Last year we planned a family trip to Cancun and if you’re anything like me, it’s not a family trip unless your pup comes along too. I had never flown with my dog before, but I heard that dogs were required to fly in cargo. WHAAAT?! There was no way my little Odie was going to fly with the luggage. I went straight to my favorite airline and, thankfully, Virgin America only lets you bring your pup if you fly him in-cabin. It was such a relief to know I wouldn’t have to send my terrified pup off to some cold, scary room for his first flight.
Booking Your Flight
Virgin America lets you book your pup right on their website. So that part is super easy. There are other airlines which will require you to call in. Make sure you book that flight early on because fur baby spots are limited on each flight. There are a few steps you have to take before your flight to ensure things go smoothly.
1) Contact your airline (or both airlines if you will be flying with more than one)
Make sure you get in touch with all of the airlines you will be using during your trip. You need to ask for their specific requirements when flying with a pet.
2) Get travel information from both the country of origin and destination.
You need to check pet travel requirements for both your country of origin and your destination country. Even if you are travelling from the United States, when you come back in there are certain requirements you have to meet (vaccines, health certificates, etc.) so make sure you get this information. You can do this by contacting each country’s embassy or consulate.
3) Schedule a veterinarian appointment
Once you know all of the requirements, schedule an appointment with your vet. Let them know where you will be traveling and that you need a health certificate for your pet. Ensure that you get all vaccine requirements and that they are all listed on the health certificate.
4) Buy a carrier
If your pup is travelling in cabin with you (which is the only form of travel that I recommend for smaller pups) then you need to find the airline allowable carrier dimensions. Once you have those measurements, head out and buy your carrier as soon as possible. You will need to give your pup some time to get used to this new carrier. There are two types of carriers that I recommend. The first, and the one we use, is Sturdibag . The next, which I have heard great things about, is the Sherpa carrier. What I love about both of these bags is that they are approved by most major airlines, they are light, and they are from soft materials which makes them somewhat collapsible. This is great because although the “large” is slightly larger than most specified airline dimensions, I have never had a problem boarding a flight with it nor fitting it under the seat. You know your pet best, so please keep their comfort in mind when selecting a size for their carrier.
5) Do a test run
If your pet has never travelled on a plane, you need to give them some time to adjust. The first couple of times I tried to put my dog in his SturdiBag, he hated it. He had never been in it before and I think he might have assumed he was being punished. It took us a couple of tries for him to finally relax in it. If we had waited for the day of the flight to put him in it for the first time, we would have been in big trouble. Give him or her ample time to get comfortable with the carrier.
6) Get to the airport early on the day of your flight
Now that you’ve done everything you can to prepare, you need to make sure you arrive early for your flight. You have to get your little buddy through security and who knows what other things might come up. Getting there early will give you and your fur baby time to relax before you board your flight.
I think I’ve covered everything needed for international travel with a pup. If there is anything I missed or any questions you still might have please comment below and I will get back to you immediately.
I wish you a safe and fun trip! Where are you and pup traveling?