Monday, June 29, 2015

Tips For Air Travel With Pets

If you plan to take your pet with you on a trip and you're traveling by airplane, a lot of consideration and careful planning is needed.  I'd like to talk specifically about those pet travel requirements that are particularly troublesome and can potentially ruin your trip. 

There are two ways to travel with your pet by air; either bring your pet on board with you or check them as cargo, where they fly in the belly of the plane.  Each airline has it's own set of rules for pets and if you don't familiarize yourself with the rules of your chosen airline it can be disastrous. (Note: this post applies to companion pets, not certified service animals)



Traveling by air with pets, carrier size requirements vary widely depending on airline
Phoebe in her Sherpa carrier, ready to travel!

Personally I do not fly my dogs as cargo because for me it's just too risky.  My smaller dog, Phoebe is small enough to travel on board the plane with me but my Husky isn't, which is why we drive 98% of the time.  We travel extensively across the U. S. and road trips are our thing now.  However, there are times when Phoebe and I travel by air, just the two of us, and I bring her on board with me. 

Let's talk first about pet carriers since that's what people think of first when wondering whether or not they can bring their pet along on a flight.  The rule is that the carrier must fit under the seat in front of you, but every airline has their own requirements for what the maximum size of a carrier can be. 

When you're shopping for a carrier at the pet supply store, they'll probably all say "Airline Approved" but that pretty much means nothing.  It won't do you any good if that carrier doesn't meet the specific size and other requirements for the airline YOU plan to travel on.  To show you what I mean, here are a few carrier size (for in cabin carriers) requirements for different airlines:

Jet Blue:
The pet carrier cannot exceed 17"L x 12.5"W x 8.5"H and the combined weight of your pet and the carrier must not exceed 20 pounds.  As of 9/2017 the price to fly your pet in the cabin with you on Jet Blue is $100 Each Way.

More information on JetBlue Airlines Pet Travel.

Delta Airlines:
The pet carrier on Delta flights is actually based on the specific plane you will be flying on.  You have to select your flights first, then contact Delta Reservations directly to find out what the pet carrier size requirements are.  Example; if I were to fly from New York's Kennedy airport to Phoenix Arizona's Sky Harbor airport this week, the plane would likely be either a Delta 737 or Delta 757 aircraft.  The maximum pet carrier dimensions on the 737 are 18"L x 13"W x 11"H, and on the 757 it would be 13"L x 15"W x 10"H.  As of 9/2017 the price to fly your pet in the cabin with you is $125 Each Way.

More information on Pet Travel Requirements for Delta Airlines.

American Airlines:
Pet carriers on American Airlines flights can be up to 19"L x 13"W x 9"H.  Soft sided collapsible pet carriers may exceed these dimensions slightly.  Call the airline directly to verify maximum size for your particular aircraft.   As of 9/2017 the price to fly your pet in the cabin with you is $125 Each Way.

More information on Pet Travel Requirements for American Airlines.

US Airways operates under American Airlines.  US Air had the same requirements for maximum pet carrier size of 19" L x 13" W x 9" H for most of their aircraft.  Soft sided collapsible pet carriers could exceed these dimensions slightly.  

Airlines often change their requirements.  Different models of aircraft within an airline often have different restrictions and requirements.  You should always call the individual airline to verify the most current requirements!  
A beautiful Sherpa brand pet carrier.

NOTE: This image contains a PetSmart affiliate link. Some posts on Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them contain affiliate links.  If you purchase something through  these links it will not cost you anything extra, and  I may receive a few cents compensation.  I thank you very much if you do!

For the most part, pet carriers you can take on board (if pets are allowed to fly in the cabin) can be soft or hard sided, must be ventilated on two sides, and must not exceed the maximum carrier size allowance.  Your pet must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position inside the carrier.  Standing up is the tricky part, as many of the airline height requirements are small.   

If your pet travels as cargo the carrier must be hard sided, and must meet the airline's other requirements for cargo travel as well.  Not all airlines accept pets as cargo and a few don't allow pets to fly in the cabin either.


Small dogs travel well on board a plane, larger dogs can't
Please take us with you, don't leave us behind!
As I said, I'm not a fan of my pets traveling in cargo.  However, I want to mention one requirement of flying your pet as cargo that people are often unprepared for.  That is the weather restrictions.  Nearly all airlines have restrictions around what temperatures a pet can safely travel in if they are being placed in cargo.  

