The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs having pets in the passenger cabin of an airplane. Under the FAA rules, each airline is allowed to decide if they will allow you to travel with your pet in the passenger cabin. If you are allowed to bring your pet aboard, the pet container is considered as carry-on luggage and must meet the standards that govern carry-ons. These rules govern pets. Service animals are covered under a different set of rules. Some of the general FAA rules for pets in the cabin of an airplane include the following:
- You must follow instructions from flight attendants about stowing your pet, just as you must follow instructions about stowing carry-on luggage.
- The pet container must be small enough to fit underneath the seat without blocking any person’s path to the main aisle of the airplane,
- The pet container must remain properly stowed the entire time the airplane is moving on the runway, and for take-off and landing.
- The pet container must be stowed before the airplane can leave the gate.
Each airline is allowed by the FAA to have their own specific rules governing traveling with a pet on the airplane. Airline policies are different for service animals. Policies for traveling with a pet may include the following:
- You may be asked to provide a recent health certification from your veterinarian that the pet is in good health.
- You may have to leave your pet in the carry-on container for the entire trip.
- You may have to certify that your pet is harmless, inoffensive and odorless.
- There may be a limit as to the number of pets that you can carry-on.
- There may be a limit as to the number of pets allowed on the flight.
- The airline has the final say as to the type of pet you can bring onboard.
Always check with the airline before you book a ticket if you plan to travel with a pet as a carry-on. You can call the reservation desk of the airline, or look at the airline’s web site to get specific information about their pet policy.
When you get to the airport, you will have to get the pet and yourself through security. You will be asked to remove your pet from the carrying case. The case itself will need to go through the scanner. While the case is being scanned, you should have your pet on a leash. When you are asked to go through the scanner, remove the leash so it can be scanned, and carry your pet through the metal detector. Do not be surprised if the carrying case is pulled aside for a more thorough visual inspection. Once through the scanner, put the pet back in the carrying case and proceed to the gate for your flight.
What if I need to ship an animal on an airplane?
Every year many pets and other live animals are flown by the airlines. There are strict federal and state rules governing the transportation of live animals. In addition, each airline has its own policies and rules for the handling of animals. Most animals that are shipped are dogs and cats, but the same rules apply to all animals being transported by the airlines.
The Federal Animal Welfare Act is the Act governing the transportation of live animals. It governed by The U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some of the more important Federal Rules for transporting animals are:
- Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and must have been weaned for at least 5 days.
- Cages and other shipping containers for any animal being transported must meet the standard rules for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation and design for safe handling. Airlines have sky kennels, but if you use your own shipping container, it must meet federal standards.
- Dogs and cats cannot be brought to the airline for shipping more than 4 hours before the departure time unless shipping arrangements are made in advance. 6 hours ahead of departure applies for advance arrangements.
- If puppies or kittens are less than 16 weeks old and will be in transit for more than 12 hours, food and water must be provided.
- Older animals must have food at least every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours, and you must supply that food and water. You must send written instructions for food and water regardless of the time in transit.
- Animals may not be exposed to temperatures under 45◦ F unless you provide a statement from your veterinarian that the animal is accustomed to low temperatures.
- Animals cannot be shipped COD unless you guarantee the return cost if the animals are refused at their destination.
In addition to these rules, most airlines will have their own rules, so it is imperative that you check with the airline carrier you intend to use to ship the animal. Here are some general rules you may encounter at most airlines:
- You must provide a recent (no more than 10 days old) health certificate from your licensed veterinarian stating that the animal is in good health.
- The animal may be transported as baggage if you are going on the same flight they are, and will arrive at the same destination. You may be charged excess baggage fees for the transportation service.
- Animals can be shipped unaccompanied as cargo, and must be placed in pressurized holds.
Here are the top 10 common sense tips to help you when you plan to ship an animal via the airlines:
- Accustom the animal to the kennel it will travel in before you go, and make sure the kennel latches securely.
- Bring a photo of the animal with you in case it gets lost.
- If the animal is a pet, be sure your pet is wearing a tag with your name, address and phone number. Be sure that same information is on the kennel the pet is traveling in. Put the animal’s name on the kennel.
- Do not give the animal solid food for 6 hours before the flight.
- Give your animal water and a walk before you take it to the airport.
- Do not give the animal sedation unless approved by your vet. Test out the dose before the trip to be sure the animal reacts safely.
- Reserve a space with the airline for the animal in advance.
- Ask the airline the time and place to drop off the animal and where to pick it up when you arrive at your destination.
- Ask ahead of time if there is a quarantine for the animal when traveling overseas.
- When you board, tell the flight attendant that there is an animal in the cargo hold.
Traveling with a pet can be a rewarding experience, but you need to know the rules and must follow them. Always contact the airline before you travel with a pet to know their specific rules, and to make sure that you will not be turned away at the check-in counter. The website of the Department of Transportation has additional information which can help you understand about traveling with a pet in an airplane cabin.
The Stilwell Law Firm handles all kinds of aviation questions and claims. Call the Stilwell Law Firm for your free consultations today: 713-931-1111 or 844-931-3111.