Updated: March 13, 2023 | Has affiliate links

5 Easy Tips for Flying With a Pet


Traveling with your pet can be a very rewarding experience that allows the both of you to create magnificent memories that will last a life-time. Whether you are traveling within the United States or internationally, there is a lot of preparation that goes into flying with your furry friend. With that said, it is important that you take time to do your research and plan ahead. Keep reading so you can find out five helpful tips to make flying with a pet as smooth as possible!

1. Research Different Pet-Friendly Airlines

Flying with a pet can be a great experience
Flying with a pet can be a great experience

When flying with a pet, you will want to research additional information about the potential airlines you could use. For example, most people tend to compare airlines based on price, how often they run on time, baggage fees, and so on. However, if you plan to include your cat or dog on your next adventure, you will also want to consider which airlines allow pet passengers.

Flying With A Pet Within the US

Start by comparing the most pet-friendly airlines in 2023. Alaska Airlines was ranked as the top pet-friendly airline so far in 2023. This is because of their generous pet policy, which allows passengers to bring up to four pets (dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds) at a competitive price of $100 per pet carrier.

The second and third most pet friendly airlines in 2023 are Southwest Airline and Frontier Airline, respectively. Southwest only charges $95 per pet passenger, and this is a refundable charge. Furthermore, they also allow two pets.

On the other hand, Frontier Airlines charges $99 per pet and will allow one pet, those being: dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, or household bird.

JetBlue permits the same animals on their planes for $100 and up, but they do not offer cargo space for pets (namely larger animals).

Flying With A Pet Internationally

When it comes to traveling internationally, an article by TourRadar claims that American Airlines is the top pet-friendly airline company, followed by JetBlue and Air Canada. When it comes to American Airlines, they allow dogs, cats, and service animals for prices between $125 – $200.

Air Canada, on the other hand, charges between $50 – $118 for cats, dogs, and service dogs to board their planes. They are very generous with their pet policy and have flights all over the world, in which your pet can join you on. When traveling internationally make sure you know how to use your credit cards abroad, in addition to preparing your pet for travel. This way you avoid having your cards blocked when arriving.

As for other large international airline companies, Air France, Lufthansa, and British Airways have pretty standard pet policies. For example, Air France permits each passenger to bring one household pet (weighing under 17 pounds) in the cabin or up to three animals in the hold section of the plane (weighing between 17-165 pounds). Any household animal above 165 pounds must go in the cargo section. Prices vary depending on where you are traveling to and the size of your pet. Generally, traveling internationally with a pet on Air France will cost between $32 to $430, a wide range.

Conversely, Lufthansa’s pet policy for internal flights is similar to Air France. They allow small pets in the cabin and larger pets in their air-conditioned cargo hold. Like Air France, they do not allow snub-nosed animals to fly.

Lastly, unlike the other airlines, British Airways does not allow pets to travel in the cabin section of the plane, as all animals must be placed in the cargo area of the aircraft. However, they are more generous with what kinds of animals they let on (snakes, hamsters, ferrets, even cattle, and horses). Like Air France, the price of your flight will depend on both your pet and your destination.

Pet Breed Restrictions

When comparing different airline pet policies, you’ll see that some have breed restrictions. In general, most airlines prohibit short-nosed dog breeds from flying because they are more vulnerable to change in air quality and temperature. This could cause additional health risk to them when placed in cargo holds. In general, extremely large dogs that are easily prone to breathing problems are not allowed on most airlines, so be sure to check each specific airline’s pet policy before booking your flight!

Lastly, if you are flying with a large dog, most airlines will require that they stay in the cargo hold with the other luggage. They will stay there for the duration of the plane ride because flying with a large dog in the cabin is next to impossible. Most airlines only allow small dog breeds in the cabin space or under your seat. Again, be sure you check each airline’s pet policy for which breeds are allowed on the plane, as well as where they will be stationed for the flight.

2. Talk to Your Veterinarian Before Your Travel Date

Once you have found an airline company that permits flying with a pet and deem that they are a good fit for you and your pet friend, your next task will be to talk to a vet before your travel date. Ideally, you will want your pet to get a check up, so you can see if your pet is in good health to travel.

Most check ups consist of a physical exam, in which your pet will have their weight checked. The veterinarian will also listen to your furry friend’s lungs and heart to ensure there are no abnormalities there. Moreover, they will check their eyes, ears, and teeth as well.

