Pet Travel Routine: Flying with a Cat In-Cabin | What to Expect

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hey guys welcome back i'm chelsea Dinan

and in today's video we are gonna be

talking about travel but not just any

kind of travel in today's video we're

gonna be talking about how to travel by

plane with a cat before we get into that

there's somebody very special that I

would like for you to meet so Stella

can be here everybody meet Stella she's

very shy so if she doesn't love to be on

camera but this is Stella I've had her

for quite a few years now she has made

four out of my five cross country moves

with me and many road trips

lots of plane travel so she travels by

playing my car not by motorcycle but

she's a champ and the reason I'm

introducing you to her today is because

she's a really big part of today's video

and all that I've learned about

traveling with a cat if you are a cat

mom or a dog mom or dad or a dog dad

right then you know how special our

little furry friends are they're a part

of our family and Stella is no exception

and never leave her behind so just

wanted you to meet her you want to get

down you don't want to do the rest of

the video with me know you got stuff to

do people to see okay I'll let you go

all right so Stella has been traveling

by plane with me since 2013 so she's

become quite the champ quite the pro but

I was definitely not a champ when I

first cut started flying with a cat as

I'm sure you can imagine it's pretty

daunting and somewhat intimidating to

think about traveling by playing with a

cat there's a lot that goes into it I

had no idea what to expect and so I've

created this video just to give you an

overall idea of what you can expect

leading up to your flight and the day of

travel I've also written a pretty

detailed blog post all about this which

I will link to over on Chelsea dining

calm so that you can check that out

after this video is over in case you do

want some more details I've broken this

up into three separate sections the

first section is going to be

about booking your flight the second

part is going to be about how to prepare

for travel and the third will be the day

of travel what to expect both at the

airport and on the plane I'll start off

by saying I've only used Southwest when

I've been flying with Stella before so

all of my personal experiences and

opinions will be about Southwest

Airlines this video is not sponsored but

Stella and I definitely love flying the

Southwest now going from there please

keep in mind that every airline has

different policies and rules not every

airline does allow pets to travel on the

plane with you so be sure to do your

research before booking any flights

rules and regulations are constantly

changing so even what I say today for

Southwest might not necessarily apply in

the future so I can just be sure to look

into everything before you book check to

see if they allow pets to be in cabin

with you or if they can only travel by

car go Southwest as of right now is an

airline that allows pets to travel in

the cabin with you only one thing to

keep in mind when you're booking your

flights is you might want to consider

only direct nonstop flights I've done

both with Stella where I've travelled

non-stop or I've had flights that have

lay overs and personally I just prefer

having a non-stop direct flight it

shaves some time off of your day I've

always flown coast to coast with Stella

so it's already a really long day and

the other thing you want to check before

you book your flight is what the rules

and regulations are in terms of size and

breeds not every size and not every

breed is allowed on the flight so be

sure to check on that then once you have

chosen the airline that you will be

flying with with your cat you will want

to call the airline reservation number

and let them know which flight you want

a book and also let them know that you

will be traveling with a pet it's a very

quick process whenever I call Southwest

I just let them know the flight that I

want to book and I let them know that

I'll be flying with a pet they'll

usually ask whether it's a cat or a dog

and then they'll tell me the fee to pay

and they'll keep in mind that the fee

generally for most airlines is one way

so if you have a round-trip flight

you'll have to pay both times the reason

why it's so important to call the

airlines to make that pet reservation is

because many airlines have a pet quota

for example as of right now

Southwest allows six pets to travel on

board each flight so you just want to be

sure that the flight you will be flying

on has not already met that quota all

rights moving into the next part

preparing for travel the first thing

that you'll want to do is check to see

if your pet is up-to-date on all of

their vaccinations if they're not you'll

want to get them into the vet as soon as

possible to make sure that they are up

to date some airlines do require you to

bring proof that your pet is up to date

on their vaccinations so check with your

airline to see if you will need those

documents this is also a really good

time to check with your vet that your

pet is safe to fly the next thing that

you want to check is what the size

specifications are for the pet carrier

every plane is different and the last

thing that you want is to show up and

find out that your pet carrier will not

fit under the seat in front of you I

ended up having to buy a specific

carrier just for Stella to use on

Southwest flights because the one that I

had normally been using for her was too

tall so I'll go ahead and show you the

one that I got for her all right so here

is Stella's carrier I will link to this

below if you're somebody who travels

with Southwest a lot because this

definitely works this carrier has this

