Pets On The Plane

Woman and her labradoodle dog driving with the car

Let me start off by saying, I am a pet owner. I love my dog, Bailey. My dog loves car trips. My dog has stayed in a hotel. My dog has pranced across the prairies. My dog has frolicked in the ocean. My dog has never been on a plane…and maybe you shouldn’t bring yours either.

Lets be clear, there are exceptions. Lots of them, actually.  Moving across the country and a five day car trip would stress Felix out. Sure. Service dog for the blind. Without a doubt. Do a search for pet travel on TripAdvisor and there are literally thousands of people weighing in on the issue of plane travel for pets.

Here are a few considerations to help you decide if your pet should travel by plane.

Is It Safe For My Pet To Fly?

Generally dogs or cats that are considered to be snub or pug nosed will not be allowed to travel, due to potential breathing difficulties. Delta airlines lists 25 different dog types that are not allowed, including English bull dogs, pugs and Shih Tzus. Sorry Bailey, you aren’t even allowed to fly. Himalayan and Persian cats are out too.

Is It Safe For My Fellow Passengers?

Technically, if an animal is secured in a properly sized and inspected kennel, the answer is yes. But what about allergies?  An estimated ten percent of the population is allergic to household pets, with cat allergies being the most common. Most airlines will attempt to move allergic passengers, but on a crowded busy flight there is no guarantee. If you are the one that is allergic, call the airline ahead of time. Some airlines will provide a buffer zone that guarantees that pets will not be within a certain distance of you.

Think Twice About Cargo

Most airlines only allow small dogs or cats in the cabin. All other animals, including large dogs, must be sent cargo. Both PETA and the Humane Society strongly advise against shipping your pet in cargo. At best, it’s stressful for your pet. At worst, it’s dangerous, even fatal. Last year alone, on US airlines, there were 35 pet deaths, 25 injuries and 3 lost pets. Generally, the cargo hold does not have the same air conditioning or heating that the main cabin does. This can put Fluffy at a greater risk of being harmed by temperature extremes. Most airlines don’t accept pets in the cargo hold if the temperature outside, at either the departure or arrival airport, is above 29°C / 84°F.

Dog on train


Always do your research. Prices vary considerably, and are usually based on weight. This includes the weight of the kennel itself. Prices are usually cheaper in the cabin compared to cargo. Expect to pay about $125 each way in cabin. A Labrador Retriever in cargo can cost about $400. Always try to book direct. Some airlines recharge the fee if there is a stopover of more than four hours.

Book In Advance

You can’t just show up with your pet. Check your airline’s rules carefully. You will have to pre book and prepay. The earlier you do this the better. Airlines often have limits on the number of pets allowed in the cabin and in cargo. That means if you don’t book early enough there might not be a spot for your pet.

Do the Paperwork

Most airlines require a health certificate certifying that your animal is healthy and is up to date with vaccinations. Usually this documentation needs to be completed within ten days of your flight. Stay for too long at your destination and it needs to be redone before boarding your return flight.


There’s No Guarantee

Even if you have done everything by the book, there is still no guarantee that your pet will be getting on the plane. All airlines reserve the right to not transport your pet. If an unexpected snow storm or heat wave hit, your pet can be bumped. Occasionally an airline has to substitute the plane type due to mechanical problems. Not every type of plane can safely carry animals. For example, Delta doesn’t carry pets on their 757 aircraft. Always have a back up plan.

It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your pet. Whatever you choose, I hope you and your special furry friend have a great trip.





18 thoughts on “Pets On The Plane

  1. When we moved from the US to the UK, we shipped our dog and two cats and they were fine. (It never occurred to us that there might be any danger.) The paperwork, though, was hair raising–not the airline’s but the UK’s.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wouldn’t have thought so either. I’m not sure I would send my dog in cargo after reading through some of the research. Of course that might be an overreaction too. I lived in the UK for a year, a few years back, and my dog had to stay home. At that time she would have been in a 6 month quarantine in the UK and another 6 months when we came back. It wasn’t worth it to bring her.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They’ve switched the system to a sort of paper quarantine, where you file the first papers six months ahead and then wait. Which makes no sense at all but at least it doesn’t leave an animal locked up for six months.


  2. I don’t think I could bring myself to fly with my dog knowing he’d have to go in the cargo hold. I can only imagine how terrifying that whole experience would be for him, and I’d be worried about him the whole flight. I have driven across the States with my dog though, and he loves car trips.

    I’ve found to be a great site for finding pet-friendly hotels. They have listings for hotels in many countries across the world.


  3. My friend Deborah took her three Bombay cats to Paris three years ago. Your readers might enjoy learning what that entailed for her. She planned on taking them on the cruise ship with her but was told at the last moment the reserved spots were no longer available. She then had to arrange an air flight so her kitties arrived when she did.

    Liked by 1 person

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