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Flying with Fido

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Thinking about flying with your furbaby this year?  Recent policy changes by many major airlines might impact you and your pooch’s travel plans.  

If your dog is trained and classified as a Service Animal, your dog can continue to fly as he always has.  Appropriate documentation from your veterinarian and DOT documents must be uploaded to the airline website and then approved by the airline several days prior to your flight.  All the policy details can be found on each airline website.

The important change is for Emotional Support Animals.  Previously, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) were permitted to fly in the airplane cabin with the passengers.  New guidelines from the airlines now classify ESAs as pets, and therefore the pet specific policies will apply moving forward.

What does this mean for you and your furry friend?  If your pet is small enough to fit in a pet carrier and the carrier can fit fully under the seat in front of you, then your pet may be able to fly in the cabin with you; but just because your pup is small  does not a guarantee that he can fly.  Airlines limit the number of pets on every flight, based on the size of the aircraft.  It is a good idea to call the airline prior to purchasing your airline tickets  to confirm that your dog will be permitted to fly on all legs of your trip.Once Fido is cleared to fly, it is important to know that your dog must remain inside the carrier for the duration of the flight and you will pay a fee each time he flies (this does not apply to service animals.)  The pet carrier is considered a carry-on item, and therefore your other carry-on items may be limited.  Each airline has its own policies and fees, so it is a good idea to check their individual policies when you are first making your travel plans.  You should also check the airport website for the location of the Pet Relief Area.  Some airports have pet relief areas near the gates, while other airports only have curbside locations.  

If your dog is too large to fit under the seat in front of you, then likely he cannot fly – at least for the time being.  Airlines have stopped transporting Pets as Cargo, largely due to the continuing pandemic.  It is too soon to say when the policies might be updated.  For now, big dogs are better on road trips and not on flights.

Airlines may change their policies at any time, so always start by calling the airline directly or checking the airline website. 

Lisa Taub is a full-service travel advisor and owner of True Direction Travel in Montgomery, OH. She specializes in custom vacation itineraries for her clients – and sometimes their pets too. Whether you are planning a US road-trip, a tour of European capital cities, or a relaxing holiday to a Caribbean resort, Lisa will design a tailor-made vacation especially for you and your family. Find more information on her website, www.truedirectiontravel.com and on Facebook @truedirectiontravel.

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