How to Travel With a Dog on a Plane

Going on trips and leaving your four-legged friend behind can be heart-wrenching for a lot of people. You begin to think of how much they are going to miss you and if the person you leave them with will care for them as well as you would. Some people also do not have the luxury of a dog-sitter or a shelter to keep their dogs till they get back and this can create a serious dilemma for the impending traveler. You could also be moving somewhere else permanently and of course, you would need to carry your baby along. Traveling with dogs can be stressful for novices but hopefully, this article helps ease the fear.



After cross-checking your airlines and finding the best fit for you and your dog, the next thing is to get everything needed to ensure both you and your dog have a successful trip.

Pet Carrier

You first need to find a pet carrier that’s the perfect fit for both your dog(s) and the airline. Airlines usually give dimension limits for your carrier especially if you’re going to be carrying your dog onboard. If you plan to put your pooch in the cargo area many airlines require a hard surface carrier and not one that collapses. Also, note that your carrier usually becomes your in-flight luggage so it’s best to get one with small pockets for stashing important things.

Get a Health Certificate

Even though not all airlines will request one it’s still good practice for you to get a health certificate from your veterinarian prior to boarding any plane. A health certificate simply shows that your dog has had all their shots and is not currently transmitting any diseases. This is especially important when traveling internationally as different countries have different rules regarding pets. Getting the certificate just keeps you on the safe side. Your vet can also help you vaccinate your dog against diseases that are prevalent in your new destination.

Line Your Carrier with DryFur

Flights cause a lot of anxiety in humans and can also do the same for dogs. So no matter how trained your dog is, lining their carrier with dry fur pad can help ease their comforts in case of any accidents.


Easy Identification

Your contact information should be clearly emblazoned around your dog and its carrier as a means of identification. Doing this ensures your dog can easily be returned to you in case of an accident or if your dog went through its journey in a cargo hold. The contact information should include your dog’s name, your own name, phone number, and address.

Favorite Toys

Including your dog’s favorite toys in its carrier can greatly reduce its anxiety while flying and create a source of comfort as it’s a familiar happy object. Include all your dog’s favorite treats, more than enough food and all its bare necessities. The goal here is to make your dog comfortable enough to get through the trip in silence.

No Sedatives

Unless recommended by a vet, sedating your dog before flying is unnecessary and can actually interfere with the breathing patterns of your dog due to the plane flying at high altitudes and different air pressures.


Typical costs


The different airlines have different costs for carrying your dog onboard as they all offer different packages and benefits. But generally, the cost of carrying your dog weighing approximately 20 pounds or less onboard is usually within the $75 to $125 range, with $100 being the average cost. Dogs weighing more than can get charged anywhere from $200 to $400, but all of these prices are determined by the airline and can vary.

Costs for putting your pet in cargo can fluctuate anywhere from $100 up to a whopping $1,000. This is why it is always advisable to contact the airlines first before making any decisions.


Picking the Best Airline

The first thing you need to determine when planning to fly with your pet is what airline you’re going to use. Generally speaking, most airlines have their own rules and regulations when it comes to pet carriage even though there are also general guidelines they have to follow. These rules are what determines if your dog is going to have a nice time flying or a miserable experience.

Before traveling we suggest calling prospective airlines and find out what their requirements are. Some of them request for health certificates, a certain dog age, shots, dog sizes and so on. Other airlines might allow domestic travel but may not allow international travel. Finding all of this out beforehand can go a long way in reducing your stress and can relieve you and your dog of any anxiety.

Some of the best airlines for pet travel are Alaska Airlines, WestJet, Allegiant Air, and JetBlue.

Pets on Alaska Airlines

  • Fees are $100 each way
  • Two pets can travel in one carrier if they meet size requirements
  • Climate controlled baggage compartment

Pets on WestJet

  • Fees are in the $50-$90 range
  • 2-4 kennels per flight accepted
  • Allows large dogs up to 100lbs

Pets on Allegiant Air

  • Fees are $100 each way
  • Two pets can travel for the price of one
  • No health certificate for pets in the cabin

Pets on JetBlue

  • Fees are $100 each way
  • Can earn TrueBlue points
  • A special bag-tag is attached to carrier to let everyone know pet is ready for travel


Other helpful tips

Go early

Going early to the airport ensures you and your dog go through all the paperwork seamlessly and that your dog has been kept properly by the staff of the airline.

Direct flights

Traveling internationally usually involves layovers but if you’re traveling with a dog, springing for a direct flight can save you a whole lot of stress. You do not have to deal with layovers, change of times and extra time wasted.

Size Matters

If your pup and carrier cannot fit under the seat in front of you they likely will have to fly in cabin. Certain airlines will not allow any or some breeds to fly in cargo so that could limit your travel choices. Also, some airlines allow large dog and carriers than other so if you have a large dog make sure you the airline you choose will allow them onboard.

Short Snout Breeds

Many vets believe dogs with short snouts tend to have more problems with breathing. Stress due to flying could cause more breathing issues and even death so many airlines will not allow them to fly in the cargo area.

Watch the Weather

Many airlines will restrict pets from flying in the cargo if it is extremely hot or cold outside. Some airlines have climate controlled cargo areas so look for those especially if you’re flying somewhere with extreme weather conditions.


Direct flights

Traveling internationally usually involves layovers but if you’re traveling with a dog, springing for a direct flight can save you a whole lot of stress. You do not have to deal with layovers, change of times and extra time wasted.