Published: December 2002
Nadine, You can get more information by going to <http://www.google.com> and typing in "airline travel for pets". Mishaps can, and do, happen. However, if you take the necessary precautions it should be ok, if car travel is not an option.
Good luck, Pat lawrie, Doglandia, Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Airline Travel With A Pet As Baggage
Most airlines have the regulations for transporting pets on their web site. If not apparent, check under frequently asked questions. The following advice comes from someone who once worked for a major airline:
1) Do not tranquilize.
2) In the summer, make sure the crate has plenty of ventilation.
3) Do not put food or water in the crate. Tape a small envelope of dry food to top of crate. Also tape on leash for nonagressive dog.
4) Put 2 small plastic dishes in the crate for water/food at stopovers.
5) For cats, do not put kitty litter in crate. Shred lots of newspaper which will absorb any urine and cover any poops.
6) When making a connection to a different carrier you MUST claim pet and recheck with 2nd carrier and pay another excess baggage charge.
7) Put something like a bright colored yarn pom-pom on crate for easy ID from a distance.
8) Ask the airline the "type" of aircraft i.e. jet or prop. If flying by prop, the airline may refuse to transport in extreme weather.
9) Tape note to top of crate stating destination, name of person claiming pet & phone no., last time pet was fed, medication pet is on & when last dosed.
My name is______. I'm going to be picked up in_____ by ________ at phone no_________. I was last fed at __________. My medication is_______. I was last dosed at_______.
Airline Pet Carriers/Crates
What the Airlines require:
1) A kennel - must be tall enough so the dog can sit or stand without ducking. - must be long enough for the dog to be in the "down" position - must be twice as wide as the dog's shoulders - must be airline approved (durably built) - must have two (2) water/food dishes attached to door - must be well ventilated - must have absorbent bedding (newspaper, blanket, etc.)
All this isn't too difficult for smaller dogs, but your choices are very limited with larger dogs
2) A health certificate - Issued by licensed vet. no more than 10 days before the flight
3) Reasonable weather - I was told they wouldn't carry the animal if the temperature was less than 32 degrees or more than 85 degrees.
4) Cost - This varies depending on who ships and how the dog travels
When outfitting the crate for travel, be sure it contains all of the following features:
1) The words LIVE ANIMALS in 1-inch-high letters visible on the top of the crate and at least one side.
2) Name, address and telephone number of animal's destination on the top of the crate.
3) Security latched (not locked) doors.
4) Two dishes - one for food and one for water - that are easily accessible to airline personnel.
5) Absorbent lining, such as towels or puppy pads.
6) Arrows or other markings to indicate the top of the crate.
7) Handles or grips for secure transport.
8) Well-ventilated, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
If you are vacationing, include a permanent address and phone number. Your pet should also be wearing ID tags with the same information.
Doors can pop open! Use plastic tie wraps to supplement the crate's latching mechanism.
To make sure your pet has water available, freeze water in the dish. It will not spill during loading and will melt by the time your pet gets thirsty.
For trips longer than 12 hours, attach food in a plastic bag to the outside of the carrier, and provide feeding instructions for personnel.
How the dog will be shipped:
Most airlines I spoke with will accept the dog as excess baggage such that the dog will travel on the same plane as long as the total weight of the dog + the kennel is less than 100lbs. If the combined weight is greater than that, the dog usually must be shipped as cargo. At this point, the dog may or may not travel on the same plane, will be priced according to either the weight or the dimensions of the kennel (or both), and may or may not arrive the same day you do. This is where you must be EXTREMELY accurate and complete in your questions.
At the Airport
Get to the airport early. Checking pets can take time (you have to have a health certificate from the vet for the pet; the airlines don't always check, but they do sometimes).
You drop off your pet & carrier at the desk and someone is called to load him in the cargo hold of the plane. (I always made sure that the flight attendant knew there was a pet on board.)
After you check your pet in, go to the gate and watch her get loaded onto the plane -- don't get onto the plane until you see her on the plane.
When you change planes, do the same. If your layover is an hour or more, check with the ground personnel about talking to the baggage folks. If any problems come up with your next plane (delays, etc.) check into getting your pet and rechecking her in when the flight is ready to continue.
After arrival, your pet is delivered to the baggage claim area.
You will need to check with a vet to see what vaccinations the state (or country) you are flying to requires (with dogs, usually only rabies is required) by law. You will also need a health certificate. This requires a vet exam and you get a little piece of paper.
Always carry your pet's Rabies Certificate with you, along with having him wear the rabies tag. If your pet is on medication or has health problems, take some documentation with you in case your pet has to see a vet. Also, take your own vet's phone number with you.
Pack a bag especially for your pet containing dishes, food, water, leashes, medication, treats, toys etc. It makes everything easier to find if it is consolidated.
If your pet gets air sick or is easily upset, discuss medication with your vet FIRST. Most vets recommend against medicating a pet that is traveling in baggage.
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar or harness with identification. Make sure that there will be someone available at the phone number listed on the ID tag. If you carry a cell phone with you, list that number so you can be called directly. Keep a current photo with you to use for identification purposes if the pet should get lost.
For More Information:
To get an updated airline transportation booklet - send $1.00 to: ADOA 1654 Columbia Turnpike Castleton, NY 12033 (518) 477-8469
The Air Transport Association have a press release on this topic (written in conjunction with the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Humane Association) The relevant URLs are listed below:
The Air Transport Association <http://www.air-transport.org/>
Ata Press Release #33 05-02-96 <http://www.air-transport.org/press/96-033.htm>
(Page last updated on: Sat Jul 26 13:22:15 PDT 1997)