How to prepare your pup for a flight

Want to take your pup with you next time you go on holiday, even if it requires travel by air? Here’s how you can prep your pup for flying...

Steps on how to prepare your dog for air travel with you next time you go on holiday.

Did you know your dog can accompany you on air travel? So, rather than resorting to leaving your dog at the local kennel (or with a long-suffering friend or relative) this holiday season, why not take your pup with you when you take to the skies for your well-deserved break?

However, while service dogs are generally allowed to come with you in the cabin, your pooch will likely need to travel as ‘checked-in baggage’ when accompanying you on your travels.

Here’s what that looks like:

So your dog can fly safely, you’ll need an air-travel-suitable pet carrier. Requirements will be listed on each airline’s website. We’ll use Air New Zealand as an example, as Jetstar doesn’t currently support pet transportation. There are some reasonably strict guidelines around the size of the carrier and its security, so it’s worth checking these details before you buy or hire one.

To be able to fly with your pup, you’ll need to let the airline know well in advance of your intention, then add your pet to your booking and pay a pet transportation fee. To be extra safe, it’s worth talking to your travel agent or the airline in advance of booking your flight, so they can confirm it will have enough room to accommodate your pet.

You will usually also have to pay an excess baggage fee if travelling with your pet will exceed the baggage allowance associated with your ticket.

Once you’ve organised all the logistics and your pup’s been cleared to go on the same flights as you, there are some other steps you can take to make the trip a little easier for them – especially if this is their first time flying.

  1. Get them used to their pet carrier. If the carrier is new, your pup may be wary of it, and you don’t want them stressing about it on the day of the flight. So, if you can, organise to have a carrier in advance so they can get used to being in it.
  2. Tire your dog out before you leave for your flight. If they’re a little tired, they may just fall asleep on the flight.
  3. Make sure they’ve been fed and watered prior to travelling, although it’s worth feeding them two to four hours or more before the flight so there’s less chance they’ll become ill.
  4. Book a pre-flight check-in with your vet to make sure they’re safe and ready for travel. If your dog tends to get stressed more easily, this is also a good time to consider and test natural calmers to try and make the flight more comfortable for them.

What if I’m flying overseas?

If you’re flying overseas, the process is a bit more complex. If you’re travelling with Air New Zealand, for example, you’ll need to arrange to have your pet travel arranged through an approved pet transporter, as the airline doesn’t accept animals directly from the public for long-haul flights.

The good news about this, though, is that the pet transporter can arrange all pre-flight requirements for your pup, including vet checks through to pet carriers. They’ll also make sure they’re at the airport on time, ready for their overseas adventure.

You can learn more about what MPI requires for all pets leaving NZ.