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Travelling with Pets

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Whether you are traveling with your pet or having your pet transported during your move, here is information from Air Travel for Your Pet (from the U.S. Air Transport Association)

Pets, mostly dogs and cats, can and do travel safely aboard commercial aircraft. This document is designed to provide general guidelines to assist customers with safely transporting their pets by air. Please keep in mind that not all airlines accept pets for travel, either in the cabin or cargo bin. Those carriers that do accept pets for travel have their own pet transportation policy. Customers need to contact their airline directly when making travel plans for their pet. Most airline Web sites will provide detailed information on pet transportation policies. Also, different rules apply for service animals. (You'll want to note which airlines have a no-fly-pet policy during summer months, etc).

 If you transport your pet by air, you must comply with the applicable laws of the country from which you are departing, which are designed to ensure pet safety and comfort.

There are a number of ways to transport your pet by air:
1. First, some airlines will allow you to travel with a small pet in the cabin of the plane if your pet will fit in a carry-on kennel or approved carrier under a passenger seat. For animals other than dogs or cats, contact your airline for its acceptance policy. Note that carriers have very specific rules. For example, a pet cannot have an offensive odor, nor will it be allowed to disturb other onboard travelers and must adhere to FAA rules. Also, the pet must remain in the carrying case throughout the entire flight.
(Note: While passsengers with allergies to animals are expected to declare these allergies when making their reservations, most don't so you may find yourself having to change seats on occasion.) 
2. A second option offered by many airlines is “accompanied baggage,” where your pet travels in the cargo hold alongside your checked luggage. What’s important to know is that the airlines allow you to transport your pet as accompanied baggage only when you are a passenger traveling on the same flight as your pet.
3. A third option available through most airlines is to transport your pet as a “live animal” cargo shipment. In the cargo system, your pet travels either through regular cargo channels or special expedited delivery services that many airlines have developed. Pets in the cargo system are transported in the same pressurized holds as those in the checked-baggage system.

Many airline cargo departments employ pet transportation specialists who can assist you with answers to questions. These methods are safe and humane ways to transport your pet. Contact your airline directly to determine the best option for you and your pet.

Questions to Consider When Your Pet Travels:
Q. Is your pet old enough to travel?
A. Your  pet should be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned before traveling by air.

Q.Which flights are easier on your pet?
A. Whenever possible, book a direct, nonstop flight and avoid holiday or weekend travel. Consider schedules that minimize temperature extremes. For example, try to avoid travel during excessively hot or cold periods. Morning or evening flights are preferable during the summer. In the cargo system, it is possible to reserve space on a specific flight by paying for either priority or special expedited delivery service. Note that carriers reserve the right to embargo pet travel during extreme conditions. Many don't accept pets in cargo during some summer or winter months.

Q.Is your pet healthy?
A. Check with a veterinarian to be sure that your pet is fit to travel. Some species – for example, pug-nosed dogs (e.g., Boxers and Boston Terriers) – simply do not fly well because they may have difficulty breathing even under normal conditions. You will need a health certificate, provided by your veterinarian, in order to comply with the rules of most airlines as well as those of the country of destination. To be valid for your trip on most airlines, the certificate should be issued no more than seven to 10 days prior to departure. Be sure to check with your airline to get the exact amount of time they require before your pet’s trip.

Q.Should you sedate your pet?
A. Most veterinarians advise against sedating your pet since the effects of tranquilizers on animals at higher altitudes are unpredictable. The decision to prescribe a tranquilizer for your pet should be made by you and your veterinarian. If you believe that some form of sedation might be helpful, be sure to obtain and follow a veterinarian’s advice.

Prepare in Advance (see
Q.Do you have the proper kennel?
A. You must follow regulations on the size of kennel for your pet. The kennel must be sturdy, properly ventilated and large enough for your pet to freely be able to stand, turn around and lie down. The kennel must close securely with a mechanism that requires no special tools to operate. The kennel should have projecting rims or spacers to ensure that the kennel’s ventilation slats cannot be blocked by adjoining kennels or cargo. Appropriate kennels are available at pet stores and from most airlines. Remember to check with your airline because airline policies can vary.

Q.Is your pet comfortable in the travel kennel?
A. As far in advance of the trip as possible, let your pet get to know the travel kennel. Veterinarians recommend leaving it open in the house with an old sock or other familiar object inside, so that your pet will spend time in the kennel. It is important for your dog or cat to be as relaxed as possible during the flight. At the time of travel, be aware that most airlines do not permit pet toys in the kennel during transport in the cargo hold.

