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Five Tips for Flying with Pets From

November 2, 2011

Traveling with pets can be a nerve-racking adventure for first-time flyers – and even more so for their owners.’s list of Top 10 Tips for Flying with Pets features advice on how to prepare ahead, from organized feeding schedules to vet visits, to help make sure you and your furry friend will be fine 35,000 feet in the air.

Many airlines have specific regulations regarding what types of animals can fly, so be sure to check with your carrier before booking. As a helpful guideline, also offers an easy-to-follow table charting the pet policies of several airlines.

Below are the first five tips from’s Top 10 Tips for Flying with Pets to help owners and, in turn, their four-legged companions fly stress-free:

1.      Calculate the costs - The charges associated with carrying pets onboard – whether checked or in the cabin – add up quickly. Research airlines’ different rates ahead of time and factor the canine and feline fees into the total cost of airfare – both yours and your pet’s – before pressing book. Delta Air Lines for instance, attaches a hefty $200 fee per kennel to check a pet for one-way flights; cabin riders do less financial damage at $125 per kennel. And a good rule of thumb: like general airfare, discount airlines like Southwest ($75) and JetBlue ($100) often charge less for pets.

2.      Call the airline - Start by checking your airline’s website for regulations, but also get a verbal confirmation that you and your pet are set to fly. Many airlines limit the total number of animals allowed within the cabin on each flight, so it’s important that a reservation be made sooner rather than later –and confirmed 24-48 hours before departure. American Airlines, for instance, caps the number of four-legged fliers at seven per flight: two in First Class and five in Business and Coach.

3.      Rehearse nearby - First-time fliers are sometimes overwhelmed – justifiably – by a 35,000-foot ascent, so it’s important to schedule trial runs before the big day of flight. If you live in a city, take your pet for a ride on the subway or other modes of public transportation to familiarize it with both the movement and the crowds. Since the American Veterinary Medical Association frowns upon sedation – the combination of tranquilizers and high altitudes can prove fatal – it’s best to travel with calm, drug-free pets.

4.      Visit the vet - Some airlines, like JetBlue and US Airways, don’t require vaccination or health and veterinarian documents for animals on domestic flights. It’s still recommended, though, that pet owners visit their vet before trips and carry up-to-date medical records and a first aid kit (gauze, tape, eye dropper, etc.) on flights. Many airlines, like United, require you to carry a health certificate issued less than 30 days before departure. To play it extremely safe, get acquainted with local veterinarians at your destination in case your cat or dog gets sick or injured while away.

5.      Prepare the kennel - Squeezing your dog or cat into the claustrophobic kennel you purchased when they were just wee ones won’t do on a flight, whether short- or long-haul. Invest in a container that leaves your pet room to turn and stand up without hitting its head on the top of the carrier. Different airlines have different dimension requirements, though the USDA has laid out universal must-haves: food and water dishes, “Live Animal” stickers, upright arrows, bedding and other necessities. Remember to include objects that the animal is familiar with, whether it’s a favorite toy or blanket from home.

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