10 Tips for Pet Safety on Airplanes
Keep your pet safe and happy in your destination city.
- Consider your flight schedule and any time your pet might be outside being moved in and out of the plane. If you are flying during the winter or summer, schedule flights during the mildest time of the day. In summer, early morning flights are best. In winter, fly during the warmest part of the day and avoid evening and overnight flights. Choose the shortest flight possible.
- Book a direct flight with no layovers or transfers to reduce the chance of your pet being lost or exposed to harsh conditions on the tarmac.
- When you board the plane, let the cabin crew know that you have a pet traveling in cargo. Ask them to radio down to the loading crew to check that your pet has made it onto the plane. Another reason to notify the cabin crew is that the pilot may be able to control the temperature in the cargo hold to make your pet more comfortable. Don't be afraid to speak up.
- Your pet's crate should meet airline requirements and be clearly labeled with the words "LIVE ANIMAL" with an arrow pointing up. Don't lock the cage in a way that would prevent a crew member from opening it in case of emergency; use a plastic luggage tie to securely fasten the crate door closed so the crate can't open accidentally during transport.
- Don't feed your pet within three hours of the flight. Make sure to freeze water in the crate's water dish beforehand and place it in the crate right before you depart. That way, the water will not slosh out of the dish, but will slowly melt over the duration of the flight, giving your pet a constant supply of fresh water.
- Never sedate your pet before a flight without first consulting your vet. While flying can be stressful for pets—just like humans—others will be fine and sleep through the flight naturally.
- Schedule a checkup with your vet to make sure all shots are up-to-date. Ask your vet to issue a health certificate dated within 10 days of departure, and bring it to the airport in your carry-on along with certificates of vaccination.
- Be sure to remove your pet's leash so it can't become tangled in the crate and choke. Also, trim your pet's claws to keep them from getting caught in the crate.
- Pack something soft in the crate with your scent on it, such as a T-shirt you've worn for a few hours. This can be very reassuring to your pet during during the hours of loud noises and bumping.
- Always travel with a photo of your pet in case he or she becomes lost or you need to identify him or her as yours.
Published on May 28, 2010