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Domestic air travel with your pet: What to expect

Air travel with pets has always been an issue of debate among pet parents. Some have had good experiences and are totally for it while others, unfortunately have had a bad time. While travelling by road as well as by train are the easier as well as the cheaper options, there might be certain unavoidable circumstances where you may need to travel by air with your pet.

New and innovative services for pets are springing up all over these days. One of the most popular being pet relocation services. There are many reliable companies that make life easy for you and your These guys handle everything. If you decide to make use of their services or you decide to do it all on your own, we thought we could simplify the process for you a bit. Isn’t it always good to be informed?

Before travel

The first thing that needs to be done is to get a go ahead from your vet. Airlines that carry pets require a vaccination record as well as health certificates from the vet. Many also demand a letter from the vet that states your pet is fit to fly. So before you plan to book your tickets, you should speak to several airlines and understand their pet policies. You should also start getting all relevant paperwork in order at least a month before the date of travel (except for the fit to travel certificate which needs to be made a day before travel).

If your pet has motion sickness, then you should get them used to it by say taking them out for car drives. Or maybe start getting them accustomed to sitting in a crate for a few hours a day. These little steps will only help make the journey easier for them.

You will also need to buy or rent a crate for the pet to travel in. These crates have to be IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved. The IATA approved crate should be big enough for your pet to lie down, stand as well as turn around comfortably. Furthermore, the crates have to be well-ventilated, escape-proof as well as be made of non-chewable material.

Domestic Air Travel

The simplified process for travel within India is as follows:

  • Immediately after booking your ticket(s), you will need to go to the airline counter and get your PNR endorsed for carrying pets. Most airlines have limited space in the hold which is why you need to inform them ASAP.
  • You will need to fill out forms and submit all the relevant documentation at the counter on the DAY of travel. Please note here that along with the vaccination record, you will need to submit a “Fit to Fly” certificate. This needs to be taken from the vet 24 hours prior to the date of travel.
  • The airline staff will then escort you and your pet to the area where oversized baggage is X-Rayed. The crate will be X-Rayed here so you will need to remove your pet from it till it is done.
  • Cable ties will then be given to you by the staff for you to secure the crate. This is airline policy where they ask you to do it yourself so that you can ensure your pet is safe in a crate that is secured. The crate will then be loaded into the aircraft.
  • Once you board the aircraft, please inform the lead Airhostess or Host that there are pets travelling in the hold. The airline informs the flight captains but you can never be too sure. This ensures that the captain is aware of the fact and can keep the temperature in the hold regulated.
  • Once the flight lands, the airline staff will bring your pet to you at the designated baggage reclamation counter.

This pretty much covers the process for domestic air travel. We will speak about international travel in a follow-up article. Another important thing to note is that you should always check with your vet if your pet is fit for air travel before you book your tickets. The existence of health problems or even behavioural problems will only make the journey unpleasant. And not just for you, it could be very difficult for your pet to deal with. So if there are any issues, an alternative plan can be chalked out.

But please also rest assured that as more and more pet parents are choosing to fly with their babies, the entire process has come a long way. Airlines are more aware of the comfort of pets and they also have very strict guidelines as a result. It has thus become much safer and easier to now travel with your pet.

Have you travelled with your pet within India? What has been your experience? What airlines do you recommend? We would love to hear from you. We welcome all comments and suggestions. So please reach out to us!

Happy pet parenting!  

image courtesy: sunsetveterinaryclinic

By Crazy Dog Lady

mother to two crazy labrador boys….writer, entrepreneur and nuts about all things dogs.

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