Do you dream of taking your pet with you on your travels? While seeing the world with your furry friend might sound fun, in reality it’s a pretty expensive, time-consuming (and somewhat risky, if your dog is in live cargo) undertaking. Nevertheless, if you and your dog are absolutely inseparable, here’s how to go about it.
- Most airlines don’t allow pets—even small ones—on board. Upon checking some of the more popular carriers, we’ve found that only Delta Airlines and Korean Air give passengers this option. If you want to keep an eye on your dog and make sure he’s as comfortable as you are, here are the requirements:
- Your pet’s crate must be small enough to fit easily under the seat in front of you. Delta asks customers to call to find out the maximum carrier dimensions for their specific flight, while Korean Air states that the carrier must be less than 115 cm. For economy passengers, the carrier height should be no more than 20 cm.
- While Delta hasn’t specified any maximum weight, Korean Air states that the combined weight of your pet and his kennel should be less than 5 kg.
- Delta requires that your pet be at least 16 weeks old, while Korean Air will take pets at least eight weeks old.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) allows passengers to travel with pets but places them in the live cargo hold, where the temperature and pressure control is the same as the cabin. Here are the steps you should take to ensure that your furry companion gets to your destination in one piece, according to PAWS director and canine expert Elsie Araneta:
1. Choose your flight, but call the airline before booking to check if the specific plane you’ll be taking can transport live animals. Let them know that you’ll be flying with a pet, and inform them of the type, size, and number of pets you’ll be taking with you.
2. Ask them where to pick up your pet at your airport of destination.
3. Get a transport permit for your pet from the Bureau of Animal Industry at the Department of Agriculture.
4. Label your pet’s crate with your name and contact information.
5. You have two options for checking your pet in: at the cargo building, or at the airline check-in counter. Araneta explains that taking your pet straight to the cargo building is cheaper, but you’ll have to drop them off before checking in yourself, and the process will take about an hour.
6. If you choose to check your pet in at the counter, he can stay with you until you enter the pre-departure area, at which point you’ll have to turn him over to a cargo agent.
7. Make sure you have your pet’s vaccination records on hand to show that all of his shots are up to date, especially his anti-rabies vacccines.
8. According to Araneta, the check-in process involves getting a permit from the quarantine officer, filling out forms, having your dog weighed, and paying pet transportation fees. “Check your waybills to ensure correct information, and ensure all the labels, flight details, live animal notices and transport stickers are stuck to the crate,” she adds. “Request that your pet be transported on the same flight you are on. Be sure to get the airline’s assurance that this will be done.”
9. Before you board your plane, ask the flight attendant at the entrance of the aircraft if the pilot knows your pet is in the cargo hold. “If he has not been notified, ask why and insist that they check the whereabouts of your pet. Unless the pilot is notified of live animals on board, he will not ensure proper pressurizing and temperature control in the live cargo hold,” Araneta warns.
10. When picking up your pet at your destination, have your waybill and ID ready. Don’t sign anything declaring that you’ve received your pet in good condition until after you’ve actually collected him and made sure he’s okay. Leash your pet and let him out of his crate to stretch his legs, drink some water and do his business.
Flying out of the country with your canine or feline companion requires a few additional steps:
1. Check the policies and requirements of the country you’re traveling to.
2. Call your chosen airline to get updated information on their policies, requirements, and animal transport fees.
3. Book a direct flight. The last thing you want is for your pet to get lost during transfers.
4. Get an export permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry.
5. Make sure your crate complies with IATA standards.
Keeping Your Pet Comfortable
1. First of all, consider your pet’s age, temperament, and physical condition. Air travel can be pretty stressful for a pet, and if your furry friend is old or has a tendency to be anxious, you’re probably better off leaving him at home with family or at a pet hotel.
2. When purchasing a crate, get a sturdy hard-shell crate. Make sure it’s big enough for your dog to sit, stand, and turn around in. Replace any plastic fasteners with metal crate hardware—it’s better to be safe than sorry, and some airlines require it anyway.
3. Start crate-training your pet as early as possible.
4. Stop feeding your pet four to six hours before your flight, to prevent him from vomiting or pooping in his crate. But make sure to give him some water if he’s thirsty.
5. Let your dog do his business one last time before you put him in his crate.
6. Line his crate with absorbent bedding to keep him dry and comfortable in case he still pees during the flight.
7. Clip a bowl to the wire door of the crate, and tape a bottle of water to the outside so that ground staff can give him water if the flight is delayed.
8. Make sure your dog’s collar and tag are securely fastened, and that they can’t get caught on the carrier door. Make sure his nails are clipped short for the same reasons. NEVER leave his leash inside the crate, as he can get strangled or injured by it during the flight.