How to Successfully Fly With Your Dog

With holidays just around the corner, many of us will be choosing to fly with our dog. Read some top tips on how to make sure your furry friend stays safe and happy.

As the holiday season gets closer, many of us will be travelling to join family and friends, or heading to getaway destinations for a well-deserved break. With our furry friends becoming regarded more as members of our families than pets, more of us are opting to take them away on holiday with us, rather than putting them into boarding while we’re away.

This even extends to flying, with more Kiwis choosing to take to the skies with our companions. Before you book an extra ticket for your pet, however, here are some important things to take into account.

Does your airline allow pets?

A good place to start is to check that your airline of choice will let your dog travel with you. Many airlines do these days, but it’s equally important to make sure what terms and conditions apply. Factors an airline will consider are your pet’s age, size and breed, as well as if their vaccinations are up to date and if they have any existing health conditions.

Book in advance

It pays to plan and book well in advance, particularly if you want your dog to travel on the same flight as you. Many airlines limit the number of pets allowed on each flights, so make sure you get in early to secure your desired flight option. Some flights from New Zealand regional centres have stopovers in the bigger cities, so if you can try and book a direct flight to avoid your dog having to change aircraft mid-journey.

Consider the weather

Dogs can struggle to regulate their temperature in enclosed environments, so plan your travel times with this in mind. During warmer months, choose early morning or late evening flights. And, if it’s cooler, opt for a mid-day departure.

Get your pet ready for the trip

Dogs will need to fly in a travel carrier or crate on the aircraft, so let them get familiar with it as long as possible before your trip. Also, airports are busy, noisy environments so familiarise your pet with it before you fly. Most airports have a lookout, so take your dog there and let them get used to the sound of jet engines, then take a drive into the airport itself so they can see and smell the environment. It’s also a good idea to take your dog to your vet for a check-up before the trip.

On the day of the flight

It pays to make a checklist of all the things to take care of before flying with your dog. Some important points include:

  • Walk your dog before the flight, to help expend their energy
  • Make sure you feed your dog no more than four hours before the trip and give them a chance to go to the toilet
  • Check they’re wearing an ID tag, with your contact details on it
  • Pack all the supplies they’ll need, including a bowl, water, medication and a leash, or harness
  • Take a recent photo of your dog with you and keep it with you in case you need it for identification
  • Get to the airport early to give them some fresh air and a relaxing goodbye before you leave them with the airline handlers.

When you arrive

When you land at your destination, collect your dog as quickly as possible and let them get some outside fresh air, some water and a walk. It also pays to make sure in advance that the transport you’ll be using at your destination allows pets.