Flying with Pets

Parent Reviews

RE: Cross country move ()

Regarding the cats, we flew our three cats from FL to CA when we moved here three years ago.  Try and get a non-stop flight. Make sure the pet carriers are the airline approved size. Going through security was a little stressful but the TSA agents were very helpful and brought me to a little room, and I took each cat out of it's carrier (one at a time) and held it so they could scan the carrier.  Allow extra time at the airport for this. Lastly, we decided against giving the cats any type of sedative and they were all very quiet on the plane.  Safe travels! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Flying two dogs to Buenos Aires

June 2014

I have two dogs. I need to travel to Argentina once a year for a month each time. I need to take my dogs to Buenos Aires with me, as it is very expensive to pay for them to get taken care of for a whole month. So, I have a few questions: does anyone know/recommend an airline that would transport the dogs in a secure way? Also, there are no direct flights to Buenos Aires. Do you have any recommendation so that the dogs will not get lost/sent on the wrong plane on the way? Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. Anon

I do not recommend taking your dogs to Buenos Aires. I know that petsitting is expensive but first of all, you have to pay for your dogs, they are not free. And yes, you have a layover flight, and also two very long flights. Do you think your dogs will survive that? It sounds horrible I think. And more importantly, you'd better contact the consulate for the destination country. They may quarantine your dogs for months! and then, you have to call the US Consolate - can you bring them back through customs?????

traveler and dog lover

Hi....As a longtime dog lover and world traveler, i would not recommend flying your dogs that distance. It is stressful and too many dogs are lost, endangered by stupid handlers leaving them on the tarmac in extreme weather,etc. (not to mention what they might be exposed to in another country with change in food,water,environment,parasites,etc) And it is expensive to fly them internationally. There are some really excellent boarding facilities that can offer a better price for longer stays....and provide daily exercise,play time etc.. Camp K9 on Crow Canyon road is excellent. The couple that owns the place live on site and they have a wonderful staff. You might also consider a house/pet sitter. Wish you the best ... melanie

Okay. I just gotta weigh in on this as I am passionate. My response is based on many (too many) horror stories shared to me by my husband over his decades long employment with a major U.S. airline and now as a direct employee of an international airport.

His words, 'DON'T DO IT.'

When he was a mechanic, the dubious nature of this practice was considered inhumane by ramp and mechanic crews (those actually working on/around planes and who ultimately deal with the repercussions). Dead dogs, terrified dogs, sweet family dogs turned Kujo, permanently tramautized dogs, dog escaping kennels loose on tarmacs & runways, subsequently run over or permanently lost outdoors. Dogs as 'lost luggage' anyone? All happened while he worked there; I could go on...

He personally never met a single in the know employee, who would transport an animal in a commercial airliner. The exception being one guy permanently moving his family to Hawaii; and he was worried sick.

Literally, just this month my husband doing rounds had to advocate for a poor dog unloaded and left on the ground in 90 degree heat with no water by a ramp agent who got a radio call. The ramp guy said someone else would get the dog. My husband waited and no one ever came. Thankfully he was in the right place at the right time and quite frankly was someone who gave a damn. No offense to any rampers out there, but this is far from an isolated incident. High turnover job with low pay, doing high volume work is not a good match for dealing with fragile living things treated as cargo.

You can google companies that specialize in pet transportation. Some are just there to take your money acting as only a middle man between you and the airline (same problems as above). Some are specialized companies who fly their own planes & crew (at least domestically) and some may offer something in between. If you insist on flying your dogs, please hire someone excellent and do your due diligence. In spades. Spend whatever it takes to make it safe... Which I guess negates your stated motive of saving money.

My neighbor has flown her Portuguese water dogs to show/competitions for years with no problems, as far as she is 'aware' of. And breeders (for profit) do it all day long. And I imagine 'official' statistics (i don't know them) must not be that bad, otherwise I would think the media and PETA would be up in arms big time. But, just because your golden retriever is wagging its tail when you rejoin each other doesn't mean he/she wasn't terrified during transport.

As for our family, we'd no sooner fly a beloved pet in cargo, than we would sent a toddler all alone in coach. Seen & heard too much...

Flying with a 50-lb dog

June 2009

We're flying back east this summer for three weeks and are planning on bringing our 50-lb dog. We've spoken with the airline (Continental) about their policies and feel comfortable with their advice and procedures. We have non-stop flights that avoid the hottest parts of the day in our destination, Newark NJ. We'd love advice from anyone who has done this recently. How did pick up/drop off go? (My husband will fly east with the dog by himself, so we're assuming he needs someone to drop him off at the airport as opposed to trying to get the dog, kennel, etc. to the airline counter from the parking garage). Did you sedate your dog? (It seems that used to be much more common and recommended than it is now). Any advice is appreciated. Thanks, Molly

I flew with my 100lb dog lots between Toronto and San Francisco. We never medicated him and he was always fine. I made sure he had a drink before we left the house and then a good pee break right before loading him into the carrier at the check-in desk. Judy

I haven't flown with a dog in MANY years, but something I used to do to set my mind at ease...when I was on the plane I'd tell the flight attendant that I was concerned my dog would be left behind (I was) and could they check to be sure she was on the plane. They always did and I felt much more assured. One time I was flying on a smaller plane, a short distance and as they were closing the baggage hatch, I saw my dog in her crate sitting out on the runway...I freaked out....Ever since then I always asked (she got put on the plane...good thing I saw). good luck anon

