Traveling by plane vs. car

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LavenderAndMe

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Hi everyone!

I’ll be traveling for 1-2 months and want to take my rabbit. I started traveling for long periods of time and taking him with me last year during the pandemic. We took cars each time for several reasons including society’s collective need for socially distant travel options, it was about the same price as flying, and being that he hadn’t traveled before, I thought a car would be less stressful. However, now car rental prices are increasing and are likely to be twice as much round trip as the flight and airline pet fee, so I am thinking more seriously about taking Lavender on the plane. I’m hoping others might have experience they can share with me. Here are my questions:

1) Like most rabbits, Lavender hates to be held so I am terrified that he would jump out of my arms as we are standing in the security line. We’d be flying from NYC so obviously the airports are very busy, and you can be waiting for several minutes from the time you put your bags through the machine until you get them back out on the other side. As such, I’d hope to do a private screening. Has anyone done this? I understand TSA is obligated to offer them, but do they make it a process to actually get one? Does it necessitate arriving at the airport even earlier?

2) When we drive, it is about 25 hours in the car split over 2 days. I set Lavender up in the backseat with his litter box, food, and water. He doesn’t move much when the car is moving but will when we stop for bathroom breaks and food. Other than not moving or eating much while the car is moving, he doesn’t seem too stressed by the trip. He hops right out of his carrier at our hotel between the two days and has never needed more than half a day or so to get his full appetite back after the trip. Does he seem like a rabbit that could stand the stress of an airport and plane? Does the 2 day car trip not in a carrier seem more stressful than a 7-hour air travel day (3 hours in flight, 4 hours with commute and security) in his carrier?

Thanks!
 

Moonshadow

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Honestly to me, if he isn’t bothered too much by cars I’d do the car trip right now. In the US way too many flights have been delayed or cancelled because of ‘shorthanded staffing and overbooking.’ I’d be worried that you as a person can’t get on a flight let alone bring your bunny. I have heard that some people have had a lot of difficulty getting their rabbits on flights (even if agreed on before) since there is a severe lack of communication. If they did allow him on they might separate you from your bunny and put him in cargo (just be aware).

If you do take a flight, do not take Spirit or American Airlines. They were cancelling hundreds of flights one month ago for an entire week. Also, never put the bunny into the upper overhead bin area in the cabin. There is no air there. A United Airlines attendant in 2018 forced an owner to put their 10 month pug puppy in that overhead compartment and it was dead by suffocation when the plane landed.

I’m not trying to scare you but just want you to be fully informed.
 

LavenderAndMe

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Thanks! I didn’t think about the current situation with flights in the US. I would be flying United, as that’s the only airline that allows rabbits and has direct flights between my start and end point. Spirit might, too, but like…I would never haha, alone or with a pet. And agreed, I would never allow them to put him in cargo or in the overhead.
 

#SirThumpsAlot

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We do road trips with our bun all the time. We have a decent size carrier and will even set up his litter box on the back seat so he has his space. Pretty much open roam on the back seat to himself. But he is also just fine in his carrier for shorter drives.
 

LavenderAndMe

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We do road trips with our bun all the time. We have a decent size carrier and will even set up his litter box on the back seat so he has his space. Pretty much open roam on the back seat to himself. But he is also just fine in his carrier for shorter drives.
Thanks! That’s what I have done with Lavender so far, too. Have you taken your bun on a plane and did he seems to handle it as well as being in a car?
 

#SirThumpsAlot

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Thanks! That’s what I have done with Lavender so far, too. Have you taken your bun on a plane and did he seems to handle it as well as being in a car?
We have not taken SirThumps on a plane but surely some day we will! Please share your experience if you take Lavender on a plane. I would think they would be just fine, although take off might make them uneasy!
 

Moonshadow

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Definitely go a little early to get through the airport lines and security area to make it easier in that case. It would probably just make it less complicated and then you'll have plenty of time to talk to airline people if you have questions. You also might want to call United Airlines to tell them you plan to bring your bunny because they might require you to bring a pet carrier that you can put under the seat. It's best to personally ask the airline any specific extra requirements though since they're always different. That way you can make a checklist so that everything goes as smoothly as possible. (I think I read somewhere, one airline required owners to buy a seat for the bunny. I don't think that was United airlines though.)

If you bunny's is generally handles stress pretty well the change in air pressure when you go up probably won't mess him up too badly especially if he's used to car rides.

Sorry for all this information. My aunt worked for American Eagle (before it got taken over and ruined by American Airlines) so I've heard a lot of stories about complicated scenarios that my aunt would have to fix. And that was all before covid and all the situations got even more messed up from that.
 
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I have never traveled with one of our rabbits, but I did witness airline staff give a woman a hard time trying to fly with a cat. Her hard sided carrier was too big (though she said she purchased it based on their websites specifications) and she ended up buying another plane ticket just for the cat!
 

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