front zipper size so she can either go

in that way or it has this top section

as well this is what I usually use when

I have to get her out to go through

security it's a little bit easier to

maneuver her from the top there's also

this back pocket where I'll usually keep

some of her extra food or a leash if I'm

bringing that with me again you can find

the link for that Sherpa pet carrier

down below pet identification if your

pet is not microchipped then you'll want

to get a customized nametag for their

collar that has your contact information

on it this is just a precaution in case

anything happens and the two of you get

separated and I mentioned food just

briefly I will usually pack either a

little baggie or a Tupperware with some

extra dry food for Stella and this is

again in case there are any delays or

any cancellations just knowing that she

has some food with me it's great but

once we do get to our destination I will

have that food ready to go and so when

traveling from the airport to wherever

we're going I'll offer her that food and

many times children nibble some of that

up and then the last thing to do before

the travel day is to start getting your

cat acclimated both to their carrier and

to traveling around if you do end up

buying a new carrier just for plane

travel like I had to I highly suggest

getting your cat acclimated as much as

possible to that carrier

I know Stella does not like carriers she

freaks out whenever she sees that come

out of the closet so I know that there's

only so much you can do I know that many

cats don't love carriers and don't hang

out enough so one thing that I suggest

is going for a long car rides like your

cat in their carrier this will get them

accustomed to traveling with you to kind

of some of those bumps along the road

and also get them accustomed to their

new carrier so this is always something

that I recommend whether you're gonna be

making a long road trip or a long flight

it's always best to get them as

accustomed as possible all right so all

of that out of the way and it is the day

of travel be sure to pick up their water

and food bowls several hours before

leaving for your flight and the reason

for this is just to give them a time to

digest and to use the facilities many

people ask me whether or not I sedate

Stella before flying and the answer is

no I never have now I am pretty

fortunate to have a cat that travels so

well she's just very calm never makes

any noise gets lots of compliments but

I've never sedated her and I can't tell

you what to do I would recommend

speaking with your vet about whether or

not that will be safe for your cat like

I mentioned earlier Stella's very smart

she doesn't like seeing her carrier and

so when she sees my suitcase come out

and she sees me kind of being off of my

normal routine she knows something's up

and she doesn't like it if your pet is

the same then you might want to take a

couple extra precautions I will usually

go and shut a lot of the doors that

she'll usually run behind to go hide she

likes to go hide under my bed so I'll

pull that door shut

maybe you'll be best for you to keep

your pet comfy in the bathroom you can

leave them a blanket or maybe one of

their pet beds just so you know where

they'll be this will save you a lot of


potential headache when it comes time

for you to leave and you can't find your

cat so once you get to the airport now

what again this will vary a little bit

depending on which airline you travel

with I will give you kind of the lowdown

on how it works with Southwest so when I

arrive at the airport I've already

checked in but I'll need to either print

my boarding pass and or check-in my bag

here's something to note about that

check with your airline to see how many

bags you are allowed to travel on board

with including the pet carrier so for

example with Southwest you can travel

with your pet carrier and one other

personal item but that's it so I always

have to end up checking my bag but with

Southwest two bags fly free not

sponsored just saying so I will often go

up to the self-service kiosk and check

my bag print my boarding pass or what

I'll do to kind of kill two birds with

one stone is I'll go stand in line for

the ticket counter I will take my bag up

and then my ID and as they are pulling

out my boarding pass I will let them

know that I'm also traveling with a pet

now this should be on your reservation

since you've already called and let them

know but sometimes they don't catch it

and if they don't catch it and they

don't pay don't think that you've gotten

away with it because once you go to

board your flight then there will be

issues you'll have to go back check your

cat and then get out of line you don't

want to do that so just make sure that

you let them know that you are traveling

with a pet then with Southwest they'll

tell me how much I owe I give them a

credit card once the payment goes

through they will fill out a little

paper tag that I attach to the pet

carrier that just has my information on

it so this is confirmation not only that

I have paid that pet B but also that

again in case we're separated my

information is on her pet carrier all

right so now for the tricky part going

through security security can be tricky

enough just as a human so going through

security with an animal it's going to be

an adventure I will walk you through

what you expect as you go through

security now as you get up to the bins

and you start to place your shoes and

your other items your laptop your Kindle

everything into the bins you'll want to

wait until the last possible moment to

take you

cat how did the carrier you do need to

take your cat out of the carrier and

you'll be carrying them through with you

so I get everything on that conveyor

