Frequent Does it cost extra to fly with a dog? A Comprehensive Guide

How Do You Book a Flight For Your Dog?

Derek Huntington lives and breathes pet travel. As former president of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) he now runs Capital Pet Movers, a pet relocation and transportation service operating out of Washington, DC.

“If your dog is under 15 pounds, and you intend to bring [them] in-cabin with you, you can tick a box online when youre booking your own ticket, and the price will be added to your total,” says Huntington.

For larger dogs, Huntington says its best to call the airlines cargo department. A company like Capital Pet Movers typically handles the process for you, with fees starting at $150 for document preparation and go up from there, so youll want to factor that into your overall cost.

Most pet-friendly airlines

We did a deep dive into the nine largest U.S. airlines on 11 different variables to find the best airlines for pets. Example factors included whether or not pets were allowed in the main cabin, the cost variance across cargo versus cabin pet travel and the number of pets allowed per passenger.

Heres how we ranked airlines that are pet-friendly.

The top pet-friendly airlines are Alaska Airlines, American and Hawaiian. If flying with your dog is a priority, avoid airlines like United, Delta and JetBlue.

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.

ANIMALS on PLANES? Is your PET SAFE flying in CARGO??? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE

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It’s not always a great idea to take Fido flying, but sometimes you have good reason to do so. Problem is, the logistics can seem overwhelming, with the cost, paperwork and myriad rules and regulations to sift through, many of which are different from airline to airline.

Still, it’s possible to figure it out and for your pooch to have a safe and comfortable flight.

In short, the best advice is to talk to your veterinarian and your airline about what you need to do. But heres what you’re likely to learn when preparing to fly with your dog.