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Dr. Mike Paul Excited by New Airline Travel Option for Pets

Posted October 07, 2015 in A Vet's Life

If you travel by air much at all, you have undoubtedly noticed a significant increase in the number of animals traveling by air with their guardians. If you are considering traveling with your pet there are several regulations you should be aware of. All major airlines have policies and guidelines that regulate the travel of pets.

Dog on an airplaneTraveling with service animals
Increasingly, people travel with ‘service animals’ whose service role may vary from physical needs such as guide dogs to emotional needs such as support or psychiatric support animals. According to the American Airlines website, they allow service dogs on flights at no charge. My experience has shown that this is true of many airlines. If you are traveling with a legitimate support pet, contact your airline ahead of time.

Traveling with non service animals
Some airlines allow only dogs and cats to fly and some restrictions apply. Airlines might allow domesticated cats, small dogs, rabbits and birds to travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin. In my experience, for non service animals traveling as companions in the cabin, there is generally a charge. This is the case for United, according to their website.

You should always check with your airline and veterinarian before traveling with pets. I travel frequently and here are some general expectations I have:

  • There is likely a charge for each pet carried on
  • The pet must be at least 8 weeks old
  • As a rule, pets, other than service pets traveling in the cabin, regardless of class of travel, must be carried in an approved carrier.
  • Pets traveling with their care givers must remain under the seat as is the case with any personal carry-on item. Some newer designs of planes may not allow for adequate under seat-storage space.
  • The pet must remain in the kennel and under the seat in front of you for the entire flight
  • Not including service animals, the number of pets on a flight is limited as space is limited.

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.

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The opinions and views expressed in this post are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the beliefs, policies or positions of all veterinarians, Pet Health Network, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. or its affiliates and partner companies.