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You are preparing for a trip by air and you want to take your beloved pet with you, so you ask, can I take my pet? To answer your question, you need to answer the following questions;
· Are you travelling domestic or international?
· Are you physically or emotionally dependent on your pet?
· Would you like your pet to travel in the cabin with you?
· What is the size and weight of your pet?
· Do you have a suitable carrier container for your pet?
· What are the carrier’s criteria for travelling with an animal?
· For international travel, what is the requirement for animals entering that country?
The acceptance of animals such as cats, dogs, household birds and other pets is dependent upon the regulations of your air carrier. Each airline will have different stipulations based on your destination country, aircraft type, as well as the reasons for carriage. Airlines must also be guided by the customs requirements of each country of entry. In some instances, even the arrival time of the aircraft into a country will dictate the acceptance of your beloved pet. There may also be guarantee rules set by the country of entry to be adhered to.
How are Animals carried.
Airlines will carry animals either in the aircraft cabin, as checked baggage or as cargo.
Service, Emotional Support or Psychiatric Service Animals
Service animals assisting passengers with disabilities and emotional support or psychiatric service animals are allowed free of charge on most carriers. A carrier may charge if an adjacent seat has to be withdrawn from use to accommodate a passenger with a disability and accompanying assistance animal. Carriers require proof to show that an animal is needed a service animal such as an Animal ID card, Harness or Tag.
To travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal in the aircraft cabin, airlines require supporting documentation in advance (usually 48 hours) of your travel date. It must be from a licensed mental health professional or a medical doctor and state:
If the airline is unable to validate your documentation or if advance notification was not given, the animal may need to be checked and the applicable charges will apply.
Cabin Rules for animals
Animals accepted in the aircraft cabin are not allowed to occupy a seat but must fit on your lap, at your feet or under your seat and shall be appropriately secured during the entire stay on board. The animals must be clean, well behaved and under your control at all times. If your animal misbehaves you may be asked to put its muzzle on for the transport. If the animal is too large, it will need to be checked and travel in the cargo compartment of the aircraft. For security reasons, you cannot sit in an exit row when traveling with service animals and the animal must not protrude into the aisle.
For those carriers that allow regular pets to travel in the cabin a charge is levied. Special guidelines are set out by carriers for kennels used for carry-on pets. These include but are not limited to the maximum size restrictions for non-collapsible kennels and specifications of soft-sided collapsible kennels such as Sherpa bags which can be larger if they're made of water-repellent material, are padded or have nylon mesh ventilation on 2 or more sides. It is also important to ensure that the animal can stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position in their kennel. When travelling with your pet you may want to check if the airport through which you are travelling has an animal relief area.
Animals carried as Checked Baggage
Animals accepted as checked baggage will not be included in the passenger’s free baggage allowance. The weight of the pets and their containers shall be paid for at the rate applicable to excess baggage. Your animal travels in the checked baggage compartment, on the same flight as you. The animal must be placed in proper, acceptable and secure containers with adequate food for the duration of the flight.
Animals carried as Cargo
Transporting your animal as cargo is in some ways very similar as to checked baggage. They must be properly crated and travel in the cargo compartment of the aircraft. All the necessary documentation needed when transporting a live animal are still required. The major difference is that you will not be there for take-off or landing and airway bills will need to be completed.
It is comforting to know that whether it is a pet, an animal transported for zoological or agricultural purposes or for any other reason, all carriers are regulated to ensure all animals are transported safely and humanely by air. Carriers that are members of International Air Transport Association (IATA) are guided by IATA’s Live Animals Regulations (LAR) which is the worldwide standard for transporting live animals by commercial airlines. Some airlines even have designated holding facilities at select stations for your animal’s comfort and specially trained staff to care for your pet or animal.
For international travel it is the passenger’s responsibility to procure and present all health and vaccination certificates, entry permits, transit permits, exit permits and any other documents required by the countries of entry or transit for all animals including service animals. Carriers can refuse carriage of the animal if all requirements are not met. Some countries restrict the entry of animals. To avoid disappointment, you should contact the appropriate embassy or consulate of the country of entry in a timely manner to ensure all necessary procedures are followed.
It is important when travelling with pets to remember that each carrier has their own stipulations and must be contacted in order to make arrangements. The number of animals carried on any one flight is usually limited so make sure to register your pet with the airline as soon as you make your reservations. It is strongly recommended that you register your pet within 24 hours of completing your booking. Most carriers will refund your ticket without charge within 24 hours of booking on line. This will ensure that, if your pet cannot be accommodated on the flight(s) and date(s) you selected, your ticket will be refunded without charge. After 24 hours, any changes to your booking will be subject to applicable change and cancellation fees.
The acceptance of animals is subject to the condition that the passenger assumes full responsibility for the safety, health, and conduct of their animal. The airline assumes no liability in the event of injury, sickness, or death of such animal as a result of refusal of entry into or passage through any country, state or territory. The passenger shall also be liable for all expenses for any damage their animal causes, and shall indemnify the airlines against all liability whatsoever, unless caused by the gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
Not only does the criteria for the carriage of animals differ from one airline to the next but the cost to travel with your pet also varies from airline to airline. For competitive reasons however they are usually similar for different carriers on the same routes. Domestic travel is usually much simpler as it does not involve the documentation required for entry permits excreta. Be sure to go online and get the necessary information from your airline of choice. I know, some carrier’s online information is not very ‘hands on’ however if you cannot find the information on the carriage of pets under ‘Travel or General Information’, go to the ‘Legal’ or ‘Conditions of Carriage’ tab usually found at the bottom of the home page and it should be there.