Everything You Need to Know About Flying with Pets

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Is anyone else already making travel plans for 2020? I’ve found myself looking up new destinations, and already booking flights. The only problem? Flying with pets and all the chaos that can bring.

I love my pets and would do anything for them. So I definitely want to make them a part of my 2020 plans. But when you fly on different airlines often, remembering the policies for each one can be TOUGH, to say the least.

So today we’re breaking down (or should I say, barking down?) all we know about traveling with furry friends–from service animals to in-cabin pets.

First things first, let’s define the different categories of animals for travel purposes.

Sheree Frede of the SheShe Show on bed with her Toy Fox Terrier dog Pippa
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Emotional Support Animals

According to the American Kennel Club, “emotional support animals (ESAs) refer to dogs and other pets that provide emotional support and comfort to their owners on a daily basis. ESAs legally must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional like a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist”.

BUT, these animals do require paperwork. We’d recommend looking up the paperwork requirements at the airline you’re flying on. Just Google “____ airline” + “emotional support animals.”

An emotional support animal will travel for free as long as it does not obstruct the aisle or another area that could be used for emergency evacuation. (USA Today)

If the animal is too big to sit under the seat in front of you, most airlines will accommodate you to the front row. This provides use of the bulkhead area.

Service Animals

According to the ADA National Network, “a service animal is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability”.

A service animal, if used for any other purpose than emotional or psychiatric support, requires no additional documentation, advance notice (except on flights lasting eight hours or more) or veterinary documentation. (The Points Guy)

Examples of service animals include seizure alerts dogs, diabetic alert dogs, mobility assistance dogs, etc.

A service animal will travel for free as long as it does not obstruct the aisle or another area that could be used for emergency evacuation. (USA Today)

If the animal is too big to sit under the seat in front of you, most airlines will accommodate you to the front row. This provides use of the bulkhead area.

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In-Cabin Pets

These are animals who are not certified as emotional support or service animals. These pets will cost money on most airlines, and have to fit beneath the seat in front of yours OR in the cargo section (only on some airlines).

Chewy.com offers a great chart of the costs per pet for each airline. Check it out here. This list was created this fall, but as always, double-check this information with your airline of choice.

Now we’ll talk about some more general information suitable for all animals who are about to take flight.

the back of the head of a Toy Fox Terrier

Fees

To recap…

  • Emotional support animals: Free*
  • Service animals: Free*
  • All other animals: Prices usually range from $100-$200, more information can be found here.

As long as it does not obstruct the aisle or another area that could be used for emergency evacuation.

International Travel for pets

International travel can be tricky, especially when airlines have varying policies and procedures. We’d recommend checking out this website, which has info for many popular international destinations.

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Screening

Yes, animals have to go through security too! If your animal is big enough, the will have to walk through the metal detector with you. If not, the animal will undergo a physical and visual inspection. (Pet Travel)

Read more about the security process here.

Remember–TSA security guidelines apply to pet carriers, dog food, leashes, etc. Check out our favorite, and TSA-approved, travel accessories for pets at the end of this article.

Airports

If your animals are like mine, they won’t sit still for long. So, a pet-friendly airport is really a necessity when I travel.

The good news is, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all US airports to have animal relief areas.

We also found this incredible tool on PetFriendlyTravel.com to find the most pet-friendly airports in each state (spoiler alert: there’s a LOT). AND it breaks down the relief areas and anything else you need to know about each specific airport.

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Carriers and Travel Accessories for pets

Now, the fun part! Here are the best of the best TSA-approved carriers and travel accessories for traveling with pets.

Be sure to check out this metal-free leash and collar set to pass through security quickly, and these collapsible food and water bowls for long layovers or airline delays.

As always, double-check the policies for each airline before you travel. Have more tips? Let us know in the comments below!

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