Traveling with your pet can be a wonderful part of your overall experience, but there are some important preparations that need to be taken before hopping on a plane with your furry companion. While some travelers are aware of the rules and regulations associated with flying with pets, there is a lot to consider and ensure before you journey with your pet. From selecting the right carrier and seat to booking flights that are pet friendly, here is what you need to know to make your trip a successful one.

Pre-Flight Planning  

Carrier Selection

Before you book any flights, the most important task you have to accomplish is selecting the proper carrier for your pet. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to not only provide a comfortable and safe space for our pet but also one that complies with airline regulations. If you plan to take a smaller pet on the plane, you will need to choose an approved pet carrier that meets airline requirements for size and fastening. If you have a larger pet, you will need to purchase a kennel that will be checked in with your luggage. These crates must have adequate ventilation, secure clasps, handle, and enough room for your pet to stand, turn and lie down.

Choosing a Seat

If you are traveling with a pet on a domestic flight, you may be able to book a window seat with extra room in front to ensure your pet has enough space. This helps to ensure your pet will remain safe, comfortable, and secure throughout the flight. If you choose to fly with a larger pet or if airlines do not allow pets in the cabin, you will need to book a pet-friendly aircraft, such as a bulkhead seat or a seat with extra legroom.

Checking On In-Flight Rules

When you book your flight with a pet, you should make sure to review the airlines’ information on their website regarding taking pets on board. Each airline has its own unique set of rules and regulations, which you should take into consideration before flying. Here are some of the more popular rules and regulations to be aware of:

• Pets must be kept in a pet carrier and remain inside it throughout the flight. 

Preparing Your Pet for Travel  

In addition to researching and understanding the regulations associated with flying with your pet, it is also important to get them ready ahead of time. This includes making sure they are up to date on all their vaccinations, have had recent medical check-ups, have food and water for the trip, and travel documents if applicable.

Some other important tips for pre-flight preparation include:

• If possible, familiarize your pet with airline travel by taking shorter trips a few weeks in advance.
• Bring a pet-friendly blanket to wrap around the carrier and in case it gets cold.
• Give your pet the appropriate amount of exercise and a full meal before boarding the plane.
• Familiarize your pet with the carrier by having them practice lounging in it for a few days before the flight
• Provide your pet with a toy and soft bedding, such as a cushion, to make them feel more secure.

On Board Tips

Once you and your pet make it to the airport, it is important to remain calm and to remind your pet they are safe. In order to ensure a smooth flight, here are a few tips on how to keep your pet relaxed during the journey:

• Prior to boarding, let your pet out of the crate, if possible, to allow them to let off some energy and get familiar with their surroundings.
• If your pet is too large to be left out, consider getting them a toy or bone to keep them occupied throughout the flight.
• Give your pet access to water to help keep them hydrated.
• Speak in a reassuring voice to help keep them calm and relaxed.
• If allowed in the cabin, make sure to come prepared with plastic bags and clean up after them throughout the flight.

During Layovers

Depending on your flight and airline, your pet may have to endure several layovers. During the layover, you will need to check to make sure their kennel has adequate air ventilation, food and water, and a comfortable bedding. If you are able to, take your pet out to stretch their legs during extended layovers. If your pet is not traveling in the passenger cabin with you, make sure to get frequent updates on your pet’s condition, as well as what type of aircraft they are being transported on and the name of the pilot they are with.

Post-Trip Considerations

Once the flight is over, you may need to consider a few things before taking your pet home. If they are checked in cargo with an airline, they may need to be quarantined by their destination’s government regulations. In addition, you will need to make sure that the airline checked in your pet properly, provided them with proper care, and that their kennel is still in great condition. To ensure everything is in order, have your vet check your pet for any physical ailments and adjust their diet as necessary.

Traveling with your pet can be a wonderful experience for both you and your pet. It is important to research airline regulations, carrier selection, and pre- and post-flight preparation in order to ensure your pet has a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable journey. With the proper pre-flight planning and the right approach during your travel, you and your pet will have a successful trip and create lasting memories.