By Kim Salerno, Founder/CEO TripsWithPets
With the holiday season in full swing, you may be planning to travel a long distance to spend the holidays with family and friends. When it comes to taking your pet along, you may wonder if flying is the best option. Flying is definitely a quick and seemingly simple way to get you and your pet to where you’re going. Instead of spending hours driving, you and your furry sidekick will spend a lot less actual travel time when you are on a plane. However, like all travel methods, flying does pose some potential obstacles and risks to take into consideration.
If you are not sure whether to fly with your pet, here are some important questions you should ask before you book your flight.
1. Is your pet in good health?
If your pet is ill or hurt, or he has other limiting factors that will make the flight an uncomfortable experience for him (and you), it is best to consider changing your travel plans – Perhaps taking a road trip or finding Rover and Fluffy a reliable pet sitter are better options. Driving to your destination may take more time, but if it is the best option for your pet, it will ultimately be the best and easiest option for you as well.
2. Is your pet considered brachycephalic?
Pets who are snub-nosed and have short muzzles are called brachycephalic, and they are more prone to breathing and respiratory problems. Some breeds with this characteristic include Persian cats, pugs and bulldogs. When flying, they may have a more difficult time adjusting to the air and pressure changes in the cabin, and conditions below-cabin are even more risky for these pets. If you decide to fly with your brachycephalic pet, check with the airline before you purchase your tickets. Some airlines have actually banned these types of pets from their commercial flights.
3. Is your pet’s temperament acceptable for flying?
You know your pet best. If he is often shy, doesn’t like crowds, acts aggressively, or can become agitated in new surroundings and situations, then flying may not be the best choice. Again, driving may take a lot more time, but it will be a better option for you and your pet in the long run if the flight will be too overwhelming for him.
4. Is your pet meeting the USDA regulations?
The USDA guidelines state that your pet must be at least 8-weeks old and fully weaned for at least 5 days for you to be able to take him on a flight.
5. Will your pet fly in the cabin?
Each airline has its own regulations on pets and flying. In general, pets who are under 20 pounds, and whose crate can fit safely and securely underneath the seat, can fly in the cabin with their parents. If your pet meets the airline’s guidelines for traveling in the cabin, this is probably the best option for him. You should consider whether your pet often cries or barks when he is in a restricted space, as he may bother other passengers.
For more tips on flying with Pets, visit TripsWithPets.com.