I found this out the hard way when I moved from NY to Phoenix, AZ .  I left my cat Maggie back in New York with my parents until we found housing.  I hired a company to handle her flight to Phoenix for me.  It was Winter and the weather in NY was freezing.  None of the airlines would accept her as cargo until the weather warmed up. It took 5 extra days for the weather to cooperate and briefly move above 45 degrees (Farenheit).  The weather has to be acceptable on both ends of a flight, in both the departure and the arrival city.  That's the tricky part!  


Weather can effect traveling by air with pets in cargo,
Weather can be a concern if your pet travels in cargo, which I'm not a fan of
Here's another example I know many of you can relate to.  The BlogPaws pet bloggers conference was held in Phoenix, AZ in June in 2016.  If you wanted to fly your pet in cargo to join you at the conference, the temperature in Phoenix would need to be less than 85 degrees.  The odds of it being less than 85 degrees in Phoenix in June are near zero.  Therefore, you would either have to drive or travel with your pet on board in the cabin if you wanted to bring your pet to this wonderful, pet friendly conference.  The weather restrictions can vary with airline, so make sure you call your chosen airline first to verify current rules.

jj

Another airline requirement may be a Health Certificate, which is in addition to required vaccinations and tags.  There are required timeframes for you to secure a Health Certificate from a Veterinarian and that can vary depending on the airline.  A certificate you got 8 months ago may not be valid by the time you travel.  Again, call your chosen airline to find out all the health related requirements and timeframes to obtain required documentation.  

International travel with pets, as well as traveling with pets to Hawaii, have a different set of requirements.  Check your airline's web site for those specifics and call the airline to verify all requirements.


Air travel with pets requires planning & preparation, know airlines requirements & restrictions
Want to take your dog on that exotic vacay?  Be sure to plan ahead and know all the airline's rules & restrictions!
Traveling with your pet under your seat in her carrier can cost more than $200 Round Trip (domestic U.S. travel).  You also have to book your pet early as there are limits as to how many pets can be on board in the cabin on any given flight.  You'll need to arrive at the airport earlier than when you're traveling without pets. 

Being aware of all the rules and planning ahead will help avoid catastrophe and make for a pleasant flight and a fun trip with your pet!  Bon Voyage!!
This pet carrier comes in so many beautiful colors! 
NOTE: This image contains a PetSmart affiliate link.  


Do you travel by airplane with your pet?  What's the best advice you would give to someone planning to travel by air with a pet?  Please leave us a comment and share your experience with us, we always love to hear from you!

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84 comments:

  1. These are great tips!! I'm still surprised at how small the carrier has to be to fit under the seats!!

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you like the tips! I know, it's ridiculous that carriers need to be so tiny, especially some of the height allotments. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Great tips. Harley nor Jax will ever fly because they would never fit in the cabin and I'm not comfortable putting them in with cargo.

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    1. I hear you, I would not put my dogs in cargo either! Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post & thanks so much for sharing it on Pinterest! Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. Glad you think so guys, thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Great tips! I'm going on vacation this fall, and Nola will be flying with me.

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    1. Oh, good timing! Hope these are helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Hi Y'all!

    Even my Humans don't like to fly since 9/11. At 96 to 100 lbs I'm too big to fit underneath the seat anyway.

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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    1. LOL! No, you probably won't fit under the seat. We hate to fly as well these days. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. The tip to check the weather at both ends is SO important! And also make sure the person at the airline counter understands the difference between C and F! We don't fly with our dogs anymore because it's so nerve wracking, but long ago we flew with our beagle, from Ottawa, Canada to San Diego. When we got to the gate to check in and fly home, the woman at check in was refusing to let Bailey on the flight because it was too cold in Canada. LUCKILY we finally realized she was looking at a Celsius temperature instead of Farenheit (sp?). Thank heaven we were able to convince her it was OK in Farenheit because I don't know what we would have done if the dog couldn't get on the plane with us to come home!

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    1. Whoa!! That is crazy. I'm so glad you were able to convince that dingbat of the difference between F and C! You'd think airlines would provide more training on that point, no? Thanks so much for sharing that story and stopping by Jackie!

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  8. Oh, how I wish we could take larger dogs in the cabin, lol! These are super helpful tips for air travelers! Now I just need to invent a shrinking and enlarging machine so I can fit Haley into one of those little carriers.

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    1. I wish we could too, although honestly we've discovered the joy and low stress benefit of driving! We drive all over the U.S. now and we love it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Great tips for air travel with pets. No way would I travel with my dog in cargo. I would have a panic attack throughout the length of the flight worrying about my hound!

