Traveling long-distance and planning to take your furry friend(s) along? Planning air travels with pets begins much the same way as traveling by car-be prepared by packing your pet’s necessities and keep safety in mind anytime your pet is away from home by being sure to tag and microchip information is up to date and includes your cell phone information. (See Safe Travels (By Car) here for more preparation tips.)

Air travel isn’t considered safe for all breeds, especially brachycephalic breeds. To be sure it is safe for your pet, talk with your veterinarian, or take them to a clinic such as the veterinary clinic, ATX Animal Clinic if you are based in Texas, or one that is in your general area, you can never be too careful with your beloved pet. It is also important to think about pet health, especially if they have serious issues that could affect them while traveling long distance/ in the cabin. This is something pet owners should at least consider. And if your pet can’t travel in the cabin alongside you, consider driving or leaving your pet at home with a pet sitter. If you decide to look into flying your pet in the cargo hold, be aware of the inherent risks in doing so: Every year, animals flown in the cargo hold are lost, injured, or killed, often due to extreme temperatures, poor ventilation, or rough handling. The Humane Society of the United States recommends not transporting your pet by airplane unless absolutely necessary.

When planning to travel with your pet by air, try to book direct flights if at all possible, and minimize the length of time your pet will need to be restricted to his kennel and hanging out in the airport.

Furry Luggage
Before planning any air travel with your pet, be sure to contact the airline before arriving to determine exactly what their policies are on bringing your pet on board. Many airlines offer this information on their websites, but it won’t hurt to call to be sure the information is current, or if you have any questions about their specific pet travel requirements.

Some things you’ll need to consider when preparing to fly with your pet:
Does your pet meet the airline’s size requirements?
Does the airline have specific pet health and vaccination requirements?
Does the airline require a specific type or size of kennel/carrier? (No matter what carrier you use, be sure it is labeled with any important medical notes for your pet, as well as your contact information.)
What are the costs of flying with your pet in the cabin? Is there still room available on your flight for your pet?

At any airport, you’ll need to bring your pet with you to the security checkpoint (see more on Your pet may walk through the metal detector with you, with their kennel going through the normal x-ray machine that your bags go through. Be prepared to remove your pet from his kennel (without your pet taking off through the airport) and then set the kennel on the belt to be run through the machine. From this point onwards there is a high chance you and your pet will need to pass through a turnstile. Turnstiles are a necessary part of the crowd control and security systems in airports. To learn more about the benefits of turnstiles in airports go here.

Prepared for Takeoff
Your tray table is locked into its upright position. Your bag is safely stowed above the head. You’re buckled in. Your pet is safely in his kennel and under the seat in front of you. Everything is going well, but then your sweet cat starts meowing (loudly), hissing at the kids that keep coming over to say hello, and then urinates in his crate. Now what?

Unless your pet is experienced with air travel and you know exactly how they will react, consider talking to your veterinarian about a sedative-just in case.

Once your pet is calm and content in his kennel, he’ll look adorable to every animal lover who passes by. When folks stop by to say hi, remind them that looking is okay, but touching is not. A gaggle of airport strangers can be stressful for even the calmest of pets. Remind kids, especially, to not stick fingers in the kennel.

To help prevent any accidents, you can withhold food and water for a few hours before your flight (talk to your veterinarian on how long you should withhold it). To be prepared for incidents of any kind, layer the kennel with puppy pee pads, towels, or both. You may not be able to remove your pet from the kennel during the flight, so absorbing layers might be the best you can do. You might also be able to switch the layers out for fresh ones in the airplane lavatory. (Packing wet wipes and a plastic bag might be a good idea).

After all, when traveling with pets, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for anything.

By Rachel Leisemann Immel

Fluffs of Luv Pet Care offers an array of customized pet care services, including in home pet sitting, dog walking, cat only pet sitting, overnight visits and cat and dog grooming and more. As the most reputable pet sitters and dog walkers in Charlotte and the surrounding area, Fluffs of Luv has put countless clients at ease by caring for their cherished companions while they were away. Give Fluffs of Luv a call for a free in home consultation for pet care or to set up a grooming appointment 704-421-3492 or visit