While I already talked how Ben and I took Kit Kat, Shanti, and Omni from India to Mexico, I wanted to write a general guide on how to fly with pets. There’s a LOT that goes into it from buying the right crates to making sure your pet isn’t freaking out, so here are all my tips here.
How to Fly with pets
Managing the paperwork & preparing your pets
This is key! You need to have the flights, paperwork, and all the legal aspects ready to go. I wrote about the paperwork necessary for my pets in this article. It has resources and links you can use to see what you’ll need for your pets. You’ll have to show this to the airline and customs.
Try to get this sorted and the crates ready months in advance so you can crate train your pet. You might even want to put them in the crate, move them to the car, and drive around so they won’t panic when the first time that happens is to go to the airport.
What You Need to Buy to Fly With Pets:
IATA cages for each pet
Make sure they’re correct sizes and they must be from IATA verified. We bought ours on Amazon and there were no issues. The crates are really easy to put together but make sure you don’t lose any of the screws especially if you need to take the crate apart for transport and then put it back together. Mine came with a little plastic water bowl, but we switched that out for a metal bowl as the plastic ones were targets for my pets – they wanted to chew them! Many airlines won’t allow the crates unless they are IATA verified. As for sizing, we went up a size for both of our pets who were borderline so they would have more space. You need to check the requirements for the airline (hence, already have the flight booked) and make sure you aren’t going over their weight and size requirements.
Cat carrier to carry on
Our cat came with us as a carry-on. We chose a carrier multiple carry-ons from Amazon and they really are mostly the same, however, some have a cool zippered side that can come down and make more room for your pet once you are on the flight or during the layover. My cat really loved that. I recommend getting a few and trialing them to see which is the best size (make sure it’s a product that can be returned). If your cat cannot turn around and stand up without their head touching the top, then it’s too small.
You need these for the carry-on and some airlines will allow you to put this in the checked crates. We did with Air Canada. Some airlines won’t allow it and some websites will say not to as your pet could get nervous and try to eat them (causing injury or death). It depends on your pet’s temperament. Ours wouldn’t eat them so we felt confident it was okay. The cat wouldn’t go in his carrier – and he was in it for 24 hours!
You can get a crate that has water bottles or buy one that you think is better suited. You can also then get a funnel which you can cable tie to the crate and easily fill their bowl up without opening the crate.
Proper Harnesses for each pet
You DO have to take your pet out of the checked crates AND the carry-on crates to go through security. I recommend a harness because then it’s pretty fail-proof for them not being able to get out of it and run off (which was my worst fear). Just note that for the checked pets, you have to take all of the collars, harnesses, and leashes off of them before you hand them over to board the plane.
Quality leashes and collars
Don’t cheap out on the collars and leashes. You should get ones that are hardcore and won’t break. If you pet was ever going to try to get out of a collar, this would be the time! We also made them quite tight so that there were no “oops” moments of the pet backing up and pulling their head out of the collar.
Tags with pet names + phone numbers
I get them made on Etsy sometimes but you can also get them made at any pet store or buy them online. This is really important. If you are flying internationally (we moved from India to Mexico) and your old number won’t work, make sure the number on the pet tag is one that is actually reachable.
Laminated photos and signs for the cages
We laminated copies of the pet paperwork and photos of the pets (a close-up and a side view) which we put on top. All the water bowls and funnels were held on with cables ties. Also, you must secure the door of the crate with cable ties when you hand your pet over so no one accidentally opens their crate! We also duct taped water bottles on the sides of the crate so that people had no excuse to not give our pets water during the layover.
Medicines + products to help east the trip
This is really a personal decision. We bought MANY types of products from calming drops to chewable melatonin treats and tried them out ahead of time. They seemed to work but the day of the journey we panicked worried that it could slow their heart rate. Every website has a different view on whether or not to give meds. Most vets say it’s okay while PETA says no way. It’s up to you! Airlines WILL NOT accept your pet if it looks sedated. Linked below are the ones we tried. The pets didn’t love the treats so we had to put peanut butter on them.
For more flying tips:
- Best Airplane Pillow Review: Which One is Really the Best?
- Best Travel Outfits for Planes
- Long Haul Flight Essentials
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