Traveling with your Pet Rabbit by Airplane

DECIDING TO FLY WITH YOUR PET RABBIT.

When given the option to either subject my pet rabbit to a 24-hour drive or a 2.5-hour flight, I decided the flight was the “lesser of two evils”. My rabbit, Meadow does not do well in the car. Even on a 10 minute drive to the vet, he shakes and shutters as if he is having a mild heart-attack. So although I was nervous about the “unknowns” of how he would handle himself on a flight, I knew that he would never make the drive.

Obviously, if you do not have to take your rabbit on the trip with you, don’t. If you are going on a vacation, find a pet sitter. Have a friend stop by and visit and keep an eye on your bunny while you are away. If you are moving to a different city or state, then you will have to weigh your options. Some rabbits, particularly young ones, will do just fine in a car for a long drive. Make sure they have a comfortable bed (some towels will do fine) and plenty of hay. And since the water bottle will probably leak as the car bumps on the road, make sure you take plenty of breaks to let your rabbit have water.  Find a pet-friendly hotel for the night when you stop and never leave your rabbit unattended in the vehicle.

FEED YOUR RABBIT LAVENDER BOTANICAL HAY.

I learned an incredibly helpful tip, courtesy of The Brookdale Pet Center (Bloomfield, NJ)….BOTANICAL HAY. The night before the flight, feed your rabbit a meal of just botanical hay. The ingredients include lavender, and will relax and mellow your bunny and take away any of your rabbits’ pre-flight jitters.

CHOOSING AN AIRLINE THAT LETS YOUR RABBIT FLY IN-CABIN.

First matter of business when you decide to fly with your rabbit is to choose an airline that is going to let you take your bunny in the cabin. I traveled with Continental Airlines and they were wonderful. Although the rabbit’s “seat” cost around $200, they were very kind about letting me board and it seemed well worth the cost.  The other passengers were surprised to see a rabbit boarding the plane and were also very kind to this nervous Bunny Mom!
When you get to security let them walk the rabbit through with you. I got a ride on one of those carts to get to the gate as soon as possible. At the gate, I took him out and pet him until it was time to board. Thankfully, the lavender hay seemed to keep him nice and calm!

PURCHASE THE PROPER AIRLINE-SPECIFIC CAGE FOR YOUR RABBIT.

You have to get a carrier that will fit under the seat and the airline should have specific dimensions of the carrier.  A tip I learned about flying with rabbits is to get a cage that has a “sliding door” on top. I was able to reach down, albeit uncomfortably, and pet Meadow to let him know I was there and to check that  his breathing was normal and he was fine.

MAKING YOUR RABBIT COMFORTABLE ON HIS FLIGHT.

Make sure your rabbit is comfortable during the flight. The in-cabin air can sometimes be cold, and below the seat may be drafty, so make sure he has plenty of comfortable bedding. Because flights are bumpy, it’s a good idea to put a nice heavy blanket between the cage and the cabin floor, to lessen the impact of any turbulence. Also make sure your rabbit has plenty of hay and treats for the flight, and a water bottle on the cage if you are on a long flight, because you will not be able to take the rabbit from its cage.

Meadow flew from New Jersey to Florida successfully, and did really well. The car ride from the airport to our new home, now, that’s another story!

  • Rachel

    I’m always a nervous bunny momma and in two weeks I’m taking both of my pairs (with the help of a friend) on a flight from Seattle to Denver while my husband drives. We are moving. I’m nervous, but hearing your bunny did just fine, even when he doesn’t like the car is comforting. 3 of my 4 would jump out of the carrier and explore while riding in the car if allowed, so maybe they won’t be as traumatized as I fear…they’ll also have each other I suppose.

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