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Flying with Rabbits

by Troy Ihrke
With the ARBA convention being in California this year, Dutch breeders on the West Coast are excited about being able to drive to convention. Most times West Coast breeders have to fly to NDS and ARBA conventions. For us, it has become second nature, but for breeders in the Midwest who have never flown with rabbits before, it is a scary thought. It is not as difficult as you may think. I wanted to write this article to encourage everyone to come out to California for convention.
There are two ways that you can fly with your rabbits. Rabbits can be flown as excess baggage or can be shipped cargo. Both ways puts your rabbits in a pressurized area. When shipping cargo it is charged by the pound not how many rabbits or carriers you have. The last time I tried to ship rabbits using United and the rabbits going as baggage they wanted to charge $300 for two rabbits one way. Now with the airlines cutting back and charging more and more for everything, cargo is a better option. So where do you start?
  • Talk to someone who has flown before using cargo. Where did they fly out of and where to? Animals can only be put on large planes and normally those planes don't fly into smaller airports, so you may have to go to a large airport to fly in and out of.
  • Find an airline. This may be determined by where you are flying out and in to. Some airlines do not want to ship animals, so they make the charges so high that you wouldn't be able to use them.
  • Next you need to call and speak to the cargo department of the airline. Tell them that you want to fly show rabbits cargo and where you will be shipping from and to.
    • For example, if you were going to use Frontier Airlines flying out of Minnesota to San Diego, California for convention, you would have to ship out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN and fly into Los Angeles, Ca. since Frontier only flies cargo in and out of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota and the closest to San Diego that they fly cargo in Los Angeles, Ca.
  • Next you would find out what flights are available out of Minneapolis to Los Angeles. They will tell you when the rabbits will have to be dropped off and when they will arrive. It may not be the same flight you will take, which is OK. The rabbits will be kept in the cargo building until you arrive.
  • The airline will tell you the price per pound and the minimum.
  • Then ask what their cage requirements are, most are standard.
    • The rabbits need to be in well ventilated cargoes with a solid bottom and solid top. So a carrying cage with metal or plastic trays and a metal or peg board zip tied on to will do well.
    • The rabbits need to be able to turn around and lay down.
    • They must have feed and water, If you use water bottles they can not be taller than the cage and must be tightly secured to the cage. I recommend double zip tying them.
    • Some airlines do not allow straw, hay or shavings so you will have to use newspaper or puppy training pads in the tray.
    • The rabbits need to have your information on the top of the cage and an envelope with their health certificates taped to the top of the cage.
  • The last time we flew rabbits cargo on Frontier Airlines out of Minneapolis/St. Paul to San Francisco, we flow 8 adult dutch in two four hole carriers, cage clamped together and it cost $110 one way.
The California Dutch Rabbit Club wants to invite everyone to come and enjoy convention this year. There is a possibility that with enough interest the members of the Cal Dutch Club could put a shuttle together to pick up rabbits and take them to the convention center. I would be more than happy to help anyone interested in shipping their rabbits. Just let me know and I can walk you through the process.

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