Our pets are part of our family. So, when you go on vacation out of the country, you want to take them along. Here are some things to consider when taking your pet on an airplane.

flying with pets
Flying with your pets can be rewarding if you take the right precautions.
Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash.

As someone who has lived overseas, I know what it is like to fly with your pets. It can be a harrowing experience for both you and your fur baby. I know my cat Cassie didn’t enjoy it, especially after he was stuffed in a carrier that was too small. Yes, the airline gave us the wrong dimensions. But he made it home in one unhappy piece.

If you take the proper precautions a head of time, you can make the journey less stressful. Here are some things to keep in mind when flying with your pets.

When Booking Your Ticket, Ask Where Your Pet Will Fly

Always ask prior to booking your airline ticket where your pet will be flying. Every airline has different pet policies. If your pet is small enough, they should be able to fly in an approved carrier in the main cabin with you. They may require larger pets to travel in the cargo hold. The risk to those pets are typically small, but still concerning. Try to have your pet fly in the main cabin. Only service animals can fly in the main cabin without being in a carrier.

The Transportation Screening Administration Has Special Pet Screen Rules

To get past the Transportation Screening Administration (TSA) and to your terminal, your pet will have to go through the screening process with you. They will require you to remove them from the carrier and go through the checkpoint. Their carrier will go through the bag screener with the rest of your carry-on luggage. If you have a nervous pet or are concerned, they might try to get away, ask to have your pet screened in a private room.

Prepare Your Pet Carrier Ahead Of Time

The pet carrier you are using should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in before lying down. It should fit under the seat in front of you. Mark the carrier with a “live animal” sticker on each side and attach a luggage tag to the handle. The tag should include your contact information, your flight information, and the name of your pet.

Adjust Your Pet’s Feeding Schedule Before Flying

Dogs are a little easier to fly with than cats as many airports now have pet relief areas. The day before you fly, make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and eats well. You do not want to feed them the day you travel, but you can offer them some water. If you are traveling with a cat talk to your vet about feeding and potty breaks. They may have some options to consider, such as sedation, to get your cat through the trip.

Check Pet Restrictions At Your Destination

Some countries require special licenses or “pet passports” before they let your pet cross their border. Make sure you research everything you need so that your pet can travel with you. You may need to update your pet’s vaccinations, have them microchipped, and more. If in doubt about traveling with your pet, consider leaving them home in the hands of a capable pet sitter.

If you want to know about driving with your pets, check here!


Have you ever flown with your pet? Share your stories in the comments below.

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