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Avoid Ruff Travel: Tips For A Happy Flight With Your Pet

David J. Phillip
A parrott is loaded onto Continental Airlines plane at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Friday, April 16, 2010 in Houston. Continental is part of the global Star Alliance network.

How do you fly with pets? Heading to the airport with a furry friend in tow often means new rules and regulations. Knkx travel expert Matthew Brumley looked into some best practices, and offers this advice:

Before You Book

Call your airline to make sure there’s room. Space for animals can be limited, both in the cabin and in the pressurized compartment below the passenger cabin.

Visit the vet; airlines say you probably don’t need to do this for domestic travel, although Brumley says it’s a good idea to make sure shots are updated. And “don’t even consider booking an international trip unless you’ve done your homework,” Brumley says.

Get your pet used to the carrier you’ll use. Make sure your pet has plenty of space to move around and stand up.

Don’t book multiple connections; get there as directly as possible.

Day Of Travel

Feed your animal a few hours ahead of going to the airport.

Let them exercise beforehand, too. Get some of that energy out.

Get to the airport in plenty of time, but not too early. Airports are full of new noises and smells, so you don’t want your pet to stress out. A calm process will make things so much easier for both of you.

At The Destination

Take your pet for a long walk and make sure your pet has plenty of time to take care of business.

A Choice

Brumley says his family has never flown with their dog, Sophie. She’s too nervous, and they feel it’s better for her to stay put than to be uprooted to a strange place. But Brumley also acknowledges it’s a choice many pet owners make — and occasionally a necessity, such as during a move, or if you have a service or support animal.

For more info, Brumley says check out And when in serious doubt, call the airline and talk to them with specific questions.


"Going Places" is our weekly exploration of travel topics. Matthew Brumley is the co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions on Bainbridge Island. The firm provides small-group travel to customers including knkx. 

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.