Tips on Airplane Travel with a Pet

Jessica Simpson liked to travel with Daisy.

Jessica Simpson liked to travel with Daisy.

Most pet owners will tell you they hate leaving their furry friend at home while on vacation. And for the most part travelling with your pet can feel like more hassle than its worth, especially if you’re flying the skies, however, with more and more hotels including all W Hotels and all Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts being animal-friendly, it makes it that much easier to bring along your pooch. If you are planning on jetting with your pet, you do need to be prepared, so we’ve gathered 6 tips on how to handle airplane travel with an animal.

1. Visit the Vet
Even if your pet is in good health, it’s not a bad idea to bring your pet to a vet prior to the flight. Not all animals are meant for air travel, so a quick consultation isn’t a bad idea. Many airlines suggest against tranquilizing your pet, but if you’re concerned, the vet can determine if this is a good idea and prescribe sedation. Also, if you’re travelling on a U.S. airline you’ll need to have documentation from your vet indicating your pet has a clean bill of health — no more than 10 days from the day you fly, so don’t book that appointment too early.

2. Use an Air-Approved Crate
The crate you use to bring your pet to the vet may be just fine, but if it’s not big enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down, then it’s not going to be approved by the airline. It also needs to be hard-sided to be accepted as checked baggage, secure, leak proof and not let your animal protrude out. If you’re unsure, double-check with your airline.

3. Alert the Airline in Advance
Before you pack your bags and dog along too, make sure your airline knows. As you alert the airline, you will also have to decide whether or not your pet will be in the cabin or have to be checked as cargo. Most airlines do not allow you to have your pet in the cabin if the crate doesn’t fit comfortably under the seat. Expect to shell out for your pet to travel with you too. Air Canada for example charges $105 + taxes one-way within Canada, while WestJet charges $50 one-way. Also be aware if you’re travelling via more than one airline, as you’ll have to alert them of your pet too.

4. Be Aware of When You’re Travelling
Many airlines won’t accept pets as checked baggage or even in the cargo area when the weather is too hot or too cold, so be sure to take that into consideration when booking your flight. Also, avoiding peak travel times to keep the stress level of your pet down as much as possible.

5. Keep Your Pet Hydrated and Happy
Ensure your pet has fresh water right up to departure and also is exercised before arriving at the airport. It’s not a bad idea to have a favourite toy or blanket in the crate to help keep your pet calm. Make sure the crate isn’t locked, as an agent may have to open it during travel. Have a couple of zip locked bags of food in the crate, and ensure the water dish is empty before boarding the animal. If your pet needs water, the airline staff will be able to replenish the dish. Tape any special instructions outside of the crate, as well as the name of your pet and your contact information.

6. Make Sure the Destination is Pet-Friendly
While yes, many hotels are becoming more and more pet-friendly, but it’s important to ensure your resort of hotel is happy to accept your pet. It’s even more important if you’re travelling out of the country or even internationally. You may need to consult the country’s embassy to ensure your animal is allowed through the gates.