When your pet travels, the kennel should
- Clearly display your name and address
- Use arrows or other marking to indicate the top of the kennel
- Include food and water dishes (both empty), which are secured inside the kennel and accessible from outside
- Show a food and water schedule and, if any food is necessary, include an ample supply in a bag attached to the outside of the kennel
- Contain no more than one adult dog (or puppy between eight weeks and six months old that weighs more than 20 lbs.) or one cat per kennel. (Two puppies or kittens that are between the ages of eight weeks and six months old and under 20 lbs. Each may share the same kennel if they are personal pets of comparable size and are socially compatible with one another)
- A general rule of thumb is that your pet must be able to stand comfortably in the kennel and be able to turn around while standing in the kennel
- Contain absorbent material or bedding, such as newspaper
- Display labels on top and on at least one side with the words LIVE ANIMALS printed in 1-inch-high letters

Have you made advance arrangements for your pets?
At the time you book a trip on which you plan to transport your pet, advise the airline directly that you will be traveling with a pet either in the cabin with you, as accompanied baggage in the cargo hold on your flight, or as cargo. Be sure to contact your airline again 24-48 hours prior to departure to reconfirm your pet’s transportation plans. This is important since airlines will transport only a limited number of pets on each airplane.
Please note that advance arrangements do not guarantee that your pet will travel on a specific flight. Airlines reserve the right to refuse to transport a pet for reasons such as illness, poor kenneling or extreme temperatures at origin, transfer or destination airports.

Are you traveling outside your country?
If you are flying to a foreign country, be sure to find out whether there are quarantine or other health requirements at the destination.  You should contact the appropriate embassy or consulate at least four weeks before the trip to verify the requirements - see the K4E info page re entry into Korea or below for other websites.

Ready for Flight

Acceptance of Pets by the Airline
An airline cannot guarantee that it will accept a pet that it has not seen. Since an airline cannot transport a pet that is violent or dangerous, important considerations for acceptance of pets include the pet’s health and disposition. A health certificate will help to address any concerns. An airline must also determine that all paperwork is in order and that the kennel meets all requirements.

Food and Water
Offer your pet food and water within four hours before check-in with the airline. Do not overfeed your pet at this time. A full stomach is not good for a traveling pet. When you check in with the airline, you must sign a certification of the time when you last offered food and water to your pet. (Do not leave food or water in the dish in the kennel. It will spill and make travel unpleasant for your pet.)

Arrival and Check-In

Get to the airport with plenty of time to spare so that there will be no rush. If your pet is traveling as unaccompanied baggage or by special expedited delivery service, check-in will usually be at the passenger terminal. If your pet will be traveling through the cargo system, you may need to go to the air freight terminal, which typically is located in a separate part of the airport. Be sure to check with your airline for the acceptance cutoff time for your flight, and the location from which you can retrieve your pet at the destination airport. Note: You may not give your pet to the airline more than four hours before flight time (six hours by special arrangement).

(From Incheon Airport)
Arrive at Incheon airport no later than 3 hours before your flight.
Go to Animal Quarantine on the departure floor before checking in. The quarantine office is the departures area  to the left of Paris Baquette and Gate 7. Show your vaccination & health papers to the inspector there, who will exchange them for official customs documentation. Pay the inspection fee (W10,000-W30,000 depending on type of animal) and get the new form.  See K4E  Leaving Korea with Pets information page.

Security Screening of your Pet
Some countries have regulations that require physical screening of all pets and their kennels whether transported in the passenger cabin, as accompanied baggage or air cargo.
If your pet is traveling with you in the passenger cabin or as unaccompanied baggage, your pet may have to accompany you through the passenger screening equipment at the security checkpoint. You will usually need to remove your pet from its kennel to allow for screening of the kennel or pet carrier. In most cases, the kennel will be subject to the same security procedures as your carry-on luggage or checked bags.
For pets transported as cargo, the airline may require you to remove your pet from its kennel to allow for security screening of the kennel before your pet can be accepted for transport.

Interline Transfer of Pets (Multiple Airlines on One Itinerary)
When your pet travels as accompanied baggage, most airlines cannot transfer your pet from their own systems to a final destination served by another airline. Each airline must inspect your pet at the time it accepts your pet for transport. On a trip involving more than one airline, therefore, you may need to claim your pet at the connecting stop or stops where you change airlines and check in your pet with the agents at the new airline. Be sure to plan adequate time for this transfer. A good rule of thumb is: if you booked your trip through separate airlines or through a travel agent, you will likely need to retrieve and re-check your pet when making connections. If you booked the entire trip though one airline, verify with them whether you will need to re-check your pet when transferring from one airline to another.

However, when your pet travels in the cargo system, airlines can transfer your pet from one airline to another. Adequate time for transfers between airlines will be necessary, so be sure to consult the airlines involved, since you will need to make advance arrangements with the connecting airline. The minimum transfer times will vary by airport and sometimes by airline.

