Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Plane Travel With Your Puppy

Puppies must be at least eight weeks old to travel on an airplane. If you do decide to travel by plane with your puppy, do some research first and arrange your plans far in advance of the trip.

Always choose an airline that offers nonstop service, a flight without stops to and from your destination. If you can't get nonstop service, try to get a direct or through flight, which is a flight that stops but doesn't require passengers to change planes.

Naturally, if you have to travel on a direct flight, look for one with as little time on the ground as possible during the stopover. Also, use the same airline for your entire trip.

If your puppy is small, it can travel in the passenger cabin with you or it can travel as checked baggage. However, if your puppy is larger, you'll have to ship it as either standard cargo or counter-to-counter cargo.

The Passenger Cabin:

Most airlines will allow your puppy to travel in the passenger cabin if you follow certain rules. For example, puppies in the passenger cabin must remain in a safe kennel that's placed under the seat in front of you. A kennel is actually a Pet carrier.

If you want your puppy to fly with you in the passenger cabin, make your reservations as early as possible. Airlines restrict the number of Pets allowed in the passenger cabin of each flight.

Also, the clerk needs to assign you a seat with enough room for your puppy. Space under the aisle seats can be narrower than space under the center and window seats.

In addition, some airlines don't allow passengers with Pets to sit in an exit row. So, if you don't register early, the flight may be either closed to additional Pets, or there may not be a seat left with enough room for your puppy.

Check your airlines for the maximum dimensions for a kennel in the passenger cabin. In general, the maximum dimensions are usually around 21 inches long, 13 to 16 inches wide and 8 or 9 inches high.

Zippered, soft kennels work well in the passenger cabin because they're flexible. Make certain these kennels have lots of cushioning and that the zipper is secure. (It's really embarrassing if your puppy gets out and decides to run around the plane.)

Also, the kennel must be properly ventilated on at least two sides. Be certain to label the kennel with your name, address ,and telephone number. In addition, make sure your puppy is wearing a collar with an ID tag.

Once you call and reserve your puppy's space, you may pick up its ticket when you pick up yours. A ticket for your puppy in the passenger cabin will cost around $50 for a one-way trip

Some commuter airlines don't allow Pets in the passenger cabin, so you want to use jet service whenever you can. Most airlines insist that there must be enough room in the carrier for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

(They won't let your puppy on the plane unless it can do this.) Therefore, your puppy or dog must be relatively small in order to travel this way.

Checked Baggage:

Most dog owners prefer their dogs to fly in the passenger cabin, so they can watch over them. However, it's not always possible for your dog to fly this way.

Larger dogs can't fly in the passenger cabin. In addition, airlines only allow one dog in a carrier, so if you're flying to visit a friend with your two poodles, the airline won't allow your dogs in the passenger cabin. (A few airlines do allow two very young puppies to share a kennel.)

Another alternative is to put the puppy in a larger kennel and fly it as checked baggage. You can ask the airline to confirm a checked baggage space for your puppy when you make reservations.

This way, you're absolutely certain that space will be available. A few airlines have a policy that prohibits them from confirming space, but this doesn't mean they won't have a space for your puppy; it just means that they can't guarantee it.

Although it doesn't cost more to fly your puppy as checked baggage than it does to fly it in the passenger cabin, the kennel requirements are different.

For instance, usually, you need to put your puppy in a hard plastic kennel rather than in a soft one. If you buy a hard kennel that's airline approved, you shouldn't have any problems.

Also, buy the strongest kennel you can find, since your puppy will fly with the luggage instead of with the passengers.

A few airlines insist that you give them written confirmation as to when your puppy last ate and drank, which means you have to write it down for them.

Most require that you have food and water in the kennel. Some kennels have dishes built in that you can fill from the outside, which is really convenient.

You'll have to label your puppy's kennel with your name, address, and telephone number. Also, mark the kennel with a one-inch high 'live animal' sign.

Standard Cargo:

Most airlines have a choice of either standard air cargo or a premium service called counter-to-counter cargo.

If you ship your puppy as standard cargo, sometimes called freight, it must be at the cargo facility about two to four hours before the plane takes off. (Most cargo facilities are somewhere other than where you would normally check in for a flight, so you have to find the cargo facility first.)

And, when the puppy reaches its destination, it will be held an additional one to two hours. This lengthens the puppy's flight considerably and causes it more stress than necessary.

In addition, cargo doesn't have the same loading priority as baggage, which mean it's possible that weight limits for a flight could be reached before your puppy is put on board. If this happens, your puppy will have to wait for a later flight.

Whether or not your puppy can fly standard cargo also depends on the temperature. The temperature at both destinations must fall within an acceptable range or the airline won't put the puppy on the plane.


A much better way for your puppy to travel is counter-to-counter cargo service. Unlike standard cargo, this type of service allows your puppy to be brought to the passenger terminal only 30 to 60 minutes prior to the flight's departure. And, after the flight, you can pick the puppy up as soon as the baggage is unloaded.

Health and Security:

Airlines won't let your puppy on a plane unless it's healthy. Within 10 days of the flight, you must take your puppy to the veterinarian and get a health certificate. In addition, the airlines will visually inspect your puppy's health before they put it on the plane.

Security differs between airlines, so it's best to keep your ticket and your puppy's ticket, health certificate, and rabies vaccination together, since some airlines will request this information more than once.

Most airlines will want to x-ray your puppy's kennel, so you'll have to take your puppy out of the kennel. Make sure your puppy is wearing its collar, leash and ID tag!

You and your puppy might have to walk through a metal detector together. Never let your puppy be run through an x-ray machine.
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Obinna Heche: Los Angeles- California

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