Everyone needs a vacation once in a while. But commitments at home may be stopping you from booking that flight. One of those commitments could be your beloved pet. If your mom isn’t available to take care of him while you’re away or if your trusted niece is heading to camp that week, then who is going to feed Fido and shower him with kisses while you’re gone? So you’re left with no choice but to take the riskier route—take him with you. If you decide on this option, great! But be warned, traveling with companion animals is more challenging than you think.
Must-Remember Tips When Traveling with Companion Animals
A lot of people consider their pets as part of the family, so it should come as no surprise that millions of animals vacation with their guardians in the United States each year. When it comes to traveling with companion animals, their needs always come first. You might be keen on the idea of taking them on a plane with you, but the same cannot be said for the animal. Travel logistics and animal temperaments must be put into consideration. Read more about these tips in-depth below.
Where are you heading to?
In the United States, you can travel with a pet on most flights that last up to 12 hours to/from the following destinations:
- Within 48 contiguous United States
- The United States and Canada
- Central America (including time in customs)
- Puerto Rico
- St. Croix
- St. Thomas
Internationally, you need to review airline and country policies before traveling with companion animals. You’ll also need to see how pet-friendly these countries are. Some of the ideal countries to travel to are France, Switzerland, Canada, and Germany. The hotel or accommodation you’re checking into must be taken into full consideration as well. Contact customer service or consult websites like TravelPets.com, to be sure.
Finding the best airline
There are certain pet-friendly airlines that allow animals to travel in the main cabin, while others only allow animals to be checked as baggage. Airline policies tend to change as the years go by, so it is always ideal to check the company website first.
Here are some things to keep in mind when traveling with dogs or any pet by air:
- Delta Air Lines does not allow animals to be checked as baggage during the spring and summer months. The same applies on some winter flights too.
- JetBlue is one of the convenient airlines for pet travel. Small pets under 20 pounds are permitted to fly in-cabin. They even provide a free pet-friendly travel guide to your destination once you land. On top of all this, you’ll rack up points if you keep flying JetBlue with your pet.
- United Airlines has strict flight restrictions for specific breeds during certain times a year, be sure to check the company website before booking.
- Pet Airways is a relatively new airline that flies animals in a climate-controlled cabin.
- Companion Air is a Florida-based airline company that allows animals and their owners to ride in the cabin.
- Air Canada changed their animal flying policy in July 2009. Aside from allowing dogs and cats in the plane’s cabins, you’ll be able to find professionally trained animal care staff ready to tend to your pet’s needs.
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Your animal’s safety and security
Flying your pet in the cargo area is extremely risky. According to the United States Department of Transportation, as many as 224 dogs were lost, injured, and killed between 2005 and 2009. Fortunately, the numbers have decreased over the years, as both the airlines and pet owners started to take necessary precautions.
Regardless if you’re having your pet travel by cargo or by cabin, you always need to be prepared. Aside from the vet papers, make sure that the animal is outfitted with different means of identification including legible tags on collars, GPS trackers, and microchips. This way you can easily identify and track the animal during emergency situations. You’ll also need a recent photo in your wallet or phone to show people who may have seen your missing pet.
When all else fails, leave them with a trusted sitter
If you’re having trouble finding someone to look after your dog, you can always find reliable sitters using PetsWelcome.com. The website matches you with sitters in your area. Be sure to screen the sitters carefully by checking their previous pet sitting jobs and asking for character references.