Pets on Planes: How to Travel With Your Animal Safely
Traveling with pets can be stressful. This is both true for animals and their owners. Even when booking a first-class flight, you can never be sure that your pet is getting the same quality accommodations and service that you are. In fact, they usually aren’t. Before you head out for a fun-filled excursion, it’s important to make sure that your animal is up to the challenge. It’s also vital ensure that they have access to the resources and safety measures that are essential for maintaining their physical and mental wellness. Following is everything you need to know about putting pets on planes.
Some Airlines Have Horrible Reputations for In-Flight Pet Care
Before booking a trip to your preferred destination, find out more about the reputations of airlines when it comes to in-flight pet care. Some commercial airlines have lengthy histories of neglect and general mistreatment of checked animals. Pets on their flights are often too hot, too cold, or severely dehydrated. Although pricing and ticket availability are generally two of the most important factors checked when booking flights, you should always start by considering airline reputations for animal care when booking a flight with a pet.
Several Important Things to Know Before Putting Pets on Planes
Only very small-sized animals are allowed to ride in the cabin. With most commercial airlines, this means that they must be small enough to fit in a crate under the seat in front of you. This effectively qualifies them as a carry-on item. However, largo pets fly in the cargo hold. Unlike the cabin, the temperature of the cargo hold isn’t well-regulated. It’s loud and can lead to a very bumpy ride.
When checking in for your flight, you’ll have to check your pet with your luggage. This is a great time to remind airline staff that what you’re checking is a live animal. This way, they can handle your pressure cargo with the necessary amount of care. Keep in mind, that your pet:
- Won’t know what’s going on
- Won’t have you present to reassure them
- May experience separation anxiety
Certain breeds do better with short-term stress than others. However, flying on a plane in the cargo area is always especially stressful for older animals, animals who are in less than optimal health, and pets who don’t enjoy being left alone.
Long-Distance Travel Increases the Amount of Stress That Your Animal Faces
Another important thing to consider when booking a flight with your pet is duration. Pets on planes face the greatest amount of stress when they’re forced to stay in cargo loading areas for multiple hours at time. There’s also the fact that just as flight transfers increase the risk of lost luggage, they also put you at risk of having your most precious cargo get lost to. Thus, if you absolutely must put your pet on a plane, look for:
- Direct flights only
- The shortest flight times
- Airlines that make special accommodations for pets held in cargo loading areas
Consider Alternative Means of Travel
Flying certainly isn’t the only way to get your pet from place to place. Moreover, certain forms of travel allow pets to remain with their owners throughout the entirety of the trip. If the idea of putting your pet on a plane makes you feel nervous, think about traveling by train instead.
Decide Whether Boarding Your Pet Is a Better Choice
If you have an especially long distance to travel, cannot find a flight with an airline that has a solid reputation for pet care, or cannot find other means of travel, boarding your animal may be the best decision. Although being separated from your pet throughout the duration of your trip might be stressful for you, quality boarding services may prove infinitely less stressful for your animal. This is all the more true when you consider the fact that your pet will have to endure the same less-than-stellar in-flight conditions for your return flight too.
Always Start With a Full Health Work-Up
At Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital, we always recommend starting trips like these with a full health work-up for pets. Only animals that are in excellent health should fly. We also offer safe, reliable, and affordable boarding services for pets that are ready to fly or for owners who aren’t comfortable taking the risks of flying with pets. Get in touch with us today to schedule a pre-trip wellness visit for your pet, or to find out more about our pet boarding services.