Just the other week, Delta Air Lines had a dog apparently flee from its custody while changing planes in Mexico City. Then there was Vivi, a prized Whippet that somehow got separated from her cage at New York's JFK while on her way home from the Westminster Kennel Club Show in February 2006.
If you do decide to fly commercial with your pet, here are some important tips:
Decide on cabin or cargo: Figure out what's best for your animal, but do not assume the airline you scored cheap tickets with accepts pets. Read the website carefully before you buy.
Make Pet Reservations: This is especially true for cabin travelers. Many airlines accept only five or so pets per flight.
Breed Alert: Some airlines will not carry certain dogs in cargo, especially short-snouted breeds such as pugs or bulldogs.
Weather Watch: If you're traveling to frigid cities in winter or hot spots in summer, check the airline's pet policy. Some won't carry animals in cargo during weather extremes.
ID and Paperwork: Be sure you know what the airline requires in terms of health documentation, and bring the paperwork with you. And plaster your animal's name and your contact info on every piece of paper and on the pet carrier.
No Drugs: The American Veterinary Medical Association says no to sedating animals that are going to fly, and Pet Airways, for example, will not accept any animal that appears to be drugged (sedatives can adversely affect balance and equilibrium, as well as create respiratory and cardiovascular problems).
No Food: It's generally recommended that animals travel on "an almost empty stomach."
Carrier Notes: Your pet's carrier must be large enough for the animal to stand up in, and turn around in or the airline won't accept the pet. And make sure your pet is familiar with the sensation of being in a carrier. Non-crate trained animals may balk and bark.