Flying with a Pet? Know the Airline, Know the Airport

Guest article from Dogs on Planes

Traveling with your pet on a plane is now easier than ever. Airlines and airports have new resources to help accommodate flying with a pet or service animal. GPS pet tracking systems and airport pet care programs, for example, are more common. Larger airports are now required to have at least one post-security pet relief area inside the terminal, with some airports choosing to install a pet relief station on every concourse.

Things to Know when Flying with a Pet

Just like your own flying experience, there are two critical points when it comes to flying with a pet.

1) You need to book the reservation and follow airline policies for pet travel. Make sure the airline verifies they have a pet-friendly seat assignment for you.

2) You need to know what pet relief areas are available at the departure and arrival airports, as well as any layover stops.

Knowing the details about different airports and airlines will help you minimize hassles, game-plan for worst-case scenarios, and create a safe and comfortable way to travel with your pet.

How to Book Pet Reservations with an Airline

The first thing you need to think about is the size of your pet and the size of the carrier allowed by the airline. There are slightly different pet carrier size limits, based on the under-seat clearance for that airline’s fleet. These carrier dimensions range from 17-23” Long by 11-14” Wide by 7.5-9.5” High. By choosing a soft-sided, partially collapsible pet carrier, you can usually buy a carrier on the larger side of these ranges and create a little bit more space for your pet.

In addition to flying small pets in the cabin of the plane, many airlines also permit larger pets to fly in the cargo hold, either as live animal cargo or as checked baggage. These sections of the cargo hold are pressurized and temperature-controlled and perfectly safe for many pets. Flying a pet as cargo means that there is no guarantee you’ll be on the same flight as your pet. Flying a pet as checked baggage requires more reliance on airport and airline staff for pet care, and fewer airlines permit this method of flying with a pet. You’ll also want to pay a visit to the vet to get a checkup and health certificate for your pet.

These are just the most common questions people have about flying with their pet. Check out the Airline Pet Reservation Guide from Dogs on Planes to see more airline policies and important pet travel information. They can also help you find Airline-Approved Pet Carriers.

With a little luck, you might be able to catch your pet being transported out to the plane. New GPS tracking systems allow you to track the condition of your pet’s kennel in the cargo hold.

Navigating the Airport Experience with Your Pet

Find out ahead of time where the pet relief areas are inside the airports you’ll be traveling through. That way, you’ll know whether you can take one last opportunity to let your pet out of its carrier without worrying about missing your flight altogether. Some of the pet relief areas can be hard to find if you don’t know exactly where you’re going. Plus, while many of these pet relief stations can be accessed by anyone, other relief stations require an escort by an airline employee.

Except when going through airport security or when visiting a relief area, pets are generally supposed to stay in their carriers when inside the airport. You may want to arrive at the airport a little early so you can check-in with the airline and leave just enough time to visit the outdoor pet relief area before heading to the gate.

Looking for a quick way to find the location of pet relief areas in multiple airports? Check out this Airport Pet Travel Guide with maps and descriptions of pet relief areas for every major U.S. airport.  

This pet station in the Atlanta International Airport is typical of many airport pet relief areas.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fly with Your Pet

More people are traveling with their pets than ever. Tagging along on a vacation, family trip, school break, or moving to a new location, there are all kinds of reasons people travel with their pets. Flying with a pet doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. Use these resources to make your pet travel plans, and you’ll be surprised at how convenient flying with a pet has become.

Photo Credits: Dogs on Planes and Pixabay

December 27, 2018

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