While traveling is exciting, flying can be stressful. Flying with a dog or multiple dogs can give you a headache, but if you know what to expect and plan ahead, flying with your dogs will become a breeze! According to Statista, there are about 89 million pet dogs in the United States. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that pet parents are opting to bring their beloved family pet on vacation with them.
Flying with your dog can be fun and relaxing. The size of your dog will determine where your dog can sit on the plane. Smaller dogs can sit with you in the cabin in an FDA airline approved carrier. Larger dogs, unless they are a service dog, must be crated and fly in cargo. However, be aware that some airlines do not allow dogs to fly in cargo, which may cause you to have to look at a different airline.
Each airline has their own pet fee and fees are by each pet carrier that you have. Most airlines allow you up to 2 small dogs in a carrier, however, mandate one carrier per person. Unfortunately, this pet fee is not a federally regulated price. This means that airlines are free to set their own prices and before you fly, be prepared to pay! And, not only do you have to pay a fee for your dog, you have to pay EACH way! For instance, when I recently flew to Orlando with Spirit, I had to pay $110 per carrier each way. You can do the math but that adds up to $440! That was double the price of the two human tickets!
This month, we will be flying to Kansas City to attend the BlogPaws Conference and will be flying Southwest. Current Southwest pet prices are $95.00 each way per carrier.
Regardless of which airline you fly, after you purchase your tickets, be sure to call the airline and let them know that you are bringing your dog. Each airline only allows a certain number of pet carriers on each flight and while we’ve never had any problems, it’s best to reserve your dog’s spot.
All airlines require that you have your dogs in a FDA approved pet carrier when flying with your pet. If you show up to the airport without one, most airlines have one that you can buy, however, again, it will cost you!
While I’m usually all about cute carriers and such, my favorite for traveling is the Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier. No, it’s not fancy and no, it’s not blingy, but its FDA approved and my puppies love traveling in it. As a pet parent, I love that it is extremely well ventilated. 3 out of the 4 sides are mesh so that the puppies can get proper oxygen flow and I can always peak in to see how they are doing.
The bottom of the carrier is lined with faux lambskin, which is attached by velcro. This makes for easy cleaning and is machine washable.
What to Bring?!
Obviously, besides your dog(s) and your pet carrier(s), be sure to bring bowls for your dogs. I pack my bowls in ziploc bags to keep them clean. I also pack a ziploc bag of food. While, I haven’t flown on any long flights with the puppies, it’s good to have on hand in case of any delays or if you have any layovers. Unless your dogs are service or emotional support dogs, they are mandated to stay in the carrier on the floor. You will not be able to feed them during the flight. Be sure to bring a water bowl for your dog as well. You cannot take a bottle of water through TSA security, however, you can buy a bottle near your gate. Yes, your be paying a premium for water, but keeping your dog hydrated is most important.
If your dog is pee pad trained, don’t forget to bring some pee pads. You should take your dog to the bathroom at least 30 minutes before take off.
Know Your Airport!
Believe it or not, most airports have pet relief stations now! Back in August, 2016, the federal government ruled that any airports that service over 10,000 or more passengers establish build or designate a pet relief station. A simple google search will tell you where you can expect to find a station in the airport you are departing from or arriving too. I usually screenshot this information so that I can easily bring it up when I arrive at an airport.
What do you do if the airport you are in does not have a pet relief station or if you have a quick layover and the pet relief station is outside by baggage claim? The easiest solution is to find a “family bathroom”. These family bathrooms are designed for babies or families and allow you to be the only person in the bathroom. There are not multiple stalls, just one public bathroom. During our trip to Orlando, I used a family bathroom with Bruce Wayne and the puppies. I simply pulled out a few pee pads, laid them down and locked the door. For obvious germ reasons, be sure to wipe down your dog’s paws after you are finished in either a family bathroom or a pet relief station.
And, yes, even if you are traveling with a pet or service dog, going through TSA security is the same for all. Be prepared to hold your dog in your arms as you walk through the metal detector and have your hands swabbed. This only takes a few minutes, but it will happen each time you pass through TSA.
Yes, traveling with your dog can be stressful at times. Yes, it will be costly. But, in the end, you will be happy you did it. Personally, there’s nothing better than sharing a fun vacation with Bruce Wayne (and now The Others, his cloned puppies, as well). Do you travel with your pets? I’d love to hear any tips you have for traveling!