Animals can be moved by air. If possible, ship animals only during moderate weather. In fact, some airlines will refuse to ship animals if it is cooler than about 45° F or hotter than 85° F. If your pet must be flown to your new home, first have the pet checked by your veterinarian. Get any needed inoculations, a health certificate, and any necessary medications.
Make flight arrangements early and ask about special requirements. You will need an FAA-approved animal crate. Whether your animal travels with you or as air freight, clearly mark the words “LIVE ANIMAL” on the outside of the carrier.
Make arrangements for shipping your pet as early as possible. You’ll probably need to prepay the shipment fees. On the day of the flight, feed the animal lightly at least five hours before the flight and water at least two hours before the flight.
If possible, let your pet get some exercise (and any needed medication) at the airport just prior to the flight. Be sure to have the animal’s health certificate, permits, rabies tag, and identification tag available.
If your pet is small, an FAA-approved carrier no larger than 21” X 18” X 8” can usually be taken with you into the passenger compartment. Please, for the safety of the flight, make sure your skunk has been descented. Arrive early, because most airlines operate on a first-come, first-served basis when allowing animals in the passenger cabin and only allow a certain number to be carried on.
The only exception to animals in the passenger compartment of an airplane being crated is for Seeing Eye dogs. Usually a Seeing Eye dog is allowed to sit in the aisle of the cabin at the owner’s feet. The airline must be notified in advance that the dog will be on the flight.
If your animal is too large to go into the passenger compartment or if you’re traveling separately, pets can be sent air freight.
The Animal Welfare Act prohibits any air transport of kittens and puppies under eight weeks old. Check with the airline for regulations and for details concerning other pets.
Tropical fish should be shipped only after packing by a professional who specializes in tropical fish. Most airlines will not ship snakes, thank God.
How to ship? Place your pet in the approved shipping container clearly marked “LIVE ANIMAL.” Include your name, address, and telephone number, as well as those of the person who will meet the pet at the end of the flight. Attach the animal’s leash to the outside of the carrier.
If your pet is going in the passenger cabin with you, your goal will be to keep the animal calm and quiet. If it has been fed, watered, and walked prior to the flight, everything should go well until you reach your destination. If the flight is long, offer your pet a few sips of water. If you must change airplanes, try to schedule a long enough delay to take the animal out of the airport for a hydrant stop. If your animal is in cargo, you will not be able to check on it during flight, and the pilot will probably refuse to land the plane so you can snuggle Cuddles.
Of course, unless you accompany your pet on the flight, you will need to make arrangements for a good friend to send the animal off or pick it up at the destination. Be sure that you or your friend picks your pet up on time at the destination. Any animals not picked up after about 24 hours can, at owner’s expense, either be shipped back to the point of origin or placed in a kennel.
Whether the animal flies with you or as air cargo, take it out of the airport and out of the crate as soon as possible. Allow the animal to stretch its legs and relieve itself before climbing in the car to go to its new home.
Even horses can be shipped as air cargo, but it is expensive and requires that someone travel with the animal. The horse will need a shipping stall approved by the airline and maybe even a loading ramp. Shipping charges must be paid in advance and tack must be handled separately.