I've traveled with pets in the past i.e. taken a hamster and beagle to Spain when we moved to Madrid. Both made it in great shape. But, Moonshine the hamster nearly didn't make the trip as we didn't tell the airline beforehand that he/she (?) would be accompanying us.
A kind ticket agent made an exception also making it possible that our daughter who was determined not to go unless Moonshine went, came along too.
Many airlines, including Alaska Airlines, allow small animals to accompany passengers in the cabin. Larger animals travel in a “climate controlled baggage” compartment. I emphasize this because be aware that some animals have frozen to death.
At the bare minimum, you must make a reservation for your dog or cat if they are too large to take on-board and will be traveling in the climate controlled baggage area. Every airline is different, so it is up to you to call ahead and make sure the airline is aware you will be traveling with your pet and also what the specific requirements will be.
A few things the airline may specify are the type of kennel used. My heart was breaking for a family that was told in Anchorage that their kennel didn't meet the airline requirements. Fortunately, the airline had a kennel that could be substituted. It's stressful enough for most animals to fly and you don't want to add to that stress.
Other common things an animal might need is a current health certificate and if the airline needs to transfer it to another airline. Some airlines won't transfer animals.
Also be very careful if you tranquilize your pet. More than one pet has died due to being too heavily sedated. Sorry! It's sad, but true.
I've seen comments on the web that you can't take your pet to Hawaii, but that doesn't appear to be true. You can, but need to be aware of their government requirements. There has never been a case of rabies reported in Hawaii and they want to keep it that way so your animal could be quarantined or released to you the same day.
If you do ship a pet in cargo, be sure to make it comfortable by putting its name on the kennel, putting a blanket or pillow inside and a piece of your clothing for the comfort factor as well as food and water.
Have any hints for fellow travelers? Please comment below.