The following is a guest blog by Bridget Monrad, Pet Travel Specialist
What is cargo for a pet on an airline mean?
A majority, 98%, of pets travel as what is called ‘cargo’. If an aircraft takes pets, they have a special area for pets that is temperature controlled within 10 degrees of the cabin, pressurized, and oxygenated for each pet. Your pet can travel as ‘cargo’ on the same flight as you, or unaccompanied. This means the pet is not on the same flight as you.
The majority of our pets travel unaccompanied.
What are pets traveling in the cabin mean?
This is when your pet travels on the same flight as you, under your seat. You cannot buy a seat for a pet; you buy the space in front of or under your seat. The area under the seat is very limited! A soft sided carrier offers the most flexibility.
Each airline has their own sizing regulations. Sometimes cats are even too big to travel under the seat! The pet needs to be comfortable to move in the carrier, it cannot be in there if the pet has no room to move their legs and turn around.
In order to travel in the cabin someone must be with the pet. Only one pet per person is the standard, so if you have 3 pets, you only take one if you are by yourself. However, the other 2 pets can travel with your on the same flight as ‘cargo’. The other standard airline practice is that there is a limit of how many pets can travel in the cabin. The average is 2-4 pets.
There are times when it may not be a good choice to have your pet in the cabin. For instance, if you have a cat that meows loudly or a small dog that yaps frequently, that would not be good for you or other passengers. If your pet is very anxious and may tend to have an ‘accident’ in their crate then that would not be good on a long flight. If your pet has separation anxiety it may be very helpful to have your pet at your feet, however you cannot take the pet out of the crate at anytime during the flight. If your pet does not like to be in the crate while you are a few inches away, then that would not be good for you or your pet.
One advantage to a pet traveling in the cabin is that it is less expensive than the ‘cargo’ rate. In general the average is $75 per pet. Your pet is with you at all times which gives you peace of mind. If you are traveling by yourself, it may be challenging to handle your pet with the check-in process, your carryon luggage and the concern your pet may be unpredictable.
One consideration of having your pets travel in cabin is that if at the check-in, your pet is not accepted do to a variety of reasons, such as being sedated, temperature restrictions, or them not finding the pet reservation, then you would need to decide if you continue your travel without your pet. If you have someone with you who can take the pet back home to reschedule then that is a good back up plan.
When moving, it is often more practical for the pet to travel unaccompanied as ‘cargo’ as it offers more flexibility in the pet owner making their travel arrangements which may not be on a flight that accepts pets, or if they drive cross country and do not want to have their pets travel in the vehicle.
A professional pet travel consultant can assist you in making the decision on what is best for you and your pet, for convenience, peace of mind, safety for the pet and what is most cost effective within your budget.
(Photo is courtesy of Happy Tails Travel)