Have you looked into using Pet Airways? I don't think they fly out of the Bay Area yet, but they do from L.A. That might not be convenient, but your dog wouldn't have to be in cargo. I personally would never fly with my dogs in cargo. I've heard of lost/loose/dead dogs and I won't put my pups through the stress. I'd be interested in hearing about other people's experiences, but this is just my opinion. Good luck. My dogs don't fly

Is it absolutely necessary to fly with the dog? I ask this because my experience of doing so have been absolute nightmares. For example, after checking in ahead of time with the airline to get a properly sized crate, and then asking again about the size of the crate at check-in, I got on the plane only to have them tell me after the plane left the gate that the dog was not on the plane because the crate was too big. At that point, they could not let me off the plane to go on the same plane as the dog. My dog was lost luggage! After I arrived in Newark, I had to wait an additional three hours for the dog to arrive. The poor thing had been in the crate for almost ten hours by then. And he was extremely freaked out--though the animal cabin is pressurized, obviously, it's not climate controlled and it's very very loud. I think it was a very horrible experience for my dog.

I'm sure mine is not the only horror story you will hear. If you have ANY option (like a house/dig sitter)--and you don't absolutely need your dog to be on vacation with you, I would re-consider. If you must take the dog on the plane, my vet did not recommend a sedative, because if the dog is groggy he is only more likely to injure himself. leave fido home if possible

Flying with a lap dog

May 2008

Has anyone flown with a lap dog? My mom may fly to visit us if she can bring her healthy, very small dog instead of boarding it. The airline allows passengers to bring dogs in carriers into the cabin (essentially, your carry on luggage). They must be stowed under the seat in front of you and cannot be taken out of the carrier during the flight. Since the dog must remain in the carrier, she's concerned about what do if her dog whines or has a smelly problem. Please share your personal experience of flying with a lap dog in the cabin (pro or con). Opinions without personal experience are not what we need to help us decide what to do. Thanks. Wanting a visit from my mom

My husband and I still joke about the time we brought a puppy back from Denver on a United flight. We think we are barred from United : - }. It was not a good experience, but the puppy was agitated, hot, and cried the whole time, which did annoy other passengers. We were told the puppy was too young to give him anything that might make him calmer, but your mom should consult with her vet and see if she can give her dog something to relax it for the flight. I would suggest a direct flight, if possible. I think it also depends on the temperment of the dog, ours turned out to be a very high strung puppy and got really upset when he got hot.(the flight attendant suggested my husband put a blanket over the crate thinking the puppy would sleep, but he got hot and really mad). Is your mom's dog used to being crated? Most airlines require the pet to be crated, and remain in the crate the whole flight. If so, it will probably do O.K. on the flight, and she can just ignore the other passengers, she will probably never see them again anyway. We will drive next time

Hi, We took our toy poodle with us to Mexico last year. Fortunately, we had enought bonus miles to fly first class. This was enormously helpful. I took our dog out for a walk before leaving for the airport and again into the smoking section of the airport at the stopover in LA. We also gave him a homeopathic rescue remedy for anxiety. He had no problems. Some of the airline hosts/hostesses were ''dog people'' and allowed me to keep my dog in my lap after take off. Others insisted he stay in the bag the whole time. Suggest to your mom that she visit the vet before the trip. The vet will likely have additional useful information. Sydney

We've flown numerous times with our mini weiner dog as a ''lap dog''; each leg of the trip was over 2000 miles(more than 5 hours in-flight). We didn't give her anything to eat for 2 hours before even leaving for the airport, so she hasn't eaten for more than 6 hours by the time we reach our destination. But we've never had a ''potty'' accident, and I think that's why. Nevertheless, we always bring a doggy ''potty pad'' with us as part of our carry-on, so if there is an accident and we have to toss the sheepskin that lines the bottom of her Sherpa-brand carrier, she can lay on the clean/dry potty pad. We also bring a small wash cloth in case she throws up: our dog gets car sick, but surprisingly we've never had a vomit-incident in flight. My most important advice to you is that you absolutely must get an aisle seat: oftentimes the regulation-size carrier will not fit under the seat if you are at the window or -- heaven forbid -- in the center seat. And it'll even be a bit difficult on the aisle; prepare for the in-flight crew to give you grief if the carrier is not all the way under(and each airline/plane is different when it come to roominess under the seat, so you have no way of knowing!!! Lucky for us, our family takes up all three seats, so we have been able to switch the carrier to the most comfortable spot. But get an aisle seat in any case.) Our weiner dog is yappy and high-strung. The first time we flew with her, I was prepared for the worst: that she would bark incessantly and whine and cry; it's not happened so far. That being said, she does get restless during the last 90 minutes: she starts scratching on the carrier. We calm her by putting carrier on our lap and tucking our hand inside to pet her; we just open it a little and stroke her head. A friend recommended that we bring an antihistamine tablet along to make her sleep right before taking off -- not a doggy medication, just our own ''people'' drug. We always bring a dose, but have never had to medicate her; nevertheless, I'd bring some sort of calming agent just to be safe. If you have a layover, you can open the bag and let her stretch a bit: we haven't been chastised for this; just be discreet. Good Luck! anon