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How to Travel on a Plane With Your Dog

travel on a plane with your dog

Flying in a post-pandemic world is difficult at best, and a complete nightmare at worst. With new regulations to navigate and increased aircraft delays and cancellations, introducing a dog into the equation can aggravate an already tense scenario. 

As you may expect, not all dogs are permitted on planes, and those allowed may be confined to some areas within the aircraft. So, how do you travel on a plane with your dog? That’s exactly what we’ll discuss in this article!

How to Travel on a Plane With Your Dog

There are two ways that you can bring your dog with you on a flight: cabin or cargo. However, there are limitations for both, so it’s best if you know the specifics before even thinking of getting on board.

Traveling with a Dog in the Cabin

The first option that many pet parents prefer is flying with their dogs in the cabin. As we mentioned, not all airlines permit it. If you’re planning on traveling with your pup in the cabin, they may have to meet the following requirements:

  • Be small enough to fit inside an airline-approved carrier placed under the seat
  • Have proof that they’re updated on all their mandatory vaccines
  • Be microchipped for identification purposes
  • Have all the required health certifications

That said, not all dogs are allowed on board, even if they meet these requirements. For example, brachycephalic dog breeds like Shih Tzus or Lhasa Apsos can be rejected by certain airlines, as these dog breeds often have trouble handling the different pressure inside the aircraft. Keep in mind that you’ll also be typically charged a pet fee, which is around $100.

Tips Before Traveling with a Dog in the Cabindog traveling on a plane

If you’ve decided to travel with your dog in a cabin, follow these tips!

  • To make a reservation for your pet, you should contact the airline or travel company directly.
  • Each airline has its own set of restrictions regarding shipping dogs as baggage. Verify the restrictions with your airline beforehand to prevent headaches along the way.
  • Get your pet ready for the carrier preferably weeks before the trip to minimize anxiety and discomfort during the actual day.
  • Don’t let anyone put your dog in the overhead bin, no matter who they are and what they say. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flight attendant or the pilot themself – if they say your dog needs to go in the overhead bin, it’s better to leave the flight than to risk it.

Traveling With Your Dog in the Cargo

If your dog does not fit in the cabin and is not a task-trained assistance dog, it’s usually resigned to stay in the cargo hold. Living animals are loaded into a pressurized and temperature-controlled room, where they will stay for the duration of the flight.

Some airlines in the US, however, restrict flying pets from May to September due to the heat. This is because the cargo hold can still get quite hot during these months, so pets may have a hard time in their carriers.

Tips Before Traveling Your Dog as Cargo

Here are some tips to keep in mind before deciding to

  • A pet must be transported as cargo if the airline does not accept dogs as luggage in the cabin or as excess baggage in the hold. Make sure you ask beforehand so that you’ll know if your dog will be accepted or not.
  • Once the airline officials have inspected the dog and their kennel, you can use nylon cable ties to fasten the crate door securely. Several airlines already do this, but it’s a good idea to be prepared if they don’t.
  • Just like the other option, you may want to prepare your dog weeks before you travel. After all, if they’re not used to being crated for several hours, it’s going to be a very traumatic experience for them.


Now you know how to travel on a plane with your dog! Of course, the laws for traveling with dogs vary widely. It can be based on the airline, the location, and the dog, so again, do your homework beforehand. If you have a trained service animal, the rules are usually more lenient, so you should contact the airline directly to get their policies. 

Whatever option you choose, make sure your pup is comfortable and safe during the flight. If done properly, traveling with a dog can be an enjoyable experience for the two of you.

For more guides, check out the PetFitness blog!

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