Have you ever wished that if only your pet could travel with you, how wonderful and guilt free your trip would be? Leaving your pet behind with a day care or with family or a friend seems just fine but somewhere you wish to not leave them at all. Read further if you wish to know the rules for domestic air travel for pets.
Here is a good news and not so good news! Yes, you can take your pet on a flight with you. Although there are rules that you need to follow, some you might like, some you might not like as much.
PET IN CABIN
Only Air India allows Pet-in Cabin. Here is everything that you need to know:
1. You need to carry your pet in a properly ventilated pet carrier or kennel. The maximum dimensions of the kennel as per the Air India guidelines is- 18inches x 18inches x 12inches.
2. If your are carrying two pets, each pet much be kept in separate kennels.
3. The weight of the pet including the container should not exceed more than 5kgs.
4. Pet must be at least 8weeks old. Pregnant pets are not allowed to travel.
5. You need up-to-date documents for your pet. This is what you need:
A. Latest Health Certificate (valid up to 3 months).
B. Latest Fit-to-fly certificate (valid up to 3 months)
C. Updated vaccination certificate. Make sure that the timely vaccination is done and Rabies vaccination is up-to-date
6. Water absorbent mat must be placed in the container.
7. The pet need to be muzzled properly. (Personal comment: To be honest, if your pet is quiet, you can always remove the muzzle. The crew is mostly cooperative but you need to carry the muzzle with you.)
8. Normal extra baggage charges are applicable for pet-in-cabin.
As an exception, a trained guide dog, properly muzzled and leashed, with proper health and vaccination certificates, may be allowed free of charge if the dog is trained to lead a passenger with impaired vision/impaired hearing and the passenger is dependent on such dog.
Post script: After you have followed all the rules for the domestic air travel for pets, whether your pet can accompany you in the cabin depends on the commander of the flight. Your pilot gives the final nod and his/her approval is mandatory. (Personal note: In most of the cases, the pilot never denies for the pet in cabin. Unless, there are already 2 pets on the flight, then of course you won’t be allowed. To avoid such a situation, it’s always better to reach the airport well before time so you can get your pet registered before anyone else. It’s mostly on the first-cum-first basis).
PET IN CARGO
Larger pets i.e. pets exceeding 5kgs (including the kennel weight) are allowed only in cargo. This may seem a bit daunting for most pet parents. Few hours alone in the cargo, away from any human, can be very uncomfortable for most pets.
Personal advice: Choose this option if it’s absolutely necessary to take your pet along (for example if you are moving to a new city), or if you are sure that your pet will be comfortable for few hours in that cargo. Most pets get separation anxiety and can get really stressed. You do not want your baby to be at that risk.
Weigh all the pros and cons and then decide what’s best for you and your pet.
**Apart from Air India, there are a few other flights that have exceptions for the service dogs and guide dogs for blind people. Most of the domestic flights do not take pets on board.