Among the distinctly unamused were the airlines, disability advocates, service animal organizations, the traveling public — and the Department of Transportation, which on August 8, 2019, issued new rules for animals traveling on airplanes.
Those rules tightened restrictions on nonservice animals (only dogs, cats, and miniature horses are recognized as legitimate service animals), but allowed the airlines considerable discretion in formulating their own rules for dogs and cats who are simply household pets (but you probably wouldn’t bring your mini Black Beauty on your next assignment, anyway). And if your pet is neither canine nor feline, check with the airline to see if your pet is allowed.
Many airlines have specific weight limits for on-board animals, and most require airline-approved carriers. If your pet exceeds the weight limit, it may have to fly as checked baggage in an airline-approved crate. For complete information on a specific airline’s requirements, this handy link will put all you need to know at your fingertips.
And before you decide to make Buddy or Bijou your traveling partner, here are a few other things to check off your to-do list:
- First and foremost, let your recruiter know that you plan to bring your pet. The recruiter will be able to find pet-friendly accommodations for you both and can probably steer you to nearby dog parks and other recreational facilities as well.
- It goes without saying (but just in case you need a reminder): be sure your pet is microchipped and has a license tag from your home city.
- If your pet is an emotional support animal, be prepared to answer questions from airline staff to support your claim. You may also be asked to complete forms on the airline’s website or provide a letter from a qualified medical professional stating your need for this animal while in flight.
- It’s possible your pet may need veterinary care while you’re away from home (you know how they love to get into things). Scout out a good vet before you go, or ask a local colleague for a recommendation shortly after you arrive, and be sure to bring along copies of your pet’s health and vaccination records.
Traveling with a pet can be a challenge, but so is traveling with a baby human. So do your planning, know the rules, follow them, and enjoy the (mostly) friendly skies!