Discover the 3 Ways Your Dog Can Travel On An Airline Without Causing You Grief

  • 07/02/2020
travelling-dog-on-plane.jpgIf you are a dog owner, one of the biggest problems you can have, is what to do with your dog when you are travelling.

If you are travelling by air, during the holiday season or at any other time for that matter, your dog could present a big problem. You might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of your dog travelling on a plane especially if you have not done this before.

You will be happy to know that there are ways for your dog to travel, regardless of how big they are or where you are going.

Basically, there are three ways that your dog can travel with the Airlines:

In the cabin with you

As checked baggage

As cargo (this isn't as bad as it sounds)


First and foremost you need to know that dogs that will be travelling in the cabin may require a reservation. Airlines want to make sure that only a specific number of dogs are booked on each flight. It is always a good idea, before you consider travelling, to contact your airline about their pet regulations and make arrangements for your dog in advance.

Dogs, and other pets, are generally taken on a first come, first served basis. What this means to you, is that if too many dogs are going to be travelling in the cabin, you may not be able to take yours in the cabin, and your dog may have to be checked and travel as baggage.

If you are able to get your dog booked into the cabin, there is one thing you need to understand...pets are NOT allowed outside of their carrier at any time during flight. They must remain in their carriers, that have been placed under the seat in front of you.

On most airlines the maximum size for cabin pet carriers is 19" long x 13" wide x 9" high. If you have a soft-sided pet carrier, it may be somewhat larger because they are more flexible. If you are going to have a soft-sided pet carrier, make sure it is constructed of water-repellent, padded nylon with mesh ventilation on two or more sides.

For the comfort of your dog, they should be able to stand up in the carrier, turn around and be able to lie down in a natural position.

As you carry your dog to the counter, keep in mind that a pet carrier counts as either a passenger's one carry-on bag or personal item.


Your dog may be too big to fit under the seat in front of you. You still have an option for your dog to travel. You can send them as CHECKED BAGGAGE. To you, this may, sound just horrible, but keep this thought in mind, the airline is committed to providing your dog as safe and comfortable a trip as possible.

The process for checked baggage is different then in cabin travel. You need to take the dog to the reservations desk where they will check them in, just as with your large suitcases and other checked luggage.

You will find that most airlines do not require reservations for a dog that is being checked as baggage. It is always a good idea to call the airline just to confirm that there will be room for our dog.

You also need to check the weather for your departure point and your destination. Most airlines will have restrictions on temperature. Check with your airline for their exact weather restrictions.

Your dog's carrier must be constructed from rigid plastic, wood, or metal with solid roofs. The carrier needs to have wheels that can be removed, must have handles on the outside of the carrier, has to close securely but not with locks.

Attach a sign on the carrier that says "LIVE ANIMAL".

Your dog needs to have bedding in the carrier as well as paper towels in case they "potty".

Don't forget the food and water. Food and water must be in dishes that are attached to the inside of the carrier. The bowls have to be accessible by the baggage loaders.

The maximum weight for dog and crate combined is usually 100 pounds. Carrier maximum size will be about 40" long X 27" W X 30" H.

Even If You Can't Make The Trip, Your Dog Can Still Travel On An Airline AS CARGO.

Many times a dog will have to travel by itself. Airlines do this all the time and will take extremely good care of your dog.

Just following a few basic rules of thumb will be very helpful in making your dog's trip safe and comfortable.

  • Your dogs shots must be up to date.
  • Check the weather at the departure and arrival points and other points in between.
  • Reservations are recommended for your dog 3 days prior to the departure date.
  • Locate the cargo area for your airline and check the hours of operation.
  • Bring your dog to the cargo area 4 hours before the flight
  • Crate size should be around 40 X 27 X 30
  • Put food and water in bowls that can be attached to the inside of the crate
  • Have a lease in case you have to remove the dog during an inspection by a TSA representative.
  • DO NOT sedate your dog
  • Place bedding in their crate so they are comfortable

Travelling on an airline with your dog doesn't need to be a traumatic affair. A little planning, gathering of information and following the regulations, will go a long way toward making your pets travel safe and comfortable.

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