It sounds like it's the only option. You can try using one of the herbal calmers to take the edge off the anxiety. It's a safer route than sedation.
then again, I get the impressions that our airlines are very unforgiving of any disturbances on planes nowadays. They use the "New World Order" anti-terrorism rules to abuse the rights of passengers daily.
So you may have to go ahead and use sedation for the trip. Cabin pressure changes can be very upsetting to an animal, as well as the stress of the trip.
Another option would be to travel by car or train. It would take longer, but be less stressful. Especially if you go by car. You can practice taking Boops out for trips in the carrier in the car. Cats are creatures of habit and the easiest way to make a long trip is to get them used to the idea of travel.
Thank you for the advice. I considered the train or car, but the trip would be so long that I figured the faster we get it over with, the better. We take 25-30 minute trips (to my parent's house) whenever I have to go out of town (about every other month) and he just yells at me the whole time, trying to grab my arm through the carrier. I've read up about the airlines and a small pet in a carrier can be taken on as a carry-on for a little extra cost. He would be with me the whole time, but I worry he will lose control of his bladder or worse while on the plane. He's never been sedated and I don't know much about it. How do cats react to it? Is sedation bad for him?
My mother's cat, Rusty, did not need to use the bathroom while on the plane from PA to Utah. I think when cats are stressed they tend not to pee - they hold it in. He should be okay. Personally, I would ask your vet and find out his/her opinion. I agree with Savas though that perhaps some herbal remedies might work better. I know it's worrisome when our pets become like children to us. I would definitely pay the extra money to have him with you on your flight though. It worked great for my mother! Good luck!