Helpful Tips and Tricks for Flying with Your Pet (Part Two)
So in my first blog post about flying with pets (check it out here if you missed it), I discussed all I had to do to get my pups ready to travel and live internationally in Japan. Recently I flew back to the US and encountered a slightly different process than when we left, so I thought I would document it in hopes it would help someone else who overly prepares and stresses like I do.
Taking pets from the US to a foreign country is A LOT harder than bringing them back to the US (thank goodness). As I was packing and in transit, I felt like I was constantly forgetting something because of how easy everything was going! The fact that the pups and I are now seasoned travelers probably had something to do with that as well.
Once again we were moving on a tight timeline so I had to rush to make sure everything was ready. The first thing I did was go to the vet to see what kind of paperwork and/or tests had to be done to get the pups back home. Much to my surprise, it was just two things!
- I had to notify the Japanese government that we would be traveling (the vet provided me with the travel form I would have to email them)
- I had to get a health certificate done within ten days of our travel time.
I already had current copies of their rabies certificates from our first travel excursion which was another requirement for travel but one that required no action. Other than that, that was it. I asked the vet like ten times if they were sure I did not need anything else because I was in shock of how easy it was!
The hardest part of our travel was actually the scheduling the airline. Most military families utilize the services the military provides to fly but since we were on a tight timeline (maybe one day we will actually be able to plan with ample notice), I had to buy our tickets again. The part that made it hard was that Delta recently changed their pet policy to where if you fly with your pets and they go below the cabin in cargo, you have to hire a pet shipper. After talking with people who had done that before, I decided it would actually be about the same price to fly my friend out to help and have the dogs fly in cabin with us. It was probably a good thing too as the one pet shipper I reached out to never got back to me and since we were in a time crunch, that would have been SUPER stressful if I pursued that option. Like I said though, luckily I had an awesome friend who dropped everything to help!
Now that the paperwork and airline were taken care of, I had to pack the pups for the plane. Some of the essentials I pack on the plane for those fur monsters are:
- Pet carrier (linked here)
- Giant pee pad for the carrier (linked here)
- Blanket for the carrier
- Bag of various treats
- Collapsible water bowl
- Plastic grocery bags (just in case for spills or messes)
- Extra pee pads
- Trash bags (just in case for spills or messes)
- Extra poop bags
Those items are tried and true. The pups have yet to make any messes on the plane which means most of those items go unused and are saved for another travel trip. I would rather be safe than sorry and carry everything *just in case* rather than be in a messy situation.
The Day Of
The day of our flight I only fed them breakfast (we were not flying out until 4pm that day) but only half of their usual amount. If we were to fly out on or before lunch, I would not have fed them at all. It is best that they travel on an emptier stomach to help with bladder control since they will be cooped up for hours on end. Since they consume less food that day, I make sure to give them treats on the plane to help curb their hunger.
Upon arrival at the airport I immediately wanted to check my bags as they were HEAVY (I mean I was going to be living without my house again for an unknown amount of time, so I needed to pack accordingly)! Rolling my giant suitcases while carrying a pup was not an easy task since I thought I could manage without a luggage cart (for future reference - just grab one and save yourself the workout).
After checking the baggage, we then had to make our way to the pet quarantine area so they could check all of our paperwork that I mentioned above in order for us to fly. A nice lady who worked for Delta showed us the way to go which was great since they took us below the airport through employee entrances to get there. After the pups were cleared, we took them out one more time before entering security as there were no pet areas (like in Atlanta) for pets. We literally went out the departure doors to a grassy area with some coy fish!!
When we couldn’t stand the heat anymore, we made our way back to the gate and sat in a spot away from everyone for what felt like hours. My trusty pet carriers turned a lot of heads as the double expansion is something others are not used to seeing. Another attention grabber was Maverick. Maverick was the one who was a little on edge this time (whereas Monroe was last time). I had some calming treats from Chewy (linked here) to try to take the edge off but ultimately utilized the vet prescription to help calm him as the treats did not help.
As soon as we were able to, we loaded the plane and got the pups situated. I always unzip one of the pet carrier’s sides for the flight when they are at our feet. Since they unzip to such a large area I cannot do both in the plane. However, one side is enough space for them. Sometimes they get a little anxious when we are on the plane waiting to take off, so I stick my hand in the carrier to pet them until they calm down.
During the flight I monitor them to make sure they are comfortable and not crying. I always ask the flight attendants if I can let them out in the bathroom to stretch (I put one of the extra pee pads on the floor when I do this just in case) and they always say yes. I tend to do that half way through the flight.
Upon arrival back in America you have to take all pets through the Department of Agriculture. Luckily it is an easy process as they just want to see your paperwork and make sure you did everything you were supposed to. After that, you are HOME FREE!
Like I said, this is a much easier process than going to a foreign country (if you are from America). Although my pups are EXPERT airplane travelers, it is going to hopefully be a long time before they have to fly again.
Have you ever traveled on a plane with your pet?
Always chase your tales,