Share the joys of travel
Holidays are made better if you can spend time with your furry friends. However, bringing a pet onto an aeroplane may sound dangerous and daunting to many, so fear not if you’re a pet owner who’s been bitten by the travel bug – here’s all you need to know to ensure a smooth journey for you and your furkid:
How does pet travel by plane work?
Typically, commercial airlines accept pets as checked baggage or cargo, where the furkid cannot be accompanied by a human passenger. Despite having temperature regulations in pressurised cargo holds, airlines may refuse your pet in cases of extreme hot or cold weather for safety reasons. However, there are distinct differences between the two.
While the check-in procedure varies with each airport, as checked baggage, your pet, as well as the rest of your baggage, will be taken away at the check-in counter. However, weight restrictions may apply to the combined weight of your pet and its container, in which case travel by cargo is your only option. If you decide to ship your pet as cargo, then you may have to drop it off at a separate cargo location.
Additionally, whether you and your furkid will be in the same airplane depends. While checked baggage are attached to boarding passes, it is not necessarily so for cargos. This means your furkid may fly on a separate flight as you.
If you’re unwilling to part with your furkid though, there are airlines that do welcome pets as a carry-on. Similar to the restrictions for your carry-on luggage, your pet will have a stricter weight limit of about 7kg. Despite being on board, your pet must remain in its carrier, which should fit under the seat in front of you, and so counts as one of the two carry-on baggages that most airlines allow.
In most circumstances, though, a service dog will be allowed on board with different restrictions. That said, to save yourself from a hard time in case your furkid disrupts the peace of other passengers by barking and whining, it is best to settle it in for the flight with a toy or blanket.
Whether your pet’s travel is into, out of, or via Singapore, do check with the Animal and Veterinary Service for any relevant licenses. Other than necessary documents, things to look out for include pet container requirements, restricted pet types, breeds, or species, along with your departure, transit, and arriving country’s local requirements and restrictions as each country has different regulations.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a good source for information such as specific regulations and documents required for pet travel.
Since your furkid will be in the escape-proof container for at least the entire duration of the flight, it is important to ensure it has sufficient space to stand and sit erect, lie in a natural position, and move freely. Furthermore, it is recommended to let it familiarise with the carrier to avoid unnecessary stress.
Even though you should feed and hydrate your pet up to two hours before the flight, food and water containers are essential additions to your pet’s container. Still, your furkid will surely appreciate having some company in the form of its favourite toy.
Tips on flying with locally-known airlines
While the guidelines for travelling (add title tag to hyperlink -“Travelling Terrors And Tips: Flying With Your Pet With Ease”) with your pet will differ according to airlines, here is a brief overview of travelling with pets on these more locally well-known airlines:
Pets travelling with Singapore Airlines must be at least three months old. For travel as checked baggage, the upper limit for the combined weight of your pet and its container is 32kg. While Singapore Airlines’ rules and regulations are in accordance with IATA requirements as with other airlines, the company has a strict policy that turns down pets from other airlines.
For Qatar Airways, the weight restriction is given more leeway – travel by cargo is available if your pet exceeds 75kg. Though, here’s a fun fact: aside from the usual pets, Qatar Airways accepts falcons in the Economy Class cabin!
Of the three, Lufthansa is the only airline that accepts animals – with a limit of 8kg – as additional carry-on baggage in the cabin. Otherwise, travel as checked baggage or cargo is available.
There are bound to be risks when taking your pet on an airplane, no matter how small. Even though you may have introduced your furkid to its travel carrier, unfamiliar stimuli including new sights, sounds, and smells can be unpleasant and cause stress to your pet.
Brachycephalic breeds, which are flat-faced pets such as Pekingeses, Shih Tzus, and Himalayan cats, are more prone to partial airway obstruction which causes shortness of breath and in turn, overheating. This oxygen deprivation places them at a higher risk of heatstroke, which can be fatal, especially since you will be away from your pet.
To ensure the safety of such pets, airlines either have a restriction or special regulations in place, which may apply to certain dog breeds such as the American Bulldog, Caucasian Shepherd Dog, and Rottweiler.
With all the steps involved in travelling with your pet, be sure to keep a checklist of the necessary things to do and consult with your veterinarian if your pet is fit for travel before you take your furkid all around the world.