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Important Airline Guidelines to Follow for Flying With a Small Dog or Other Small Pet

Updated on March 20, 2018
Cyndi10 profile image

Cynthia researches and writes about a variety of topics including travel, family, business, gardening, beauty, and health & wellness.

Travel has come a long way for pets, especially flying with small dogs or pets.
Travel has come a long way for pets, especially flying with small dogs or pets. | Source

Flying with a Dog or Other Small Pet Can be Easy and Safe

Very few of us like to leave our small dogs or small pets behind when we travel. In the past, if you were flying, the usual option was for your dog or pet to fly in the cargo section of the plane, not always the most accommodating place for your pet, especially not your small pet.

In fact, there can be many reasons you may prefer to fly with your pet rather than leave it behind. Here are a few of the guidelines and the approximate costs for some of the airlines that allow your pet in the passenger cabin:

1. Check with your vet to see if your pet or breed of dog tolerates flying and then start flying with your pet early so that they can become accustomed to flights and being in a carrier for an extended period. It may be difficult to suddenly take a trip with a seven year old dog who has never been on a flight or even transported in a carrier.

2. Once you are onboard with your pet in the proper carrier, be sure the flight attendants are aware of your pet. In recent news, a flight attendant mistakenly instructed a passenger to put their carrier with their pet in it in the luggage compartment for the three hour flight. Sadly, the pet died. If you have made the proper calls in advance, the flight crew should be aware that you have a pet, however, things can slip by. You are your pet's advocate. Be respectful, but be clear that you have your pet with you.

3. Remember to turn the carrier so that your pet faces you. It's less stressful for your pet if he can easily see hear and smell you. The pets are usually so inconspicuous you hardly know they are there. One airline reservation employee mentioned that in all of the times she has traveled, she has never known when there was a pet in the passenger cabin during that flight. I've seen passengers on one flight sitting with their pet in their lap, but I wouldn't have known it was a pet it was so still and quiet. I wouldn't advise doing this - there were obviously special circumstances here.


Domestic flying with small dogs and pets is easier. Who could leave this face behind?
Domestic flying with small dogs and pets is easier. Who could leave this face behind? | Source

Choose the Best Airline for You, Your Pet and Your Wallet

Delta Airlines can have up to four pets that fit in specified carriers on any one flight. When making a reservation, it is best to call the airline and tell them you would like your pet to travel with you. The cost will be $125.00 one way. During the trip, the pet must remain in the carrier, under the seat in front of you.


Southwest Airlines also allows pets to travel in carriers under the seat in front of you. The cost is $95.00. For your convenience, Southwest Airlines has the correct size carrier available for purchase at some ticket counters or it can be purchased at Southwest Airlines’ online store. Again, it is necessary for you to call the airline to let them know you would like to travel with your pet. They will provide instructions to make that happen.


If you choose to fly Air Canada to your destination, the policies mirror those of the other airlines. The cost ranges from $50 - $100 for your pet to fly in a designated carrier placed under the seat in front of you. The pet must remain in the carrier at all times.


According to their website, United Airlines allows a variety of pets in the passenger cabin as long as they fit in an approved hard- or soft-sided carrier. The carry-on pet can include domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits and even household birds with the exception of cockatoos. Call the airlines for question when booking a reservation.


Small pet rabbits will fit neatly in a carrier under the seat.
Small pet rabbits will fit neatly in a carrier under the seat. | Source

Things have changed in our attitude towards our pets and in the airlines attitude about them flying with you. There is now the option for your small dog or pet to fly with you. After all, if it’s a vacation you’re destined for, think of how much fun it will be to watch Fido frolic in the waves on some sandy beach alongside you and the kids.

And if you are moving, it may be impractical to drive to your new home. That means a flight for you and your pet. Besides, boarding your pet for an extensive stay can be costly and not to mention unsettling and stressful for you and your pet.

Check the pet flying policies and then decide which airline is going to be a match for you and your pet. It is also a good idea to check with your vet to see if your breed of dog tolerates the stress of flying.

Also check the rules of entering another country with a pet when flying international. There may be regulations that apply.

The bottom line is that pets, like the rest of us, are mobile, too. Airlines have stepped up to accommodate that reality with a lot more care and consideration for the pet. There can be pets on the plane, in the passenger cabin with you, provided they are small enough fit in a proportioned, airline approved carrier. We don't like to leave our pets behind.

Happy flying!


Pet Flying Costs at Some Domestic Airlines as of January 2017

Airline
Policy
Cost
Delta Airline
Call airline ahead of time
$125.00 one way
Southwest Airlines
Correct carrier available for purchase online; call airline
$95.00 one way
Air Canada
Designated carrier under the seat
$50 - $100.00 one way
Note that airline prices and policies are subject to change.

Do you fly with your small dog or other pet?

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© 2017 Cynthia B Turner

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    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      7 months ago from Georgia

      The airlines are usually very helpful in making arrangements for individuals who use wheelchairs. There are generally assistants who can help you navigate the airports and get you to your flights.

      The same guidelines for dogs and other small pets apply to cats. It's always best, however, to contact your airline directly and they can give realtime guidelines in the event there have been updates on traveling with pets. Thanks for the question and I hope I've answered it for you.

    • profile image

      Marlene Ehle 

      7 months ago

      How do I make arrangements for wheel chairs and assistants boarding.

      We also have a cat that travels with us.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      17 months ago from Georgia

      Hi FlourishAnyway, It is good that small pets can travel in the passenger compartment with you. There have been unpleasant stories of pet owners' experiences with cargo travel for the pets. They can't tell you what happened to them but when the get back to you and look as if they have been through some harrowing experience the way your cat looked, you'll aways wonder. Thank you for taking the time to read and leave a comment. Take care.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      I once flew with my cat, Oscar, when I was single, he was my only cat, and planes didn't allow companion animals in the cabin. He had to fly cargo which I highly recommend against. It's super, super noisy, and they're prone to extreme temperatures for the duration of the flight. Plus, you don't know how they'll be handled or treated by flight personnel. They put him in his carrier on the baggage carousel and when I picked him up, his third eyelids were down and he was bristled up like he was ready to fight. I couldn't blame him. On the return flight, I had him medicated with tranquilizer but it didn't calm my fears knowing what he had experienced. I am glad they can travel with you in the cabin now.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      21 months ago from Georgia

      Hello Genna, I didn't know so many pets are flying with their families until I started the research for my Westie. I haven't flown with him yet, but I'm giving it serious thought. Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment.

      Hi Paula, I really expected the costs to be a lot more when I started the research. It is great that it's not an arm and a leg. All the reservationists and customer service personnel at the airlines were very nice about answering the questions. They said it's very common place now. I haven't gotten past the research stage. :) Thank you for reading.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      21 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      This is a GREAT hub! Such valuable info...thank you so much. My cousin has this tiny dog that she takes EVERYWHERE! It's really cute. In fact, she somehow got an official document through her Dr. stating the dog is a"Therapy Dog" that she needs for her severe anxiety. No kidding.

      My dog is not one I would want to take anywhere at this point....he's too old and also spoiled.....no manners! LOL.

      However, I'm thinking of the future. Should I ever get another dog, I would choose a tiny breed so he/she could travel with me easily. The costs you have shared are much cheaper than what I have paid to board my dog while I'm away!! That's for sure!

      Thanks again! Good stuff to know! Paula

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      21 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What an adorable lead photo, Cyndi. I only discovered that pets fly onboard recently on a Southwest flight. I never knew this was permitted before. It's so nice to know that "Airlines have stepped up to accommodate that reality."

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