Tips for Flying With a Cat

Tips on How to Fly With a Cat

The key to successfully traveling with any pet is research and planning. This is especially true for cat owners who are looking to fly with their beloved cat in-cabin. Tips on how to fly with a cat range from knowing what your airline’s rules and regulations are for pets in-cabin and making sure your cat is ready for the trip. And as any cat owner probably knows all too well, preparing for the latter is typically the hardest part. Here are some ground rules to follow and some tips for flying with a cat for the first time.

How to Fly with a Cat

Researching airline rules on how to fly with a cat is by far the most important step. Each airline may have different policies regarding pricing, breed restrictions, and whether your cat will be allowed to fly in-cabin or be relegated to the cargo hold.. Here are the current pet policies of five popular airlines in the United States regarding cat travel.

  • Delta – Allows cats to fly in-cabin and in cargo with breed restrictions on Burmese, Exotic, Himalayan, and Persian cats when shipped “as cargo”. It costs $125 to fly with your cat in-cabin. This fee is collected during your check-in at the airport. Please note, Delta limits the number of animals per flight so call ahead (800-221-1212) to make arrangements for flights within the United States.
  • American Airlines – Allows cats to fly in-cabin, as checked luggage, and “as cargo” with breed restrictions on Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, and Persian cats as checked luggage. Bringing your cat will cost $125 including all connections within the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean, unless you have a voluntary layover of 4 hours or more, in which case additional leg fee(s) may apply. This fee will be charged when you arrive at the airport to check-in. There is also a limit to how many kennels and or cat carriers can be on one American Airlines flight at a time. You can confirm there is space on your flight by calling one of these customer service numbers.
  • JetBlue – Allows you to travel with your pet in-cabin only; they do not allow pets to fly as checked baggage or cargo. They only allow a certain number of pets on each flight and only allow one pet to travel per one traveler at the cost of $100 each way. This means that if you are flying alone and have two cats, you can only bring one according to JetBlue’s policy. You can earn 300 TrueBlue points on each flight you travel with your pet through their JetPaws program. You can book your pet’s flight either online or by calling 1-800-538-2583.
  • Southwest – Allows you to fly with your cat in-cabin only; pets cannot fly as checked baggage or as cargo. Only six pets (cats or dogs) are allowed on a flight with customers limited to one pet carrier. Each segment of the flight will cost $95 within the United States. Southwest does not allow pets on international flights. Cat airfare must be paid at the time of check-in at the airport. Call 1-800-435-9792 when you book your flight to reserve a spot for your pet.
  • Alaska Airlines – Allows you to fly with your cat in-cabin, as “checked baggage, or as cargo” for $100 each way. While breed restrictions apply to Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, and Persian cats when trying to ship them via cargo: they can however fly in-cabin with you. Up to 6 pet carriers may be on a flight at a time, with 5 being in the main cabin and 1 being in first class. You can book your cat’s airfare by calling 1-800-252-7522 to reserve space.

Approved Cat Carrier

Among airlines that allow cats to fly in-cabin charges generally range between $90 to $125 per flight though there may be some exceptions.. All airlines will require you to have an approved cat carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. The typical pet carrier size that is approved is 17″L x 12.5″W x 8.5″H and they can be purchased at a pet store, online, and directly through some airlines like JetBlue and Southwest. You should also ask if a health certificate is required by your airline or when you land at your destination for your cat. Some airlines do not require this for domestic flights, however if they do, you will need to have one from your vet within 10 days of your flight. Here are a few other things to consider bringing along when you fly with your cat.

  • Pet ID tags and license is required by almost all airlines and these should already be on your cat’s collar or harness.
  • Harness and leash. While your kitty may not love it, it could save you from living a nightmare during security. Most pets will be removed from their carrier and the carrier will be screened through the x-ray machine. No one wants to see your cat run off if they escape from your arms during this time. A harness and leash let you have a secure hold of your cat at all times.
  • Health certificate, proof of vaccinations, vet documentation of required medications, etc. Just like having your own paperwork is important, your cat’s can help you avoid any hiccups in your travel plans.
  • Pee pads are another item to consider, especially for longer flights. Whether you place one in the carrier or use it at a pet potty area that many airports have, it can save you a headache and a mess.
  • Collapsible water dish. This can be used during layovers or pre-boarding to make sure your cat has had the opportunity to drink water.
  • Their favorite treats and toys. These can help them pass the time and focus on something they are familiar with, and who doesn’t love an inflight snack or two?


Tips for Flying With a Cat

Tips for flying with a cat

Now that you’ve done your research, it is time to prepare your cat for their flight. You know your pet best and perhaps they are already a well adjusted passenger. However, if this is their first time or they’ve had rough flights in the past, these tips can help make it less stressful on them.

  • Try getting your cat used to the pet carrier by feeding treats or meals inside it. Positive reinforcement can only help make your cat more comfortable in the carrier, especially if this is a new concept for them.
  • Once your cat is used to the carrier, try practicing putting them in the carrier and taking them out of the carrier. This will help you get them ready for the security screen and if/when you take them out to go to the bathroom.
  • Practice using the harness and leash with your cat. Don’t be surprised if he or she has quite a few opinions about the matter!

By now you and your cat should be well prepared for your upcoming flight! Remember to always call your airline or research their pet policies as they can change throughout the year. However, once you’ve reserved a spot for your pet, you should be off and ready to enjoy your trip together in no time! And for any of your travel document needs be sure to visit who can help you obtain your birth certificate and other vital records that will be required when applying for a passport or ID to use for your upcoming flight.

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