Pet Travel by Plane

Whether your next trip by car is business or pleasure, we’ll cover the basics on pet travel by plane to make sure that your trip is a smooth one.

Pets flying in the airline cabin

One of the options for pet travel by air is to fly with your pet in the cabin. This option is generally available on flights lasting 6 hours or less on my airlines. Policies concerning pet travel differ from airline to airline, but typically most airlines allow 1-2 pets per passenger. The number of pets allowed on each flight can also differ on airlines, so it is recommended that you call the airline you will be traveling on and make sure there is room for your pet onboard before booking your flight. Your pet carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. The carrier must also have a water proof bottom to ensure that nothing leaks from the carrier.

We recommend going to our airline policy page to review the information regarding pet travel regulations for specific airlines. Additional information concerning pet travel can also be found at the website of the airline you will be traveling on.

Pets flying on an aircraft as cargo

You also have the option to travel with your pet as cargo on many airlines that fly larger aircrafts (excluding commuter planes). Airlines that allow pet travel as cargo have created a particular set of rules for the way that these pets are handled as cargo to ensure your pet’s safety.

Depending on the temperature of your travel destination, you may or may not be required to have an airline acclimation certificate. An acclimation certificate is a certificate in which a veterinarian certifies that the animal being shipped is able to adapt to temperatures of 45 F and below.

Pets traveling in the cargo compartment of a plane must be transported in a pet cargo crate that has been approved by the International Air Transport Association. Please see the IATA website for the regulations concerning pet travel as cargo

Requirements for airline pet carriers

Rules pertaining to approved types of carriers for dogs, cats, and other approved types of pets allowed to fly in the aircraft cabin or as cargo were formed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and have generally been accepted by most airlines.

A complete checklist of what to bring when traveling by plane with your pet

  • Medications. Be sure to pick up any refills of medications your pet will need while away from home.
  • Health Certificate. A health certificate is created to allow animals to travel across state or country borders without having to go into quarantine. Health Certificates are available as a part of our International Pet Travel Document Package.
  • Identification. Make sure your pet’s ID tag is accurate and up-to-date. At minimum, your pet tag should have your pet’s name and a contact phone number of the owner. Additional information such as the owner’s address and emergency contact may be listed as well. As a traveling pet, you might want to add an additional ID tag with information on where you are staying so that if your pet gets away, you are easily accessible.
  • Airline Acclimation Certificate. Acclimation certificates are used to authorize airlines to transport animals when they are unable to fulfill animal welfare regulations. An acclimation certificate consists of a veterinarian certifying that the animal being shipped is able to adapt to temperatures of 45 F and below. Airline Acclimation Certificates are available as a part of our International Pet Travel Document Package.
  • A kennel or carrier. Your kennel or carrier should meet standards specified by the airline you are flying on. It should also be well ventilated and large enough to where you pet can fit comfortably. Your pet should be able to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around with ease (an alternative for pets traveling by car can also be a pet car seat belt).
  • Food/water bowls/utensils for opening/scooping. Many stores offer collapsible nylon bowls that are leak-proof and perfect for traveling. Make sure to grab a can opener if your pet eats canned food, and a scoop for easy rationing.
  • Travel Tote. A Travel Tote contains the best travel sized products and includes: Relax calming supplement. Probiotic to support digestive health. Biodegradable doggie waste bags, and a collapsible, reusable water bowl.
  • Food and water. Bring the food that your pet is used to while traveling. Doing so can help you avoid the dreaded “messy butt” and/or vomiting. We advise that you bring your own water for your own pet. Whatever kind of water you usually give it is fine. Drinking water from a foreign area that your pet is not accustomed to could result in an upset stomach in your pet.
  • Treats! Every good pet deserves a reward (but not too many…too many treats can cause diarrhea).
  • Pet waste bags, or litter box and scoop. To be courteous and clean up after your pet.
  • Pet wipes. Wipes for dogs are a great way to clean up dirty paws, give a coat a quick wipe down, or to clean any unexpected messes.
  • Collar and leash. To make sure your pet gets exercise.
  • Recent photo. In the instance that you become separated from your pet while traveling, a photo will prove to be helpful.
  • Pet vaccination records…if traveling across state lines. Various states require this proof at certain interstate crossings. This generally doesn’t tend to be a problem…but it is better to be on the safe side.

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