Air Travel Tips


Travelling with pets doesn't have to be a nightmare. Here are some thoughts from our staff (who have shipped a LOT of pets both internationally as well as domestically).

Buy an adequate, airline-approved carrier. The vari kennels are airline approved for domestic travel. Sky Kennels already have holes in the proper places for international travel and are approved for both domestic AND internatiional air travel. If you want a "pretty" dog crate for housebreaking, you can use a varikennel. If you want to be worry-free for airline travel, choose a Sky Kennel.

Check with your airline about size requirements for their cargo doors. Most airlines will take dog crate sizes up to the X Large in regular passenger airliners. However, SOME smaller airlines do not have cargo doors large enough for the size Giant Sky Kennels and Vari Kennels and may require your dog to fly a cargo carrier. Pets cannot ship in see-through metal kennels. They'd feel more anxiety in those, anyway. The less they see the better they like it.

Many airlines require that the dog crate be tall enough for your dog to stand up in a natural manner ie: the total height of the kennel be equal to or taller than the total height of the dog. However, if it is too large, he can be thrown from side to side and possibly injured more easily than if he is in a crate that is just right.

Buy an adequate, airline-approved crate. The vari kennels are usually airline approved for domestic travel. Sky Kennels already have holes in the proper places for international travel. If you want a "pretty" dog crate for housebreaking, use a varikennel. If you want to be assured of airline approval, purchase a Sky Kennel Dog Crate.

Check with your airline about size requirements for their cargo doors. Most airlines will take sizes up to the X Large in regular passenger airliners. However, SOME smaller airlines do not have cargo doors large enough for the size Giant Sky Kennels and Vari Kennels and may require your dog to fly a cargo carrier. Pets cannot ship in see-through metal kennels. They'd feel more anxiety in those, anyway. The less they see the better they like it. Many airlines require that the crate be tall enough for your dog to stand up in a natural manner ie: the total height of the kennel be equal to or taller than the total height of the dog. However, if it is too large, he can be thrown from side to side and possibly injured more easily than if he is in a crate that is just right.

Purchase your carrier at least two weeks before travel so your pet has time to get used to it. Give him chew treats and positive experiences at home so he enjoys his time in the crate.

Most international travel requires a valid rabies certificate (within 1 month to 1 year depending on your destination) and a veterinary health certificate within the past 10-30 days (again depending on the destination). The airlines should be able to give you this information. If you can't get it from them, call the consulate of the receiving country.

Some countries and US States have long, arduous, and expensive quarantine. Hawaii, Great Britain, Australia, and other countries have up to 1 year.

Pets don't travel well on a full stomach. Take away all food at least 12 hours prior to travel and water 4 hours before travel. He can have a natural bone or rawhide chew to keep him busy during the flight. Send a snuggly toy with a young or particularly social pup.

If your pets are high strung or nervous, there are a couple of all-natural calmatives or tranquilizers that might help. You want him to be just drowsy, not asleep. Cats don't travel as well as dogs sometimes. However, if you are going to use a calmative or tranquelizer, experiment with it BEFORE you travel to be sure what the effect will be. Cats sometimes react just the opposite of the way you would expect.

If your pet will be traveling in the airline cabin with you, try to exercise outside the airport before check-in and between flights. Don't feed during the trip although a SMALL amount of water may be OK if the pet will be allowed to relieve himself at least every 3-4 hours. Take paper towels or other clean-up materials in case he has an "accident" inside the airport. Take a bottle of his home-bottled water.

If the pet is travelling in the cargo section, it is best if you arrange for counter-to-counter service so you can check him in and pick him up at the ticket counter with your luggage. If he is travelling without you, you will probably have to leave him at the Cargo area, but you should ask if you can drop him off at the luggage counter.

Expect that you will need extra time for drop off or check in and be prepared.
You can also expect that he may be sitting on the tarmac for an hour or more before he is loaded into the belly of the plane and after he is unloaded.

The airline personnel will NOT open your dogs crate for any reason. If you want them to water him during the flight (not much we hope), then use the cups that come in the air travel package purchased at the same time you purchase the crate. They can stick the snout of a water can through the door mesh and fill his bowl (if they care enough to do it). We feel it is better to afix a water bottle to the crate door with a few ounces of HOME water for your pet to lap during the flight. That way you can give him a little moisture but can control that he doesn't get so much that it fills his bladder and makes him uncomfortable. For shorter flights, freeze water in the crate dishes so that it melts gradually during his travel.

The cargo area of the plane where you pet travels is temperature and pressure controlled, much like the cabin. He will be fairly comfortable. It's the beginning and end of the trip or during changes of planes that are the most stressful.

Choose a direct flight if at all possible! We can't stress this enough. Especially if he is travelling without you, changing planes can be fraught with disaster--especially in airports as large as Dallas-Ft Worth. Try to avoid any changes.

Pets are not allowed to travel when the temperature at either end of their journey is too high or too low. This makes travel safer, but can be inconvenient in Summer or Winter in some parts of the world. Plan way ahead.

Most airlines have limits on the number of pets that can travel in the passenger section of the plane, so make your reservations (including the pet's reservations) early.

Most airlines don't seem to like to handle pets, no matter what they say. You must have your "ducks in a row" and do most of the work for them. If you're prepared, both you and your pets will be more comfortable, and you'll minimize anxiety, frustration, and airline mistakes.