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    1. Thanks Ruth! I won't put my pets in cargo either anymore, too risky. I'm the same way, I would not be able to handle it knowing she was down there all alone and frightened - Ugh. thanks for stopping by!

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  10. Those small carry-on sizes are why Pierre is still living with us. It simply should not be so difficult to board with a well-behaved dog. I'd buy a seat for him if I could.! LOL!

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    1. I know right?! Why can't you just buy a seat for your dog? I guess other people would be frightened if heaven forbid the dog turned out to be not so friendly or freaked out on the flight. I thought Pierre could fit into one of the larger carriers like the one's approved for some Delta or American flights. Thanks for stopping by M.K.!

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  11. Great tips!!! I have never been in a plane, and probably never will! I am terrified of them!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. Thanks Jenna! You've never been on a plane?? Honestly I can't blame you these days, I have begun to hate them myself after so many years of business travel. Air travel gets worse every year. I'm glad we drive almost everywhere w/ the dogs now. Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Mom has traveled with pets many times over the Atlantic and she worked for the airline for many years. Cargo is scary for all involved, but sometimes it is the only choice. Always book a one leg, non stop flight and drive on both ends if necessary. Never fly in the coldest part of winter or hottest part of summer. Mom said she would never let a pet of hers fly cargo after working for the airline, but there was no choice, so she had to a few times.

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    1. Hi there Emma, I'm so sorry I missed your wonderful comments on this post! I want to thank you, belatedly, for providing this great insight. Better late than never I guess! Thanks again for your input.

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  13. Oh you did so much awesome research on the airlines! Thank you for this as I haven't had to travel via air with the doxies yet but I know I will and now I have a resource! Thanks!(and I'll be back in touch about a guest post :))

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  14. Great tips. My corgis are too long to fit under the seat, so no airplanes for them!

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  15. Thanks for putting together this great list!

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  16. I don't think Henry would do well on an airplane, but I don't have a car, so we have limited options!

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  17. These are good tips. Mommy doesn't travel with us, but she wishes she could. Lexy is terrified to leave the house and I would meow the whole trip and try to get out of the carrier. But this is good to know in case she does have to travel with us some day.

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  18. We specifically looked for a dog that would fit in cabin because I didn't want to put a dog in cargo. It's never been a problem but I always leave the tag on from the previous trip in case the airline wants to argue that the bag is too big.

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  19. Great info- I don't think Kilo the pug could cope with security and the flight, even under my feet, so if we travel with him, it will be by road. However good to know in case we adopt another dog or have people ask.

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    1. I had an issue flying through Miami once with Isabelle and Cookie when we moved up from Chile. They got taken off the flight as too hot so then I got off too.

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  20. We haven't flown with Ruby though I think she would fit the size requirements for most of these airlines. I am with you and would never her fly her cargo.

    We just flew Jet Blue this past week and there was an adorable little Westie on board with us.

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  21. This is such good info to know, thank you!

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  22. Wonderful post and so many great tips! BTW, Callie the Cat has the same carrier that Phoebe does!!! :)

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  23. Thanks for the great tips as this is my biggest concern if I take Layla to Cape Town South Africa to visit my Mom

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  24. Thank you for these awesome tips and information! I've been researching it lately, since it's not that easy to air travel with pets! Thank you, I needed this :D!

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  25. I love traveling with my pups, but as far as air travel that always makes me nervous as my boy isn't small enough to sit in the cabin and would have to ride down bellow. Great tips!!!

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  26. Good roundup. Given the size of our dogs and the way things are, I'd rather take a long time to drive than putting my dogs through air travel, though.

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  27. It's pretty awesome that you included pet carrier guidelines for multiple airlines. It's so difficult to find this information in one location. To your point, it's also costly. I haven't traveled with he doxies yet but I would if necessary and they could fit under my seat.

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  28. This is very interesting! I hardly ever travel, so I haven't had to try to get my kitties on an airplane. It would be fun to take them to BlogPaws, though, so I will keep these tips in mind. I don't think I would ever place them in cargo unless I absolutely had to take them and there was no other way.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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  29. A terrific post and one that will be an evergreen go to for many. Cats are so much easier to take on a plane I reckon, smaller and more compact :-)

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  30. Great information - love that you share the specific requirements for different airlines. Happy to share.

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  31. Awesome tips! I need to keep these handy if I ever decide to take Simba on a flight, but the only flights I've been on so far have been work related.

