First Class Fido: Tips for traveling with your dog

Read up to ensure that traveling with your pet is a pleasure (not a pain).

By Carol Bryant, FIDO Friendly magazine

Worried, nervous or maybe scared about flying? And that’s just you. Imagine what your dog must feel? Sometimes they go into the belly of the beast, not knowing where they are going or what is going on. This is your cue to take control and show Fido the confidence you have about the flight. And the best way to have confidence is to be prepared, and think out all possible scenarios. Need a crate? Check! Need vaccinations? Check! Need a checklist? Check!

Identification tags and a comfortable blanket, boarding pass and vaccination information, leashes and collars: These are but of a few of the mandatory “must haves” on the “Flying with Fido” checklist. Add “dog park” to that list of essentials because airports across the country are catering to the jet-setting canine crew so that Fido has a place to sniff, stretch and unwind pre-, post- or between flights.

Due in part to a 2009 federal mandate requiring service animals that are flying to haveindoor and outdoor relief facilities, dog parks are cropping up across the United States.With airport authorities soon realizing the large volume of pet travelers, the need to caterto the canine clientele emerged. While dozens of airports provide relief areas, FIDOFriendlyuncovered those airports that feature dog parks for layovers and long-leggedstretches as well as some must-have info for flying the “fur-endly” skies!

Curb Appeal

Dogs-pitality southern-style! At George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Continental Airlines offers an onsite kennel with 1,100 square feet of space. There are an additional four pet areasdesignated for Fido’s use. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), 2800 North Terminal Road, Houston, Texas 77032; (281) 230-3100; Fly2houston.com. In LA, X marks the spot at Los Angeles International’s leash-free pet park in addition to five grassy relief stations. LosAngeles International Airport (LAX), 1 World Way, Los Angeles, California 90045; (310) 646-5252; Airport-la.com.

Relocation & Regulation

Flying with Fido has escalated to all new levels thanks to Pet Relocation. From picking up yourpooch to booking airline flights, ensuring a smooth flight and every detail of the plan, doggy moms and dads have a puppy plethora of options. 22401 Highway 71 West, Austin, Texas 78669; (512) 264-9800; Petrelocation.com. The FAA has a set of rules in place for dog carry-onbags when Fido flies beneath the seat. Besides providing a blanket, crush-proof shell, leak-proof bottom and adequate ventilation through the carrier, ensure Fido meets regulations and comfort by checking out the FAA’s website at www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_pets/cabin_pets/. FederalAviation Administration (FAA), 800 Independence Avenue, Southwest, Washington, DC 20591; (866) 835-5322; Faa.gov.

Philadelphia Freedom

Those words ring true for Fido at the Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania. With a total of seven Pet Port areas, fenced-in facilities are available with benches, a faux fire hydrant and plenty of deep mulch surface for a pooch to potty. Philadelphia International Airport, 800 Eessington Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19153; (215) 937-6937; www.phl.org.

Park It Here

Traveling through Atlanta, Fido can unleash his cabin fever at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s newly built 1,000-square-foot dog park. Accommodating two dogsat a time, it is conveniently located near the passenger terminal at the Ground Transportation Center. At Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, two gated pet parks are available. These pit stops are complete with fire hydrants, benches and doggy clean-up bags. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, 6000 North Terminal Parkway Suite 4000, Atlanta, Georgia; (404) 530-6600; Atlantaairport.com. Lambert-St Louis International Airport, 10701 LambertInternational Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri 63145; (314) 426-8000; Lambert-stlouis.com.

Flight Patterns

Travelers are taking Fido with them in flight. According to the American Pet Products Association, close to 72 million US households own a pet and nearly 70 percent of them travel with their pets. American Pet Products Association (APPA), 255 Glenville Road, Greenwich,Connecticut 06831; (203) 532-0000; www.americanpetproducts.org. Taking pet travel to heart, Pet Airways uses a twin-turbo prop plane to transport Fido in individual carriers on the plane. After a Pet Attendant ensures Fido’s on-board comfort, pawsengers are checked every 15 minutes during flight. Pet Airways, 777 East Atlantic Avenue, Suite C2-264, Delray Beach, Florida 33483; (888) 738-2479; www.petairways.com.

JetPaws™

From blue skies to JetBlue, this airline features its JetPaws™ program. Pet carriers receive a bag tag, passengers get special TrueBlue® points for flying with Fido and a free pet travel guide. Fordogs who become ill, in-flight crew will see if a vet is aboard to assist. Coupled with JetBlue’s refusal to allow pets as cargo, FIDO Friendly hands out extra wags. JetBlue; (800) 538-2583; jetblue.com.

Keep Fido Grounded

Check the weather: If it’s over 85 degrees or under 20 degrees, pets should not fly as cargo. Prepare for a pat down. TSA may elect to frisk your pooch, so ensure that your dog permits handling. Never fly a nervous Nellie or a timid Trixie. Pet carriers must be screened by TSA with the dog removed. Be sure the words “LIVE ANIMAL” appear on every side of the crate in large letters. tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1036.shtm.

Stretch Those Paws

Flight Attendants, more leg room (please) and that means for Fido too. The FAA has a set of rules in place for dog carry-on bags when Fido flies beneath the seat. To ensure Fido meets regulations as well as personal comfort, be sure to include in Fido’s carry-on a blanket, crush-proof shell, leak-proof bottom and adequate ventilation through the carrier. Check out the FAA’s website for complete regulations. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 800 IndependenceAvenue, Southwest, Washington, DC 20591; (866) 835-5322; www.faa.gov.

Outer Space & Back

Speaking of carrier, imagine the capsule required to transport dogs into outer space. The first dog to break the Earth’s atmosphere and travel through the universe was Laika, a once-stray mostly Siberian Husky launched into orbit at an altitude of almost 2,000 miles. The Russian space program catapulted Laika to historic proportions and trained her at age three for space travel.

Closer to Earth’s soil, when preparing to travel with Fido, always plan ahead. Ask if your dog is allowed in-flight and if so, what the restrictions are. What is the temperature in the cargo area? What happens if the flight is rerouted or layovers are late? Where do I check on Fido? How much does the flight cost for my dog? What official documents are needed? Ask, call, research and visit FIDO Friendly’s magazine, website and blog for the most up-to-date information.

Fido deserves to have the same service and in-flight experience to get from point A to point B and beyond, and there’re no bones about it!

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