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Flight Traveling With Pets: What You Need To Know

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Traveling is no longer limited to us humans. Our furry friends have, in recent years, also been going places.

Together with the increasing number of pets boarding planes, the number of pet-friendly hotels has also multiplied over the years. It may already be good news but the problem lies in how pets travel.

While humans have it smoother in terms of traveling by plane, it is always a different story when it comes to pets. Us humans can just book a ticket and follow airline regulations; pets, on the other hand, always have an extra requirement or two to follow.

Airlines, over the years, have prioritized pet safety over anything else. And while the number of injuries, lost pet, and casualties have gone down as compared to previous years, there are still incidents that happen on very few flights.

In 2017 alone, pet casualties have totaled to 24 out of the more than 500,000 pets flown. This is just a very small percentage.

However, this still goes to show that it still can happen. And so if you are planning to fly with your pet anytime soon, take note of these very useful tips for a smoother and safer flight.

Ways by Which Pets Travel

There are three ways by which your pet can travel by air. Some pets can travel inside the cabin; some can be as checked baggage, and some as cargo.

While most pet owners prefer their pets traveling with them inside the cabin, there are restrictions that draw the line between those who can and those who cannot.

Size usually matters. Pets traveling inside the cabin need to fit a certain size (and weight).

To determine whether your pet is allowed inside the cabin, make sure to have the right-sized carrier. It should fit under the seat in front of you. In American Airlines, for example, carriers should not be more than 19” x 13” x 9”.

Combined weight refers to the weight of the carrier and the pet. While there are airlines that can accommodate a combined weight of up to 10kg, most airlines would only accept a weight of about 8 or 9kg.

Pets larger than those allowed inside the cabin can either fly as checked baggage or through cargo. Bigger dogs and cats usually go into these modes of flying.

There are also size requirements when traveling as checked baggage. Those that are beyond the size allowed as checked baggage can travel cargo.

For a better grasp of the sizes allowed inside the cabin or as checked baggage, check your airline’s


Early Birds Get to Fly

Most airlines would only allow a certain number of pets to travel inside the cabin. While there are exceptions with service animals, it would be very helpful if, after you have confirmed your flight, you immediately call ahead to make sure your pet gets to travel with you.

You also need to remember that different airlines have different rules. Some airlines allow pets inside the cabin while some don’t. Some would allow only two while there are those that can accommodate up to 6 pets per flight.

There are even airlines that do not allow cats and dogs inside the cabin but would give their nods to falcons and certain types of birds. These are considerations you need to go through prior to getting your tickets.

And to reiterate, as soon as you get your tickets, immediately get in touch with the airline to make sure your pet gets a slot.

Pets Get Tickets, Too!

When flying with a pet, pet owners should prepare to pay for fees. Pet air travel costs by PurringPal states that fees can be for as low as $35 per flight to as much as $800 one way.

Some airlines can be cheaper than the others but if there are factors that affect the fees being paid, it would be the size and weight of the pet plus the carrier, the mode by which the pet travels, the airline of choice, and the destination.

In most cases, low-cost carriers are a bit cheaper than flag carriers. Pet owners also need to pay more for pets traveling internationally than those that fly domestically.

Sizes and Breeds Matter

As previously mentioned, pets traveling inside the cabin are only up to a certain size. Pets that are larger than those allowed inside can travel as checked baggage or as cargo. The biggest are those that travel as freight.

And due to potential breathing problems while flying, some pets are also not allowed to travel. For instance, brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs are not allowed to fly.

Examples of these breeds are the Boston terriers, bulldogs of all breeds, chow chows, pit bulls, pugs, and Shih Tzus.

Cats that are of Burmese, Persian, Himalayan, and Exotic Shorthair breeds are also prohibited from flying.


When flying with your pet, it would be very useful to label everything – as in everything. From collars to the carrier to the toys to everything related to your pet.

This is super important especially if your pet is traveling through cargo as this may not be on the same flight as their pet owners. The same goes for pets that are traveling as checked baggage.

For those that are traveling inside the cabin, pet owners should not be as confident. Anything can happen and so labeling everything could ensure you and your pet do not lose each other along the way.

Locking Your Pets

For the whole duration of the flight, whether it is only for a couple of hours or 10 hours, pets need to stay inside the carrier.

Most airlines remind pet owners that carriers need to be comfortable to pets. It should be of a size that can enable pets to stand up, lie down in a natural position, and turn around.

The carrier should also have everything your pet needs (pee pads and drinking water for example) for utmost comfort and so pack everything that’s necessary.

Timing Meals and Potty Breaks

Ideally, pets need to be fed about four to six hours before the flight. That way, they are given enough time to digest the food that they ate and relieve themselves before the flight.

If taking long flights, some snacks may be a bit good for some pets. These can be given a few moments before the plane lands.

While the snack part may be applicable to those that are traveling inside the cabin, those that are traveling as checked baggage or as cargo need to be fed very light snacks during a layover, if there is any.

Drugs: Not Good!

Some pet owners may consider tranquilizers given to pets prior the flight. This is always not encouraged as this can possibly cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems as caused by an increased altitude pressure.

As a pet owner, giving tranquilizers should be the last resort. And before going in that direction, consult a vet just to be sure.

And speaking of vets, pet owners need to secure a health certificate for their pets prior to flying. While some airlines do not require it, it would still be good to be safe.

Research the Destination

Some countries do not welcome pets as visitors. And even if they do, there is still a question of transportation as some bus lines and trains may not allow pets inside.

Hotels, restaurants, and other tourist spots may also have restrictions when it comes to pets and so it would be best to read on and take note of anything and everything related to pets and your destination.

Infographic Pet Travel Policies

As mentioned earlier, when traveling with pets, what works is utmost planning, research, and preparation before flying.

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Calvin Young

Calvin Young

Hey buddy! I go by Calvin and I'm a Deaf traveler. I love exploring the world to discover and share amazing stories, useful tips, stunning photographs, jaw-dropping videos and many more with you all! I aim to empower and inspire the Deaf people that they can do anything they want through my travels.

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Contact us - Calvin Young


Hello! I am Calvin Young, Deaf Photographer & Traveler. I host Seek the World, which is a Deaf travel series to educate, inspire, and encourage the global Deaf community to be connected with others through travel! 






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