Know Your Pet’s Rights: Can Your Dog Travel in the Plane Cabin? What’s Best for You and Your Pet?
Traveling with pets via airlines has become more complicated and difficult than ever before. In 2018, airlines received several complaints about pets in the cabin of the plane. Now they’re cracking down on bringing pets aboard, but many of us want to take our beloved pets with us when we travel. After all, for many, our furry, four-legged friends are family, too. What’s a pet owner to do when it comes time for air travel?
There are a lot of reasons to want to keep your pet with you, but the airlines won’t always agree when you want your pet close. Do you know what the requirements are for bringing your pet along on the flight?
Can your pet even travel on the plane?
Even if you can bring your pampered pooch along, is the experience worth the hassle for you both?
Limited Pet Space: Is there room for your pawed pal?
Airlines only have space for a certain number of dogs in airplane cabins. The real problem occurs when people with service animals are displaced from their flights because too many other people are bringing their dogs on board. This problem is complicated because many people use their dogs as emotional support animals, which can include calming them down when feelings of anxiety become overwhelming.
Plane trips, of course, can be a source of great anxiety, but some people need their pets more than others.
You have to consider many things when it comes to bringing the dog along in the cabin. Can your pet even fit comfortably? What about your pet carrier? A small pet carrier is one thing, but your dog’s comfort is another consideration. If you try to fit the poor pooch into a carrier that isn’t the right size, you’re sacrificing their comfort for yours.
Ask yourself if that is really fair to your pet. Would your faithful dog friend do that to you?
Sometimes you have to consider the needs of your pet, as well as the other people around you, and how they compare to your own.
Paws and Think: Do you really need him?
One of the complaints has been that people who claim the need for an emotional support dog don’t really need the dog with them, and they’re using it as an excuse to defraud the system. Many people have airplane anxiety, but not everyone has it to the same degree. Some people actually need the emotional support that a loyal canine companion can provide. The problem is when people who don’t pretend that they do in order to bring something extra aboard.
The Air Carrier Access Act is more lenient than the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the American with Disabilities Act, a service dog must perform a specific task for a person with a disability. This makes it difficult for airlines to prioritize the dogs they let fly in the cabins of their airplanes.
If they turn down a passenger’s claim of needing an emotional support animal, they risk a scene, and complications and many airlines don’t want to be seen as unaccommodating to those who travel with pets, because that accounts for a lot of business.
Consider Service Animals and Travel Conditions
At the same time, there are some who travel who need an actual service dog. People with disabilities still need to travel; some for treatment, others for the same reasons anyone else travels. Service animals are well-trained, including in accompanying their people on trips just like this one. Interfering with service animals is an issue, and airlines are faced with difficult decisions regarding whom and what to allow.
Consider that when putting your dog on the travel itinerary with you. Do you really need him?
Maybe it would be easier to find a sitter, such as a friend or family member, for the duration of your trip. While it’s always fun to spend time with our pets, sometimes the costs both financially and in additional travel-related stresses aren’t worth it.
Perfect Pet Carrier: Do you need a crate?
All animals brought into the cabin of an airplane must be transported in a secure pet carrier that they can’t get out of and won’t leak, with plenty of ventilation so the dog can breathe. The carrier counts as one of the two carry-on bags that passengers can bring on board. A small pet carrier is easier to fit on the plane, but can your pet comfortably fit into it?
If so, you need to make sure that they are comfortable and safe, so that they don’t jostle around too much and risk injury or anxiety.
Pet owners must also make reservations for their pets in advance, pay the pet fees, and check-in with their pets at the airline counter. If you’re allowed to bring your dog on board, find out in advance how small the carrier must be to meet the carryon rules.
It’s very possible that your pet won’t even fit the guidelines, and would not be able to sit in the cabin with you. Will your pet be comfortable staying in the cargo hold during your flight?
In many airlines, service dogs must sit at the feet of their owners. This necessitates extra room and will take up space that you might otherwise use. Carryon bags containing personal items may have to go in the overhead compartment.
Four-Legged Friendly: If you can bring your pet along…
If you’re allowed to bring your dog into the cabin with you, take a few extra steps to make the ride as comfortable as you can for your pet as well as for you. Wear something like a travel treat dispenser to sneak your furry companion a treat for good behavior. It can help stabilize your pet’s mood, alleviating anxiety, and it’s fun for you, too.
Turn the travel experience into one of bonding, since your pet is hopefully enjoying the trip as much as you.
This has the added benefit of carrying poop bags, so the ride is more comfortable for everyone. It’s important to note that you will have to make sure you tend to any messes your pet makes on the trip. You can also line the carrier with something like a dog bed mat.
When they’ve got their own bed in the carrier with them, they’ll feel more at home and less anxious about the flight. If you are calm and steady during the trip, your pet will pick up on that and will relax more, too.
When your Pets have to Fly in the Cargo Hold
If your pet has to fly in the cargo hold and you simply can’t leave him behind, book direct flights and make sure you and your dog are on the same airplane. This way, you can reconnect with him as soon as possible. Make sure the pet carrier is lined with your dog’s favorite dog bed or blanket. Give him a safe chew toy to help him feel more at home.
Once you do reunite, keep in mind that airports can be chaotic, and getting your pet off the plane can be a stressful experience. This is where having some extra treats will make a difference, or a blanket to throw over the pet carrier. You can talk to your dog and reassure him about the trip.
If he hears and feels that you are confident and excited, he will share in those feelings. Remember that your dog is much like you, and subject to the same stresses of travel.
Follow these guidelines and you can help make sure that everyone, dogs included, enjoys a less stressful travel experience.