.
Once you’re ready to book your flight, be sure to compare prices to find an affordable option for your pet. Even though pet carriers count as carry-on luggage, airlines charge extra for them.
Whether your pet is flying in the cabin or as cargo, consider booking your next trip with one of these pet-friendly airlines:
Price: $125 per pet, each way Carrier size: Varies by the plane’s size since pets travel in under-seat carry-on space. Restrictions: No brachycephalic breeds allowed in the cargo area.
Price: $95 per pet, each way Carrier size: 18.5 in x 8.5 in x 13.5 in. Restrictions: No animals allowed in cargo area.
Price: $125 per pet, each way Carrier size: Varies by the plane’s size since pets travel in under-seat carry-on space. Restrictions: No brachycephalic breeds allowed in cargo area.
Price: $125 per pet, each way Carrier size: 17.5 in x 12 in x 7.5 x for hard carriers; 18 in x 11 in x 11 in for soft carriers. Restrictions: United barred animals from cargo areas after 18 dog deaths in 2017.
Price: $100 per pet, each way Carrier size: 17 in x 11 in x 7.5 in for hard carriers; 17 in x 11 in x 9.5 in for soft carriers. Restrictions: No brachycephalic breeds allowed in cargo area.
On the day of your trip, be sure to exercise your pet as much as possible and let them relieve themselves before crating them and heading into the terminal. And rest assured — before you know it, you’ll both be enjoying your stay at your final destination.