Jet Set On Bringing Your Pet
(April 25, 2002)
Traveling with pets has always been a
challenge. Given new security procedures, it has become even more
trying, particularly when flying. Of all the questions and comment
topics I receive, traveling with pets is by far one of the most
popular. The following are ideas and tips on making the next trip
with your furry little friend go as smooth and easy as
Editor's note: Many airlines impose an embargo
on pets as checked baggage during the summer months. Please check
with your carrier for the latest details.
More than 500,000 house pets take to the skies in
the U.S. each year. Most airlines allow one pet per owner to fly in
the cabin, inside a carrier small enough to fit under the seat.
Airlines regulate the number of animals per cabin, so your pet must
have a reservation. A $75 to $100 one-way fee, plus a veterinary
health certificate is required. If there is no space in the cabin,
pets must be shipped as cargo, where they are placed into a heated
and pressurized portion of the cargo hold.
Loretta N. of Syracuse, NY, wonders which airlines
allow small animals in the cabin. The following is a listing of the
major carriers' policies and fees:
Remember to confirm your flight and your pet's reservation
before leaving for the airport.
Give yourself plenty of time at the airport for security
screening. Allow at least two hours.
Make sure your pet carrier is easy to search.
Bear in mind that x-ray machines are set to the highest
level, which could harm pets. Ask the security personnel to
hand search your pet, and tell them you can remove the animal
from its carrier for inspection. Few security personnel are
trained to inspect animals, so be patient.
Remember that the FAA has limited carry-on luggage to one
bag, plus one personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or
laptop computer. Even though you're paying extra, your pet
will count as your one carry-on, so plan luggage options
Keep certain documents—the pet's veterinary health
certificate and the airline's documentation showing that the
pet's reservation has been made—on hand to show as often as
transporting pets continue to rise, and in some cases, cost more
than the owner's ticket. The increase is due to tighter restrictions
on pet-acceptance policies that came in response to the "Safe Air
Travel for Animals Act," a bill signed into law by former President
Clinton in April 2000 after complaints about deaths and injuries to
animals caused by extreme temperatures while in transit. Airlines
became nervous at the implications for violations under the act, and
then raised fees or instituted bans to deter pet
- AirTran: Allows small, domesticated pets in the
cabin for $50 one-way. Does not accept pets as cargo.
- Alaska Airlines: Allows dogs, cats, rabbits,
household birds, and tropical fish (fish don't need reservations)
in the cabin for $75 one-way. Fees for checking animals as baggage
- American: Allows cats, dogs, and birds in the
cabin or as checked baggage for $75 one-way. Due to summer heat,
American Airlines and its regional partner, American Eagle, will
not accepted pets as checked baggage on flights from Wednesday,
May 15, through Sunday, Sept. 15, 2002.
- America West: Allows cats, dogs, and birds in
the cabin for $75 one-way. Does not permit pets as checked
- Continental: Allows cats, dogs, birds,
rabbits, and pot-bellied pigs in the cabin for $80 one-way. Does
not permit pets as checked baggage.
- Delta: Allows cats, dogs, birds, rabbits,
hamsters, ferrets, and guinea pigs in the cabin or as checked
baggage for $75 one-way. Delta recently announced its annual
summer embargo on the acceptance of pets as checked baggage, from
May 15 through September 15. However, pet owners can ship pets via
its "Pet First" program. Fees vary.
- JetBlue: Allows cats and dogs in the cabin
for $50 one-way. Does not accept pets for shipment.
- Northwest: Allows only cats and dogs in the
cabin for $80 one-way, or as checked baggage for $139 to $299
depending upon the animal's weight.
- Southwest: Does not accept animals in the cabin
or as baggage (exception are service animals, such as Seeing Eye
- United: Allows cats, dogs, and birds in the
cabin for $75 one-way. Does not permit pets as checked
- US Airways: Allows cats, dogs, and birds in
the cabin or as checked baggage for $100 one-way.
countries allow animal importation, many impose restrictions that
discourage the short-term visitor. For instance, England places a
six-month quarantine on all imported animals, except for
domesticated animals arriving from some European and other countries
such as Australia and New Zealand. While most of the U.S. does not
practice quarantine, be aware that Hawaii and Guam do.
of Mena, AR, would like to ship her two large dogs to Korea. This is
a case where the services of a professional pet transportation
company would help cut through the red tape involved. Pets on the Go is a great website for locating a
shipper and finding answers to related pet travel questions. Bear in
mind that Korea quarantines animals.
Anita A. of Newton, MA, asked if it's
possible to book pet travel through Hotwire. Pets are allowed on
flights booked through Hotwire, depending upon the airline's
individual restrictions. However, Hotwire cannot guarantee that you
will be able to travel with your pet because you can't know the
carrier until after you buy the ticket. Therefore, it's better to
contact the airline directly if you must travel with your pet on a
Many readers, like
Susan B. of Lakeland, FL, and Michael D. of Staten Island, NY, are
curious as to whether any cruise lines allow dogs to travel with
them. With the exception of service animals, no major cruise ships
allow dogs in the cabin with people. However, Cunard's transatlantic
QE2 allows small dogs in the ship's kennels (dogs are not
allowed in the cabin). The dog must be fairly small as the kennels
are only 33"x33"x29". The kennel has visiting hours three times per
day. Also be aware that if you sail into England on the QE2,
your dog will have to go into quarantine for six
Some travelers aren't so keen
on people bringing their pets onboard. Sam M. of Cleveland, OH,
feels that pet owners who fly with their pets are "selfish" and
"inconsiderate" because certain animals pose risks such as
allergies. There's truth to what he's saying; however, sometimes
leaving pets at home is unavoidable. I've had to transport my cat
"Sting" on several job relocation moves across the country. Faced
with either driving an aging cat from coast-to-coast or flying, I
knew that the latter option was more humane for the cat.
in your best interest to be as considerate to other travelers as
possible. Flight attendants tried in vain to move me away from
people who claimed cat allergies or who just didn't like cats, and
wound up putting me—and the cat—into first class. I guess every dog
(or cat) has its day.
Unless it is absolutely necessary for your pet
to travel, Real Traveler recommends that you leave your beloved
animal with a trusted friend, family member, pet-sitter, or
reputable boarding kennel. The danger of pet travel is not the
travel itself, but the stress it puts on the animal. Owners should
always consider whether taking their pet along is for their benefit
or the animal's.
Related Sites and Resources
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
(NAPPS): The NAPPS 24-hour referral network finds members in the
local area with just a simple phone call (800-296-7387).
Pets on the Go: Great resource on traveling with
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