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Flying with Pets

All you need to know about traveling with your pet

Adventurous road-trip with friends? Check.
Romantic getaway with spouse? Check.
International vacation with family? Check.
Soul-searching on solo journeys? Check.

If you’ve ticked all your traveling checkboxes, why leave out the ones where you can be accompanied by your pet?

While you’re busy packing for your next holiday or business trip, and don’t want your four-legged family member to be lonely, here’s how you can take your pet along.

1. Airline Pet Policies:

Before choosing a flight, take a detailed look at the airline’s policies with regard to pets. Most aviation companies today let passengers travel with their pet, as long as they fulfil their respected criteria. For long distance journeys that involve connecting flights, ensure the travel arrangements made by the airlines are for the entire route. Certain countries restrict the entry of particular breeds of animals. Be sure to have done your homework well in advance before chalking out your trip.

2. Vet Visit:

Don’t compromise on the visit to a vet, as it is the most crucial factor of your pet’s trip. Many flights do not let ill, physically impaired or pregnant animals to travel. Run the required medical check-ups and tests for your pets, while getting them vaccinated and immunized correctly. Not all animals can withstand flight journeys. Ask the doctor about the safety precautions needed for your pet. Based on the temperament and behaviour of your pet, the hyper or anxious ones may need to be sedated before take-off. This can be done only under the guidance of the vet, after a thorough medical examination. Once you get a go-ahead from the vet, you can move on to the next step.

3. Documentation:

The lack of proper documentation may shelve your trip, as it could result in your pet being detained or quarantined. So make sure you carry all the paperwork before you plan on boarding a flight with your little friend.

  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection: First and foremost, you need the vet to issue a Health Certificate confirming that your pet is medically fit to travel with you. This certificate is generally issued 10 days prior to the departure. However, the specifications may vary across airlines.
  • Vaccination Certificate: Your vet also has the added responsibility to issue a certificate showing that your pet has undergone the set of vaccinations as prescribed by the airline, within the stipulated period.
  • Others: Based on your nationality, country that you’re traveling to and airline you’re flying with, you will be expected to carry additional documents, such as a Certificate of Acclimation, which is for a particular temperature requirement for your pet, details for sedation, if applicable, etc. It is recommended that you do a detailed research, so that all your paperwork is on point.

4. In-cabin or via cargo:

If your little ball of fur weighs less than 13 pounds (approx. 6kgs) or is less than 12 inches in size, you will be able to carry your pet with you in the flight. Cross-check with the airline authorities beforehand. For bigger pets, airlines have a separate procedure wherein they are transported as cargo. As pet-owners it is indeed heart-breaking to have your beloved creature treated as checked baggage. But the rules are such that larger animals cannot travel in the cabin. Don’t be under the impression that your pets will be manhandled and shoved into a dark area with all the baggage. Pet-friendly airlines usually have a special compartment with a temperature-control atmosphere favourable for pets. But as far as possible, travel with your pet. When it comes to cargos, you won’t be there to oversee your pet. Sometimes extreme temperatures and poor ventilation may harm your pet. Speak to the aviation authorities before handing your pet over to them.

5. Carriers:

5. The dimensions of pet carriers differ from airline to airline. It is recommended that you buy a carrier a few sizes bigger than that of your pet, giving them more space, so that they don’t feel trapped and suffocated. It is a good practice to get your pet accustomed to the carrier at least a month before your travel date. This way, your pet will be mentally prepared and adjusted to the cage. If you are lucky to travel with your pet in-cabin, make sure the carrier fits under the seat, without causing any inconvenience to other passengers.

6. Tips:

In addition to all the main pointers, here’s a bunch of friendly tips we have sniffed out for you.

    • Choose flights during the non-peak season. That way, your pets won’t be strained by the airport chaos and large number of people surrounding them.
    • Always have a name tag affixed to your pet carrier that has details of you and your pet, such as – name, emergency contact number, destination, pet’s breed, and other relevant information. Additionally, tie a comfortable collar around your pet with the same details.
    • Invest in a good pet microchip that will help you track your pet in case it goes missing. It also serves as a proof of ownership.
    • Carry a recent photograph of your pet with you for purpose of identification.
    • Buy airline approved carriers that are most comfortable for your pets. Check the safety features of the carrier so that your pet is secure and cannot escape.
    • Feed your pet 4-6 hours prior to departure. Feeding them right before take-off could make them feel sick.
    • Give your pet the required medication as prescribed by the vet.
    • Carry all the necessary documents and a separate bag with all the essentials for your pet.
    • Traveling with pets isn’t a very expensive affair. Airlines charge an average of $100 as pet fare. Compare the rates of different flights so that you can get a good deal for yourself and your companion.

While all the procedures and rules may appear to be very daunting, airlines tend to be very sensitive towards pets and hence take good care of them. But make sure the primary focus is the comfort and safety of your pet. If absolutely necessary, choose an alternative mode of transport. We wish you and your furry better half a happy journey!

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