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  32. WOW! I've never flown a dog, but it's crazy that the airline industry can't come up with uniform size restrictions! You could potentially have to have several carriers if you fly several airlines. Good information for all of us!

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  33. I haven't flown with my dogs, but I think only Nelly is small enough to be allowed in the passenger area. I know that many dogs travel safely in the cargo area, but I'm sure it is a scary prospect.

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  34. Wow! I hope I never need to fly with my cats. I would never put them in cargo (hopefully) and I couldn't take both of them on board with me.

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  35. I am a big time dog traveler. Although I would not ever board a dog as cargo, if I had a small dog who could do on-board, I would definitely do it if the dog was okay with it.

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  36. Lots of great info. As someone who has flown often with dogs and cats between Canada/U.S. and England, the most important thing is preparation. Wherever you're going start looking into travel requirements immediately. Between rabies shots, booking pets into cargo, airline requirements, department of agriculture regulations, certificates and passports it can get pretty overwhelming. Do your research, plan ahead and it will make for a much smoother flight for all.

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    1. Thanks Hindy! Yes, there is a LOT to coordinate especially with overseas travel. I've never taken my dog out of the country, but I can see it's no simple task! Thanks for sharing about all the preparation needed.

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  37. Great tips for flying with pets. Unfortunately in Australia, pets aren't allowed in the cabin, they have to go in the cargo hold.

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    1. Oh No, really?! I can't believe pets aren't allowed in the cabin at all. I never put my dogs in cargo. I did it once when we moved across the country and needed to get our cat to us once we found a place to live. I wouldn't do it again, since then I've heard too many awful stories of pets in cargo. I hope things change in Australia, they need to get on board! (no pun intended, LOL!)

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  38. This is SUCH an incredible resource. Thank you for taking the time to compile all this information!! Like you and your big pup, my guys are too big to travel on board, and I wouldn't check them as cargo. We end up doing most of our dog-friendly travel driving instead! We do have a Sherpa carrier similar to yours for taking Newt, and LOVE it! It's definitely a go-to recommendation!

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    1. Thank you Maggie! I'm so glad you think it's valuable. I love the Sherpa as well, it's been great for Phoebe on the rare occasions when the two of us travel together. Most of the time we all drive together though. I would Never put Icy, or any of my dogs, in cargo.

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  39. I wish there was a better way to fly with big dogs :( We drive everywhere so we can take Mauja and Atka with us, but it would be nice to have another option, if needed.

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    1. I do too! I can only fly with Phoebe but I only bring her on trips when it's just the two of us which is rare. I hate not having both dogs with me so we drive most of the time too. I hope things changes as well. The hotel industry is beginning to get onboard (no pun intended!) more so perhaps airlines aren't far behind.

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  40. Excellent info and a great help. We rarely travel but since we are down to one pup (sadly) we may start to travel more soon. I am not sure if Lyla could handle travel on an airline since she is a nervous pup to begin with but at least I have some good information here to start with!

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    1. Thanks, I'm so glad you think so! Before I put Phoebe on a plane we took a test trip just to the airport. We walked her around (in the carrier, pets must remain in a carrier inside most airports), and sat at a Starbucks in the terminal. We had coffee & gave her a few treats. Try that and see how Lyla does. If she's antsy then flying probably won't be a good idea.

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  41. Terrific info. Kona & I fly all the time. With her being a sevice dog it is a lot shorter to do list. I do need to look into how to take her to Hawaii. Do you have any current info ?

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    1. Thanks DeAnna! I'm glad you think it's helpful. Oh yes, a service dog is much easier and she can't be denied access to fly. Yes, Hawaii has very different rules, I would contact your airline for current rules. However, it should be much easier for service dogs.

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  42. Thanks for the great tips! Yes, I too can't travel with Dexter by plane, he won't fit under the seat. Maybe someday that will change. :)

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    1. I'm so glad you found them valuable, Tonya! I hope airlines will realize how much business they'd get if they would just relax their allowances. Strict rules also makes some people get fake Service Dog status for their dogs so they can bring them on planes & that is just AWFUL.

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  43. I didn't realize that there are different allowable sizes for the carrier depending on airline and planes. I haven't flown with a dog, but I did once bring a small baby parrot (and my 9 month old baby) on a flight. Fortunately, both were quiet and well behaved.

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    1. Ugh, isn't is ridiculous?! I wish there could be one standard. Every carrier out there says "airline approved" but that actually means nothing. Every airline is different and JetBlue has the smallest carrier allowance.

