Can't stand the thought of leaving your pet behind while the rest of the family jets off for a week of R&R? Hey, you're not alone. Many folks, us included, may find it difficult to relax, knowing your pet is holed up in some lonesome and cramped kennel. Bringing Socks and Mr. Jingles along for the fun is easier than you think. Just consider the following:
Notify the Airline
Notify the airline as early as possible, that you plan on bringing your pet with you, whether you plan on bringing your pet into the main cabin or check it into the cargo hold, because there are space limitations.
Some airlines, like Southwest, don’t allow pets at all. And Frontier Airlines will allow pets in the cargo hold, but not in the main cabin. So be sure and check the airline's policy before you run out and make that purchase.
Requirements to Check-in Your Dog as Cargo
To check-in your dog in the cargo area the kennel has to meet the following requirements: kennels with wheels, wire kennels, collapsible kennels are not allowed; kennels must have a leak proof bottom with absorbent material; there must be a one-inch spacer bar around the kennel; the door must be lockable and secure; your dog must have enough room in the kennel to stand, lie down and turn around; at least three sides of ventilation; correct labeling (live animal and directional up arrows); and must include water/feed dishes (two dishes or divided dish).
Age Restrictions (for your pet)
Your dog has to be at least eight weeks old and have the required health documentation from your veterinarian. Some states may require a health certificate for your pet.
Some airlines will not ship certain breeds, under given conditions. For example, American Airlines warns that snub-nosed dogs (like Pugs and Shih Tzus) will not be acceptedwhen the current or forecasted temperature is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary. This is because they are very sensitive to high temperatures.
Pet Travel during Summer or Nightime
Most airlines have an embargo on dogs in the cargo area during the summer, with varying dates depending on airline. For example, Delta’s embargo is between May 15 and September 15, and United’s is between June 1 and September 30. In addition, some airlines don’t allow dogs on nighttime flights.
To bring your dog into the main cabin, the kennel must be able to fit in the area under the seat in front of you. The maximum dimensions for the kennel is 17 inches x 12 inches x 8 inches, but keep in mind that it varies, depending on the plane you’ll be on, as some aircraft have smaller areas under the seat in front of you.
Some airlines only allow cats and dogs (like American Airlines), while others will allow reptiles (like Delta, as long as it’s shipped as air cargo).
Use Your Head
As a former baggage handler at a major airport, I've unloaded some unhappy animals from long international hauls. Flights that exceed 8 or 9 hours can be awfully traumatic for your pet (especially cats!), so use your best judgment. You know the temperament of your pet better than anyone, and if Mr. Jingles gets jittery in a car, think twice before flying him cargo to New Zealand. If you're vacationing for just a few days but your flight is lengthy, it could be less stressful on Mr. Jingles to be left in the care of a friend or trusted neighbor.