- Plan ahead, book early
Majority of airlines allow a select number of pets on each flight, so it is important to book your pet’s ticket as soon as possible. Make sure not to purchase your ticket until after you have called the airline to make sure there is a “seat” available for your pet on the flight. Once the agent has verified that there is a spot available for your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, reserve both seats on the same ticket while you’re on the phone with the agent.
- Book direct flights
Whenever possible, book a direct flight on a weekday or night time when airports are less chaotic. For pets flying in the cargo hold, it is recommended to fly in the morning or evening during warmer months, and the midday during cooler months to avoid extreme temperatures. Weather safety restrictions apply: Above 85 degrees and below 20 degrees pets don’t fly.
- Make a trip to the vet
Schedule an appointment with the vet for a routine check-up and to ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are current. Make sure to get a health certificate from your veterinarian that is dated within 10 days of your departure. For travel outside the continental US, further planning and health care requirements may be required.
- Purchase appropriate carrier
Carriers are offered in hard-sided as well as soft-sided and are labeled as air compliant travel crates. Soft-sided carriers tend to make the carry-on process run more smoothly and fit easily under the seat, but they’re only allowed in the aircraft cabin. It is a good idea to check the size restrictions of the airline you are traveling with beforehand to make sure that your carrier is able to fit directly under your seat. All carriers must be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. If the carrier does not allow your pet to do so, the airline will decline transport.
- Pet I.D.
Make sure to attach I.D. tags with your pet’s name, your name, your home address, and phone number to your pet’s carrier before traveling. An up-to-date photo should also be taken when traveling with your pet. In the event that you and your pet are separated, a recent photograph of your pet will make it much simpler for airline employees or local authorities to search efficiently.
- Take your carrier for a test drive
Animals tend to travel under less stress when they are familiar to their carrier prior to traveling. In the weeks leading up to your trip, put your pet in their carrier as frequently for errands around town.
- Comfortable pet travel
To prepare your pet, reduce the quantity of food the day before but give it enough water. While it is best to avoid feeding your Cavalier right before the flight, you are able (and advised) to give them water up until the time of travel. Just remember to empty your pet’s dish before check-in to avoid spilling it on the flight. It is also a good idea to exercise your pet and relieve them before starting off to the airport. Take your dog for a walk again before check-in. A light meal 2 hours before tendering the animal to the carrier will help to calm it and is a legal requirement in the United States.
- Show up early
Majority airlines recommend arriving two hours prior to your flight when traveling with a pet. Don’t arrive too early though…airlines will not check your pet in more than 4 hours before your flight. When flying with a pet, you will need to check-in at the counter, since self check-in and curbside check-in are not allowed.
- Do NOT sedate your pet
From the advice of the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Whether flying in the cabin or with cargo, animals are exposed to increased altitude pressures of approximately 8,000 feet. Increased altitude, according to Olson, can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems for dogs and cats who are sedated or tranquilized”. Do what you need to calm yourself before takeoff, but remember that sedating your pet could be dangerous!
- Once you’ve landed
Once you’ve landed at your destination, make an effort to exercise your Cavalier and ensure that they are able to get accustomed to their new surroundings. Your pet will feel more comfortable as soon as they are able to see (and smell) their new surroundings, and realize that the same rules and limits apply here too.