Flying with a Pet

Tips for safely and comfortably traveling by plane, as well as what to do when you arrive at HNL.

If you are considering flying with your pet, there are a few things you should know. Whether you are permanently moving or just taking your furry friend on a relaxing vacation, flying with your pet requires some preparation. This article will provide you with an in-depth guide to flying with your pet and the things you need to be aware of to ensure your travel plans go smoothly.

Pet Health

Making sure your pet is healthy enough to travel is essential. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to have your pet examined and discuss any health concerns.

A health certificate from an accredited veterinarian is required for travel. This certificate means that your pet has received appropriate veterinary care and is free of infectious disease. Health certificates must be completed within a very specific window of time. Most airlines require that the health certificate is issued within 10 days of travel. Talk to your veterinarian and give yourself plenty of time to get this done.

Travel Documentation

Along with a health certificate, other documentation may be necessary to fly with your pet. Check with your airline and destination ahead of time to determine the specific requirements.

Pets traveling to Hawaii will need an official copy of the rabies vaccination, FAVN rabies antibody test, a valid microchip, and tick treatment. Required documents have to be submitted at least 10 days prior to arrival. Without proper documentation, your dog may be turned away or held in quarantine for up to 120 days.

Not having the proper documents for your pet is an easy way to turn your time in paradise into a nightmare. Do your homework ahead of time so your furry companion can soak up the sun right alongside you.

Pet Carriers

Make sure you have an appropriate pet carrier for your flight. Airlines are cracking down on the rules for animals in the cabin. Unless you have a certified service animal, pets in the main cabin are limited to cats and dogs small enough to fit in a carrier under your seat. Your pet must stay in the carrier for the entirety of the flight.

Large dogs fly in a crate as cargo. Every airline has specific requirements for travel crates. Check with your airline ahead of time to make sure your crate meets the requirements. For any size animal, make sure your pet is comfortable spending time in the crate before embarking on your journey.

General flying tips

  • Schedule Accordingly: Airlines have certain restrictions to make sure your pet’s flying experience is safe. Temperature restrictions are in place to prevent pets flying in the cargo hold from being exposed to extreme temperatures. When flying in the summer, try to book your flight in the early morning or evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day.
  • Be prepared: Make sure you have all of the appropriate documentation and pet supplies. Bring toys to keep your furry companion entertained on the plane. Even if your pet is traveling in a carrier, make sure you have a leash so that you can let them out when it is appropriate.
  • Have a feeding plan: Typically, it is recommended that you do not feed a large meal right before a flight. These recommendations may vary depending on the animal's size, breed, and age. Discuss your travel plans with your veterinarian to determine what is best for your pet.
  • Reduce cargo time: If your pet is traveling as cargo, check with your airline to find out the latest time you can check in your pet for the flight. After landing, retrieve your bags and go straight to cargo pickup. Limiting the time your pet spends in cargo holding will reduce stress for both you and your companion.

Should I sedate my pet?

It’s not uncommon to see passengers reaching for their anxiety meds before takeoff. However, this may not be recommended for your pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association has cited health concerns associated with sedation of pets during air travel. Some airlines require a signed statement that your dog has not been sedated before boarding the flight. Speak to your veterinarian to determine what is best for your pet.

What to know about the airlines

Commercial airlines are known for their fees and long lists of regulations. When it comes to pet travel, they make no exceptions.

For most major airlines, the fee for carry-on pets is around $125. Only one carry-on pet is allowed per passenger. The pet’s carrier will count as your carry-on bag. Fees vary for pets traveling in the cargo hold, but prices should be confirmed when you book the flight.

After your flight

Travel days are exhausting. After spending all day holding their bladder, the first thing your pet may need to do is find a place to relieve themselves. Most airports have pet relief stations.

At Honolulu International Airport there is a fully fenced pet relief station between the International Parking Garage and the Terminal 2 Parking Garage. This area has fresh water and a grassy area where your pet can do their business and stretch their legs. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times while at the airport.

Other relief stations in the Honolulu Airport are located on the ground levels of Terminals 1, 2, and 3.

Final Thoughts

Traveling with your pet is not for the faint of heart. It is a tedious process and can be stressful for both pets and owners. Flying with your pet should be reserved for permanent moves or long trips. By understanding the process and being prepared, flying with your pet can be done.

We hope you and your furry friend will be relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii soon!