When a pet owner travels, it always presents the gut wrenching dilemma of what to do with a loved pet. The proposition of leaving the pet behind in a kennel, asking a friend to “pet sit” or using those upscale doggie hotels that most of us don’t consider affordable – are not attractive options. Perhaps there’s another possibility. Consider taking the dog with you the next time to fly.

Traveling with a dog requires a lot of preparation, here you will find the best tips for a successful trip.

Plan Ahead

Being able to take a small dog in-cabin on a plane is a huge relief to many pet owners. Expect to have the best possible outcome if time is allotted to think ahead, make plans and take appropriate action. If a pet is to ride on the plane in-cabin, there are requirements to consider.

Carrier Requirements

The pet must be able to comfortably fit in a pet carrier that will fit beneath the seat in front of you on the plane. Generally, a pet more than 15 lbs. is too large to qualify. An appropriate carrier should be FAA approved and be no larger than 17” x 12” x 8”. Soft-sided carriers are preferable as they can be squished and made to fit into the available space. As long as the pet is comfortable, can re-position itself while enclosed in the case and can breathe properly, the pet carrier will be suitable for the pet as well as satisfactory from the airline’s point of view.

Tickets & Reservations

There will be two distinct steps in making the airline reservations if intending to fly in-cabin with a pet.

  1. For the owner and any other human travelers, booking a flight will involve the very same process that travelers are accustomed to. The traditional approach of calling the airline, going online to the airline’s website, using a travel agent or using one of the online based travel services to reserve and book your flight just as you normally would be step 1.
  2. Now for Step 2: Buying a ticket for the Four-legged friend. Once a ticket is secured for the pet owner, using the reservation or confirmation number for the owner’s flight will make it possible to secure a companion ticket for the pet. By simply contacting the airline’s toll-free number, you can make additional flight arrangements for your pet. Please note, there are usually limitations on how many pets that will be allowed on any given flight. This limit not only includes pets flying in-cabin, but also service dogs for handicapped flyers.

Keep in mind: To ensure the pet gets in under the maximum number of pets allowed, it’s wise to make flight arrangements as far in advance as possible. A fee will be charged for the pet to travel in-cabin. The fee is waived for service or therapy dogs.

Packing for Pup

To be amply prepared for any outcome, items should be packed both for the flight as well as layover or wait times in the airport. In order to have everything you need for your pet – at the time it’s needed, it’s wise to pack items both in your check in luggage and in your carry-on. Among the general items, you’ll need to pack are:

Do not forget to pack treats and dog bowls before your trip

  • at least one to two meals worth of food
  • favorite treats, chew toys and snacks
  • travel food and water bowls
  • leash and collar
  • dog tags, license and dated vaccination documents
  • portable dog bed
  • any medications or supplements
  • disposable dog waste sacks
  • water bottle (can be filled once you’re through security check in)

Last but certainly not least, once on the plane and settled, a few affectionate strokes might be just what’s needed to seal the deal.