Can Small Dogs Fly On A Plane In The US?

Can Small Dogs Fly On A Plane In The US?
Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

You’ve booked your trip, have your plane tickets and hotel reservation, and you’re now getting your itinerary ready for each day. There’s just one problem – you want to take your small dog and want to know if they can fly on the plane with you! We love man’s best friend and want to make sure they can come with us everywhere. We also want to make sure they can enjoy the fun of a vacation and make memories with us.

Rest assured, your small dog can fly on a plane with you.

Here’s everything you need to know about taking your small dog on a plane with you.

How Will My Small Dog Fly With Me?

Your dog will need to be placed in a TSA-approved carrier.

This means a well-ventilated, secure, leak-proof carrier or kennel that can fit under the seat in front of you.

The dog must have four sides of ventilation for international travel and three for domestic. According to Delta Airlines, the maximum dimensions for the carrier should be 18” x 11” x 11 as this fits comfortably under the seat in most airplanes.

As long as your dog is under nine kilograms, you can bring your dog in the cabin for a one-way fee.

Cargo vs. Cabin

The main difference in how your small dog will travel with you comes down to cargo or cabin.

By cabin, your dog is essentially your carry on bag.

As mentioned, as long as your dog is under nine kilograms, they can travel underneath the seat in front of you.

Having your small dog with you on the plane might minimize stress for the both of you. As cargo, your dog will fly in a separate cabin, typically used to store luggage, in their kennel. If your dog has to fly this way, it’s important for you to properly label their kennel so they’re handled with care. Some airlines only offer cabin or cargo travelling for pets. Make sure to check with your airline beforehand so you can best prepare your small dog for the trip!

How Can I Prepare My Small Dog For a Safe Flight?

It’s no secret that a lot of people have flight anxiety, but pets can too!

Before your flight, make sure to take the necessary steps to ensure your dog is ready for flying.

First, start with proper crate training. Since your dog will be confined to a carrier for the duration of the flight, making sure they feel comfortable in their carrier is essential. Begin carrier or crate training several weeks before your flight to prep your pup. Additionally, try to work on separation anxiety if your dog has it. This will prevent them from crying or panicking while aboard the plane. Also, try working on your dog’s relationship with noise. You can do this by taking them to loud, crowded areas or playing videos of crowds of people talking or the sounds of planes taking off.

What Will I Need For My Small Dog to Travel Safely?

Whenever we go away on holiday, we prepare suitable travel essentials for our family and children, and the same should apply for our dogs too. For your dog to travel safely on an airplane, you will need a TSA-approved carrier that’s lined with either potty pads or towels to avoid accidents.

Make sure they have water. Your dog cannot be taken out during the duration of your time on the aircraft.

Some airlines, like Delta, will require you to fill out pre-flight paperwork. This means the airline will need health and vaccination records. You may also be required to fill out a behaviour slip to promise that your dog will not cause a disturbance on the flight. Even if you’re flying with an airline that doesn’t require paperwork, it’s always smart to bring your pet’s paperwork in the event you run into any issues. Your dog must be at least ten weeks to travel domestically and 15 to 16 weeks for international travel, depending on your destination.

On the Day Of the Flight

There are several things you can do to prepare your dog for flying.

First, start by exercising them thoroughly before their flight. This could mean taking a long walk, run, or hike, taking them to the dog park, or playing an energetic game of fetch. Making sure your dog has a lot of physical activity before the flight ensures they can spend it sound asleep. Tiring your dog out can help make the flight less stressful for them.

Also, be sure to provide them adequate food and water several hours before the flight. By filling them up with a hearty meal and hydration in advance, you’ll avoid them having to go potty during the flight. Make sure your dog goes to the bathroom before you arrive at the airport, as they’ll be confined to their carrier for several hours. Some airports have areas for dogs to go potty one last time before take-off. Avoid keeping any food or treats in their carrier so they won’t have the urge to go.

Lastly, fill your dog’s carrier with some of their favourite and most sentimental things. This could be a toy or blanket that reminds them of home, this will help ease anxiety and reduce any whining. This can help give them the confidence and comfort they need for a safe flight, since they won’t really know what’s going on.

Contact Your Airline with Any Concerns

Before your flight, make sure to contact your airline with any concerns you have about your small dog flying with you. Ask about their protocols, what they recommend, and their requirements for pets.

Also, be sure to ask whether your small dog will be flying cargo or in-cabin. Knowing these things ahead of time can give you the confidence to provide your dog with the safest, most comfortable experience when flying. Protocols, rules, requirements, and recommendations about pet travel vary from airline to airline, so there’s no harm in double-checking what you need to know!

What Airlines Allow Pet Travel?

According to TourRadar, here are the most pet-friendly international airlines:

  • JetBlue
  • Air Canada
  • Delta
  • American Airlines
  • Air France
  • Swiss International Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Lufthansa Airlines
  • Aeroflot
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • SAS
  • OpenSkies
  • KLM
  • Aer Lingus
  • Japan Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • CopaAirlines
  • Iberia
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