How To Fly With a Dog

Summer is time for vacations and getaways, and they're so much more pawesome when you can bring your pup along! Flying can be a stressful experience for both you and your furry friend though. Before the flight, you need to check several things including what dogs are allowed to fly in the cabin VS cargo, what crate you need, and prepare supplies to make the flight comfortable. Check with the airline you will be flying as they all have different policies. Some airlines do not allow certain dog breeds on flights due to their size or because they are considered a “dangerous” breed. We've prepared some flying with a dog tips below to help make the process easier.

Flying With a Dog in Cabin


The first step is to check if your dog is allowed to fly in the cabin with you. Each airline has different policies, but most allow flying with a dog in the cabin as long as they can fit comfortably in a crate under the seat in front of you. You will also need to provide proof of vaccinations and a health certificate from your vet.

What dogs are allowed to fly in the cabin?

The dog generally must meet certain requirements to fly in a cabin :

  • Be small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you
  • Have a good temperament
  • Be up to date on all vaccinations
  • Be at least 8 weeks old
  • Have a valid health certificate from a vet

If your dog meets these requirements and is flying with you in the cabin, congrats you are very likely able to bring them in the cabin with you.

The following breeds might be not allowed to fly in the cabin because they are too large or considered “dangerous” (not that we agree with any of this):

  • Pit bulls
  • Staffordshire terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • American Bulldogs
  • Great Danes
  • Mastiffs

Make sure to check with your airline before booking your flights to make sure you don't run into any issues at the check-in.

How to Fly With a Large Dog


Rules on how to fly with a dog that doesn't fit under the seat might be very different and flying with a large dog in the cabin is generally not allowed.

Check The Rules

Check with the airline you are flying to see what their restrictions are for large pups, but the only option is typically cargo - which airlines describe as "shipping" (ouch!).

Get Your Dog Acclimated

This is going to be a new experience for your pup, and it's important to get them used to it well before the day of travel. If at all possible, drive to the airport and let them see (and smell) the place where their plane will be taking off from.

You should also get them used to being in their crate - make it a happy place full of their favorite toys, bedding, and treats.

Get Them A Vet Check-Up

A lot of people think that flying is really tough on a dog's health, but that's not necessarily true. However, it's always a good idea to get a check-up from your vet before flying to make sure that everything is okay.

Your vet can also give you some tips for flying with a dog and reducing stress during travel, and they may be able to prescribe a calming medication if they think it might help.

Prepare Your Large Dog For The Flight


Food & water: Before the flight, make sure your pup is well-hydrated and fed, but avoid any food and water within 4 hours of flying. Depending on the airline and their rules, they might give your pet water in-flight, but a lot of them will ask you to attach a water bottle and feeding container inside the crate.

Safety: make sure your crate is large enough for the dog to be able to fully stretch. Clip the dog's nails to avoid injuries, and avoid putting any loose, breakable objects inside the crate (including toys) that might injure your dog or become a choking hazard. And finally, ensure the crate is securely locked and your dog can't unlock it - there have been cases of dogs breaking out of their crates in cargo, and freely wandering during the flight. It's extremely dangerous and can lead to serious injuries and sometimes death (we have seatbelts in the cabin for a reason!).

Hygiene: Let your pup relieve itself right before the flight, and put a pee pad in the crate in case your dog needs to go during.

And finally, make sure your dog's ID tags are up to date and securely fastened to their collar - if they escape from their crate, or in the airport, these will be your best chance of getting them back. Consider putting a bright bandana on your dog to make it easier to spot your pup.

Consider The Experience

The temperature in the cargo hold is determined by what's in there - such as your fur baby. Though the staff gets information about the cargo load before the flight, it's always good to remind the pilot that your pup is in cargo. Flying in the cargo can be a traumatizing experience for a pet: it gets loud, turbulent, and it's full of new sounds, smells, and objects.

Not every dog is going to do well on a flight, and we highly recommend considering your pup's personality, anxiety levels, and ongoing health conditions before making the decision. If you know your pup gets scared of loud noises, has separation anxiety, or doesn't do well in the crate, consider driving instead. Alternatively, look into boarding your dog at a pet hotel or get a sitter while you're away.

Can I Fly With a Small Dog?


The short answer is yes! You can bring your small dog with you in the cabin, as long as they meet the requirements set by the airline. There are a few of tips for flying with a dog in cabin:

  • Your dog must weigh 20 lbs or less (including their carrier), and the carrier must fit under the seat in front of you.
  • You'll also need to purchase a pet ticket, which typically costs around $125 one way. Some airlines have breed restrictions for flying in the cabin, so make sure to check with your airline before booking your ticket.
  • The pup must be at least 8 weeks old to fly, and they must be healthy enough to travel.
  • You'll need to provide a health certificate from your vet dated within 10 days of flying, as well as proof of rabies vaccination.

In-Flight Experience For a Small Dog

  • Your small dog will need to stay in their carrier the entire duration of your flight, so make sure your pup does well in the carrier for extended periods of time.
  • The cabin can get chilly, it's a good idea to bring along a small blanket for them to snuggle up in, or put on a sweater or a bandana to keep the dog warmer.
  • During takeoff and landing, the change in cabin pressure can hurt your dog's ears, so give them a chew toy or bone to help with the pain.
  • Take your dog out to relieve itself right before the flight.

Can My Dog Sit On My Lap On The Plane?

Maybe. Emotional support animals (ESA) might be able to sit on your lap but that will depend on the airline and most of them still require ESAs to remain on the floor.

Pet-Friendly Airlines in the USA - Can You Fly With a Dog On American Airlines (And Others)?

Most popular and pet-friendly airlines in the USA allow flying with a dog in a cabin or/and cargo. We've composed a list of airlines, their fees, and carrier size requirements.


Cargo/ cabin?

Kennel Requirements

Approx. Price

American Airlines


Hard-sided kennel
  • Mainline flights on American: 19 x 13 x 9 inches
  • Regional flights on American Eagle: 16 x 12 x 8 inches

Soft-sided kennel (recommended)

  • 18 x 11 x 11 inches / 46 x 28 x 28 centimeters (length + width + height)


Allegiant Airlines


9” x 16” x 19” for both hard-sided and soft-sided kennels


United Airlines


Hard kennels: 17.5” x 12” x 7.5”; Soft kennels: 18” x 11” x 11”, Cargo: No crates taller than 30”

Cabin: $125



18” x 11” x 11”

From $125 - $200



17” x 12.5” x 8.5”


Frontier Airlines


10” x 16” x 24”


Alaska Airlines


Hard kennels: 17” x 11” 7.5,” Soft kennels: 17” x 11” x 9.5”; Cargo: 30” x 27” x 40”


Hawaiian Airlines


Soft kennels: 16” x 10” x 9.5,” Cargo: 36” x 24” x 26” or 40” x 27” x 30,” depending on the aircraft

Cabin: $35 - $175; 

Cargo: $60 - $225



18.5” x 8.5” x 13.5”




18″ x 14″ x 9″



These rules and requirements of dog-friendly airlines are subject to change, so follow a link for each airline for the most up-to-date information.

To sum it up, flying with a dog will require a bit of research and possibly a couple of phone calls. The most important thing is to make the experience as comfortable as possible for your pup and be prepared for the experience. Safe travels! :)

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