Pets on a Plane: An Owner’s Guide for Safe Travels

July 25, 2017 By News, Pets, Travel Comments Off

Traveling with our pets can be stress-free and enjoyable—or not. If air travel with a furry companion is in your future, check out our helpful advice, plus links to resources to help make the trip safe, secure, and fun for both you and your pet.

Do Your Homework

  • Before booking your airline ticket, check on your airline’s specific policies. Each carrier has its own rules, so pay attention to any pet-related requirements.
  • Choose a pet-friendly hotel and ask them about any rules or restrictions before you book. Here’s a great resource that lists hotel chains that roll out the welcome mat for your pet!
  • Choose pet-friendly airport transportation. Getting to the airport is easy with Shuttle Express, and we welcome our guests’ pets! Please let us know you have a pet traveling with you when you book. We ask that you observe a few guidelines listed in our FAQ’s to ensure the comfort and safety of our other passengers.Small pets are welcomed when in an appropriate pet carrier that can fit at your feet in our vehicle. If your pet carrier does not fit at your feet, your pet in the carrier can be placed in the back with the luggage and will count as one of your checked pieces. If you have a large kennel, you can book a private van. Exceptions include properly harnessed or leashed service animals, including seeing eye, hearing impaired, and certified search dogs, that will lie at the owner’s feet.

Prepare Your Pet for Travel

Get your pet checked out with your vet before your trip–ensure all vaccinations are current and get a health certificate dated within 10 days of your departure. Ask your vet about ways to relax your pet during the flight if your pet becomes anxious or frightened. For travel outside of the continental US, contact the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for complete details.

Pack a travel kit for your pet, including:

  • Health records and vaccination tags (if you have pet insurance, have the contact information handy)
  • Proper ID tag
  • Portable bowl, bottled water, treats, and enough food for the trip
  • Pooper-scooper, hand wipes, and waste bags
  • Favorite pillow or toy

Feed your pet three-to-four hours before the trip, and go outside for a potty break before you leave.

Take Every Precaution on the Flight

Ideally, your pet will relax quietly in a carrier under your airline seat, but if you pet isn’t small enough here are some suggestions adapted from ASPCA to keep your pet safe and secure during the flight.

  • Book a direct flight whenever you can, since this will lessen the chance that your pet’s carrier will be mishandled by baggage personnel during a layover or will be waiting in the plane’s cargo hold too long.
  • Buy a USDA-approved shipping crate that’s large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around in comfortably, and is lined with safe bedding material that will absorb accidents.
  • Identify the crate with “Live Animal,” as well as with your name, cell phone and destination phone number, and a photo of your pet. Also carry a photograph of your pet, or have one saved in your phone.
  • Attach a small pouch of dried food outside the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he or she gets hungry during a layover. Securely close the crate door but don’t lock it. Airline personnel need to be able to open it during an emergency.
  • Tell all airline employees you talk with—on the ground and in the air—that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold. If the plane is delayed or if you have any concerns about the welfare of your pet, insist that airline personnel check the animal whenever feasible.

Can’t Take your Pet?

If flying with your pet isn’t possible, you have many options for care. Here are just a few in the greater Seattle area.

  • Hillrose Pet Resort offers pet boarding, daycare and grooming conveniently located near Sea-Tac Airport. Hillrose Pet Resort serves most breeds of dogs, cats, and exotic pets. In this first-class facility, for example, each dog enclosure has a private, indoor, climate-controlled sleeping area. Each dog kennel is connected by a doggy door to a private fully covered exercise area. All areas are cleaned a minimum of 3 times daily.
  • Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5‑star pet sitters and dog walkers if you’d rather your pet stay home, or stay at a pet sitter’s home. Seattle offers a robust list of sitters on this popular site.

Have Fun, Stay Safe

Once you’ve safely arrived, use pet apps to make the trip safer, easier, and more fun. Here are two we like:

  • BringFido lets you explore more than 100,000 places to stay, play, and eat with your dog.
  • Nuzzle is a collar that provides you with the GPS location of your pet constantly. The device features an activity tracker, so you can monitor how much exercise your pet is getting each day.

Need a Ride to Sea-Tac Airport?

If you and your pet need airport service or transportation anywhere in the region, Shuttle Express is here for you. As Seattle’s local airport and private transportation experts for 30 years, our professional, friendly team gets our guests and their pets to their destination, safely and stress-free. Whether it’s driving you to Sea-Tac and back in a sedan or private shuttle, or providing executive transportation in well-appointed charter buses, our experienced, caring team will make it happen. Book online at or connect with us at