November 13, 2012
Pets and Air Travel
Think twice before flying with your pets
Animals flown in the cargo area of airplanes continue to be killed, injured, or lost on commercial flights each year. Excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, scarcity of oxygen, and rough handling are often to blame.
Keep pets out of the cargo hold
Before you make plans to travel with your pet, consider all the alternatives to air travel. If you plan to bring your pet on vacation, consider driving instead of flying. If this isn't possible, consider leaving your pet behind under the care of a pet sitter or boarding kennel. Above all, when making travel decisions, consider what's best for your pet.
If you must fly your pet
If you absolutely must transport your pet by air, first find out whether you can take him or her on board with you. If your pet is a cat or small dog, most airlines will allow you to take the animal on board for an additional fee. To find out about this option, call the airline well in advance of your flight; there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin area. (Brachycephalic animals, like bulldogs, pugs, and Persian cats, should never travel by air—their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.)
Important safety reminder for carry-on travel
Your pet’s carrier will be expected to undergo airline screening, so be sure to either have your pet securely harnessed so she can be safely contained while her carrier is x-rayed or request a special secondary screening from TSA that will not require you to take her out of her carrier.
Essential questions to ask
When you contact the airline, be sure to get answers to these questions:
- Does the airline allow you to take your cat or small dog in the cabin with you?
- If that option isn't available to you, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your pet as cargo?
- Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?
- Does the airline require a specific type of carrier? Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers, which may be more comfortable for your pet, but only certain brands of soft-sided carriers are acceptable to certain airlines.
If you have no choice but to transport your pet in the cargo hold, you can increase the chances of a safe flight for your pet by following these tips »
What to do if there's a problem
Do not hesitate to complain if you witness the mishandling of an animal—either yours or someone else's—at any airport.