Air travel with pets may not be as smooth-sailing for pet parents as a road trip. This is partly because of the paper work that needs to be filled out prior to the travel. Mostly however, it is because, even after completing all required formalities for air travel with pets, there is no guarantee that your pet’s journey by air will be comfortable.
What would help a first time traveller however is to have all their ducks in a row! In other words, when planning an air travel with pets, it is best for a pet parent to know what they should / should not do before and during the travel, so there are no nasty surprises along the way!. Here are some key points to ponder:
- Choose the right airline carrier for your pets
Not all airlines allow pets on board. In India, Air India, Spice Jet, Vistara, and most recently, Akasa air have thrown their cabins and cargo containers open for pets. So naturally, the first thing to do when you plan an air travel with your pets is to look for an airline where pets are allowed.
Also, note that most airline carriers allow only pets of small sizes to travel in the cabin along with the parent. Large pets are only allowed in the cargo compartment. Importantly, aggressive breeds of dogs, pregnant animals, and females with unweaned offspring are not welcome on certain airline carriers.
Most airlines also have a stipulation on the number of pets a single passenger can carry. Typically, this is 2 per passenger. Your pet’s age may also impact their eligibility to travel.
It is therefore highly recommended that you read up your airline carrier’s guidelines related to air travel with pets before you do the booking.
Also, make your bookings well in advance. With limited carrier options for pets, its very possible that you may not find seats in the flights of your choice if you wait too long.
- Look for the shortest route to the destination
As mentioned earlier, air travel is not a whole lot of fun for pets. So, keep it short. Do your homework well and pick the route that will take you to your destination in the shortest possible time. It will relieve both you and your pets of all the travel-related stress.
- Get your pet’s travel plans approved and certified by authorities
Make sure that you have obtained the required health/fitness certificates and updated vaccination cards from your vet well before making plans for air travel with pets. Some countries even require a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from a quarantine center in addition to a vet’s certificate. Particularly, the rabies vaccination certificate is a must-have for air travel with pets. It will be a good idea for you to look up pet travel and certification requirements of the chosen destination and then prepare the relevant documentation.
Keep your vet informed about your plans and make sure that he approves of it. This is important because, some pets may not handle certain temperatures well. Likewise, the travel duration also impacts a pet’s physical and mental health. Depending upon the destination you choose and the time it would take to get there by flight, a vet will be able to tell you if your pet is up for the trip or not. You can change your travel plans accordingly, or drop it totally. This will save you from a whole lot of heart burn later.
- Crate-train you pets before the air travel
One of the key requirements of air travel with pets is a pet crate/kennel. Most airline carriers mandate that pets in cargo be placed in a crate/kennel during the entire duration of the air travel. This crate should be of a stipulated size. It would be wise to check with your carrier for the size requirements. You may want to get a crate/kennel of a similar size weeks before air travel with pets, and train your pets to stay in that kennel for long hours. This is a good way to get them used to the journey ahead.
- Confirm travel arrangements with airline
Even if you’ve booked your flight and everything’s confirmed, call the airline a week before, and then, a day or two before the air travel with pets to ensure that you are all set.
- Get your pets to do ‘their job’ before the departure
Feed your pets well and get them to urinate and defecate comfortably hours before the departure. This way you can be rest assured that your furry mates do not suffer from any discomfort, owing to a full bladder, during the air travel.
- Reach airport early with your pet travel documents and certifications
Reach the airport at least 3 hours before boarding time. Make sure you carry all the documents and certifications as required by law for air travel with pets and submit it to the relevant authorities at the airport. Keep your pets on leash, and if required, muzzled at the airport.
- Your pet is your responsibility
Never forget that though the airline carries your pets, the onus of the pets’ safety lies only on the parent through the entire duration of the air travel with pets. This is why, most airline carries get pet parents to sign an Indemnity Certificate, which will give the carrier immunity against any liability arising out of sickness, death, or injury that pets may suffer during the journey. So, make sure that your pets are healthy and are well-prepared for the rigours of the air travel before you attempt it.