Taking an airline trip with your dog is exciting for both you and your four-legged best friend. Planning ahead of time means everything will ready once the day arrives. This preparation will mean more time for your own enjoyment on the trip and fewer headaches along the way. The more prepared your dog is for the adventure the less stress or worry you both have because when we know our dogs are safe and content than we are able to relax too. Many people are frequent travelers, and oftentimes this means flying with your dog. This travel is exciting, but requires planning ahead of time.

Two of the most common questions we receive about flying with your dog is: is it safe to bring my dog on an airplane? and how do I go about flying with my dog?

The short answer to safety is in most cases, yes it is safe. Most airlines today will allow Fido to fly with you, however, there is usually a limit to how many dogs are allowed on each flight. There are also regulations and rules that you must follow in order for your dog to be allowed to board the plane with you.

Read on to learn tips for what you need to do before the plane, at the airport, and during flight for flying with your dog.

Before Your Board the Plane

Planning to fly with your pet needs to begin before you even get on board the aircraft. There are some important fees and requirements that should be your chief concern. Those things include:

  • Extra Boarding Fees: Most airlines will charge an extra fee for your dog to fly.
    For example, United Airlines will charge $125 for pets to fly and Southwest Airlines will hit you with a $95 fee. Plan ahead and be sure you are willing to pay the price.
  • Kennel Requirements: Airlines will require your pet’s kennel to be a certain size to fly onboard the flight, otherwise they will have to fly your pet with the luggage in the belly of the plane.The standard size for a kennel to get on a plane without having to be stored underneath is 17.5″ x 12″ x 7.5″. If the kennel needs to be bigger your dog will need to fly in the belly of the plane. Most airlines also cap the weight of the dog flying in the cabin at 20 pounds.
  • Be Sure Your Pooch is Vaccinated: Your pet must be vaccinated for rabies and have a certificate to prove that they are up-to-date. Some countries will also require you to have proof that the dog is free of tapeworm and ticks as well.
  • Be Sure There is Room For More Pets: Most airlines limit the number of pets allowed on the flight. United Airlines limits each flight to 4 pet carriers and Southwest Airlines caps it at 6. Check ahead to avoid disappointments.

Getting Through the Airport

Your dog is subject to the same screening and security checks by the TSA as humans. Getting onto the flight safely is key to getting you both where you need to go. To that end, be aware of these items:

  • Your dog may walk through the metal detector with you (they are required to go through screening before boarding the flight).
  • Know that according to TSA rules they can never ask you to put your dog through the x-ray machine that carry-ons go through.
    However, the TSA can ask you to remove the pet from the carrier so the carrier itself can run through the x-ray machine.
  • If you have a skittish pet, it is highly recommended that you request to be screened in a closed room in case your pup makes a dash when you open the cage.
  • Consider keeping other carry-ons and electronics that have to come out of your carry-on to a minimum so you are free to take care of your pet.

Tips While you are Flying with Your Dog

Now that you have gotten through the airport, it’s time to board the flight with your dog. If your dog is not a frequent-flyer they may be a bit anxious and scared. If your dog is an anxious flyer possibly consider the following:

During In-Cabin Travel:
  • Understand that your pet must stay in their carrier at all points during the flight. At no point during the flight may your pet leave the pet carrier on most commercial airlines.
  • Once the plane is in the air, keep the pet carrier at your feet rather than under the seat in front of you to help keep your pet closer to you.
  • Pay full attention to your pet during the flight by putting your fingers into the cage through the bars. This lets the dog smell you and know you are near. It lets them know they are very safe.
  • Take an article of clothing you have slept in and put it in the pet’s carrier. This allows them to have your smell near to them as possible.
If Your Dog Must Travel Under the Belly of the Plane:
  • Take an article of clothing you have slept in and put it in the pet’s carrier. This allows them to have your smell as close to them as possible. This is especially helpful as you are not physically present with your dog at the time of the flight.
  • If you have a connecting flight(s) discuss the possibility of meeting your pet at the airport between flights. This will allow you to provide water,  let them out to use the restroom and see you.
  • Clearly mark your pet’s carrier to indicate that there is a living animal in it. This informs airport employees so they can handle the crate with greater care.

With proper planning, there is no reason that most pets without special medical conditions should be able to fly. This means that your furry friend can come with you wherever you want to go!

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