Pets are family members. Pure and simple. When you have an upcoming flight and can’t bear leaving your little (or large) loved one behind, there are many things to consider. This is a quick reference guide for those who need to travel with their pets.

Cat on Business Class Flight

Has your pet done any distance traveling?

If the answer is no, then it is unclear how your pet will react to the experience. Preparation is key in this instance. You’ll want to take some time to do a few trial runs. Include your pet in the packing process, ensure they are comfortable in the crate (treat-training!), and begin with short-distance trips. A quick note on choosing a crate: your pet’s crate should have enough space for them to comfortably stand and turn.

Is your pet fit to travel?

Time for a check-up! Your trusted veterinarian will be able to size-up your pet, take vitals, and recommend a course of action. Be especially careful if your pet has any breathing issues. Many boxers, pugs and bulldogs, for example, not particularly well-suited for air travel as they often have respiratory problems. Some airlines won’t allow those K9 breeds on flights for that reason. Also, it is never recommended, and often not allowed, to travel with puppies and kittens (up to 8 weeks old) or with senior pets. 

Flying with Dog in Carrier

How big is your pet?

The answer to this question will determine if your pet is able to fly with you in the cabin or in the luggage compartment. If your pet is small – typically 20 pounds or less – they could be crated and stowed beneath the seat in front of you. Larger animals, however, usually fly with the luggage, which can be stressful. In this case, talk to both your vet and the airline about best options and best practices. 

What is each airline’s specific pet travel policy?

All airlines charge a fee for transporting your pet. That fee will vary depending on the airline. Beyond that, smaller, narrow-body aircraft often do not have temperature control in the baggage compartment and are thus not able to accommodate your pet. Remember: you are booking travel for two (or more) so hit each airline’s website and call with any questions.

Dog Watching Plane

Will your pet be subject to quarantine?

In order to answer this question, it is best to contact the embassy of the country to which you are traveling. They will instruct you on what paperwork you’ll need to prepare as well as time restrictions for shots and any certifications you may need. Since some countries do not allow animal importation or have long quarantine requirements, it is best to plan well ahead.