People who want to fly with their pets immediately think of their poor creature being sedated and then stowed away in cargo. Owners go to amazing lengths to give every measure of loving care and comfort to their pet. Plopping them in the back of the plane with the luggage and watching the carrier be banged around on the tarmac just doesn’t jive with the pampered view of pet care. Great News! If a fury friend is small enough, there’s a possibility that the pet can ride along with the owner in-cabin.
Eligibility to fly in-Cabin
Most airlines will allow small animals to ride in-cabin, given they meet certain requirements. Owners should shop for an airline that will allow pets in the cabin, and then ensure that the pet will be eligible. Pets weighing more than 15 lbs. may not be comfortable in a carrier that fits under the seat and will not meet airline requirements. Do research to find the dimensions that will fit under the seat to verify if the carrier and pet size will qualify.
Getting the Vet’s Stamp of Approval
Two things are required from the veterinarian: First, a general endorsement that your pet is fit to fly. Second, it may be required that the pet also have health certificate. Most airlines require a health certificate if the pet is riding in cargo, but not if they are riding in-cabin. The vet visit can meet both objectives, but there’s usually a limit on how old the certificate may be in order to be valid. It’s recommended that the certificate by dated between one and two weeks of your flight.
- Buy Tickets/Reserve Space on the Plane
Airlines limit the number of pets that are allowed on the plane. If verified “cabin pet friendly”, actions should be taken to quickly book the flight for both owner and pet at the same time.
- Rules at International Destinations
Some countries have strict laws around animal import and quarantines. Do research on regulations before bringing any animal to foreign destinations.
- An Appropriate Carrier
If the pet doesn’t already have a carrier, a shopping trip may be necessary. Soft sided carriers present fewer limitations as they can be squished to fit beneath the seat.
- Getting Familiar with Carrier
It would be ill advised to spring a new carrier on the pet the day of the scheduled flight. Stress will be alleviated by giving the critter time to get accustomed to the new travel home. Better yet, try a few short practices runs in the carrier.
- Investigate Pet Facilities in Airport
The trip will determine how dependent you may need to be on the airports pet facilities. Whether a long trip with extended layovers or a short trip where the pet can easily “hold it”, it’s wise to know what the options are in case they’re needed.
- Vaccination records and necessary health information.
- At least two meals worth of pet food.
- An empty bottle for water (filled once past security checks).
- A water bowl.
- A collar and leash.
- A favorite toy or something that smells like the owner.
- Pet Treats.
- Poop bags.
- Wet wipes – just in case.
- Anticipate the Pet Boarding Procedure
It’s wise to visualize the boarding procedure ahead of time. It will be an entirely different experience taking your furry friend on a flight than flying alone or with other humans. It might be a bit intimidating to handle all the usual security hurdles in addition to finagling an anxious pet.
Sedation and Tranquilizers
While debate still remains on sedating a dog for flight, both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the V.D.A. Animal Hospitals advise against it. Tranquilizers can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems. Quite often, pets are noticeably anxious when the plane is on the runway or taxying. Once in the air, most pets settle and fall asleep. To comfort an anxious pet, reaching down inside their carrier to provide a gentle reassuring touch can provide the calming effect needed to get through short term nervousness.