Air travel with pets

Air travel can be a stressful time for both you and your pet. Only you know what can make your pet more comfortable in a strange environment. Remember, a pet can pick up on how you are feeling, so try to portray confidence and as hard as it might be, try to keep calm.

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Air travel with pets

When you get on a plane to visit friends and family, you want them to meet your family. So flying with pets has become a cottage industry for airlines and pet product manufacturers, as stars like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and other celebs schlep their pint-sized pooches along.

When traveling by air with pets, it's easier than ever, thanks to a variety of devices that make it simple to tote Toto, find Fido and roust Rover from your home to the plane. So join the 500,000 pets that fly annually according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

As always, before flying with pets, you should remember to ensure that your pet's license and rabies tag are up-to-date, as well as grab their food, water and food dishes, favorite blanket, chew toy and brush prior to leaving.

Here are five helpful hints on traveling by air with pets:

1. Get a health certificate from your vet at least 10 days prior to flying with pets and get your pet accustomed to the crate or shipping container so they don't panic on board. Continental, United and American recommend getting a clean bill of health from your vet.

2. Check with the airline first to ask if traveling by air with pets aboard their carrier is permissible under your seat. Fees vary: $50 for JetBlue and Delta; $80 for American, US Airways and Northwest; $95 for Continental. Or ask if you must ship your dog or cat via air freight in the luggage cabin. Small dogs and cats are usually OK, but potbellied pigs, primates, and venomous snakes on a plane are definitely NOT allowed.

3. Buy or borrow a shipping container one to two weeks before flying with pets. Try placing your pet in it for 10 minutes a day before you leave, then add more time daily so your pet is comfortable.

4. Don't feed your pet for at least five or six hours before flight time when traveling by air with pets, and don't let them drink water more than two hours before the flight.

5. Get your pet to the airport in time. Arrive at least 45 minutes in advance if flying with pets and you're carrying your dog or cat aboard. If you're shipping your pet, it's recommended that you get to the terminal two hours before your flight.

Pet Health Tips

Take the time to prepare for air travel with pets and it will reduce stress for all involved.

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