A Guide to Flying with Your Dog

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Diana Wood

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flying with dog

Flying with a dog can be a stressful experience. From the type of carrier you should use, you should consider many things to try to find the best seat for your pet on the plane. This article will go over some general tips that will help make flying with your dog much easier and more enjoyable!

Before you decide to hop on your next flight with your dog, you need to ask yourself these questions. How does traveling with dogs work, exactly? How much will I need to pay? Is it safe for my dog? Bringing your pup along a plane ride is unquestionably complicated and expensive. Still, you can do it as long as you do your research ahead and follow airline guidelines. 

Note: With COVID-19 now a regular part of our lives, flying with pets, in general, has become more challenging. Some airlines have briefly suspended their pet transportation services during the pandemic. Here’s everything you need to know about flying with your dog.

Dogs On Planes – Pros and Cons of Flying

Before you go through the trouble, think hard about whether it’s essential to bring your dog on this trip. “In general, I recommend not flying with a pet unless absolutely necessary,” tells Justine Lee, veterinary expert for Pumpkin Pet Insurance. “Ideally, pets should not fly unless an owner is moving permanently or taking a long trip—two to four weeks minimum.”

Flying can be a stressful experience for some humans; imagine how stressful it will be for your dog. The unfamiliar surroundings with loud noises, dazzling lights, thousands of humans, changes in air pressure, and cabin temperature can be frightening for a dog. Unless you absolutely need to bring your pet with you on your travels, it may be best to leave them home and hire a pet-sitter, ask a friend or family member to watch him/her. 

Where is My Dog Going?

Though rules vary from airline to airline, most medium-large dogs are typically put in the cabin during the flight. While airlines try their best to make this a comfortable experience for dogs, it’s still pretty unpleasant to them. First, they are separated from you; luggage might stir around or fall during the flight, all that while being caged up.

Yes, hundreds of animals fly in cargo safely every day. Still, there are many unknown variables that you have no control over once you both board the plane. 

Airline personnel are not insured to take special care of your dog. In addition, many travelers have reported their pets being injured in transit or becoming very sick after flying with them. So, again, thoughtfully consider the potential risks before getting those papers. 

Get a Proper Carrier

It doesn’t matter how long the flight will be; you’ll need to get a suitable pet carrier or crate (a comfortable one). Find the list of pet carrier requirements and more here. The crate needs to be firm with plenty of ventilation, robust handles, and a leak-proof bottom. 

Note: mark your pet’s crate with the words “Live Animal” and arrows that confirm which way is up, with a tag containing your name, phone number, address, and destination contact information.

dog carrier

How Much Does It Cost To Fly A Dog?

Tickets are usually around $125 each way for a small dog to fly in the cabin with you. However, the cost to ship your pet (cargo hold) depends on the crate’s weight and size and the destination.

Review Airlines’ Rules And Guidelines Thoroughly

Different airlines have different rules and guidelines when it comes to flying with your pets. Therefore, it’s essential to read them carefully so your pet is allowed on board. Check with your chosen airline to determine which dog breeds they allow on board. Bully breeds such as pit bulls may be entirely banned from flying.

Choose Your Flight Carefully

Opt for non-stop flights and try not to fly during holiday periods when airports are more hectic than usual to reduce the risk of anything going wrong.  Also, most airlines only allow a few dogs on the flight, so ask in advance to make sure the plane has space for your dog before you book your ticket. Look at some pet travel pages for these airlines: Delta, American, United, JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska Airways.

Get A Health Check

Once you’ve confirmed that there is space for your dog and you bought the tickets, head to the vet and get a health certificate. The certificate is only valid for 30 days, so keep it on hand for both your departure and return. 

Consider Your Destination

If you’re traveling internationally, start looking into local animal crossing laws. Many destinations have complicated processes and long quarantine periods—which could separate you from your pet for most, if not all, of your trip. Make sure you do the necessary research before getting your tickets.

Flying Day: At the airport

Make sure to get to the airport a bit early, so you don’t feel hurried.

If you have a large dog flying cargo, try to arrive at least three hours before the departure time for domestic flights and five hours before international flights. 

You’ll likely need to take your pet to a separate cargo drop-off location at the airport, so go through your departure and arrival airport maps beforehand.

If your pet is small enough to fly with you as in the cabin, you’ll need to go to the check-in desk, where an agent will ask for your dog’s required paperwork. 

Note: Follow TSA guidelines for dog security details.

If you’re checking the dog as cargo, attach a current photo of it to the crate and a small bag of food so airline personnel can feed it in case of a lengthy delay. 

Be sure you have a current photo of your dog in your phone, too, so it’s easier to identify should the airline “misplace” your pet. 

Pick Your Dog Up Promptly Upon Arrival

Once you arrive at your destination and have your checked baggage, head straight to your airline’s designated cargo location. Some airlines have checked-in dogs out two hours after the flight’s arrival. They must be picked up within four hours, or they’ll be taken to a boarding facility. 

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Feugiat aliquam sed odio ridiculus viverra erat venenatis, facilisis enim. Amet curabitur etiam fermentum cras proin volutpat vitae cursus cras. Nisl nulla egestas dictum facilisi tristique diam magnis et massa. In tincidunt lacus sem pulvinar. At vestibulum elementum, nisi, facilisis elementum, amet, adipiscing. Enim congue quis est euismod vitae.Risus felis semper urna, convallis ultricies. Odio gravida vel gravida pulvinar commodo nunc congue.

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Feugiat aliquam sed odio ridiculus viverra erat venenatis, facilisis enim. Amet curabitur etiam fermentum cras proin volutpat vitae cursus cras. Nisl nulla egestas dictum facilisi tristique diam magnis et massa. In tincidunt lacus sem pulvinar. At vestibulum elementum, nisi, facilisis elementum, amet, adipiscing. Enim congue quis est euismod vitae.Risus felis semper urna, convallis ultricies. Odio gravida vel gravida pulvinar commodo nunc congue.

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