Flying With Your Pet? Here’s What You Need to Know First

Flying with a pet isn't the easiest (or cheapest) way to travel, but we'll lay it all out for you -- and help you save time and money on your next trip.

Getting your ducks in a row

Booking a flight with Fluffy is a bit more complicated than buying a ticket for yourself. First, pets require a reservation — there is usually a limit on the number of pets per section of an airliner — so you’ll need to contact the airline directly when you book your ticket.

Most airlines require a veterinary certificate showing your pet is healthy and approved for travel. And your vet may require other services – like flea medication or vaccinations – before clearing your pet for takeoff.

In colder temperatures, you might need to get an acclimation certificate from your vet stating that your pet can handle cold weather.

On the day of your flight, you’ll need to bring your pet to the ticket counter in an approved transportation carrier or kennel; generally, one that’s large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around will do. You’ll also need to give your pet food and water, then take them to the designated area so they can relieve themselves before the flight.

Flying with your pet sounds complicated and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to minimize the cost and the stress:

  1. Research flights early. Compare the cost of flights on several airlines and call the airlines’ reservation line to get a quote for your pet’s travel costs.
  2. Get a list of requirements from the airline several weeks before you fly to make sure there aren’t any surprises at the airport.
  3. Schedule an appointment with your vet after you book your flight. Tell the vet you’ll need a travel certificate. Make sure the vet checks for special vaccination requirements if you are traveling abroad.
  4. Make sure you book a pet friendly hotel. One place to search is petswelcome.com.
  5. Shop around for a travel carrier or ask your friends and family if they’ve flown with a pet before. They may have one you can borrow.
  6. Test your travel carrier by having your pet sit inside. Make sure your pet has enough room to move around. Otherwise, you may have to buy an expensive carrier from the airline.
  7. Arrive at the airport early. You’ll have to visit the ticket counter, go through security with your pet, and prep your pet for travel. Give yourself plenty of time.

Do you have experience traveling by air with a pet? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Kari Huus contributed to this post.

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