I can remember back to when I moved back to South Australia from Darwin three and half years ago and I had to fly my two large dogs with me.
Not being the most wonderful flyer myself I was a little nervous, however having worked at kennels and organised many travelling pets before I at least knew what to expect.
Here are some tips to make sure your pets get boarded and are comfortable throughout the flight.
1. Take advantage of excess baggage:
If you are flying on the same flight as your pet make sure you book them as excess baggage rather than just booking them on the flight. It can mean a saving in the hundreds of dollars. Even if you aren't flying it's worth checking out with friends or family or positing on social media to see if anyone is and would be able to take your dog as extra baggage. The travel companies can do all the work so its not like the person flying would have to do any drop-off etc if they aren't able to.
2. Check your crate:
If you have your own travelling crate check that it meets the airline standards. If it doesn't, your dog will be left behind and you probably won't find out until you get to your destination. You can hire crates for approximately $50 from companies such as Jet Pets. It's always a good idea to come and test your dog in it first to make sure they can comfortably stand up in it and turn around. It is especially important if you own a large breed such as a Great Dane or Mastiff as the large cage is often not big enough and the special height ones are hard to come by and may require booking well ahead of time or ordering in from another area. If you are planning to fly a large breed dog to an isolated area that requires a light plane triple check with the airline that they will do it as many cannot accommodate the larger cages and therefore won't fly some large breeds.
3. Know the rules:
New legislation brought in a few years ago meant that there were certain breeds banned on flights. These were due to aggression issues and health concerns with small nosed/squished face dogs. Make sure your breed is not on the banned list. Sometimes it's worth not calling your dog a purebred but you didn't hear it from me..... Also check that wherever you are taking your pet that they are allowed in that state. Some states ban rabbits/ferrets and some breeds of dogs. It's so sad when I see posts on social media about people who are desperate to find a good home for their pitt bull or a similar breed because they are on the banned list for the state they are going to and have been told if they get reported there for owning one, they will have to to have their dog euthanised.
4. Do not sedate your pet
It can lower their body temperature in an already cool environment in the cargo section. Some pets also have reactions to sedatives. If the animal throws up, or urinates in the cage before loading they may not load it as the baggage handlers will not stop to clean out the cage. They are also not able to directly handle the dog. Sedation can also mask symptoms if your dog becomes unwell. It is also advised not to feed the dog on the day they fly or put food or drink in the crate with it either.
3. Leave with plenty of time
Ensure you are at the crate loading area ( usually a TOLL or Australia Air Express office) at the designated time to ensure the dog goes into the crate ok and gets to the plane in time. If your dog is nervous you might want to allow a bit of extra time so that you can wrestle them into the crate.
4.Practice makes perfect:
If you can train your pet at home to walk into a crate and feel comfortable in one at home it can be very beneficial for it come flying time.
5.Leave personal items at home:
If you put in a blanket or toy for your dog don't expect to get it back. Depending on the airport dogs might be moved to holding pens at their destination and often nobody will stop to check if they had a collar/lead or toy with them. If you aren't convened about getting it back by all means put it in with them as long as the airline oks it.
6.Bring snacks and energy
When you go to pick up your dog have some food and water with you. They will probably be rather hungry and thirsty and make sure you also walk the dog out on a lead or in a pet safe container as you are still on airport property and you don't want them getting scared and running off. A loose animal on the tarmac will often be shot because the safety risk for planes and passengers is way too high. Depending on the length of the flight its also a good idea to find somewhere for them to go to the toilet and stretch out their legs.