Traveling with your dog can be a smooth, easy process as long you are prepared and know what to expect. I can’t imagine most of our trips without our dogs — they bring so much joy (to us and to others!) and are totally part of the family. We’ve already decided a long time ago we won’t have children, so we literally treat our frenchies like our kids. They go everywhere with us!
I try to travel with my dog(s) if I can, especially if it’s a domestic flight. We flew international with Weston and Fira last year and it was definitely a process but not as hard as I thought! Just make sure to give yourself extra time to get every step done and not stress yourself out.
Before traveling with your dog, make sure your pup is ready for it. It can be stressful and anxiety-inducing for your pup and sometimes not worth it. Ask yourself: Is my pet too old or too young to handle the stress of traveling? Is my pet in good health? Is my pet okay in a carrier?
To find out how I pack for dog-friendly travel, check out my post here.
First, choose your airline…
Most airlines have a weight limit. Virgin America and Jetblue, along with a few others, have a 20 pound limit, including the weight of the carrier. The carrier weighs about 1.5. – 2 lbs. Fira is 14 lbs so we never have a problem and she fits very comfortably inside the Sherpa Carrier.
American Airlines, Delta and United have no weight limit, as long as your pup fits comfortably inside a carrier underneath the seat in front of you.
To bring your dog in-cabin, most airlines charge $100-125 each way for a “pet ticket” and all you need to do is bring them in an airline-approved carrier (Sherpa Medium) as a carry-on.
BTW — before you buy your pet carrier or choose your airline, make sure to check the airline’s pet policy page and get the maximum measurements for pet carriers. I’ve listed the most popular domestic pet-friendly airlines below with their max carrier measurements!
- UNITED – 18 inches length x 11 inches wide x 11 inches height
- AMERICAN AIRLINES – 18″ x 11″ x 11″
- JETBLUE – 17″ x 12.5″ x 8.5″
- SOUTHWEST – 18.5″ x 13.5″ x 8.5″
- DELTA 18” x 11” x 11”
- ALASKA AIRLINES 17″ x 11″ x 9.5″
Here is my list of the best dog airline carriers.
If your dog is over 20 lbs or doesn’t fit in a carrier, they must go in cargo (underneath the plane) — cargo is not available for flat-nosed breeds, such as Pugs, French Bulldogs and Shih-tzu’s.
What If Your Dog Is Over The Weight Limit?
If your dog is over 20-25 pounds, it can be frustrating to travel with them since most airlines and even hotels have weight restrictions. JetSuiteX is a great option if you’re close any of their departure airports — most are located in large cities like Burbank, Dallas and Miami. It’s semi-private and sometimes not that much more than an economy flight!
All pets are allowed. If your dog fits in a carrier, there is NO charge! If you have a medium-large dog, just give them a call and pay for the space (not sure how much it costs). They will be allowed to lay on the floor directly in front of your seat.
JSX currently services the West Coast and East Coast. On the West Coast, you can fly to-and-from Burbank, San Jose, Oakland, Vegas, Phoenix, Denver and Dallas. On the East Coast, you can fly to-and-from Dallas, New York, Destin FL and Miami.
These jets have 30 seats and are located in hangars where you literally show up 15 minutes before your flight and hop on. No security lines — or lines in general — and you’re at one city to the next in less than an hour and a half, in most cases.
Get $20 off with my referral code: GPMOJX
What to bring…
About a week before you fly, make sure to go to your vet and get a health certificate. This certificate just says that your pet is up to date on shots and is healthy to travel.
It will take less than 10 minutes at the vet and it usually costs $50-80 (however much the vet charges for an office visit).
Some domestic airlines don’t require a health certificate anymore so be sure to check with your airline.
During security, you’ll add their collar and leash in the bin to go through the security machines and then carry them through the x-ray with you. They do a swab test on your hands and that’s it!
Bring treats, extra poo bags, disinfectant wipes (incase they accidentally poo inside the airport — it happens!) and their favorite bone/toy they like to chew on.
If our flight is early in the morning, we skip the breakfast so they fly on an empty stomach and can be comfortable.
Most airports now offer pet relief areas once you get past security and to the gates. Fira has even used a pet relief room that had a grassy patch and a flush button! When we “flushed,” the mini fire hydrants turned into sprinklers and cleaned the area. Cool. (American Airlines; Miami Airport)
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