Pet Care – Happy Landings for Your Pet II
Once you have the paperwork figured out for your pet’s air travel to or from Costa Rica (see Howler article Part 1 in November issue), you can focus on the logistics.
Expect to do a lot of research before booking flights. Be patient and be glad that most of the answers you need to make decisions can be found online — if not from web pages and document links, then through the contact information for e-mail or telephone inquiries.
Almost every consideration relating to where, when and how your pet travels, as well as what airline, depends on the type of animal, size and in some cases, dog breed. For Costa Rica, there may be differences in pet travel circumstances or policies between Liberia and San Jose airports. Time of year may be a limiting factor for specific airlines or airports. Pets may not be accepted during peak tourist travel periods or when seasonal temperatures are too hot or cold.
Selecting airlines and flights is usually more straightforward if your pet is small enough to travel with you in the passenger cabin. Generally, this applies to animals weighing less than 10 pounds whose standing height is accommodated by a pet carrier (typically soft-sided) that fits under the seat. However, pet size and weight restrictions, as well as carrier style and dimensions, vary by airline. Always VERIFY WITH THE AIRLINE in advance to ensure your pet is eligible for cabin travel and the carrier is suitable.
Similarly, airlines have stringent requirements for the size, design and construction of hard-sided kennels when larger pets travel in the checked luggage or cargo compartments. Again, CHECK WITH THE AIRLINE to be sure your pet’s kennel is compliant. Do not assume a kennel is “airline approved” on the basis of a retailer’s assurance or manufacturer’s label. Generally, your pet should have enough kennel space to stand and turn around comfortably. Instructions are widely available for measuring your pet to determine kennel size.
It’s also advisable to clarify whether larger pets travel in the same aircraft compartment as checked luggage or the cargo hold. Find out everything you can from the airline’s website on pet travel, or by speaking with a knowledgeable representative.
Certified service dogs with appropriate identification are allowed to travel with their owner in the passenger cabin. Emotional support pets may also be permitted with a letter of proof from a mental health professional regarding the owner’s condition.