Taking a rabbit on a plane probably seems like a daunting experience. Rabbits are often prone to getting stressed quite easily, so it’s important to ensure that your rabbit is as comfortable as possible.
Flying with a rabbit requires a lot of preparation, however, it is worth it to ensure that your bunny arrives safe, sound and happy.
- Can my rabbit fly in the airplane cabin with me?
- Can I take my rabbit on an international flight?
- What do I need to do when booking a flight with a rabbit?
- Can I bring more than one rabbit on a flight?
- What documents do I need for my rabbit to travel?
- What rabbit cage should I get and how should I prepare it?
- How should I prepare my rabbit for travel?
I will answer all these questions for you, and provide some helpful tips and recommendations along the way.
Can I fly with my rabbit in the plane cabin?
Your rabbit may be allowed to fly in the cabin with you, depending on the following:
a) The size of your rabbit.
If you have a small rabbit, he/she may be able to join you in the cabin.
Selected airlines will allow rabbits to fly with their owners in the cabin. This is as long as their cage will fit under the seat in front of you.
If you have a large rabbit, then he/she would most likely need to fly in the cargo of the plane.
Normally, airlines won’t permit rabbit owners to buy an extra seat next to them to place their rabbit’s cage. However, there is no harm in checking with the airline to see if it is possible.
b) The airline you fly with.
Many airlines allow small, household rabbits to fly in the cabin of the plane.
However, not all of them do. Some airlines will only permit rabbits to fly on their planes as checked baggage.
Airlines That Allow Rabbits in Cabin
Check the rules for the airline that you are flying with.
c) Where you are flying to and from.
Some airlines only allow rabbits to fly in the cabin of the plane, on certain routes.
United Airlines allows household rabbits to travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin on most flights within the U.S. However, they do not allow pets on flights to, from or through Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand and other locations.
Each airline has different rules, so check these with the airline you are flying with.
Can I fly with a rabbit on an international flight?
It depends on which airline you will be flying with, where you are flying to, stopover countries, and how long your flight is.
Flying internationally between countries will require a different approach than a flying domestically.
You will need to do extensive research for the country requirements, and check the policies of different airlines, as their regulations all vary.
For example – United Airlines does not permit pets on flights to, from or through Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand and other locations. On the other hand, Delta does allow rabbits on flights to and from:
Some airlines will not allow rabbits on extra long flights, as this puts them at a greater risk of harm and stress.
For example – Delta and Delta Cargo do not accept warm-blooded animals on flights with an average flight time of greater than 12 hours.
What do I need to do when booking a flight with a rabbit?
Before you book your flight(s), get in contact with your chosen airline to find out the following:
- Do they accept rabbits on their flights?
- Can rabbits fly in their cabin or in cargo?
- Are rabbits allowed on your specific flight?
- Can the airline reserve a spot for your rabbit on the flight?
Only certain airlines will allow rabbits on their flights, and sometimes they are only allowed on specific routes.
Additionally, a lot of airlines will only permit two pets of any kind in their cabin per flight. Therefore, you should try to reserve a spot for your rabbit on your flight.
For the most stress-free and safest flight for your rabbit, try to comply to the following guidelines when booking your flight:
a) Book a direct, counter to counter, flight.
Firstly, this will minimise stress as the journey will be shorter. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about your rabbit being left in a drafty, hot or cold cargo area in between flights.
If you have to take a connecting flight, you might want to consider shipping your rabbit on a separate, direct flight.
b) Avoid booking your rabbit on a flight during major holidays and on weekends.
During these times, airports and flights will be much busier and therefore noisier.
Additionally, there will be a higher risk of delays.
c) Try not to fly during the hottest or coldest months.
If possible, avoid travelling during extreme conditions. In fact, some airlines will even refuse rabbits on their flights during times of extreme weather conditions.
Can I take multiple rabbits on a plane?
You may able to, depending on 3 things.
a) Which airline you fly with.
Of course, different airlines have different rules and regulations. Where some airlines don’t allow any rabbits on their planes, some allow 5!
Check the policies for the airline that you are flying with.
b) How much your rabbits weigh.
Some airlines limit just one container per customer, and some airlines have limitations on how many rabbits are allowed per container.
Whether your rabbits are allowed to fly together in the same container usually depends on how much they weigh.
c) Whether your rabbits are flying in the cabin or cargo.
Often airlines will have different rules depending on whether your rabbit is flying in the cabin, or cargo.