If you are traveling internationally with a pet, you will want to research if the foreign country you are going to requires pets to have certain vaccinations. If so, the check up is the perfect time to get your pet up to speed on their mandatory travel vaccinations. On top of that, ask your veterinarian if there is anything you need to know about your pet’s breed and flying! Talking to your vet way in advance will allow you to plan all the medical details related to flying with a pet.

3. Bring Important Pet-Related Medical Information

When comparing different airlines for flying with a pet, you might notice that some of them require you to bring certain pet-related medical documents. One very common document a lot of airlines mandate is a pet-health certificate from your veterinarian within 10 days of the flight day (another reason you should talk to your vet). Conversely, even if your airline doesn’t require your pet to have any medical documentation when flying with your four legged companion, it is always a good idea to bring them with you in case of an emergency.

When flying with a pet, you might want to consider bringing copies of their vaccination records, recent blood test paperwork, allergy documents if your four legged friend has any known allergies, and pet insurance information. This way, if your four legged companion has a medical emergency when traveling, you have all necessary information when you go to get medical help.

One of the more critical tools to have on hand, pet insurance, will allow your furry friend to visit any new vets or emergency providers needed if they were to undergo an illness or injury when flying or traveling, without having to worry too much about the financial strain. Looking into how pet insurance works and really understanding how to use it is a great way you can make your trip with your pet less stressful.

Most airline companies suggest microchipping your pet as well. Every microchip contains a unique identification code that veterinarians can scan. The code links the pet back to the name and contact information of their owner. If your cat or dog has a microchip and gets lost at the airport, you can rest assured knowing that they will easily be identified and given back to you.

4. Prepare for Pet-Related Security Procedures

Flying with a pet requires special security procedures

Anyone who has ever flown on a plane before knows that you have to spend time going through various security procedures before you can board your plane. The same goes for flying with a pet! No matter what pet you have (dog, cat, household bird, etc.) they will need to go through airport security.

When going through airport security with a pet, empty pet carriers will need to be x-rayed. Make sure you take your pet out of the carrier when they go through the x-ray machine because it can be extremely hazardous to their health!

You can take your pet with you when you go through the screening process yourself. You must carry your pet through the sensors or you may have them walk through it while they are on a leash. It is important to note that your pet needs to be in their carrying container the whole time they are at the airport or on the plane. It might take a few extra minutes to get your furry friend to cooperate with security procedures and checks, so give yourself plenty of time at the airport. You ought to consider reading additional information on TSA pet security procedures to save you time at the airport too.

5. Ensure Your Pet is Comfortable With Their Travel Carrier Ahead of Time

When flying with a pet make sure it is comfortable with their travel carrier

When flying with a pet make sure your pet is comfortable with their travel carrier. Firstly, be certain that you have a comfortable pet carrier. Secondly, ensure that you have used this pet carrier many times before, and your pet is very comfortable inside.

One final tip to help make your time flying on a plane with a pet successful is to make sure they are familiar with their carrier before your travel date. With the weeks leading up to your departure date, place your furry friend in their carrier for different amounts of time.

For example, only place them in their carrier for 20 minutes the first day, then add a few minutes each day to how long they spend in their travel container. Another great idea is to go on car rides with them in their traveling carrier to simulate the flight experience. This is a key time to observe how they handle traveling in a confined space.

Ideally, you will want your pet to be as comfortable as possible when in their traveling container. Adding items from home can help to alleviate some of the stress they may encounter when your pet is flying on a plane. You could add a blanket, their favorite toys, and even an old t-shirt that smells like you to help keep them calm. Lastly, you want to make sure they have plenty of room in their carrier. They should be able to stand up and turn around in it.

Is It Worth Flying With a Pet?

Absolutely! Going on a trip or vacation with your pet is a great experience that will bring both of you closer together. Not to mention, taking the time to consider and implement some of the tips above will take a substantial amount of stress off of the flying process for both you and your pet. If you research the pet policies of different airlines, talk to your vet, bring important pet-related medical documents, save extra time for pet security checks, and you make sure your pet is comfortable with their travel carrier, you will have taken the necessary steps to ensure your flying with a pet goes smoothly.

About the Author: Scott Johnson is an expert on taking care of pets. Scott specializes in caring for pets while traveling.

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