This Air Travel Guide is designed to assist you in safely transporting your pet. Please keep in mind that each airline has its own guidelines, and it is important to notify the airline about your pet travel plans as soon as possible.

Most people feel that it’s next to impossible to take their pet on a plane when, in reality, it’s largely a matter of being well informed. Before you make any plans check into the airline requirements for pets. Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers, which may be more comfortable for your pet. The carrier must be small enough to fit easily under the seat in front of you and have a waterproof bottom.

Each airline has its own weight limits. If your pet isn’t used to traveling in a carrier, it would be a good idea to get him/her accustomed to the pet carrier for at least one month prior to flying. You can leave the carrier open on the floor for your pet to have unlimited access to it. Put some treats or toys inside so they will see it as a friendly place. Take the pet for car rides in the carrier so it can adapt to traveling in a crate. Finally, don’t feed your dog for four to six hours before the flight and have water available for hydration before the flight.

If you own anything larger than a small dog, you cannot take it in the cabin. This means your pet has to travel as checked baggage or cargo. Not a great option. But, whatever the case, knowledge is power and so we’ve gathered as much information as possible from all the major airlines so that you will be familiar with their particular rules and policies.

Tips for Air Travel with Pets:

  • Sedation is not advised for traveling pets as the effects of tranquilizers on animals at higher altitudes are unpredictable. The decision to prescribe a tranquilizer for your pet should be made by your veterinarian.
  • Always have your pet’s leash and collar easily accessible for walking prior to departure, but do not take the pet out of the kennel inside the airport.
  • Identification tags for your pet and travel kennel, including pet’s name, home address and phone number, are essential.
  • Never use a muzzle on your pet during travel, as this is dangerous to the pet.
  • Always make advanced reservations or arrangements with the airline when you are making your own reservations. The airline always reserves the right to refuse travel if there are too many pets on board, so make sure you advise them early.
  • Animals traveling internationally should have a pet microchip that meets ISO standards 11784/11785. This is a 15 digit non-encrypted microchip that operates at 134.2 kHz.
  • The International Airline Transportation Association (IATA) states that your animal must be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned before traveling with the airlines. However; many airlines require that your pet must be at least 15 weeks of age before traveling internationally.
  • Whenever possible, book a direct, non-stop flight and avoid holiday or weekend travel. Consider schedules that minimize temperature extremes.
  • Check with your veterinarian to be sure that your animal is fit to travel. Some species such as snub-nosed dogs simply do not fly well, because they can have difficulty breathing even under normal conditions.
  • At the time you book your trip, call the reservations number of the airline (in-cabin and checked baggage) and tell them that you will be traveling with an animal. In many cases, you cannot book your pet's reservation online. Be sure to reconfirm with the airline 24-48 hours before departure that you will be bringing your pet.
  • If two animals are traveling in the same carrier, no older than six months old, they must be the same species and weigh less than 20 lbs.
  • Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare so that there will be no rush.

Finally, airlines must assure that facilities are able to handle your pet at the airports of transfer or final destination. The Animal Welfare Act has set clear guidelines on allowable temperature limits for animal-holding areas, which airlines must obey.