Leaving on a Jet Plane
Flying with your poodle is much easier if your poodle is small enough to fit in a carrier in the seat in front of you. If you have a Standard Poodle, she'll have to fly in the cargo hold of the plane. Both modes of doggie travel require you to make reservations in advance. Some airlines may not allow dogs on their planes at all, so it's important to double-check the airline's policy before buying your tickets.
Flying in the Cabin
If you're going to take your small poodle in the cabin with you, you must make a reservation for her. Airlines limit the number of pets they allow in the cabin on any given flight. They also charge a fee for carrying a pet on the plane, though they don't charge for other types of carryons.
When you call to make the reservation, find out exactly what kind of documentation might be needed at check-in. Sometimes the airlines don't ask for the documentation, but if you are asked and don't have it, you and your poodle could be turned away. Typically, you need to have a veterinary exam and a letter from your vet stating that your dog is healthy enough to travel.
An airline called Companion Air is being established specifically to cater to pet owners. The planes hold six people and up to twelve pets, and part of the cabin accommodates crates for the pets, who are allowed to visit with their owners one at a time during the flight. It can be pricey, but it's definitely a cut above the noisy cargo hold.
Flying as Checked Baggage
Your poodle can fly in the cargo hold with the luggage on your flight. Be sure to check with the airline in advance about their individual regulations. Tell the representative that you're traveling with a dog when you make the reservation. And call twenty-four to forty-eight hours before the flight to confirm — pets are prohibited when temperatures are extreme, so it's wise to check close to the flight to make sure your dog will be allowed.
Put a big sign on your poodle's crate saying that there's an animal inside. Make the sign a bright color so that you will easily be able to identify the crate from a distance. List all your contact information, including a cell number (if you have one) and a phone number at your destination. And put your dog's name on the crate — it will help him to be viewed as an individual, not baggage.
Should I tranquilize my dog before he gets on the plane?
No. The airlines discourage it, and a recent study has shown that tranquilizers don't help calm a stressed dog in flight. And on top of that, half of all flying-related deaths are attributed to sedation and its effect on respiration and the ability to regulate body temperature.
In the gate area, watch out the window for the crate to be loaded onto the plane. Seeing it being loaded even before you board the plane will be reassuring. If you don't happen to see the crate being put on the plane, after you board you can notify the flight attendant that your dog is in the baggage hold and ask her to make sure the dog is on board before the plane takes off.