Let’s face it, as pet owners we would all love to travel side by side with our pets during air travel. Unfortunately if your furry companion is over 22 inches in length and/or over 20 pounds, you’re probably out of luck. The only other feasible option would be cargo transport but you won’t subject your pet to that type of torture. Well, there are many misconceptions about cargo transport. Here are just a few:
Myth: I wouldn’t put my pooch in that dark hole with baggage stuffed on top of him/her.
Fact: Most people don’t realize that the pet cargo area is separate from the baggage compartment and is lighted during travel.
Myth: My pet will freeze or suffer heat exhaustion in the cargo area of an airplane.
Fact: The pet cargo compartment is temperature and pressure controlled just like the human cabin. The summer/winter extreme temperature embargo does exist but only pertains to tarmac temperatures and can be circumvented by the airlines using climate controlled vans to transport the pets to the airplane.
Myth: Airline employees don’t know how to handle my pet.
Fact: All airline employees who handle your pet must be certified to do so. Also, they are instructed never to open crates or fraternize with animals.
All of these myths couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact is, millions of pets fly safely and happily every year in cargo without any problems and if your pet has been certified healthy to travel by your veterinarian you should have nothing to worry about. Here are some tips to keeping your pet safe while he/she is traveling in the cargo area of the plane.
Make sure your crate is IATA compliant: This means the crate must be ventilated on all four sides, have a waterproof bottom and a spring loaded locking crate door. Also, take the time to make sure the crate is the correct size. If you’re pet looks crammed in the crate or uncomfortable in any way you could be denied at the gate. Find IATA compliantpet crates
Use metal hardware! To be honest, the quality of the plastic hardware that comes with most crates is adequate at best. Do yourself (and your pet) a favor and purchase some metal hardware for your crate. Even though it’s a rare occurrence, crates with plastic hardware have been known to separate. Give yourself peace of mind that your crate will stay together and get the metal hardware.
Identification must be present and visible: This is a no-brainer. In the case of an emergency make sure you leave a picture, your emergency info and your veterinarian’s info zip-tied to the crate.
Plenty of water: You want to make sure your pet has plenty of water before, during and after air travel.
No tranquilizing: This can seriously harm your pet during air travel. Tranquilizing will affect a dog’s ability to pant and therefore regulate body temperature and/or inhibit their ability to breathe. Happy Traveler is a great healthy alternative.
Be proactive: During the reservation process ask as many questions as you need. Know the airlines pet policies because they all have different rules and regulations. Verify throughout the process that your pet will be boarded first and unloaded last. Also, when you board the plane let the captain and flight attendants know that your best bud is traveling via cargo.
More information on air cargo pet travel