How To Book a Ticket for Your Adventure Cat on Delta Airlines
I'm about to take my first flight!
This March, my missus will fulfill a wish she had since her 20s ― long before we ever met! She's going to Spain and will be gone for an entire month! I would love to go with her, but flying internationally with a pet is complex. She will need to navigate the logistics and European laws successfully to ensure we don't get turned back after a 15-hour-plus flight!
So, what's the plan? She's flying me to Atlanta to spend time with grandma while she's abroad. Flying domestically will give us a taste of what to expect, so she can better prepare for my future trips to Europe with her. She is flirting with the idea of spending 90 days per year in Europe starting in 2024, but we’ll see how that goes.
Are you also thinking of flying with your cat? We still have a lot to learn, but we at least got the Delta ticket down, so we'll share that part of the process.
NOTE: I am NOT a travel agent. I’m just sharing how we booked my flight to Atlanta.
1. Weigh Your Cat
When you call the airline, they will ask you the weight of your carrier and cat. It's okay not to have the exact measurements, but you must at least have a reasonable estimate. If you've been taking your cat to the vet for annual checkups, you know how much your cat weighs. I weigh 12 lbs at every vet visit, so it's an easy number for the missus to remember. The missus added an extra 3 lbs for wiggle room and the weight of the carrier.
2. Choose Your Airlines
Most major airlines now allow you to fly with pets, but they each have their own rules. Here are some of the variations you might encounter:
The size of pets that can fly with you in the main cabin
The number and breed of pets allowed in the main cabin
Whether they allow pets to fly in the cargo area
The size of the carrier you need to fly your pets
The cost of flying your pet
We chose Delta Airlines. They told us they only allow four pets per flight. I must fit under the seat, and the carrier must be big enough for me to stand up and turn around. Once you know which airlines might meet your needs, filter for tickets from only those companies.
3. Opt for Nonstop Flights
It cost my missus five times more to fly with me than without me. My ticket wasn't the culprit. Instead, it was the need for a nonstop flight. My missus has no problem sitting for an extra two hours in an airport or checking onto a second flight. I, on the other hand, might not find it acceptable.
Consequently, she put her big girl pants on and paid for a much more expensive nonstop flight on Delta Airlines. Frontier and JetBlue flights were much cheaper!
4. Call To Confirm the Availability
Only book your flight after confirming availability for your pet. If other people are also traveling with their fur babies, you could find that there is no room for yours. My missus called before booking our flight and braved a 40-minute wait time … TWICE! Surprisingly, there were no other pets on any of the flights we looked at. That made it easy for them to add me.
Let me add that we initially booked via a third-party company and had to cancel. Why? Delta had a hard time making changes to the reservation to add me. This might not happen to you. All the same, I recommend booking directly with the airline when traveling with pets.
5. Review Your Ticket Details
Traveling with your pet will already add extra hassle to your plans. The last thing you want is to discover an issue when you arrive. Review your details carefully to ensure everything is correct, such as your name and itinerary.
Sometimes, you might not receive any written confirmation that your pet has been added to your ticket. Be sure to call ahead again and confirm. Delta assured us I was on the ticket, but we plan to call two weeks or so before our departure date.
6. Buy the Right Carrier
I love my bubble-backpack carrier, but it does not meet the dimension requirements of Delta Airlines. Consequently, the missus has already picked out a carrier that is their standard 18 x 11 x 11 inches. She chose one that was expandable so I could get more room if the plane was empty or we had some wait time before boarding.
7. Review the Pet Importation Laws
Every U.S. state has its own rules about bringing an animal into its jurisdiction. Most states don't set or enforce strict rules for driving a pet or two across state lines. However, authorities tend to be much stricter when flying.
Because every state is different, you must ensure you know and comply with the local laws. You can check the state's .gov website. Calling the airport is a good idea too. We already have my Kitty Passport. Still, we're doing our research to see if we need anything else for Georgia and then again for our flight back to California.
8. Prepare To Pay at the Airport
Double-check when you need to pay for your cat's portion of the ticket. With Delta Airlines, the initial booking is just a reservation. It means that I should have a confirmed spot out of the four available ones per flight. However, my missus will actually pay for that spot when we're ready to fly. Because of the extra steps, Delta recommends arriving a few hours early.
The cost is $95 for each flight, which amounts to $190. Hilariously, the total cost of flying to grandma's house is almost double what the missus paid for her ticket to Spain in October. Note that this Delta flight was at least $200 cheaper a few months ago, but we needed the extra time to finalize our plans.
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Traveling with pets adds extra steps and costs to your trip, but it's so worth it. I will get to spend six weeks with grandma, and the missus has an excellent excuse to see her mom after spending the holidays without her. Sounds like a win-win to me!