Client tips: Traveling by air with pets


Clients should keep these guidelines in mind when traveling by air with their pets.

Over the next few weeks, clients will be packing their bags and hopping on a plane to take a holiday vacation, visit family, or maybe even get away from family. And chances are that clients traveling by air will want their pets to travel with them. Here are some tips for clients to ensure that their pet flies the friendly skies safely.

General guidelines

  • Some airlines allow passengers to carry on small animals in the cabin, just like carry on luggage. These pets must be transported in a kennel that is small enough to fit under the passenger's seat.

  • Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and weaned before traveling with the airlines.

Kennel safety

  • Kennels must be enclosed and allow room for the pet to stand, sit, breathe, and rest comfortably. For pets riding in the cargo hold, the kennel must be easy to open, strong enough to withstand the stress of shipping, and free of objects that could hurt the pet.

  • Kennels must also have a solid, leakproof bottom that's covered with litter or absorbent lining. The airlines generally allow wire or other ventilated sub floors, but pegboard flooring is prohibited.

  • In order to prevent cargo workers from being bitten, all kennels must have grips or handles. Kennels must also be labeled with “live animal” or “wild animal” on the top and one side with directional arrows indicating the position of the kennel. Lettering must be at least one inch high.

  • Each species must have its own kennel with the exception of compatible pets of similar size.

Food and water

  • Instructions for feeding, watering, and administering medication to the pet over a 24-hour period must be attached to the kennel. The schedule will assist the airline in providing care for the pet in case it's diverted from its scheduled destination. Food and water dishes must be securely attached and accessible without opening the kennel.

  • Airlines and state health officials generally require health certificates for all animals transported by air. A licensed veterinarian must examine the animal within 10 days of transport and issue the health certificate.
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