Air Travel with Pets

Air Travel with Pets

Traveling anywhere with pets can be an adventure to say the least. Flying at the minimum gets  you both to your destination faster and generally with less stress. However, there are rules both for in cabin pets and pets in the cargo hold.


The first thing to do is check with the various airlines to find one that allows pets. Delta does, but others may not. Once you find one, be sure to read the rules for flying with them. Some will allow small animals to be in the cabin with you. Others won’t.

Once you have your ticket, make sure to let the airline know you are bringing a pet. Because pets can’t be in some seats, the number in the cabin is usually restricted. Getting your bid in early gives you a better chance if that is your goal.

When boarding with your pet, remember that it will be your one carry on and that it will have to go through security with you. At the x-ray machines, they will have you take the pet out of the carrier and carry it through with you. After that, you have to put your pet  back into the carrier.

Airlines prefer that the animals stay in their carrier all the way through the airports and while on the plane. There are designated areas for pets to be taken to relieve themselves on long layovers, but other than that they have to be in the carrier with the door latched.

When it comes to flying, there are some things that are the same whether the pet is in the cabin with you or in the (depressurized) cargo hold. The first to address is papers. Many places will want to see proof of vaccination against rabies and other diseases. They may also require a health certificate.


pet carrierIn cabin carriers can be soft sided, but all carriers have to be well ventilated and leakproof on the bottom areas. Ventilation on at least three sides is required. The pet also has to be able to fully stand, turn, sit and lie down without cramping.

While at the vet, talk to him or her about medications for your pet. While sedation may not be wise, there are other drugs that can help keep the pet calm during the trip. Depending on your cat or dog’s health, it may be prescribed.

Cats and dogs can get air sick. Again, there are medications that might help, but the best bet is to not feed them before your flight. Having food in the stomach is a lot more likely to make them air sick. It is better not to over medicate your pet.

Make sure your pet is wearing tags with your phone number and address clearly on them. Do the same with the carrier, just in case it gets lost in transit. This doesn’t happen often, but it can be very hard on you and your family if it does.


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