Airports can be a little chaotic. Even the best-planned flights can get a little stressful with long TSA lines, flight delays, and packed airports. When traveling with your pet, it’s important that they’re well behaved. Once you arrive at your gate, how do you keep your pet occupied while waiting for a flight? Read these tips to help keep your pet happy.

How is Your Pet Flying?

There are three main ways your pet can fly with you, as a carryon, as an emotional support animal, and in the cargo hold. In the cargo hold, your pet stays in the crate the whole time, and the airport workers will load your pet into the cargo hold. They do not stay with you at the airport. If your pet is flying as a carryon or an emotional support animal, you can keep them with you in the airport, and throughout the flight, they need to be well behaved and calm during the process. 

CarryOn Pets

Carryon pets should stay in their carrier as per the airline and airport’s rules at all time except during TSA when you will need to take them out of their bags and when using the pet relief area. They need to be calm and quiet. It helps if your pet is familiar with your bag and used to spending long periods in it without making noise. Many airlines have specific regulations regarding carrier size and animal weight (check out Delta airlines emotional support animal policy). 

Emotional Support Animals 

Emotional support animals can sit in their owner’s lap (or in the space in front of their owner’s seat) during the flight and can walk through the airport on a leash. They should be calm, well behaved, non-aggressive in the airport and on the flight. Carriers are optional for emotional support animals. 

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Occupied

  • Exercise beforehand – Help your pet stay calm and relaxed by giving them plenty of exercise before heading to the airport. If your ESA is getting antsy at the airport, walk them around the terminal and stop by the pet relief area.
  • CBD Oil – CBD oil is a natural way to reduce travel-related stress and anxiety in pets, talk with your veterinarian about giving CBD oil to your pet before your next flight. 
  • Non-stinky chew toys – Chew toys are a great way to keep your pet occupied in the airport and during the flight, make sure they’re low scented (other passengers will not appreciate stinky chews) and do not make too much noise.
  • Favorite toys & blanket – Bring your pet’s favorite blanket and non-squeaking toy for them to play with. 

It’s always a rush to get to the airport, check-in and get through TSA, but once you’ve made it past security, there’s often a lot of waiting. Most airports recommend that you arrive at least two hours before your flight, which is extra important if you’re flying with a pet. You need plenty of time to check-in and verify your documents. When flying with pets it’s important to make sure they have plenty to do while waiting for the flight, so they don’t disrupt other passengers.