Are you planning on taking a trip and want to take along your fuzzy friend? Be it a dog, a cat, or another cozy critter, traveling with pets has its own series of hurdles and complications that can make any adventurer pause in panic. We can review those hurdles and how to overcome them together.
Each airline has its own unique rules regarding flying with pets, so we’re going to review a few here.
American Airlines has a page on their website specifically dedicated to their restrictions around traveling with pets. The first restriction is that pets are allowed on most flights up to 12 hours, with select locations:
- Within the 48 contiguous United States
- The U.S. and Canada
- Puerto Rico
- St. Croix
- St. Thomas
They note that in the U.S. and Canada and Mexico may have special restrictions that apply.
Depending on breed and size, animals can travel as a carry-on, thus being transported through American Airlines Cargo. This travel option is restricted to cats and dogs that meet the size, age, and destination requirements. You can bring one kennel as a carry-on, as long as your pet can follow these rules: they must be able to stand up and turn around, fitting comfortably inside the closed/zipped carrier; non-collapsible kennels cannot exceed the under-seat dimensions of any aircraft you’re using in your journey, and you can contact their reservations department to confirm the dimensions; and soft-sided kennels are recommended, and can be slightly larger than non-collapsible but still need to fit underneath the seat without having to collapse the kennel. They must additionally be secure, padded, made of water-repellent material, and have nylon mesh ventilation on three or more sides.
The fees for American Airline are as follows:
- Checked pet for active-duty U.S. Military and State Department personnel only
- Within and between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean, Europe, and from the United Kingdom
- $200 per kennel, $150 to/from Brazil
- Cargo pet
- Fees vary, which will be confirmed at the time of booking
- Carry-on pet
- $125 per kennel within and between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central American and the Caribbean (based on specific country’s entry policies)
- Service animals
- No charge for any destination
United Airlines has a bit more friendly viewing experience for their pet restrictions on their website.
Hard-sided carriers must not exceed these dimensions:
- 7.5 inches (19 cm) in height
- 17.5 inches (44 cm) in length
- 12 inches (30 cm) in width
Soft-sided carriers must not exceed these dimensions:
- 11 inches (27 cm) in height
- 18 inches (45 cm) in length
- 11 inches (27 cm) in width
They note that some countries don’t allow pets to travel at all, and others have specific restrictions for rabies vaccine proof. You must bring all your paperwork in order to verify the information for your pet.
When booking on United’s website, all you have to do is click on “Travel with a pet” to add your pet to your flight. There is a $125 fee each way for traveling with a pet on United, and there’s additional $125 fees for each layover of more than four hours for flights within the U.S. and more than 24 hours internationally. You cannot use United travel credits for fee payment.
Please note that you and your pet have separate confirmation numbers, which you can view on United’s “My Trip” section for yourself, or via email confirmation.
Delta has their own guidelines and requirements surrounding pet travel.
Carry-on pets can include small dogs, cats, and household birds. These animals can travel in the cabin for a one-way fee, collected during check-in. They must be able to fit in a small, ventilated pet carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. The following requirements apply to carry-on pets with Delta:
- Must be at least 10 weeks old for domestic travel
- Must be 16 weeks old if traveling to the U.S. from another country, and must be at least 15 weeks old when traveling to the European Union
- One pet is permitted per kennel, with some exceptions:
- One female cat/dog may travel with her unweaned litter of the litter is between 10 weeks and 6 months of age
- No limit on the number of animals in the litter
- 2 pets of the same breed and size, aged between 10 weeks and 6 months old, may travel in one single kennel as long as they’re able to fit and are compatible. This travel option will only be charged as one pet.
Please note that pets in cabin kennels will count as your one carry-on item. In addition to the kennel, you’re permitted to bring one personal item onboard.
There’s also carry-on kennel requirements:
- Animal must be small enough to fit comfortably in the kennel without touching or protruding from the sides of the kennel, and have the ability to move around;
- The kennel must be able to fit under the seat directly in front of you;
- The soft or hard-sided kennels must be leak-proof and have ventilation openings on three sides (four sides if traveling internationally)
Maximum carry-on kennel dimensions are determined by your flight, as the seat space varies by aircraft. They recommend a maximum dimension of 18” x 11” x 11” since this fits most of their aircraft types. They, of course, recommend checking with your flight’s aircraft dimensions to ensure a proper fit.
The fees are listed, as well:
- U.S./Canada/Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands
- $125 USD/CAD
- $200 USD/CAD/EUR
- $75 USD
As we can see, each airline has different requirements, fees, and restrictions surrounding pet travel, so it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll need to check with your airline.
Now that you’ve arrived, where will you stay? There are several hotels that are notably pet-friendly, allowing travelers to remain there with their pets in good accommodations.
There are several websites and directories you can use to find pet-friendly hotels, including but not limited to the American Kennel Club directory, which has a list of pet-friendly hotel chains. They recommend using Red Roof locations, Motel 6, Best Western, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hampton Inn, and Home2Suites by Hilton. They have several more available on their list, and include some information surrounding fees.
Red Roof, for example, allows one dog or cat to stay free per guestroom. At Red Roof Inn and Red Roof PLUS+ locations, there is a weight limit of 80 pounds. At Red Collection locations, the limit drops to 40 pounds.
Motel 6 allows 2 pets per room, does not have weight limitations, and there are no additional pet fees.
Best Western has over 1,600 properties across the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean that accommodates dogs. They allow up to 2 dogs, with a maximum weight of 80 pounds per dog, in each room. Some charge up to $30 per day, with a maximum of $150 per week, and there may be a refundable damage deposit of up to $150 per stay.
DoubleTree by Hilton has over 120 properties that allow dogs, with a maximum non-refundable fee of $75 per room. They recommend calling ahead to ensure that a pet-friendly room is available for your stay.
Hampton Inn generally allows dogs, but the number of pets, size of pets, and fees may vary and are at the discretion of each location. Please note that pets cannot be left unattended in the rooms, and hotels can charge you for any damage caused by an animal being kept at the property.
Home2Suites by Hilton is overall pet-friendly and limits pets to two per suite. The weight limits vary by hotel, so it’s good to call ahead or check out their website before booking your stay. Dogs must be kept on a leash or in a carrier when in public areas of the hotel.
Much like airlines, hotel chains vary wildly in their pricing, accommodations, weight restrictions, and more when looking to travel with a pet, so advance research is always recommended.
Traveling in the car with your pets, especially long distances, can require some forethought and accommodations.
For dogs, ensure you have a water bowl, food bowl, and toys along for the ride. Dogs also require stops to relieve themselves, and many major highways and roadways have specific spots wherein you can stop and allow your dog(s) out to stretch, pee, and shake out their fur. Rest stops on highways are a common example. Make sure you bring your leash and collar/harness as well, so your pet can remain safe in your vehicle during travel. Lots of dog owners prefer using blankets or other net devices in their backseat to protect the seats from damage, or a kennel in the backseat to keep their dog safe.
Cats may need a bit more to make their trip relaxing, including a litter box, a kennel or carrier with a blanket or something else soft to line it, food, and water. Ensuring your animals remain properly hydrated and relaxed during your trip is important!
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