Flying with Pets: A Travel Advisor’s Experience

January 17, 2016 | By

The last thing someone who loves to travel wants to hear is that you have to cut back on how much you fly. This could be due to a variety of reasons: finances, work, new baby, or, in me and my partner’s case, new puppies!

Prepping for puppy's first flight!

Prepping for puppy’s first flight!

Puppies require a lot of work, just like babies, so every hour of every day has been spent training, walking, feeding, bathing, grooming, and playing with our two brand new adopted pups. They are the cutest things in the world, and so well-behaved for their age! However, we had to cut back on our trips for the year and cancelled a couple big trips as a result. But when we found out a friend would be getting married in Mexico City, we figured it would be the perfect time to test out flying with them.

After booking our tickets with AeroMexico, we called to make sure we could take them onboard. After several calls and no help whatsoever, we were ultimately told to go to the airport and it would be up to the gate agents as to whether we could take them onboard or not. It didn’t inspire much confidence and made us rather tense, especially the morning of our flight.

Thankfully, after arriving at the airport, we didn’t receive much of a hassle. Granted, the entire process of checking in, going through security, clearing immigration and customs was all lengthened by a collective total of over an hour. So if you plan to travel with pets, be warned! Some examples:

Dog carrier on the flight.

Dog carrier on the flight.

• Checking in at the airport took roughly 30 minutes as they had to verify our dogs health certificates and vaccination records, then copy them and clear them with the plane (make sure to check your carrier’s site and restrictions on flying with pets – certain airlines don’t allow dogs in their business class cabins due to the lie-flat seat designs)
• You have to take your dog out of their carrier to go through the TSA checkpoints, and your dogs WILL be patted down and tested for drugs (because there are sick people in this world who use dogs as drug mules)
• You will then be pulled aside when you attempt to board the plane as they check, once more, that there is room for the pets in the cabin and that you had already received clearance (most will also mark your ticket to this effect, but some will not)
• When you arrive at your destination and are prepared to go through immigration, have your dog’s papers ready in case they ask. When we went through in Mexico City, we weren’t asked for them but we were asked when we re-entered the US.
• When you go through customs, check to make sure they don’t need a certificate of any kind before you queue up. We made this mistake and after 45 minutes of queuing discovered we had missed the hole in the wall (quite literally) for animal control. We then waited another 30 minutes outside this cave to receive a certificate stating all their documents were in line and we were cleared to ‘import’ them into the country.

After all this, we were free and clear! The story of coming back from Mexico to the US turned out to be pretty similar, except for the animal control office part. And, despite it being a (mostly) painless experience, the amount of time spent to ensure their safe passage, the cost of antacids to calm our stomachs and heartburn, and the number of gray hairs that have sprouted up as a result of worrying that something would go wrong can only mean one thing for us: we will NEVER be flying with our dogs again.

As much as we love our little guys, they will be staying with their Nonna or one of their many Aunties and G’uncles when we travel.

Have you traveled with you pets before? What was your experience like? Do you have any tips and tricks to share?