Animals on board: What to look for when animals travel on board

Traveling in the cabin of a private jet is a much better solution for animals than shipping them in the cargo hold of an airplane. However, the crew must be able to handle the animals in a routine and confident manner.

The passenger pet will approach de facto as a four-legged passenger, therefore, high demands are placed on the owner’s well-being. In the following, dogs and cats are mainly referred to; However, the considerations and conclusions reached apply equally and, in particular, to other domestic species regularly found on board private aircraft, such as pigs, birds and rodents.

Now, the pet (although many owners may see it differently and advertisements from the private jet industry indicate otherwise) is still an animal rather than a human on four legs. What we take for granted may seem strange and threatening to an animal. Moreover, the environmental conditions in the aircraft are less tolerant of certain animal species or breeds. In this context, the species and breed-specific susceptibility to specific diseases should also be mentioned.

environmental factors

In the terminal building and in the parking lot, noise (including those that humans do not hear), as well as smells and unfamiliar objects seen by animals, is especially worth noting. This also applies, albeit to a lesser extent, to the aircraft cabin. Once the aircraft, which has four-legged passengers, reaches cruising altitude, the decrease in air pressure, along with the low partial pressure of oxygen and the decrease in humidity, complete the list.


The dog’s hearing range covers the frequency range from 15 to 50,000 Hz, the frequency range of which is up to 65,000 Hz, compared to humans (20 – 20,000 Hz), especially higher sounds are much better perceived. A dog’s excellent sense of smell does not necessarily have to be mentioned. Dogs and cats regulate their temperature by panting. Short-nosed species/breeds have an increased resistance to breathing due to anatomy, as well as protruding eyes.


Low humidity causes dry eyes (again in short-nosed animals due to shallower eye sockets and more prominent eyeballs) and can lead to dehydration. Unfamiliar auditory, visual (hearing, sight) and olfactory (smell) sensations cause stress that can affect both behavior (anxiety and/or aggressiveness) and physiology. Stress hormones cause your breathing and heart rate to increase. In combination with low partial pressures of oxygen when sailing and/or dehydrated animals with low humidity, this can lead to cardiovascular problems.

In addition, temperature regulation is impaired. In particular, the mentioned short-nosed dog and cat breeds have an additional handicap, which in extreme cases can lead to a fatal outcome of the flight for the animal. This is neither in the interest of animal welfare nor in the interest of the customer and therefore the company, which will then lose it. How people react to unfamiliar environmental conditions always depends on the individual animal, of course, although some species and breeds are generally more relaxed and less vulnerable than others. Many animals will relax themselves if the owner/companion is relaxed or if the crew appears to be experienced, and therefore will not be too swayed by unfamiliar perceptions and environmental conditions.

Conclusion for the private aircraft industry

In general, the flight in the cabin of a private plane is much better than in an airplane. Crew must be able to handle animals traveling with them in a routine and confident manner, but also to recognize animals with behavioral problems and/or health-related conditions at an early stage so that they are able to respond accordingly. In addition to knowing the type and handling specific to the breed, this also includes the ability to record vital parameters such as pulse, respiration, and temperature. When booking, clients with an affinity for pets are encouraged to travel with companies that can efficiently handle this complex of topics.

Sebastian Gehrig is a free columnist at aeroTELEGRAPH. He is a veterinarian and pilot (currently working on an A320 with a European airline) and has many years of experience in executive aviation. As a link between the world of veterinary medicine and aviation, it advises private aircraft operators to take adequate care of the pets of the VIPs who fly with them. The opinion of the independent columnists does not have to agree with the opinion of the editors.

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