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Flyboy 101

Okay, so you are considering leavin’ on a jet plane (pardon the pun) this Holiday Season and your best friend is coming along for the ride. Most dogs do not have a problem flying, but here are a few tips so you and your dog will hopefully have a successful trip.

1. Shop around. Call several airlines for pricing for both you and your dogs’ ticket. It is amazing the different prices quotes you may get for essentially the same flight. So unless you don’t mind arriving with a really light wallet, shopping for the best price can save you a lot of dough. Also, this is a great time to check what the weight/size restrictions are for flying your dog in the cabin.

2. Try to fly direct or non-stop. Flying direct or non-stop is particularly important if you are flying your dog in the cargo section of the airplane. It probably will cost more, however if you can afford it and don’t mind the extra cost then by all means choose a direct flight. Again, checking the prices of several airlines can pay off even for a direct flight.

3. Verify exactly what documents your pet will need to fly. Once you have selected an airline, verify and write down exactly what documentation your pet will need. Most airlines want a Health Certificate that is filed with the Department of Agriculture. Usually, this document can be no older than ten days before your scheduled flight. You can obtain this from your pets’ veterinarian. Typically, this document will cost around $20.00. If your pet is flying in cargo, the airline may require a letter of acclimation in addition to the health certificate. The airline should be able to tell you exactly what this letter needs to state and it will need to be signed by your dogs’ vet.

4. Crate requirements. Verify with the airline what type of crate you will need to fly your dog. Plastic carriers usually have top compartments to store necessary items for the dog. These are usually for flying a dog in cargo. The carriers for in cabin travel are generally soft sided and should have side pockets for the leash, chewies, food, a collapsible water bowl, etc.

5. Flying your dog in the cabin. You will need to check in at the ticket counter. Be sure to have all of the requested documents, health certificate, etc. You will need to remove your dog from the carrier to get through security. Usually, the TSA agent will have you hold your dog and walk through the scanner. Once you are through security, you can purchase bottled water for the flight. You should keep your dog in the carrier, otherwise you may be asked to put your dog in the carrier and leave it there.

6. Flying your dog in cargo. You will need to check in at the ticket counter. Be sure to have all of the requested documents, health certificate, etc. The agent at the ticket counter will transfer the dog to the luggage belt and your dog is then on its way. You will pick up your dog at the baggage claim area. Usually, there is a door in the baggage area your dog will be brought to. Don’t worry, you won’t see your dog going past you on the baggage claim belt.

7. Bathroom Break. I have carried newspaper in the bathroom of the airport and allowed my dog to potty on the paper. Larger dogs are going to have to go outside usually as soon as you can get them away from the airport.

Flyboy 101 List

Documents needed for travel
Collar with identification tag
Clean up bags
Collapsible food/water bowls
Paper towels and plastic zip loc bags (In case you have to clean up an accident in the airport or on the plane)
Moist Towelettes
Sweater (if traveling to cold areas)
Photo of your pet (In the event, you and your pet become separated)