Can you take a small dog on an airplane? A Step-by-Step Guide

Consider the kennel

Airlines can have lengthy and detailed requirements for the box your dog rides in, often called a crate, carrier or kennel. Generally, the kennel will need to be large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around inside. Airlines have maximum size requirements. For example, American Airlines allows an in-cabin carrier kennel of up to 19 inches in length, 13 inches in width and 9 inches in height if its noncollapsible, larger if it’s collapsible.

Airlines and animal experts say to reduce stress, it’s important to acclimate your dog to the kennel before flying.

Here are kennel tips from Airlines for America — these are especially important if your dog travels as cargo:

  • Label your dog’s kennel with your contact information.
  • Write “LIVE ANIMAL” on the top and one side of the kennel. Draw arrows or write “THIS SIDE UP” on two sides of the kennel.
  • Put bedding or “absorbent material” on the kennel floor.
  • Attach empty food and water dishes to the inside of the kennel. Ensure they can be accessed from the outside.
  • As checked luggage or shipping cargo

    The other option — and the only option for bigger dogs — is flying as cargo in a pressurized, temperature-controlled compartment not too different from the passenger cabin. These dogs essentially fly as checked bags on the same flight as you or unaccompanied, as shipping cargo, sometimes called manifest cargo or air freight. Again, check with your airline. Delta Air Lines, for example, won’t let you book a pet shipped by Delta Cargo until 14 days before departure.

    The Humane Society of the United States generally advises against flying your dog as cargo, but this is the only option for bigger dogs. Also not all airlines will transport dogs as cargo. Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, for example, offer only in-cabin flights for small dogs and cats.

    Whether you choose cabin or cargo, you must adhere to airline rules about your dog’s age and weight. For example, United Airlines requires puppies be at least 2 pounds or 10 weeks old.

    Using a dedicated pet shipping company is another way to go. You can find one at International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, an industry organization.

    Will I have to pay extra to fly with my dog in cabin?

    You will yes. The amount you pay however, will differ between airlines as they charge different amounts. The charge also depends on where you are flying to and from. International flights usually costing more.

    5 Easy Steps to Get You Ready to Travel on a Plane with a Small Dog!

    When making travel decisions, choose what is safest and most comfortable for your pet. For instance, unless youll be able to spend a lot of time with your dog, theyll probably be happier at home than tagging along on your trip. As a rule, cats are almost always better off in their own home.

    But if you have decided its best to bring your pet along, follow our tips for a safe and low-stress trip.