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Flying with Pets

Preparing for your pet's flight.

Booking a flight with your pets can be a daunting task. If you’re worried about moving your pets, there are professional pet movers that specialize in booking travel for pets around the world. If you’d like to save some money by moving your pets on your own, these tips will guide you through the process.

Preparing for your flight

Ask for pet transportation options when you book your flight. Book very early as the number of pets allowed on each flight is limited.

  • Get authorization. Most airlines allow dogs, cats, birds and fish to travel by air. Whether or not your pet can travel with you in the cabin depends on the type of animal, the size of the cabin, the size of your pet, and how many pets are on the flight. You’ll want to verify your pet can fly on the airline if you are traveling with a venomous snake or other exotic animal.
  • Buy pet carriers. Airlines require that most pets travel in an approved pet carrier throughout the flight.
  • Find containers. For fish, turtles, and other exotic animals that can’t travel in a carrier, make sure you have the proper plastic buckets or Styrofoam-cushioned boxes. For more tips on transporting aquatic animals read How to Move Fish.
  • Label the pet carrier. It doesn’t matter if your pet is in a box, bucket, or kennel. Label the container with the pet’s name, note if it bites, and write FRAGILE: LIVE ANIMAL and THIS SIDE UP clearly on the outside of the container.
  • Leave early. You may need to bring your pet to freight loading two hours or more before departure. Also, having spare time at the airport gives you time to make sure containers are properly labeled, get the proper documentation together, and spend time with your little buddy before travel.

Turtles also transport easily via overnight mail. Pack it in a styrofoam-cushioned box with air holes and lined with soft grass or leaves. Use a labeled box big enough for your turtle to extend its legs and head. Dampen a cloth and place it inside the container.

Tips for your pet's wellbeing and comfort during air travel.

  1. Book a direct flight if you can. Multiple flights and plane changes mean more handling and more stress for your pet.
  2. Feed your pet a light meal five to six hours before departure. If you’re transporting fish don’t feed them before the move. Their water will stay cleaner. For more tips on moving your fish, read How to Move Fish.
  3. Do not give water for two hours before take-off, except on hot days.
  4. Exercise your pet on a leash at the airport and give it any needed medications.
  5. Place your pet in the carrier, secure the latch, and fasten the leash to the outside of the container.
  6. Pick your pet up from the airport as soon as you can - within 24 hours of arrival if possible. If you do not, your pet may be shipped back to where it came from. Or, the airline may place it in a kennel at your expense.

Airlines may refuse to transport your pet if...

Sometimes airlines will be unable to transport your pet. These are some of the circumstances where you will need to drive with your pet or hire a professional pet mover.

  • Your pet isn't in a USDA and IATA-approved container.
  • Transportation requires more than 24 hours between departure and arrival.
  • The ground temperature is below 45°F or above 85°F at departure or arrival.
  • Your pet has been sedated, and the carrier bears no note of the drug name, dosage, and how it was given.
  • You cannot present proper identification and documents.
  • Your pet is unapproved by the airline.

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