Flying High? Fly Safe!

by RumpyDog on 21 October 2011

in the Travel section of The Anipal Times

pup in crate

This pup is ready for his ride.

Oh Dog!  I’ve been following that story about that kitty named Jack that got lost at the JFK Airport in New York. I’m very sad that he’s not been found yet. In case you’ve been under a rock, here’s what happened:

On 25 August 2011, Karen Pascoe checked in her cats Jack and Barry with American Airlines for their flight from JFK Airport.  Thirty minutes later Ms. Pascoe was called and informed that Jack had escaped after the carrier had opened.

Despite the efforts of both airport staff and volunteers, Jack has yet to be found.

While these sorts of accidents don’t happen every day, they DO happen. And even though no one can totally prevent an accident, there are things that your human can do to make the flight safer for you. Here is some information from that will help you prepare for your flight.

Should I fly? Not all animals are appropriate for air flight. US federal law requires that an animal be at least eight weeks old and have been fully weaned at least five days before travelling in a cargo hold of a plane.

There is no US law against elderly animals flying, but it’s not recommended because of the stressful nature of flying.

Females who are pregnant or are in heat should not fly at all.

In addition, pug-nosed breeds such as Pekinese, pugs and English Bulldogs should not fly in the cargo hold of a plane and perhaps should not fly at all. The structure of their faces may inhibit breathing during air travel.

What does the law require for pet travel? If you are going to fly, there are some things you need to know about what the law requires in a kennel. You can find information about those requirements from your air carrier at

Can I bypass the cargo hold and travel inside the plane? Yes, as long as you’re flying on the same flight as your human; make sure the airline is informed when the reservation is made and ask about the rules. But remember, you will still have to remain in the kennel.

So what do I need to do to prepare for my trip? Here are several things you should do to prepare yourself for flight (courtesy of

  • Visit your vet. Most airlines require a recent (within ten days) written certification from your vet that you are healthy enough to fly.
  • Make sure your human communicates with the airline. Make sure you know up front what the law and the airline require for travel. If you’re flying into another country, you need to know what the receiving country’s laws state about animals entering the country.
  • Make sure the trip is planned to best meet your needs. Travel at a time of day when the temperatures are not extreme. Don’t travel at peak times. Avoid transfer flights to reduce the chance of a delay.
  • If travelling to another country, have your human contact that country’s embassy or consulate to learn about quarantine rules and health requirements. This should be done at least four weeks in advance.
  • ​Clip your nails so they don’t get caught in the door or air vent holes during transport.
  • Have a sturdy collar with two ID tags for wear during the flight. On one tag have home address and phone number along with your human’s name. On the other tag have your destination address and phone number. Breakaway collars are recommended for cats.
  • If you’re not used to spending time in a kennel, practice. Your first long-term experience in a kennel should not be on the flight.
  • Have a current photo for your human to show airline personnel in the event you get lost.
  • Eat and have water 4 hours before the flight. That’s a federal requirement. Don’t overeat though! You don’t want to travel on a full stomach.
  • Arrive early to not be rushed, but not too early. You can’t check in more than four hours before your flight.
  • Exercise before you are handed over to airline personnel. That way you’ll feel more comfortable during this stressful experience.

​Even though you follow each of these steps, there’s no guarantee the flight will go smoothly. But being prepared will go a long way to making sure you arrive at your destination safe and secure.

And if you want the latest information on the search for Jack, check the Facebook page set up to share information about the search. Saturday is Jack the Cat Awareness Day, so if you are in the New York City area, your humans could help by going to the airport.​

​Photo originally published by Andy on Flickr and appears here under a Creative Commons License for reuse without modification.

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mariodacat 21 October 2011 at 8:26 am

Hisss – I really wish they would do more to try to find Jack. Thanks for all those tips on flying. It has to be very stressful on both the pet and the human.

Snickers, Shiba Inu 26 October 2011 at 8:10 pm

they found Jack yesterday!!! the story was in The Daily News today

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