Flying with Dogs

Can I fly with my dog?

Flying with your dog is more complicated today, much like air travel can be for us humans. Gone are the days of simply putting your pup in a travel crate, shuttling him off with your checked luggage, and retrieving him at the baggage claim upon arrival. This is a good thing. Yesterday’s airline travel was unsafe and scary for our furry friends. Today, depending upon the airline and the size of your dog, you may choose between bringing your dog with you into the cabin or having Fido travel in the cargo hold. Generally speaking, it is safer to keep your dog with you in the cabin than having him ride in the cargo hold; however, airline policies regarding dogs also differ depending upon the dog’s size, breed, and temperament. Federal regulations require pets to be at least eight weeks old to fly.

How do you travel with a dog on a plane?

If you’re flying with your dog, be sure to book your airline tickets early, as some airlines restrict the number of pets allowed on a flight. Also, be aware that there are usually fees associated with flying a dog, and airlines charge anywhere from $75 to several hundred dollars each way, depending upon the size of your dog. Try to purchase direct flights, as connections and switching planes can result in additional stress and trauma for your pup (think flight delays, broken aircraft, fumbling baggage handlers, damaged dog crates . . .). Be sure to reserve a non-exit row seat if your bringing your dog into the passenger cabin with you, because pets are not allowed in exit rows. Also, it’s important get to the airport early to exercise and potty your dog preflight. Some airports have special doggie-do areas beyond the security checkpoint to allow Fido one more chance to “go” before takeoff. It’s a good idea to research what amenities are available for your dog at the airports you are flying to and from, as you may decide to book your tickets based on those amenities. Sometimes it’s worth driving a further distance to another airport if it would mean less stress for your dog.

Is it safe for dogs to fly in cargo?

Some airlines will allow your dog to fly with you in the passenger cabin if your pup is in a carrier or crate that can fit under the seat. Other airlines only allow dogs to travel in the cargo hold. If your dog has to fly in the cargo hold, The Animal Welfare Act requires that cages and other shipping containers meet the minimum standard for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation, and design for safe handling. (Sky kennels provided by the airlines meet these requirements.) Also, it’s important to consider the weather when flying with your dog. In winter, it’s best to fly during the day to ensure the warmest possible temperatures for your dog in the cargo hold. In the summer, fly early or late in the day to avoid the midday heat. Depending upon the length of the flight, regulations may require that you ensure that your dog has water or food in the crate.

Speak up!

Both you and your dog deserve a safe flight. Don’t be afraid to ask your flight attendant for help. When you board the plane, try to tell the pilot and a flight attendant that your dog is in the cargo hold. The airlines already have a system for providing this notification, but it is a good idea for you to remind them.

Flying with your dog along can make a family getaway all the more fun, but it’s best to prepare for traveling with a dog on a plane.  Understanding what you need to do before booking your ticket is important to ensure a smooth trip for you and your furry travel companion.

If you have any questions about flying with your dog, book an appointment to consult with a TelePAWS online vet.