Recently, there was a heartbreaking news story in the Atlanta area about a dog that escaped from Delta airlines at Hartsfield International Airport. The dog, a German shepherd named Nala, was being shipped by the airlines, but somehow went missing. After being gone for several days, it was discovered that Nala had died after being hit by a car on Interstate 75.
While many dogs and other pets are shipped every year without incident, there are always several instances of pets being injured or killed during flights. At the very least, flying in the freight section of a plane can be frightening and uncomfortable for your pet.
Before you consider flying with your pet in the luggage section of the flight, keep the following alternatives in mind.
- Some airlines will allow small pets to fly in the cabin. Each airline has a different set of rules about this, so you will need to call well in advance to see if this is a possibility.
- Even if it will take much longer and be a bit of an inconvenience, consider driving rather than flying. This will add some travel time, but will be safer for your pet.
- If you are just going on vacation, consider leaving your pet behind. Find a professional pet sitter that will come to your house to care for your pet. Most animals are creatures of habit and prefer to stay in the comfort of their own homes.
If there is no alternative, and you must fly with your dog in the luggage compartment of the plane, keep the following tips in mind.
- Find a direct flight rather than one with layovers or plane changes
- Make sure the pet carrier is clearly labeled with your name, address and phone number
- Microchip your pet. If he escapes, this will give you the best chance of being reunited.
- Make sure his kennel is latched securely and meets all of the airline regulations.
- Feed him less food than usual the day before the flight
- Make sure he gets plenty of exercise before the flight
- Provide water for him to drink during the flight
- If you will be traveling in a place where extreme temperatures are an issue, remember that the luggage compartment is not climate controlled. Try to choose flights at times of day when the temperature is less of an issue, such as early morning in warm weather or midday in colder climates.
Of course, dogs should be healthy and up-to-date on all vaccinations if they are flying. They will most likely be required to have an up-to-date health certificate as well. Check with your airline beforehand to see what is necessary to meet their guidelines.