As we near fall break and holiday season, many of us will find ourselves flying to visit family and friends. Have you ever wanted or considered taking your pet with you when you fly? Flying with pets can be a unique process with different rules depending on your situation.

The rules may vary from airline to airline, so the absolute best way to get the specific information you need is to call your airline. However, here are some general guidelines for flying with a pet.

General Tips

  • As mentioned previously, call your specific airline to learn what they do and do not allow. Size restrictions of carriers along with whether they allow manifest cargo may decide whether you can bring your pet with you or not, if they aren’t a service animal.
  • Do not tranquilize your pet, as the effects of tranquilizers on animals at higher altitudes can be unpredictable.
  • While federal regulations require pets to be fully weaned and at least 8 weeks old to travel by air, many airlines require pets to be much older.
  • Whenever possible, book a direct, nonstop flight and avoid holiday or weekend travel. Try to plan schedules that minimize temperature extremes.
  • The kennel that you use must be sturdy, properly ventilated, and large enough for your pet to freely be able to stand, turn around and lie down. Further, many airlines require the bottom to be waterproof and a within a specific size limit.
  • Get your pet comfortable with the kennel prior to flying; this reduces stress on your pet.
  • Give your pet food and water within four hours before your flight. You will have to sign a certification of the time when you last offered food and water to your pet.
  • Give yourself plenty of time for check-in so there is no rushing and everything is done properly

BNA Airport Rules

Service animals are permitted in the terminal and must be leashed at all times. All non-service animals or “pets” must be in carriers.

There is a pet relief area located on the north side of the third level, which is the ticketing level. Pets relieving themselves must also be on a leash at all times.

Pets and carriers must go through additional screening, which starts by going to your specific airline ticketing counter.

While there are many airlines that fly out of BNA (with different rules for pets), we’ve provided the rules for two of the most popular airlines. But as stated above –  remember to check with your airline regarding their rules and regulations for pet travel.

Delta

Restrictions:

  • If your dog or cat meets the requirements listed in Delta Airlines pet policy to travel in-cabin, you will need an approved airline pet carrier with a waterproof bottom that fastens securely, and has adequate space and ventilation for your pet. They specifically allow small cats, dogs, and household birds along with service animals.
  • Pets are not permitted in the cabin in First Class, Business Class, or Business Elite on any international flights. There may be certain domestic flights where they are excluded from as well.
  • Pets must be at least 10 weeks old on domestic flights and 15 weeks old if flying to the EU.
  • Delta will not transport pets in the cabin to or from the following destinations: Australia, Barbados, Dakar, Dubai, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates.
  • Service animals only may travel in the cabin to or from South Africa, Hong Kong, or the United Kingdom.
  • Carrier measurements will vary depending on the aircraft serving the route. There is one pet permitted per passenger unless you are carrying a mother cat or dog with her unweaned litter. Two pets of the same species and size between the age of 10 weeks and 6 months may be allowed to travel in 1 kennel, providing they are small enough to fit into one kennel and are compatible. They will be charged as 1 pet.

Service and Emotional Support Animals

Service animals are permitted to travel in the cabin with their disabled passenger without charge. Passengers should provide at least 48 hours notice to the airline. Delta complies with the Air Carrier Access Act by allowing customers traveling with emotional support animals (ESA) or psychiatric service animals to travel without charge in the cabin. Only one ESA is allowed per passenger. As of July 10, 2018, Pit Bull breeds are not permitted as ESAs.

No sooner than 48 hours before departure, Delta Airlines will require the following forms for people traveling with emotional support animal: veterinary health forms and immunization records, signed letters from a licensed doctor or mental health professional and signed certification of training.

Pet owners will need to sign a Confirmation of Training form attesting to their service or emotional support animal’s good behavior. A Veterinary Health Form or Mental Health Professional Form will be required.

Cost: $125USD (US, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands), $200USD international, $75USD Brazil.

Southwest

Restrictions:

  • Pets are not allowed as checked baggage, air cargo, or on international flights including Puerto Rico.
  • If your dog or cat meets the requirements, you will need an approved airline pet carrier with a maximum size carrier of 8.5″ high x 18.5″ long x 13.5″ wide, a waterproof bottom, and sufficient space and ventilation for your pet.
  • A maximum of 6 pets is permitted per flight. Southwest pet policy is one pet carrier per paying adult passenger. Two very small dogs or cats can travel in the same carrier as long as they are of the same species.
  • They allow small dogs, cats, and household birds
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks of age.
  • You must notify that you are traveling with a pet by calling.
  • Southwest flights serviced by AirTran has additional restrictions.

Service Animals

Southwest Airlines will accept dogs trained in the duties of law enforcement in the cabin at no charge as long as they are accompanied with their handlers, details of their mission and a letter of certification. Service Animals are allowed in cabin on all flights. Owners of trained service and emotional support animals must provide verbal assurance regarding the training of their animal. ID cards or registry paperwork will not be accepted as proof of training. If the passenger’s disability is unclear, Southwest employees may ask questions about the animal’s ability to serve the passenger.

Beginning September 17, 2018, only dogs, cats and miniature horses will be accepted as service animals. Only one cat or dog per passenger will be accepted as emotional support animals. These animals are trained to provide assistance for physical and mental disabilities. Passengers are encouraged to notify the airline in advance of travel. Service and emotional support animals must display proper behavior while in the cabin. They cannot interfere with cabin operations or other passengers. Owners are responsible to provide for their animal’s sanitary requirements.

Cost: $95USD

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