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  44. Excellent information! I have never flown yet (seriously!) When my Huskies go with me, we drive. Typically, I'm at home, and I do have a "godmother" for my Huskies who comes and stays at my house with them if I need to go somewhere. But I'm Pinning and sharing this great info to keep for future use and for others to read! Thank you!

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    1. You've never flown anywhere yourself?? Wow, that's amazing. We drive everywhere with the dogs, I literally hate going away without them! I try to choose our trips based on being able to drive with the dogs and find decent dog friendly lodging. We went to Alaska last year but left the dogs at PetSmart boarding, it wasn't feasible for us to drive there from Phoenix. PetSmart is great so we do use them when needed.

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  45. It's awesome to see all the airline requirements here in one post. I've had dogs in cabin and flown in the cargo hold, and it is definitely a must that you get everything in order beforehand. Thanks for laying it all out! It can be overwhelming when you start researching this subject.

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    1. Thanks Shannon, I'm glad you liked it! It's ridiculous that every airline is different, I wish there could be one standard for all of them. I also wish the insanely short carrier requirements would be adjusted, even some small dogs can't stand up in such a small carrier.

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  46. I am so glad you outlined these for pet parents. I will never fly with a dog as cargo ever ever ever (being a pet journalist and blogger for years, oye the things I have learned and people who have told me stories). I digress. With that said, I would have my dog by my side if possible. I dream of that day!

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    1. Me too! I'll fly with just Phoebe, she goes in the cabin with me, or I don't fly. We choose our vacations based on whether or not we can drive there with both our dogs!

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  47. I've flown with Mr. N a couple times. I specifically wanted a dog that could go in cabin because I don't want to fly them in cargo. Flying dogs is not a quick process (paperwork/phone calls) unless they're service dogs!

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  48. This is really helpful for pet parents who are considering flying with their pets. My daughter recently adopted a dog, and I'm hoping she brings her home at Christmas. However, the dog might be too big for the cabin and there is no way they will put her in the cargo area.

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  49. This is really helpful information, Cathy! We have never flown with Ruby, but I think she would definitely fit another the seat and we now have a sherpa bag for her.

    I would never have thought about checking the weather at both ends. I have always heard horror stories about the temperature issues in cargo - I don't think I could ever take this risk, but I know sometimes people don't have a choice.

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  50. The thought of putting my dog on a plane scares me to no end. I would only even consider it if it was a matter of life and death.

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  51. Great post and I have flown a lot but have never flown with a pet and am debating whether to go visit family in South Africa next year and take Layla so am reading and learning all the time which closer to the time will make my decision easier

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  52. Things have really changed for the better since I traveled with my girls years ago. I am definitely a fan of the soft sided carriers. At least now our pets can travel in style with all the colorful choices to choose from.

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  53. This is such a detailed guide! babu is about 20 lbs and thus cannot be taken in the main cabin. We leave him with our cousins (they love him and have a huge house and yard) rather than risk taking him in cargo.

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  54. It gives me anxiety to even think about traveling by plane with my pup! I think I'm with you on the road trips being better for bigger dogs, cargo and my dog being away from me scares me too much.

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  55. WHat great tips! It is very important to know that each airline does have different rules. It is crazy how smallthe carrier has to be to fit under the seats! We have all big dogs, so when we go anywhere we have to get a sitter or drive. THanks for the tips!

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  56. I will never ever fly a dog in cargo again...as a result of an experience over 20 years ago. My poodle did fine flying but my Eskie was traumatized either by the flight itself or by the way he was handled. He never wanted to go in his airline carrier again. The little ones and the service dogs seem to do well in the cabin.

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  57. I would have a hard time ever putting my cats in cargo on a plane. It would be so traumatizing for them! Great reminder about the weather restrictions too. I would have never thought about that before booking a flight. There are a lot of details you have to look into if you're going to fly with a pet.
    -Purrs from your friends at www.PlayfulKitty.net

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  58. This is great information. We, like you, tend to drive for family holidays. If we have to fly, we leave the pups behind.

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  59. Wonderful post, filled with so much information I've never thought of. As a big dog, if I travel with my humans we always drive as they don't want to fly as cargo either. By the way, the red carrier Phoebe is in, we have the same one for our cat, Callie, and love it! :)

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  60. Terrific, very informative post! I’ve flown twice with my mastiffs, both times they fit under the seat. Hard to believe I know! I guess I should mention they were 8 weeks old. Fortunately the nice folks at Southwest didn’t weigh my XL Sherpa bag because both puppies were over the weight limit. Haha!

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