Covid-19 has had a tremendous impact on our lives -but there’s been a silver lining. We’ve got more time to spend with our precious pets, and nobody’s complaining about that! Every pet owner knows how much pets have an impact on our life. They help us through our sorrows, and share in our happiness. For this reason, we’d love to integrate our pets into vacations as well – and sometimes, it’s easy. Road trips with pets are fun and eventful, and considerably easier than travelling to a foreign country with them. Although, what if we told you that it’s not that hard to take a pet on a plane – there’s a few restrictions, of course, but those can be worked around.
The good thing to note is, dogs as pets are allowed on most planes. Them being the bigger (and more chaotic) of our animal companion list mean that if they qualify, many others might as well. This is why, we will be delving into them more in this article. Rules are different for many airlines, though, so it would be advised to check before booking. In India, the major airlines allowing travel with pets include SpiceJet and Air India. In this article, we will delve deeper into what you’ll need to know before carrying your furry friends along!
1. Health Concerns and Restrictions
Checking the pet’s health and getting a vet’s approval for travel could be the difference between life and death – there are many breeds where health issues can spiral out of anxiety, and flying/travelling is generally an anxious experience. Being in a new, closed space for so long may not be the best for your pet, and letting them run loose in the cabin is also frightening – for you as well as other passengers. Extreme hot/cold climates have a direct impact on pet’s health, so it will be important to choose a place that has a moderate temperature – like a tropical destination.
Common examples of pets that are not allowed include those below 12 weeks of age (due to dangers of cabin pressure). Pregnant dogs and ‘aggressive’ dog breeds are also a concern. Those with short snouts are also a concern, as there is a potential for heat stroke and/or breathing difficulties.
2. Medical Clearance
This may seem similar to the first point, but the difference lies in its formality. You not only have to assure yourself of being able to travel with your pet, but you have to assure the flight staff and airline as well. You’ll need to get some documents ready beforehand, as well as check with airport authorities if your breed will be allowed to travel (health-wise). Checking with the airline needs to be done irrespective of whether you have a vet’s approval or not.
Speaking of which, you cannot board the flight without medical clearance. You will need to bring all the pet’s vaccinations and rabies/other disease certificates with you while travelling. These health certificates will need to be issued within 10 days prior to the travel date – with a vet’s confirmation. This confirmation is to assure that the pet is safe for travel. If it is done more than 10 days in advance, it may not be valid.
3. Cabin or Cargo?
Depending on the airline you travel by, your pet might be allowed to be kept in a different place. Some airlines prefer pets to be kept in the cargo, while others will allow you to take them in the cabin with you.
Airlines that allow pets in the cabin usually have a certain number of reserved seats for pets. You will need to inform the cabin crew if your pet is travelling with you, so that these arrangements can be made accordingly. This will need to be done at least 14 days before you travel. Your pet can also be carried in the luggage compartment/cargo – also called “under the plane”. This is the choice for some airlines, which do not allow cabin pets. This area is usually temperature and pressure controlled. If your pet is travelling like this, you will need to make sure that the temperature and pressure is regulated accordingly – throughout the flight. This means that you will need to keep checking in with the cabin crew to remind them to regulate it.
Either way, you will need to keep your pet in its kennel or cage for the whole duration of the flight. This is usually a thumb rule. If you are putting them in a place far away from you (the cargo), make sure they have enough water, food and toys to keep them satisfied.
4. Pets = Additional Baggage?
In general terms, your pet might be considered additional baggage because of the extra necessities you’ll need to carry for them. Add on the weight and height of the pet and kennel, and it might be assumed that airlines would consider them so. However, airlines do not consider pets as additional baggage. You will still need to pay to carry them on the flight, however, and this cost depends on the size and weight of the kennel. To allow pets on flights, there is often a cap-off in terms of weight and height.
For example, some airlines say that pets below the weight of 5 kg. can be taken in the cabin itself. Weights above that will need to be accommodated in the cargo. This weight is calculated as the weight of the pet and the kennel, so it is a good idea to try and minimise the weight of the latter.
5. Anything Else I Need to Know?
There are two more aspects of travel you might need to be familiar with.
You will have to call your airlines 14 days in advance. We did mention it a few times in the article, but reiterating it means that it is necessary. This is a step that ensures the safety of your pet, by making sure that staff can come prepared to assist you. You will also be clearer as to what the on-site rules and regulations are, which means that your trip can be smoother and more care-free.
On the day of the flight, you might need to go to an entirely different location to drop off your pet. This might be far away from the main airport premises, and closer to where the luggage is stored before take-off. Of course, this only applies if you have to carry your pet in the cargo, which you will most probably know while calling them. In case there are any hiccups, it’s a good idea to come at least an hour earlier than your usual time, to ensure that any last-minute hiccups do not occur.
And there you have it! 5 tips and tricks to help you on your next flight across the world – with your best friend in tow! If you would like similar assistance with your visa and travel insurance related issues, please contact us at Visa2Fly! If you would like to read more such articles on travel-related topics, we’ve got you! Our blogs on Hostels vs. Hotels and Long-Haul Flight Tips might be of interest. Happy travelling~~