Dogs and cats should be shipped via air freight; birds, tropical fish, and small pets such as hamsters or gerbils by air express a division of air freight. Make shipping arrangements as far in advance as possible, so space can be reserved and details about the flight settled. Follow all shipping instructions carefully.

Wrap Dog

Pre-Planning for Air Travel

  • Make flight reservations. Follow airline instructions carefully.
  • Acquire shipping container or carrier (for dog or cat) a week or two prior to departure and accustom pet to it gradually. Pet's nap time is a good time to start, and placing its blanket or a favorite toy in the carrier helps.
  • Buy shipping container for bird or small pet from pet supply company.
  • If pet is being shipped via air freight and your departure precedes that of pet, make boarding and shipping arrangements at point of origin.
  • If pet's departure precedes yours, make any necessary pickup and boarding arrangements at destination. Be sure consignee has complete flight schedule and name of airport where pet will arrive (some cities have more than one airport), as well as the Air Waybill number.


Day of Departure

  • Feed pet no less than (6) six hours before flight time; normally, no additional food is required for dogs for at least 12 hours. Give pet a drink of water about (2) two hours before takeoff.
  • Deliver pet to air terminal on time. Check with your airline in advance to determine if your pet should go to the passenger or air freight terminal and the cut-off time for the flight.
  • Exercise pet on leash at airport and administer any necessary medication before confining it to shipping container. Attach pet's leash securely to outside of container.
  • Be certain that names, addresses and telephone numbers of those responsible for pet at both destination and origin cities are legibly and durably marked on the container, and on pet's travel identification tag.
  • Notify consignee that pet is on the way. Pet can usually be picked up within an hour to 90 minutes after arrival of flight. It's advisable for consignee to phone the airline's cargo office in advance to be sure flight is on time. The Air Waybill number is useful when making inquiries.
  • Within two hours of landing, cats should be offered both food and water; dogs should be given a small amount of water immediately upon landing to moisten the mouth after panting during the flight.

Last-Minute Air Travel Checklist

  • All health and shipping documents in order?
  • Identification tag attached to pet's collar?
  • Shipping container in order? Securely latched? Legibly labeled? Leash attached?
  • Consignee given all information needed?


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