Monday, May 11, 2009

Air travel & Pets

As I sat on a 737 heading for Florida, I thought about the time my little boy Pippin came to live with me. He was a 7 1/2 week old Standard Poodle puppy venturing out on his own with only the small carrier he was in, a toy, towel and his travel information taped to the top of his crate. He needed to travel from a small airport, switch planes and head to Cleveland Hopkins to meet his new mom. That day of excitement and anticipation turned out to be one of the longest and most nail biting experiences I have ever had. You don't ever want to hear the words "We lost your puppy". Read the full story Here

I want to share some tips that I read about on air travel and pets.

Boarding Pass (in the cabin or in the cargo)
If your pet is a small dog or a cat, most airlines will allow you to take the animal on board for an additional fee. Call your airline to check with their specifics for pet travel. When you contact the airline, ask these important questions.
Does the airline allow you to take your cat or small dog on board with you? This is the best option. Pippin was placed in the cabin of one plane but the captain didn't think it would be safe enough, so he had to wait for another plane.
If that option isn't available to you, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your pet as cargo? some aircraft's are not heated in cargo so animals are not permitted.
Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements? Most do and a health certificate is needed from your veterinarian.
Does the airline require a specific type of carrier? Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers (SkyKennel)or soft-sided carriers, which may be more comfortable for your pet, but only certain brands of soft-sided carriers are acceptable to certain airlines. Check the airline for types.
Use direct flights. You can be spared the pain of lost pets and avoid the mistakes that occur during airline transfers and possible delays in getting your pet off the plane.
If traveling with your pet, ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold. Try not to cry.
Don't ever ship pug-nosed animals such as Pekingese, Bulldogs, or Persians in the cargo holds. These breeds have short nasal passages that leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.
If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter. The outside temperatures play a big part in cabin and cargo compartments.
Just like your suitcases and trunks, attach a travel label to the carrier with your name, address and telephone number, final destination, and where you or a contact person can be reached as soon as the flight arrives.
Do not feed your pet for five to six hours prior to air travel. A small amount of water can be given before the trip. If possible, put ice cubes in a water tray attached to the inside of your pet's kennel. Pippin had a small block or cube in a dish that was attached to his crate. He was such a good little boy, he didn't even mess in his crate.
If you are not with your pet in time of traveling and something does go wrong, you may be entitled to full refund of your ticket price. I was refunded back $175.00 because of the mistakes that were made by the airline. File a complaint if you witness the mishandling of an animal at any airport.
Lastly, arrive at the airport early, exercise your pet, personally place it in its crate, and pick up the animal promptly upon arrival.

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