When it comes to traveling by air with your pet, sometimes the hassle simply isn’t worth it. Being held in a cargo bay and transported to and from the plane by unfamiliar hands can be stressful for pets, which makes air travel with an animal more of a chore than a privilege. The John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City seeks to change that.
The World’s First Pet-Centered Airport Terminal
Different airports and airlines have their own policies regarding air travel with pets. Some airlines will allow you to keep your pooch in the cabin with you (as long as he is under a certain size) while others require you to keep him in a crate in the cargo area. Pet parents are often also required to check in for their flights several hours early, which leaves your pet waiting in an unfamiliar area, locked away in a crate with no one to keep him company. At JFK, a new pet-centered terminal will change air travel for pets.
This pet-centered airport terminal, called the Ark, is located in the cargo area of the airport. The Ark is set to open in early 2016 and spans a massive area of nearly 180,000 square feet. Within the Ark, pet parents will be able to take advantage of an overnight pet resort (called Paradise 4 Paws) – they will also have access to veterinary care and state-of-the-art holding facilities. The Ark doesn’t just cater to pets – animals of all kinds including exotics, farm animals, and zoo animals are welcome. The goal of the Ark is to provide animals with a safe and comfortable place to stay while awaiting transport – it will also help to reduce the stress of travel for their human companions. The Ark will be the first airport terminal of its kind.
Tips for Flying with Pets
The Ark will be great for pets that travel through JFK. For pet parents with other travel plans, however, you may still need to follow standard air travel practices concerning your pet. You may not be able to relax in a pet-friendly spa or play a game of fetch in a climate-controlled play area while waiting for your flight, but there are a few simple things you can do to make air travel with your pet less of a hassle.
- Avoid traveling with your pet by air unless it is absolutely necessary, because air travel can be very stressful and unsafe for pets.
- Find out ahead of time whether the airline will allow you to keep your pet in the cabin with you or if he will have to travel in the cargo hold – many airlines allow small pets in the cabin.
- Ask about any special immunization requirements the airline has and check with your vet before you leave to make sure your pet is healthy enough for travel.
- Find out what kind of carrier the airline requires – some airlines have specific requirements (such as soft-sided carriers rather than hard-sided) or will require you to purchase one of their carriers.
- Choose the most direct route possible to your destination to reduce the amount of time your pet has to spend in the carrier (especially if he has to fly in the cargo hold).
- Never fly with a brachycephalic (short-faced) breed in the cargo hold – the short face of breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs make it difficult for them to breathe in the cramped atmosphere of the cargo hold.
- When traveling during the summer or winter make sure that your pet will be protected from extreme temperatures (both hot and cold) – fly early or late during the summer and at midday in the winter.
- Make sure your pet carries proper identification on a collar that will not get caught on the carrier door or anything else – your pet should have an ID tag and a microchip.
- Check with your veterinarian before tranquilizing your pet – you may think that it will help keep your pet calm during travel but it could have a negative impact on his breathing , which can be very dangerous.
If you get a chance to experience the Ark at JFK, LovePets wants to hear from you! For others, check out more tips in our Pet Travel section.