Pet travel always requires plenty of planning and attention to detail, but as summer approaches it’s important to make pet safety an especially high priority. Everyone involved in the pet travel process (pet owners, airline employees, pet taxi drivers, etc ) must be vigilant and well-informed.
If you’re planning a trip anytime soon, here are a few questions you may have as well as a few important deadlines to keep in mind.
Why can pet travel be more complicated in the summer?
The demands of travel combined with the hot weather that summer brings makes it hard to keep your pet in a constant state of temperature-controlled comfort. Airlines adapt to these challenges by imposing restrictions on pet travel during the summer months, so it’s important to check the rules well in advance if you’re planning a trip.
Here are some of the specific restrictions you’ll face:
United Airlines - From June 1 to Sept. 30, “snub-nosed” breeds will still be accepted for cabin travel but will not be admitted as cargo or checked baggage. From May 1 to Sept. 30, no pets can fly in the baggage section to or from Bahrain or Kuwait
Continental Airlines - From May 15 to Sept. 15, no Boston Terriers, Bulldogs or Pugs will be accepted, and during the rest of the year they will be flown only if the temperature is below 85 degrees. Last year they ended up restricting snub-nosed breeds through the month of September.
(UPDATE: As of December 2011, Continental no longer accepts English Bulldogs older than six months of age or who weigh more than 20 lbs. Please check with the airline or with PetRelocation.com if you have any questions about flying snub-nosed breeds.)
American Airlines - Though they don’t list specific dates, pets will not be flown when the temperature is expected to top 85 degrees. Brachycephalic dog and cat breeds are not accepted at any time as checked baggage.
Delta Airlines - From May 15 through Sept. 15, pets will not be accepted as checked baggage but they can be shipped as cargo. Year-round restrictions regarding snub-nosed breeds apply, as well (for example, Delta does not accept Bulldogs at any time).
So some pets are more susceptible to heat-related problems? What exactly is a “snub-nosed” breed?
Also known as brachycephalic breeds, these kinds of dogs (and some cats) have a physical difference in the structure of their face and nose that makes it harder for them to breathe in any circumstance and even more likely to have problems when they’re traveling, especially when they’re nervous, excited or dealing with high altitudes. Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers fall into this category.
Are other kinds of pets at risk?
Regardless of what kind of pet you have, it’s important to choose a pet-friendly airline. Even the healthiest animals can become stressed when they’re away from their normal surroundings, and airlines like Continental ensure that pets are not exposed to high temperatures, are not left waiting on the tarmac, and are given plenty of water and attention.
So how do I really know if it’s okay to fly my pet?
It’s important to talk to your vet about your pet’s health status, and once you’ve determined that your furry friend is up for the journey, do everything you can to make the trip a success by choosing a pet-friendly airline and attending to all other important details. Here are a few tips for safe summer pet travel.
May 15 is fast approaching, so if you could possibly be affected by any of the above restrictions then you’ll want to make sure you plan appropriately. If you have a move ahead of you, book your snub-nosed dogs’ flights before the deadline, consider pushing your move back until temperatures have dropped to a safe level again, or if you can, make it a road trip instead.
Do you have any summer pet travel advice or stories to share? Let us know here or on Facebook!