belt and I ends up at the top of my

carrier and gently try to pull Stella

out again this is where it's gonna get a

little bit crazy because when people see

that you have a cat a lot of times

you're gonna start to hear the oohs and

ahhs and oh it's her knee and what kind

of cat is that she's so cute and as

lovely as that is it's just not the time

the place to have a chat if your cat is

known to be a bolter or a runner you

might want to attach a harness and a

leash just as an extra precaution

because it's obviously very noisy and

somewhat scary and there's a lot of

people around and if your cat does not

like it who knows what could happen so

just really be careful here once you

take your cat out of the carrier I will

usually hold Stella kind of like this

I'll kind of cross my arms over her just

to keep her as tightly held as possible

then I'll wait for the TSA agent to

motion me through I will walk through

the metal detector so you will be

walking through the metal detector not

the x-ray machine when you're holding

your pet you'll walk through the middle

detector and then they will tell you to

hold they'll have another TSA agent come

up to you I'll take this little white

thing and scan over your hands so they

will ask to see your hands as you're

holding the animal again this is kind of

tricky so here's what I do since I'm

holding Stella usually like this they'll

ask to see my hands and I just kind of

flip my hands out like this and while

I'm doing that I'm kind of squeezing

Stella inward so she knows you're not

going anywhere I guess you could also

just flip one hand out at a time so that

you're not releasing that hold on your

cat so then once they scan your hands

they will have you walk over with them

to a computer monitor and ask you to

hold while they scan it now at this

point they're just checking for

chemicals illegal substances that could

be traveling inside of your cat this

usually takes just about a minute or two

and then once you're clear to let you

know and you can go back to put your cat

back in the carrier first and foremost

collect your other items and be on your


boarding is pretty self-explanatory with

Southwest since you get to pick your

seat just keep in mind that when you're

traveling with a pet you can't sit in an

exit row and you can't sit in a seat

that doesn't have under seat stowage in

front of you so again this is where your

cat is gonna feel like a total celebrity

because people will notice the little

pet carrier usually in the flight

attendants will and they'll ask that's a

kitty or a doggie and what its name is

again so you can give your cat those

five minutes of fame as you make your

way down the aisle and then as I find my

seat the first thing I do is get Stella

all right ladies government the forward

and three door has been blow so make

sure that I have this zipper facing me

because there's two sides so that

carrier that I have and only one of them

has a zipper and that's also the side

that has the full screen so I can see

her so I make sure that's facing outward

towards me then I will situate my

backpack next to her I always travel

with a backpack and I just shove

everything in that including like a

little tiny cross body purse and

Stella's carrier that's my personal item

and my cat so once I have my backpack

placed next to her just to kind of give

her a little bit of stability in case

there is any turbulence I get everything

else situated and then it's time for

takeoff now I think takeoff is the

scariest part for me so it's got to be

the scariest part for our pets too just

because it's so abrupt so loud and very

sudden plus that extreme change in

altitude so usually what I'll do it's

really the only thing you can do because

you can't comfort your pet I'll just put

my foot there where she can kind of see

it so that she knows I'm still there I

don't know if it helps her or not but

makes me feel better

occasionally probably about once an hour

again depending on the length of your

flight I will just unzip a little

portion of her carrier and stick my hand

in there and I'll usually feel her

little nose and she'll sniff around and

then she'll be done so this is just my

way to check in with her to see how she

is but to also let her know I'm still

here you're okay I haven't left yet I

didn't just put you on some crazy

spaceship and then if you do need to go

up to use the restroom or anything you

can just leave your pet there underneath

your seat then once we've arrived I will

usually pick Stella's carrier up put it

on my lap put my backpack on and also

usually unzip it then and just let her

know we're here talk to her just so she

hears my voice and it was everything's

okay again overbearing cat mom then

that's it off you go off the plane

Stella's is great but I don't think

she's happy right now so I can't wait to

get her out of the materia

she won't even turn around to look at me

then after that I find my transportation

and that's usually when I unzip Stella's

carrier place my hands in there just

give her a good snuggle and you should

offer her some food as well that's it

you did it congratulations be sure to

give your pet extra snuggles and love

and treats for job well done I'll be

sure to link to that blog post if you do

wants more details and some cool

pictures have you traveled with the pet

before let me know in the comments below

what your experiences have been like and

if you have any questions about

traveling with a cat you can also leave

those in the comments and I will do my

best to help if you want to follow more

of my travels as well as tell those

travels you can follow me over on

Instagram at Chelsea dine-in thank you

so much for being here I'm wishing you

and your pet many safe travels ahead and

I will see you guys next time