Air Travel with Pets and Service Animals

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Do you have to travel by air in the near future?  If you do, are you a pet owner who needs to bring your pet along with you?  Although most of us leave our pets at home, you may not want to do so or your purpose for travel may be to move, as opposed to taking a fun filled vacation.  Regardless of your reasons for wanting or needing to travel with your pet or pets, there are a number of important points that you will need to keep in mind.

The first step in traveling with a pet is to make sure that you can do so.  Although a good number of airlines will allow pets on their planes, not all will. You may be in a predicament if you plan to depart from a small airport with only one or two airlines.  If they do not accept pets or if their rules and restrictions are too much for you to handle, you will want to examine other nearby airports, especially those that are larger in size.

When traveling by air with your pet or pets, it is important to remember that you will be charged an additional fee.  Unfortunately, many first time pet travelers believe that they can use their pets and their pet carriers to count towards as a carry-on bag or a checked bag.  This isn’t how it works though.  You will, almost always, be charged an extra fee for traveling with a pet.  This extra fee will likely depend on the airline in question and well as your pet’s location, such as in the cabin or in the baggage compartment.

That leads to another important point.  Even with some of the airlines that allow pets, like cats and dogs, aboard their flights, not all allow pets to be in the cabin with other passengers.  This is particularly common on small planes where allergies may be a big concern.  If you cannot part with your pet, be sure to search for an airline that will allow you to keep him or her in the cabin with you.  With that said, remember that the size of your pet will also play a huge factor in your options.

Regardless of where your pet is stored for the plane ride, you will need to have a pet carrier or crate for them.  Many airlines have specific rules and restrictions on what type can be used.  Resections often include materials used, as well as size.  Most will provide you with that information when asked.  Speaking of pet crates and carriers, it is important to make sure that you give your pet enough room to stand and move around a little bit.  In fact, most airlines will refuse to transport pets that they feel are unsafe from small pet crates and carriers.

It is also important to make sure that you get your pet checked by their vet.  You will want to make sure that your pet has all required vaccinations and that they are fit for travel.  Also, all airlines require that you receive a health certificate, which will state that your pet is healthy and safe for travel.

If you are traveling internationally with your pet, then you will need to check the destinations customs and border patrol website to to find out what documentation, vaccinations, etc. will be required AND if your pet will be required to be quarantined once you arrive in the country. If you are traveling Internationally with a Service Animal again you will need to check the destination country’s customs and border patrol website for what you will need when entering the country.

The above mentioned points are just a few of the many that you will want to take into consideration when traveling with a pet.  Added tips include booking direct flights, making sure your pet’s collar is marked with the proper identification, as well as their pet carrier.

ALWAYS check with the airline you wish to fly regarding any travel you do with pets. Also if you have a Service Animal or Emotional Support or Psychiatric Service Animal please make sure you are aware of what documentation, ID Cards, Harnesses, etc. you need to travel with the animal. The ADA has a great article about the differences in the types of service animals and what documentation you will need.

Do you fly with your pet or service animal? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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About Helen Brahms

World globetrotter, Helen Brahms, is your Luxury Travel Concierge. She specializes in creating unique once-in-a-lifetime travel memories and charity fundraising trips. Whether your travel dreams include exotic locations or time with your family, you can have it all. Helen loves to help people cross destinations off their travel bucket list before they take a dirt nap! Helen is the host of the Have2Travel Radio Show (www.Have2TravelRadio.com) and is the author of the book "Congratulations, You're Going On a Cruise! Now What?" and the co-author of the book "Passionistas Talk!: The Best of the Passion Point Interviews (Vol. 1)"
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