tips on how to fly safely with your pet

With the most recent news of the 10-month old puppy that died on a United Airlines flight this past week, I felt obligated to write a post about it in order to help avoid something like this from happening again + give you some tips on flying with your pet. If you haven’t read the news lately, here’s a link to get you up to speed.

There are tons of articles out on the case– I’ve basically read almost every single one to gather as much info as possible to try and wrap my head around what in the world happened on that flight. Here’s what I have to say about it.

I’m fully aware that United Airlines had the most animal deaths in 2017. I do see a lot of people upset at United Airlines and the flight attendant and for good reason I must say. I agree with everyone that is upset with both of those parties. Why the flight attendant insisted the pet carrier + the dog go in the overhead bin goes beyond me and is absolutely unimaginable (btw, the flight attendant is claiming she wasn’t aware there was a dog in the pet carrier even though…it’s a pet carrier, the dog was barking, and the owner’s daughter + several witnesses heard the conversation go much differently). However, that’s besides my point. My point is, the 10-month old puppy’s death could have been avoided had someone just STOOD UP and took action. You’re not committing a crime if you get up to check your bag in the overhead bin, right? People do it all the time when the seat belt sign is off. Why did no one check on this dog?

Let me rewind for a second because I still can’t even wrap my head around how ANYONE WOULD ALLOW this to happen to their dog to begin with. I’m sure there were tons of emotions involved but at the end of the day, you wouldn’t put your baby in the overhead compartment so why would you put your newborn puppy in a place where there is little to no ventilation? Even if you don’t know your rights, common sense better kick in. If a flight attendant is forcing you to put a living animal in a compartment with no ventilation whatsoever, find another flight attendant or speak to someone else with the same or higher level authority. If no one budges and you still have signal, contact the airline via customer service or Google the law. Obviously, the owner must have been felt cornered and felt she had to listen, which is she ultimately she did. But what bothers me the most about this case is that the puppy whined/barked/whimpered for 30+ minutes (some articles say 2 hours), begging for someone to help and NO ONE DID ANYTHING!! Not even the owner! No one thought to get up to even check on the dog. We as passengers get up all the time to get our belongings from the overhead compartment but no one got up to check on the dog? How can that even happen?! The puppy was clearly trying his hardest to get someone’s attention and show he’s in distress and we failed him.

There were so many things that went wrong that day but what I know is if that was me, I would have rather walked out of that plane instead of putting my pet in harms way. No flight is that important. I know that no one wants to blame the victim, and no one is saying blame needs to be placed because I don’t believe in that. Unfortunately, a lot of thing went wrong and this was a tragic incident that could have easily been avoided at some many different point on that flight. The flight attendant could have been more reasonable, the other flight attendants could have chimed in and been reasonable, the owner could have stood up for her rights, the owner could have checked on her dog while I was barking/whining for 30+ minutes, the OTHER PASSENGERS on that plane could have checked on the puppy as they heard him cry for so long. NO. ONE. DID. ANYTHING. We as humans should have stepped up and it upsets me the MOST that no one helped. You can come up with 100 different excuses (turbulence, couldn’t get up, stressed about flying, rule-breaking, flight attendant training, etc) but none of that matters because we let those excuses get in the way of a dog’s overall safety that ultimately lead to his death. Moral of the story? It’s not enough to see something and say something…it’s time to step up and do something.

This event has truly broken my heart and I never want to see an article like this come up so I’m going to do my part and educate anyone out there reading this on a few tips on how to fly with your pet. Most of these are to really help avoid any other pet-related issues when flying on the plane because I’m sure we are all well aware now that it is NOT ok to place your pet in the overhead bin. I did reiterate that in my last tip just in case. Anyway, I hope you all find this helpful and come back to this post if you ever have any questions about flying with your pet. Feel free to DM me if you have more specific questions and I’ll be more than happy to help!

TIPS FOR FLYING WITH YOUR PET

  1. Avoid cargo if at all possible. I would never put my pet in cargo, there’s way too much that could go wrong and it’s honestly not worth the trip. If you absolutely have to, do your research first and make sure the breed of your dog is able to handle it as some breeds are more susceptible to health risks (i.e. short snout dogs). But really though, do what you can to avoid cargo, PLEASE! If you have any illnesses, anxiety or need to be around your dog when flying, then look into registering your pet as an emotional support animal so he/she flys with you on the plane.
  2. With the exception of emotional support animals, be sure to check the size of your dog and the airline’s regulations to make sure that they can be in-cabin with you!
  3. Be sure you packed up all your pet’s travel essentials (i.e. food/water bowl, an medication, health certificate, toys, treats, food, collar with ID tag, paper towels, poop bags, etc).
  4. Feed your pet a few hours before your flight, not right before it so they don’t get an upset stomach from being too full! ALWAYS keep your pet hydrated though and provide them enough water even on the plane!
  5. If your pet is not an emotional support animal and you purchased a ticket for them to be on the plane with you, make sure you get an approved pet carrier for your size pet!
  6. If you pet is not used to being in a carrier, make sure to test the waters out and put them in a carrier before you travel. I know for me, my dog can NOT handle being in a pet carrier. We took him on the plane for the first time for Dallas to San Antonio (45-50min flight) and he tried to scratch his way out the entire trip. It was horrible to watch and I’d never EVER do that again.
  7. Get your dog to the vet! You’re going to want to do this to obtain a health certificate to provide airlines (within 10 days of departure usually), but also to make sure your pet is ready to go and can handle flying.
  8. Avoid anxiety meds + sedatives if possible. Some vets may provide anxiety meds to animals that have extreme anxiety, but in most cases dogs should not be given sedatives or tranquilizers because that could cause respiratory and/or cardiovascular problems as the pet goes through changing altitude pressures. I don’t recommend it because some dogs on tranquilizers may experience respiratory issues during changing altitudes. Consult your vet about this for more info!
  9. Call your airline to ask any questions you may have pertaining to traveling with your pet (i.e. how early to arrive, etc). If you have an emotional support animal, you’ll want to call the airline in advance and let them know.
  10. Arrive to the airport maybe 20-30 minutes earlier than usual to the airport so you can check your dog in.
  11. Take your pet for a nice long walk before the trip. If your pet is tired, they’ll be less anxious and have a better travel experience.
  12. Your pet may get really cold or really hot on the plane so have a blanket or a cooling mat for your furry friend!
  13. While waiting to board, try and let your dog walk around a bit. It’s not easy sitting in that carrier for hours so that extra walk before boarding (even if it’s just in the pet relief area) will help a lot.
  14. Keep your pet’s treats handy with you so you can give them some on the plane!!
  15. Know your rights. If you have an emotional support animal (ESA), they are allowed to be in your lap without a pet carrier. If the dog is too big for your lap, they can sit where you handbag typically goes in front of you without a pet carrier. If your pet is not an ESA, make sure to have your pet carrier and place that in front of you where your handbag goes. THERE IS NO OTHER SPOT WHERE THE PET CARRIER/YOUR PET SHOULD GO. No one can force you to put your pet in the overhead bin. You are not breaking any laws by keeping your paid for pet under the seat in front of you in the pet carrier.

Hope you found this helpful and feel free to bookmark it to have it handy for your next travel experience! Happy Friday and we’ll chat soon!

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