8 Things You Need to Know About Air Travel with Dogs.

8 Things You Need to Know About Air Travel with Dogs. |

As a dog owner, lover, and friend; it is very hard for me to imagine myself enjoying a trip without my four-legged friend. However, air travel with dogs is not the most straightforward choice, too. 

It took me a lot of time researching about do’s and do not’s while air travel with dogs, also this became a very mattering subject for me after hearing that several dogs passed away on airplanes; including the lovely black French bulldog, kokito, that broke all of our hearts knowing what he and his family went through.

The tragic story of Kokito the dog. Credit: ABC13

The heartbreaking story of the beautiful girl Maggie who witnessed her dog’s death on March 12, 2018, on the united Airline flight from Houston, Texas to New York; was a wake-up call to all dog-owner travelers.

For this who didn’t know; According to the news, the black French bulldog, kokito, barked for at least 30 minutes, until they found him dead after the plane had landed.

The tragic accident happened when the passenger and her daughter were asked to move the dog carrier; as if it is blocking part of the aisle. Therefore, the flight attendant asked her to move the dog’s carrier to the bin above, with the bags.

The tragic death of Kokito had many dog owner travelers concerned. And, to be honest, they should. Therefore, we thought that it is very important to make it easier for you, and round up everything you need to know about air travel with dogs; Airplanes rules, dog’s health care, carrier, and other very important things every dog owner traveler need to know.

Air travel with dogs
Dog Collar

But, before we start our very helpful guide, you need to know that before you decide to air travel with dogs; you need to make sure that your dog is identified with either his/her collar- we have talked before about the importance of collars here- or microchipped. 

You need to make sure that your dog has on him/her all the relevant information that will help you find him/her in case you lost him/her; your and her/his name, your phone number, and your address.

Top Airlines Pet Travel Policies:

When you decide to take your dog with you on a plane, you need to know airlines pet policies and choose the one that fits best your needs. Therefore, here are the top airlines that allow air travel with dogs.

American Airlines:

Service and emotional support animals are allowed in the cabin with no charge. However, they need to be fully-trained, must be clean and well-behaved, must be able to fit at your feet, and if you have a kennel for your dog; it must fit under your seat. And here are the other requirements; that you need to pay attention to.

Moreover, for those whom their dogs are not one of the emotional support animals; you need to know that, according to American Airlines, only small pets that are at least 8 months old, and doesn’t exceed 9 kilograms -including their carrier’s weight are allowed, with fee $125 per carrier.

United Airlines

United airlines also allow Service and Emotional support dogs. However, he/she must sit in the floor space in front of his/her owner’s seat, and stay away from the aisles. 

And for dogs that are not service or emotional support dogs; should be at least 4 months old, and his/her owner has to pay $125 service charge. Also, the dog’s carrier should fit under the seat, and remain there ALL THE TIME.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest airlines allow service and emotional support dogs to fly with their owners; only if they are not larger than a two or three years old child, and, of course, need to fit in his/her owner’s lap, or sit in the floor in front of him/her.

But, for dogs that are not service or emotional support dogs; they need to pay $95, fit under the seat, and stay calm in their carrier.

Alaska Airlines

Also, Alaska Airlines allow service and emotional support dogs with free charge. However, they must not be older than one year. 

And, according to their requirements; dogs that weight 9 kilograms (both their weight and their carriers weight), and at least 8 weeks old are welcomed with $100 fees. 

Moreover, Alaska Airlines allows each passenger to travel with a maximum of 2 pets. Not to mention, that all dogs should remain calm in their carrier, under the seat; all the time.

What are Emotional Support Dogs and Service Dogs?

Service Dogs:

Well, service dogs are trained to do a job that his/her owner can’t due to physical or emotional disability. They are very well trained, caring, and loving dogs; that are specially trained to assist particular types of disabilities.

According to the ADA, the Americans for Disabilities Acts, service dogs are trained to provide seeing functions to the blind, hearing functions for the deaf, medical alert, and children with autism, and more…

Emotional Support Dogs or the (ESD) 

Emotional support dogs are dogs that are qualified enough, and well-trained to support their owners emotionally. Emotional support dog owners live with a lot of mental and emotional challenges, for instance: anxiety, depression, eating disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental and emotional disorders.

Most probably service and emotional support dog owners are allowed to get their dogs with them anywhere. However, some places refuse to welcome them.

