Travel Tips Tuesday: Traveling with Your Falcon…and Other Tips for Bringing Your Pets Along
Traveling with animals can be daunting – and expensive. While the FAA decided to allow a Vietnamese pot bellied pig on a flight as a service companion (and apparently waived the first class fee!), airlines rarely go out of their way to make it easy for you to bring pets on board. Many airlines allow small dogs in carrier cases that fit beneath the seat in front of you, but transporting your St. Bernard from California to Delaware can be a (slobbery) mess. That said, there are a number of surprising rules around pets on flights. Did you know that Etihad Airways allows falcons in its main cabins? The airline allows up to two falcons per guest in first and business class, and one falcon per guest in economy class.
The fastest birds in the world.
While there are amateur falconry clubs for sport and hunting in the United States, in Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Arab, falconry is a highly esteemed sport. Falconry’s roots lie in the nomadic Bedouin traditions in the area (Bedouin tribes used falcons for hunting, to supplement their diet with small game), but the sport has become a pastime worth millions of dollars.
To protect falcons from illegal trade, the UAE has issued falcon passports, and most falcons are microchipped. If your falcon falls ill while traveling, you can even take it to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, established in 1999, which is one of the largest avian hospitals in the world. Over 6,000 falcons visit a year.
Thinking of traveling with your falcon (or other pet?)
Before flying with any pet, it is important to contact the airline directly to learn about rules and requirements. Here is a list of good resources to check out if you are taking your pet skyward:
- The ASPCA offers a comprehensive list of things to do and think about before flying with your pet – including making sure all vaccinations are up to date, and attaching a photo of your pet to the top of the carrier for easy identification. Booking as direct a flight as possible is important as well to minimize air time.
- In addition to a solid list of considerations, do’s and don’ts while flying with pets, Ifly.com features a chart showing several popular airlines in the US and their rules around flying with pets. Jet Blue and Spirit airlines come in as the least expensive options for bringing smaller animals on board.
- If you have to check your pet along with your luggage, where does it go? Pets that are too big to carry-on will go as cargo, in the hold of the plane. While many airlines ship pets year round in a climate-controlled cargo area, there may be restrictions as temperatures climb too high or fall too low. In the US, airlines are governed by the Animal Welfare Act, which only allows pets as baggage between 45-85 degrees F. Animal Planet offers more information on pets as cargo.