Helpful Tips:
Preparing for your trip:

1. At least a month before your departure, get a crate. It should be a solid one with ventilation on 3 sides and a lip around the outside that will prevent blockage of the air holes.
2. Get your pet used to being in the crate - make sure it becomes a place your pet enjoys - don't use it as a place of punishement.
3. Research the rules - see info above or see the list of website sources given below.
4. Inform your vet that you plan on travelling by air with your pet in a few weeks and that you will be needing her/him to provide the required documentation before your departure. Confirm with your vet that your pet is in good physical shape to travel the time it will take to reach your destination.
5. Try as much as possible to avoid travelling during periods of extreme temperatures either from your departure or arrival points.

When booking your flight:
1. When reserving your space, reserve your pet's as well. Note that most airlines only allow a limited number of pets on a flight, so you may want to book earlier rather than later.
2. When reserving your pet's space, be prepared to give her/his breed, size, weight, as well as the crate dimensions.
3. Ask about the airlines requirements, including health checks and documents. You may have found them on the airline's website, but it's a good idea to confirm that there have been no changes. Get every detail you can think of.
4.  If your pet is traveling in the cargo system, remember that there is a processing period for cargo after arrival, which may vary depending on the airline, the airport, and whether your pet is arriving from a domestic or international location. (Note: You may want to consider a pet travel service since they will pick-up and deliver your pet if you are not at the airport when he/she arrives.)

Before departure:
1. Make sure you've visited your vet within the time frame required by the airline and by the receiving country.
2. Make copies of all the documents you receive and keep them with you in your carry-on luggage. You might also want to scan them and e-mail them to yourself as a back-up, just in case.
3. Exercise your dog in advance of going to the airport so that she will be tired and therefore, less nervous that day. DON"T USE TRANQUILIZERS since your pet's reaction may be affected by the high altitude and you dont want her/him getting sick during the flight.
4. Clearly mark the kennel with your pet's name.
5. In addition to showing your name and address, you should mark the kennel with the telephone number of a person at the destination who can be contacted about your pet. This is especially important if you are sending your pet unaccompanied through the cargo system, because you will not be at the airport to claim your pet upon arrival.  

On your departure day:
1. Make sure your pet's crate contains the following:
- an absorbent blanket or towel to cover the floor
- a non-spillable water dispenser
- two portions of food taped to the outside of the crate in case of delay
- a safe toy (but nothing she can choke on)
- a shirt or something that smells like you to comfort her
- pet ID fixed to the door of the crate with: 
Aslo, as indicated above
-  your name and contact info
-  your pet's name/ breed/ sex/ age/ distinctive markings
- a recent photo of your pet
2. Make sure the crate does not contain anything your pet can choke on or get hooked on. Don't keep her/his collar on during travel.
3. Feed your pet a few hours before travel, not right before. Also avoid overfeeding him/her.  
4. It is a good idea to carry a leash or cat harness with you on a trip so that you may walk your pet before check-in and after arrival, and so that you can secure your pet during security screening. (Do not keep the leash with your pet, either inside or attached to the outside of the kennel.)
5. Your pet may appreciate a last potty walk if you get to the airport early enough. (Note: At Incheon, area C has some grassy spaces and trees for shade; or you can go to the parking area. Please remember to clean up after your pet).
6. Do not take your pet out of its kennel inside the airport unless airport personnel ask you to do so. In keeping with airport regulations and out of courtesy for other passengers, you should let your pet out of the kennel only after you leave the terminal building. Some airports offer special pet relief areas. (For Incheon see #5). Check with your airline or the airport information desk when you arrive at the terminal. 
7. At Incheon, the pet check-in is at over-sized baggage. You may want to ask the flight attendant to confirm that your pet was loaded onto the place, after you board.
8. You will have to declare your pet on the customs declaration forms you fill in and turn in at your destination.
9. If your destination does not require quarantine, have treats and a poop bag ready for when your pet gets through the process of entering the country,
If you have questions, be sure to contact your airline.
Remember: Even under the best conditions, air travel can be stressful on your pet. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian before transporting your pet by air to make sure that your pet is sufficiently healthy to withstand the stresses associated with air travel.

Information Websites:
Bringing Pets into Korea- quarantine/documentation requirements
Bringing Pets into the United States
Information on requirements for bringing pets into about 100 different countries    

Airline Information:
Air Canada
Korean Air
Airline and Country requirements for over 100 countries (including Asiana, Cathay Pacific, etc.)


Editor's Note: The information above is based on the information K4E has available at the time of writing.  K4E would appreciate your feedback should you find out that our information is out-of-date. Contact us at

Last Updated on 2022-02-25

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