I flew Delta, because the other airlines I was checking into wouldn't allow Sadie in cabin for such a long flight. It was an extra $200 dollars flat fee for international pet travel for an animal in cabin. She was considered my carry on, but I also brought a back pack, with no problems.
Booking the flight - I called Delta and made sure which planes I could have an animal in cabin. Some they don't allow. I booked my flights then called back to inform them I'd be traveling with a pet, because there is a 2 pet in cabin limit, they need to know if you're traveling with one so they can make a note.
Weeks leading up to the flight - I called back to double AND triple check that they knew my dog would be traveling with me. I was terrified that I'd check in ready to go back to South Korea, and there would be some problem.
Documentation I needed for Delta:
This was a little frustrating. When I spoke with Delta on the phone they said they required no documentation, that I only needed to check with the country I was flying into, but when I flew out that was not the case. The Delta clerk checked
- Rabies shot from my Veterinarian
- Health Certificate issued no more than 10 days before flight - check with your airline though, sometimes it has to be no more than 7 days from your flight date
- I also went to the State veterinarian department to get a Small Animal Travel Certificate. I think it was about $40 - I'm glad I had it - but it proved to be unnecessary.
I ended up having to email the Animal Quarantine Service Narita Branch
Animal Quarantine Service Narita Branch
The Quarantine Service was extremely helpful, responded quickly, and granted approval stating that if I was only transitting through the airport, there would be no problems. I printed this to show Delta.
Connecting Airports: I had no problems with any of the airports, or airport staff even stopping me. I thought maybe I'd have to check in every time, but nothing. I even was able to take my dog out for a potty break before our long flight in Minneapolis; however you do have to leave the secure area, so make sure you have time to make it back through the security check. Once on the plane, the flight attendants were surprised to realize there was a dog in the carrier.
Arriving in Busan, South Korea
Finally on arrival into Busan, South Korea - I'd flown in and out of the airport before so I knew where the Animal Importation check in desk was - I got in at around 9:30pm on a Thursday night - and there was NO one working the desk. I asked about animal check in and was waived through. So, I think I got lucky. I showed all my paperwork when I dropped my luggage off in Louisville, and that was the ONLY time.
Bottom Line: I got as much paperwork as I could - both from my vet, and the State Veterinarian. I know every case and every country is different. My advice do the research and double and triple check with both the airlines and country of importation.
To tranquilize or not to tranquilize? I was initially against this because I'd read some posts that vets didn't know the effects of the tranquilizers on the animals at high altitude. However, knowing my dog is a rescue and sometimes has a barking and anxiety problem, AND the vet recommended it, in the end I did tranquilize Sadie. It was a small dose and I only gave her 1 dose the entire 20+ hours of travel BUT I was impressed! :) For both mine and her anxiety levels it was a lifesaver! She was quiet, relaxed, and honestly didn't even sleep - I thought it'd knock her out, but it just mellowed her out! I'll definitely tranquilize her on the way home, just to relieve her anxiety.
Safe travels to you and your pet! :) If you have any questions, I'm happy to help if I can!