Many may have wondered whats entailed...pun intended? 😜 when wanting to relocate like my situation or travel safely with your furry or in my case feathered friend too. I was living on Oahu in Hawaii for the last 5 years roughly and brought my bird with me to island which was much harder than getting him off island....can go into that another post. Last Thanksgiving I rescued a kitty named Simon off the streets in my neighborhood and of course was bringing both him and my bird Sammy with me to my move back to Chicago. Question is now how to do this in the best safest way possible. I will explain and tell you what worked wonderfully for us!
So of course lots of preparation and organization goes into doing anything successfully without a hitch...and this is no exception. A bit over ambitious thinking I can bring both my kitty and bird with me in cabin? You bet! But that's how I roll and if there is a will there is a way. I flew with United to island initially which was only my bird and I, but United now has restrictions on certain animals and birds are one of them and don't fly them at all anymore so United was not an option anymore and personally never liked United anyway. So I checked around and asked and the two airlines that constantly came up with Alaska and Delta. I checked out Alaska and they didn't fly to Chicago from what I believe was the case so my only real airline was Delta and that became my focus.
Delta has very clear and simple rules and guidelines on their website ( https://www.delta.com/us/en/pet-travel/overview )regarding everything about traveling with your furry and feathered loved ones. Everything from types of carriers to be used, rates, animals allowed, etc. Very detailed and user friendly website to get well informed. What I always recommend doing is reading thoroughly and then following up with them on the phone and get confirmation about everything you are wanting to accomplish with your journey. I did this multiple times double and triple checking literally every single detail as this was a vital HUGE move for me off island and could not afford literally any hiccups.
Normally you are allowed one pet per person on your travels. There is a $125 fee for bringing your pet along for the ride in cabin and that's basically it for the charges. For Simon kitty who was my emotional support animal they fly for free. You do have to buy an airline safe carrier for them and what I found out is Delta actually sells their own so would highly suggest purchasing directly from Delta so you know there are zero issues because Delta's name in on them and of course won't turn their own carriers away. I actually had a friend give me one and brought it into the airport in Honolulu one night about a week before my reservations to inquire with an agent if I was good in regards to the size, etc. So if any doubts at all do just that....bring the carriers you are planning on using into the airport and talk to an agent with the airlines you are flying and have them sign off stating that all will be good...many people suggesting doing just this and it worked like a charm and had so much more peace of mind going to the airport on my travel day. The agent was super nice and helpful and suggested to check out theirs that they sell and brought one out. He was kind enough too to mention he was just at Petco and theirs were less than what they were selling. So pro user tip buy one from Delta and be done with it knowing they can't say a thing because their name is on it. I bought one for my kitty Simon and I will talk about my bird Sammy and what was needed for him too next.
So for the carrier for my bird Sammy I ideally wanted a hard carrier for a few reasons. One he was familiar with them, but also because I didn't want him to get smashed of course being under the seat in cabin. Another thing you can ask and they will provide are the measurements for under the exact seats you are sitting in. I opted for their Delta Comfort+ seating which was a bit more, but definitely worth it and gave them and me the extra space that was really necessary.
So this is not SO bad traveling with one animal right? But now my situation was traveling with two by myself both in cabin! What I found out when booking my reservations with Delta is that if I bring one animal on as a pet for the $125 fee would I be allowed to bring another pet too as an emotional support animal. The answer is yes. The agent checked with her supervisor and the people apparently in that area for pet arrangements and basically an emotional support animal flies with you for free but does not count as a pet in cabin under the seat. So essentially what the airlines are concerned with is that your carry on in under your seat and above the overhead bins. And since you can't put kitty or birdie up above of course the only option for one passenger is under your seat. The tough part for myself is that if my bird is in the hard blue carrier under my seat where does Simon my emotional support kitty go? That answer is on my lap! Simon is not officially trained for this, but I do have a diagnosis of social anxiety and this move off island for me and my pets was SOOOOO stressful and a massive source of anxiety for me so having both of them in cabin with me was such a relief...although still very stressful. I knew with the kitty he would need something to restrain him a bit if on my lap so if spooked by anything he wouldn't go running off. At first I thought a simple harness would work...which it probably would have but felt I wanted something a bit more secure and safe for my Simon. A friend recommended this...Thunder Kitty shirt. The way this works is it applies pressure to the animals pressure points relaxing them and in my cats case basically rendered him useless meaning he didn't really want to move. This was perfect for sitting on my lap in a noisy hectic new environment and felt great about the choice I made exchanging the harness for this. And who doesn't want to fly with a Thunder Kitty!!! 😸
So the cat is pretty much sorted...he has his Delta carrier approved and sold by them...he has his ThunderShirt to keep him safe and calm and restrained while on my lap. Now we need to address what the cat needs to fly in regards to paperwork. For cats the concern flying from Hawaii to the mainland is rabies. So 10 days prior to our flight we had to make a vet appointment and get the health certificate filled out and Simon had to get his rabies vaccination. Really pretty simple. Now for the emotional support side of things for myself there is a section on Delta's website which states exactly what is needed in regards to paperwork and is relatively straight forward. The link to it is here. https://www.delta.com/us/en/accessible-travel-services/service-animals
There are 3 forms you need that are required by Delta. First is the form for your psychiatrist to fill out stating what your diagnosis is and their information which should be again straight forward for them to make sense of and fill out. Delta has this very simple to me and stream lined which made things that much easier. The second form is the form for your vet to fill out. Again straight forward and your vet should easily be able to make sense of everything necessary. Don't forget with the vet you will need this form for the emotional support animal you are bringing as well as the health certificate paperwork. The health certificate and rabies shot for my kitty came out to be around $200 which was more than I hoped for, but not much you can do about it. The third and final piece of paperwork involved for the emotional support animal is a form stating they have been properly trained. For myself having a cat no real formal training was done so I simply signed. This is more for a dog service animal making sure nobody gets bit which apparently happened once before on a Delta flight where someone got bit in the face. 😬
The bird for flying off island literally needed no medical paperwork or anything at all other than having a carrier they allowed and a perch for him to sit on with food and water available to any pet you bring in cabin naturally. They suggest putting one of those absorbent diaper type pads in the bottom of the carriers just in case anyone has an accident it can be quickly absorbed and replaced if needed.
So people think this can't be done or "Noway can you bring both a bird and cat on the plane with you!" for my experience. And yup you can and I did and safely got everyone home with me to my new Chicago home.
Some tips about all of these types of journeys are to be nice and kind and patient with everyone you encounter because things are difficult enough no need to make it harder on yourself or your pets. Try and keep a low profile because not everyone loves cute cats and birds and puppies believe it or not. I had some snide comments being made and just dismiss them and let them go keeping only one eye on the prize which is getting everyone back safely. Keeping a low profile with a squawking parrot in the airport was not the simplest for my experience, but I kept smiling the entire time and had fun with it the best of my abilities.
I really hope this helps some people traveling with their furry and feathered Ohana which is family in Hawaiian for those not familiar. Aloha and some images below show what was needed for this journey to be a success. You can always message or email me with any questions you may have.