There are certain legal guidelines and restrictions for pet air travel. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) govern air travel for pets. The airlines themselves have different regulations; always contact your airline well in advance to review the particular procedures and requirements.
The best airlines generally have written rules for pet travel. These guidelines are evidence that the airline has given a good deal of thought to the safe transport of animals. Small pets often can be crated and taken on board the plane with you. Larger animals must stay in the cargo area. No matter what airline carrier you use, there are important guidelines to consider.
1. The pet should be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned.
2. The pet cannot be ill, violent, or in physical distress.
3. According to the ASPCA and many veterinarians, as well as most airlines, pets should not be sedated for air travel. If you are concerned about your pet being over anxious during travel, then please discuss this with your veterinarian. Make sure that your pet’s nails are trimmed to avoid snagging on the travel crate’s door or some other object.
4. The pet should have all necessary health certificates and documentation.
5. The travel crate must meet the airline’s standards and be large enough for the pet to lie down comfortably, turn around, and stand freely. Mark the crate with “Live Animal — This Side Up” and include your name, address, and telephone number in case she gets lost or misplaced in transit. You also should include the name, address, and telephone number of your destination. New Regulations — Containers constructed after October 1, 2000 must meet the following requirements — The door must be constructed of welded or cast metal of sufficient gauge or thickness to prevent the animal from bending or distorting the door. The door hinge and locking pins must engage the kennel by at least 1.5 cm (5/8″) beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door opening where the pins are fitted.
6. Your pet may be more comfortable if you place an old towel, blanket, or toys in the crate.
7. Book a nonstop flight and take temperatures into consideration. During the summer, fly at night when it’s often cooler. In the winter, fly during the day when it’s warmer.
8. Certain short-nosed dogs such as pugs cannot breathe well in airplane cargo areas. Avoid flying with these particular breeds.
9. Do not feed your pet just before traveling due to the potential for an upset stomach during the flight. Give your pet frozen water or, if possible, some ice cubes that will melt slowly (and hopefully will not dump out during boarding).
10. Plan your trip well in advance and make sure you follow all airline regulations. Plan to check-in at the airport at least three hours before the flight departs.
Private Air Travel — Chartering A Plane
As expensive as it may appear, many travelers are very surprised to discover that a small plane charter is fairly reasonable, particularly if there are three to 12 people flying together as a group. Charter hourly rates can range from $700 to $4,000, depending on the plane and region. For instance, if a group of vacationers are flying only an hour or so, the average airfare can be very nominal. Given the recent increased security and long delays at most major airports, many travelers also are eager to fly out of small regional airports that are close to both home and their eventual destinations.
There are hundreds of small- to medium-sized air charter companies throughout the United States. Each company covers a different region and has its own pet policies. It is very important to check several to find the best overall price, features, and service for you, your group, and your furry friend.
Professional Pet Transportation Companies
Pet transportation companies have always provided an invaluable service for those who are in the process of moving to a different region or who simply need someone to oversee the safe shipment of their pet to a vacation getaway. Anyone can ship an unaccompanied pet, but as more and more airlines beef up their security and ask that the shipper be “known” to them, many people are hiring these pet movers play to help them safely ship their unaccompanied pets to their destinations. Members may log-in for a list of pet transportation companies that will help get your pet safely from one location to another.
To assist you in understanding some of the general rules and regulations about transporting a pet by air, we suggest visiting the Air Transport Association web site where they discuss many points of interest. We suggest that you also ensure that the company you ultimately choose is bonded, check their references, ensure that they are endorsed by the appropriate regulatory agencies, such as the IPATA, AATA, and/or the PHA.
While pet transporters can make the entire process of shipping or flying with a pet much easier, there are still a number of questions you should be prepared to ask the shipper.