Four-Legged Jet Setters: What to Know About the New Airline Restrictions for Pets
Thinking of taking a trip with your pet? You aren’t alone. Each year, over 2 million animals are transported via airplane, and recent scandals have resulted in airlines tightening up their already strict rules when it comes to pet travel. Brushing up on the latest airline restrictions for pets can help you choose the best option that meets your needs, while ensuring your pet remains safe and comfortable.
New Airline Restrictions for Pets
Lately, major airlines have come under fire as a result of a series of unfortunate incidents involving pets. There have been reports of animals being injured or killed during flights, along with various other complaints regarding animal passengers. The new airline restrictions for pets reflect the changes that all airlines are going through to make air travel safer for pets and human passengers.
Consider the following regulations that may affect the travel plans of you and your pet:
- Breed restrictions – Safety concerns have prompted some airlines to place a ban on certain dog and cat breeds, the majority of which fall into the brachycephalic (short-nosed) category. These breeds, which include pugs, bulldogs, Persian cats, and Himalayan cats, are more prone to heat-related stress and breathing difficulties.
- Pets traveling in the cargo hold – There are many restrictions regarding pets traveling in the cargo area of a plane, as it’s the most dangerous form of air travel for pets. Be sure you understand all the restrictions and fees before booking your flight.
- Temperature/layovers – Some airlines place a ban on pets traveling in the cargo hold during very hot weather or on flights to certain cities (e.g., Phoenix or Las Vegas) during the summer. Many also restrict the number of layovers they will allow for pet passengers.
- Emotional support animals – Although service animals are usually allowed to accompany their handlers in the cabin, emotional support animals are likely to have more restrictions associated with fees, documentation, and species (no more emotional support peacocks!).
Tips for Pet Owners
Even when every possible safety precaution is taken, air travel is usually a highly stressful experience for pets. The following tips aim to calm nerves and lessen anxiety:
- Familiarize your pet used with their crate/carrier well in advance of your flight to make the transition easier.
- Exercise your pet right before they’re loaded into the plane to burn off excess energy and to reduce stress.
- Feed your pet a light meal several hours prior to departure (a full stomach may cause queasiness during the flight); allow them to drink water right up until boarding time.
- Book a flight without layovers (or one short layover) whenever possible. Always keep temperature extremes in mind when planning a trip.
- Bring your pet in for a wellness exam as soon as you know you’ll be booking a flight. We can make sure your pet is healthy enough for airline travel and can help you complete any required paperwork. We’ll also discuss microchipping if necessary (highly recommended for pets who travel).