Flying From Albany Airport with a Pet

Although most commercial airlines offer transportation options for pets, the restrictions and regulations can be complicated, and they often differ between carriers. Before booking a flight, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian and check with your airline for specifics, but here are the need-to-know basics if you are flying with a pet.

Dog and cat in suitcase ready to travel

Are there any breed/age/weight restrictions?

Some airlines have modified their pet-transport policies to exclude certain breeds of cats and dogs that are prone to health problems. For example, it can be difficult for pug-nosed dogs, such as boxers and French bulldogs, to breathe at high altitudes. Confirm your airline allows your pet’s breed on the flight, and check with your vet to make sure your dog or cat is healthy enough for air travel.

You may also need a health certificate from your vet, and proof of vaccination upon returning to the U.S. if you are traveling abroad. And some airlines have age and weight restrictions, as well.

Will my pet travel in the cabin or as cargo?

While you can’t buy a seat for your pet, if your pet weighs less than 20 lbs. and can fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you, it can usually ride in the cabin for a fee. However, your pet will probably count as your carry-on luggage in this case.

The alternative is for your pet to fly in the pressurized and temperature-controlled cargo area, similar to checked luggage. Sometimes called air freight or manifest cargo, this option is not offered by all airlines. In fact, neither Southwest nor JetBlue permit pets in the cargo area, limiting travel to only small breeds that can fly in-cabin. 

What are the crate requirements?

Most airlines have detailed guidelines for pet kennels and crates, but in general, the carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand up, turnaround and lay in a natural position. It’s also important to get your pet acclimated to the crate before flying, perhaps taking short trips in the car in the weeks leading up to the flight. To help your pet relax during the flight, consider including a familiar toy or blanket and absorbent material on the crate floor.

How much does it cost to fly with my pet?

Air travel with a pet can get pricey, so it’s important to research your options. Pet fees for in-cabin travel range from $95 to $125 for most major domestic airlines (2018), and since your pet usually counts as a carry-on bag, you may incur additional checked baggage fees on top of that.

Cargo charges can be even higher. For instance, American Airlines charges $200 each way for pets traveling as manifest cargo, and United calculates fees based on the weight of the pet and its kennel. Plus, layovers can also add to the cost.

What can I do to make travel easier on my pet?

If you think travel is stressful, imagine how it feels for your pet? Here are a few things you can do to reduce the anxiety and ensure your pet travels safely.

•    Parking at the airport may require a long walk with your pet carrier, plus luggage and your pet, in a parking lot with hurried travelers – a recipe for disaster. Consider an off-site parking service, like Albany Park Ride Fly, which offers free car-to-terminal shuttle service for you and your pet, as well as luggage assistance.
•    For in-cabin travel, your leashed pet must pass through security with you while the carrier goes through the x-ray machine. If you are eligible, TSA PreCheck may very well be worth the initial time outlay and added expense.
•    For cargo travel, attach your contact information and a photo of your pet to the kennel to help identify him or her in the event that the pet escapes. Write “live animal” on the top and sides of the kennel and draw “this side up” arrows on two sides. 

Flying with a pet can be stressful, but with a little planning you can ensure a more relaxing trip. Call (866) 922-7275 or reserve a spot online at our Albany airport parking facility for your next flight.