For example – Air Europa states the following for pets travelling in the cabin:
In a single container up to 3 pets may be transported, provided that they are all the same species and that the maximum size and weight limits are not exceeded.
And the following for rabbits travelling in the airplane hold:
- A passenger may check-in up to 5 animals.
- The maximum number of pets per container is 1. However, a maximum of 2 animals will be permitted when they are of comparable size (up to 14kg each) and are used to cohabiting.
- A maximum of 3 animals from the same litter, up to six months old, can be shipped into the same container.
What documents do I need to fly with a rabbit?
To show that your rabbit is fit and healthy for travel, you will usually need a health certificate for your rabbit.
Furthermore, when travelling to or through certain countries and territories, you may require additional documents.
It’s also important to note that the requirements to leave a country may be different than those to return to it.
What rabbit carrier should I fly with?
The cage that you buy depends on which airline you and your rabbit are planning on flying with.
Additionally, it depends on whether your rabbit is flying in the cabin or cargo.
RABBIT CAGES IN CABIN
Generally, if you rabbit is travelling in the cabin with you, airlines require that cages are small enough to fit under the seat in front of their owners.
Your rabbit travel cage must be spacious enough to allow him/her to stand up, turn around and sit up comfortably. Additionally, there must be room for a water dish, a food dish, and a pillow or blanket.
If your cage is too large to fit under the seat in front of you, then you have two options:
- Fly your rabbit in cargo instead
- Ask your airline if you are able to purchase a seat next to you for your rabbit (not all airlines will allow this)
RABBIT CAGES FOR CARGO
Just like if you were flying in the cabin, your rabbit’s container must be spacious enough to allow him/her to stand up, turn around and sit up comfortably.
However, it should not be too large that he/she risks getting thrown around if you experience any air turbulence.
How should I prepare my rabbit’s travel carrier?
a) Label your rabbits cage.
Stick a note to the side with large letters saying ‘LIVE ANIMAL‘.
Also, include your your name, contact information and destination, in case of emergency.
b) Cover the cage with lightweight, breathable fabric.
This will reduce stress as your rabbits won’t be able to see the commotion happening around them.
c) Pack your rabbit’s favourite blanket or pillow.
For extra comfort and security, be sure to use a blanket that they are familiar with.
Therefore, they will feel more at home in their travel cage.
d) Line the bottom of the carrier
Lining the bottom of the carrier will help soak up any urine. You can use paper towels, or even better, you can use puppy toilet training pads.
Hay will provide your rabbit with some security, as well as a snack!
How can I calm my rabbit while travelling?
a) Familiarise your rabbit with his/her travel cage.
For the most comfortable flight, introduce your rabbit to their travel cage at least a month before your flight.
Give them treats whilst in there and fill it with some of your rabbit’s favourite toys.
It is highly recommended that you do plenty of test runs too. Not only will this get them used to their cage, it will get them used to the sounds that they will experience during the flight. Pop your rabbit in their cage and take them out for a drive, or walk. You could even take them out for lunch with you!
b) Consider conditioning your rabbit.
It is recommended that you condition your rabbits with stress-formula vitamins and minerals for at least a week before your flight, and a week after your flight.
These will help control stress levels. In addition, the vitamins and minerals will make them less prone to getting sick from the flight by averting bacterial infections that can result from stress.
There are a number of different formulas that can be added to your rabbit’s diet. They normally come in either a powdered or pellet form.
Tips for preparing on the day of flight.
a) Pack food and water.
Before your flight, give your rabbit an opportunity to eat and drink.
Popping some hay in their travel cage is recommended, so that you rabbit has a snack if he/she does want to eat.
b) Arrive at the airport early.
Aim to arrive at least 2 hours early. Some airports or airlines may require you to arrive even earlier, so check beforehand.
When you check in at your ticket counter, mention that you have a rabbit joining you.
They will ask to see your rabbit’s health certificate and receipt of reservation. Hold onto these as you may need to present these again to airport or airline staff when going through security or boarding the plane.
If your rabbit is flying in the cargo, stay with him/her as long as possible. This will relieve stress for both you and your rabbit.
- Towels or puppy training pads
- Food – hay, pellets, and vegetables
- Critical care package and feeding syringe
- Water bottle or bowl
- Food bowl
- Litter box and substrates
Okay, so, taking your rabbit on a flight does take a lot of planning. However, it is worth it to ensure your flight is as stress-free as possible for both you and your rabbit.
If you have any concerns for your rabbit, or if he/she has had some problems travelling before – seek advise from your vet.
Hope this has been helpful.