I first flew with Wynston on an airplane back in 2015. I remember being really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be stressful? How nervous was Wynston going to be? What if he got sick? How much of a hassle was the whole process? These were all questions that I’d soon get the answer to, and it took a couple of airplane trips to really get a flying routine into place. While everyone’s dog and travel experience is different, I now have some super great tips for flying on an airplane with your pup. I’ve managed to make airline travel with a canine companion painless and fun. Here are some tips for traveling on an airplane with a dog.
Tips for Traveling on an Airplane With a Dog
Being prepared is the best way to avoid stress on the day of travel. Make sure you research all regulations for the airline you’re traveling with. I have flown on Southwest and American Airlines with Wynston. In my experience, both airlines are extremely accommodating.
Flying Southwest: Southwest is the cheapest way to fly with a pet, as it costs only $95 for the dog each way, as opposed to other airlines which can cost upwards of $125. I’ve found that Southwest employees love dogs, and will allow you to board the plane early if you have one. Southwest boards their planes in “zones” which can give you plenty of time to get seated with your dog if you play it right. In my experience, Southwest window seats have the most space underneath the seat for larger pet carriers.
American Airlines: AA requires a $125 pet fee each way. The middle seat on the AA aircraft have the biggest space underneath the seat for pet carriers. Assigned seating allows for less stressful travel if you’re anxious about getting a seat.
While traveling via each of these airlines with Wynston I have asked if I can pre-board with him. (You know how they ask for passengers who need a little extra time to board? Yeah – jump in there). The employees that I’ve come across have allowed me to pre-board the airplane with no issues when I tell them I have a dog. After all, it is like traveling with a small child!
Research Each Airline’s Policies
There have recently been deadly mistakes made by United Airlines, which have killed numerous dogs. One in particular was the French Bulldog who died on flight 1284 when the owner was told to stow the dog in the overhead bin. The story was absolutely heartbreaking, but the dog’s death was caused by a clear violation of policy. A dog should never travel in an overhead bin. Personally, I’m now going to print out the pet policy for the airline I’m traveling on. Sometimes you cannot trust smart phones to work properly, so I want to have paper with me. It’s terribly sad that I recommend doing that now, but unfortunately it may be necessary. Keep in mind that each airline’s policy’s may differ, so always research whoever you’re flying with.
Make sure you have all of the necessary essentials for chillin’ in the airport and on the airplane. Of course treats for positive reinforcement are a must, as well as a water bottle. I personally always travel with my Kurgo water bottle. You can fill it from a water fountain once you get through security. Other essentials include:
- Collar with updated identification
- Blanket for the carrier
- Bone or chew
- Zen Pets hemp oil for calming anxiety
- Waste bags
- Health certificate or updated vaccination info
- Necessary medications
- Food, including a few extra days worth in case of delays or emergencies
- A hand held fan in case your dog gets hot in the carrier (thanks to Beagles & Bargains for this great tip!)
At the Airport
My favorite dog-friendly airport is Dallas Love-Field. They have a little dog park right outside baggage claim complete with a water fountain, fire hydrant and benches. Be sure to take your dog to do their business immediately before and after your flight. Some airports have doggy potty areas inside, so definitely do your research before hand. Need help? Ask any airport employee for assistance.
While you’re waiting to board the airplane, allow your dog to stretch their legs outside the carrier. You can walk your dog around on the leash, as airports do allow this. You know your dog better than anyone, so I’d suggest doing what’s best for them. I typically just keep Wynston in the carrier because he doesn’t like all the human interaction, or I snuggle with him as he sits in my lap. Allow your dog to drink plenty of water and treat them for being well-behaved.
Let’s talk carriers! Obviously this is the most important factor in getting your dog to and from your destination safely on the airplane. I have three carriers which I have used and recommend.
Gen7Pets Roller-Carrier: I cannot live without this carrier. Although it’s a little bit large and can sometimes barely fit under the seat in front of me on the airplane, it’s worth it. I love being able to roll the carrier, use it as a backpack or make it into a car seat. The zipper windows, easy access to get Wynston in and out, and the adjustable bottom make the Gen7Pets roller carrier completely worth the investment. This is the carrier I travel with most frequently.
Sleepypod Air: All Sleepypod carriers are TSA approved and have been crash-tested to ensure top notch safety. The Sleepypod Air is super high quality and comfortable, and it fits nicely under the airplane seat. I like this carrier because you can easily attach it to your roller luggage so you don’t have to carry it. The Air makes for a safe, den-like environment for your dog, which is great if they are especially anxious.
SturdiBag: Sturdi products are also TSA approved and fit comfortably on the airplane. I like the top zipper portion of this carrier so you can pet your dog or give them treats from the top. The Sturdi Bag has privacy flaps and a cozy insert for maximum comfort.
When choosing a carrier, I’d recommend selecting whatever will work best for you and your dog. Like I said, I’ve traveled with all three carriers and they all work wonders. It really comes down to personal preference. Although airlines have specific measurements that your carrier supposedly has to fit, I’ve never had an employee measure mine. As long as your dog is comfortable and well-behaved, you most-likely won’t be questioned.
Going Through Security
When you go through security with your dog, you will need to hold them in your arms as you go through the metal detector. The carrier will go through the x-ray machine with your other carry-on luggage. After you step through the metal detector, a TSA employee will swab your hands. This test is to make sure you don’t have your dog carrying explosives for you. I’ve never had a bad experience going through security. It’s always been easy, and I’ve even been escorted to the front of the line because I have a cute dog 🙂 I also make sure to have Wynston’s vet records on hand just in case they ever ask for it. Better to be safe and prepared.
Check your airline for specific breed policies. For example, some airlines won’t allow Bulldogs to fly on the airplane at all during certain times of the year due to potential respiratory issues.
I recently found out that airlines will not allow dogs on board the aircraft if the temperature at the final destination is below a certain threshold. Keep this in mind before making your final travel plans, and be sure to check your airline’s policies.
Traveling with a dog is an extremely fun, rewarding experience. Once you fly an an airplane with a dog for the first time, it’s a breeze after that. I used to be nervous every time I flew somewhere, but with Wynston that anxiety is mostly non-existent. So tell me, have you ever flown with a dog? What are some tips you would add?