Traveling with your dog in-cabin is something that every pet owner dreams about. Whisking away to some far off destination to go hiking and sit poolside with your pup is a wonderful idea but not all dogs are up for the stress of traveling. Following a few easy steps will help you and your dog relax on your next in-cabin flight.
Weeks before the trip
Make sure your dog has the right temperament for a flight and travel.
It would be great if all dogs were comfortable in new locations, with new people, loud noises and strange smells but that just simply is not the case. Be brutally honest about your dog deminer. If he or she is not up for travel perhaps get a dog sitter or rethink your travel plans. Then you can slowly introduce your pet to some of these new experiences and get your pup ready for a future adventure.
Make sure your dog fits under the seat.
Unfortunately size matters and if your pup doesn’t fit in a regulation in-cabin dog carrier and under the seat (therapy or service dogs are an exception) in front of you, your dog might not be the only one missing your fight. I recommend buying an in-cabin pet carrier well ahead of time and seeing if your dog fits comfortably inside.
Find A Pet Carrier.
Buying a pet carrier early is an important step in a few ways. You want to make sure your dog fits comfortably in your in-cabin pet carrier and the best way to check is to try. You’ll also want to remove the carrier cushion well ahead of time and put the cushion in your dog’s crate or on her bed to get your pups scent inside the carrier. Getting the carrier early allows time for you to buy another one if needed.
Here are some recommended pet carriers. (Please check airline for max allowable dimensions)
Call your airline ahead of time to reserve a space for your dog.
Make sure to call well ahead of time to book your pups spot. Most airlines have limited availability for in-cabin pets. The cost varies anywhere from $75 – $175 per flight. So the cost adds up fast. Also… When you hear they are “Boarding anyone who needs extra time” That’s you. You’re VIP. Just walk up like you belong there. The way I see it you paid them extra already.
Here is a list of in-cabin airline prices and links as of the writing of this post. Service dogs are free. (if any of this info is out of date please leave a comment and I’ll update it)
- United – $125 each way and an additional $125 for each 4-hour layover.
- Southwest – $95 each way.
- Delta – $125 each way.
- American Airlines – $125 per kennel each way. Some breeds are not allowed.
- Frontier – $75 each way.
- Hawaiian Airlines – Inter-island flights ($35.00). Flights leaving the State of Hawaii ($175.00) each way.
Get a health certificate for your dog from your vet.
Some of the airlines don’t require a health certificate but it’s always a good idea to get one. You never know, your flight might get canceled and you have to take another airline that requires one. The health certificate checks to see if you are up to date on required shots and vaccinations and is okay to travel in-cabin with you and the rest of the passengers. The cost is usually low (around $35) and a check up from your vet is always a good thing.
Pack all of your dog’s supplies
Make sure you have all of your dogs favorite toys, food and treats for the journey. You’ll also need to make sure you have things like doggy poop bags, water/food bowls and you’re pets favorite blanket. You’ll want to put your dog’s food, a toy and some treats in your carry on just in case your checked in bag gets lost.
Here’s a nice travel organizer for your pet.
Accidents happen, picking up some DryFur inserts.
Let’s face it, flights can be long and holding it for 7+ hours including check-in might not be possible for your dog especially if he or she is an older dog. Also, all the excitement might just be too much for your pup to hold it. DryFur Pet carrier Insert Pads are a great option for those just-in-case moments.
We always have a DryFur pad.
On the day of the Trip
Take your pup for a long walk
If you think your seat is small imagine being cooped up in a small carrier under the seat in front of you for 5+ hours. Give your dog lots of exercise before the flight so that he or she is tired and ready to take an in-flight nap. A tired dog will be a lot less anxious.
Don’t feed your dog the morning before your flight.
Traveling is stressful. It’s best to avoid feeding your pup a few hours before a flight. I might seem harsh but dogs can go hours without eating or even drinking. It will help your dog avoid an upset stomach and avoid an in-cabin mess.
Save time at the airport and security checkout.
With a dog, you’ll have to go up to the baggage counter to get a tag on your doggy carrier. You can save time at security checkout by getting Global Entry or TSA PreCheck this way you won’t have to pull out your laptops while taking off your shoes, coat and carrying your dog through the metal detector.
Planes can be cold
Hopefully, you read above to bring your dogs favorite blanket. Sometimes it can get cold on the floor of a plane and if there’s room in your doggy carrier you can warm up your pooch with her favorite blanket. If your blanket is too big or you can’t bring it in your carry on luggage you can throw in one of your t-shirts. The welcome smells of her best friend will definitely put her at ease.
Look for a Pet Relief Station
If you have a long flight or a layover look around for a Pet Relief Station. Airports are required to have a pet relief station for service dogs. Our hometown airport LAX has one in each terminal which makes for a great stop off even just to stretch our pups legs.
Use sedatives as the last resort
Sedatives should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian and even then are as a last resort. Consult your veterinarian to create the best travel plan for your dog. The medication can give your pet breathing issues, an upset stomach, and other side effects. You can try using a Thundershirt that swaddles your dog and is also good to calm a dog for fireworks.
Enjoy your trip!
Following these steps can help make flying in-cabin super easy for you and your dog.