But when travel with dogs that are a service or emotional support dogs; airplanes the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows them, but you are required to give them a letter from your doctor, or mental professional health.

All airplanes policies require you to keep your dog calm, clean, well-trained, and in his/her carrier; all the trip. And if you are wondering why, just imagine that you are on a plane with a super active, big, noisy dog; a nightmare, right?

Not to mention how anxious he/she will be if he/she is not ready yet for the airplane experience. And that takes us to our next point: 

Preparing your dog to fly.


The first and most important thing that you need to do before air travel with dogs is to get him/her vet-checked. Get your dog an expert veterinarian to check him/her properly; you need to check on his/her weight, health, and all other check-ups. 

Grooming your dog is a very necessary part of the preparing process; you need to make sure that your dog is clean, comfortable, his/her nails are well-trimmed, no fleas; and he/she is perfectly healthy.

air travel with dogs
Happy and healthy

Remember that you might need a certificate to add it with the required documents for the dog, so don’t forget to get enough copies; maybe three copies are a good idea, so you put one with the documents, one in your bag, and the other one on the dog’s carrier.

Read the rules carefully

As you already noticed; there are different policies for every airplane, some of them require specific age, other focus on the size, some of the airplanes requires the dog owner to submit the dog’s documents earlier. 

You need to pay attention to every single detail, so you don’t face any troubles while you are in the airport ready to air travel with dogs.

Get a suitable dog carrier 

Remember, your dog doesn’t know what the carrier is, and why he/she is locked into it, and why it is not as big as his/her home, and why he/she can’t get out and play with you for all that time; all of these questions he/she doesn’t have the answer for it, and this will make him/her anxious about the carrier.

Therefore, you need to make him/her get used to it; he/she need to be familiar with the carrier before he/she gets into it. 

Practice, practice, practice; you need to practice with your dog every day till the flying time to stay in the carrier, be comfortable with using it and staying in it. Your dog needs to understand that this is temporarily, and he/she will get out of it soon, and all he/she have to do is stay calm.

How is this going to happen?

Not by the negative reinforcement; not by shouting, punishing your dog and forcing him/her to stay in the carrier. But, with the positive reinforcement; by giving him/her the chance to get used to the carrier, be comfortable using it, and, of course, what I mean with the positive reinforcement is treats, positive words, and patience.


Please, don’t try new stuff that may cause your dog stomach upsets before the flight; you don’t need any potty mishaps in the plane! 

So, stick to your dog’s diet, give your dog the chance to walk, relieve himself/herself, and exercise for a little bit before the flight; so, he gets rid of all the extra energy.

And if you need to know more about dog foods, what is good and what is bad; check this article.


I know you already understood that you need to take care of your dog’s food and drinks before the flight. However, even if your dog is the world dog champion for holding the pee; accidents happen. And again, you really don’t want one of those accidents to happen in the plane.

Therefore, I recommend you take a pee-pad with you and replace it well int the dog’s carrier. For this, I do recommend the PADSMART, and you can know more about it from here.


So, today is the big day. Now you are getting ready for the flight; all your documents are with you, you made all the needed check-ups, and you have the perfect carrier. Now what?

air travel with dogs
Let’s go, mum!

Be there in time

Believe me when I say that you don’t need to make your dog worried this day; so, be there on time so you don’t have to run, shout or make any sudden or nervous moves around your dog.

Therefore, be there on time, check all your things before you leave, and put the required papers near your hand; so, you can get them easily.

Don’t forget your dog’s favorite toy.

Air travel with dogs is a confusing experience for dogs; it is a new experience for your dog, a lot of different smells, movements, and a lot of people. Therefore, you need to make your dog feel safe; and the only way of doing this right is to give him the stuff he/she is used to having back home.

So, it is very important to bring his/her favorite toy with you; and you can find more about toys, here.

Have fun.

I know that things can get really crazy sometimes, but there is always room for having fun with your four-legged friend. 

This trip is meant to be a nice, well-planned, relaxing trip; Okay. Maybe not tell that moment, but come on! we will do anything to get our beloved dogs anywhere with us, right?

So, after all these stressing moments are now gone; it is about time to have fun with your dog, and enjoy a safe flight.

air travel with dogs
I am so ready!

Don’t forget to tell us about your air travel with dogs adventures, and if this is your first time; did you find this article beneficial?

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