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Flying with your dog: 13 burning questions answered.

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

Our team recently embarked on a journey from Edmonton to Vancouver with our canine co-pilot, and we asked our Instagram followers if they had any questions about the experience. The response was overwhelming, and we're here to provide you with all the answers you need.

Have you ever wondered about the ins and outs of traveling with your furry companion? From size restrictions for in-cabin and cargo travel to dealing with anxious pups and navigating airport security, flying with your dog can be an adventure in itself.

In this post, we'll address your top queries and concerns about flying with your dog. We'll cover everything from airline recommendations and preparing your dog for travel to the cost of pet-friendly flights and the changing landscape of Emotional Support Dog regulations. So, fasten your seatbelts (or should we say "collars"), as we take you on a journey through the skies with your beloved four-legged friend. Whether you're a seasoned pet traveler or a first-time flyer, this guide has something for everyone. Let's dive in and make your next adventure with your pup a smooth and enjoyable one!

1. What are the size restrictions for cabin vs. cargo?

Size restrictions for dogs in the cabin vary depending on the airline. Typically, dogs in the cabin must fit comfortably in an airline-approved pet carrier*. This carrier then fits under the seat in front of you. The one we used on our most recent travel was the Sherpa bag, which we find is the best option due to their 100% guarantee!

The weight limit for in cabin pets typically ranges from 15 to 22 pounds, and carrier dimensions must meet specific guidelines set by the airline. We've found that the two best Airlines to fly with your dog are Flair Air and Air Transat, especially for dogs that are near the 22 lbs mark. For more information on airlines, check out a recent Instagram post where we covered this topic here.

Dogs weighing up to 100 pounds or more can travel in the cargo hold. Over 100 lbs? Keep on reading for some other options that are new for dog owners.

Our top pick for an airline approved dog carrier, found on*

2. How should you prepare your dog for travel?

Preparing your dog for travel should be done weeks in advance and is crucial in ensuring your dog is comfortable in their carrier or crate. Start by gradually introducing your dog to the carrier, making it a positive and safe space. Pro tip: treat training is a great place to start.

Next, take short car rides while your pup is in his or her bag to get your dog used to motion, and practice going in and out of the carrier at home. This will be an important training lesson for when you're required to take your dog out before security.

Be sure to consult with your vet for any specific recommendations regarding your dog's health and travel needs as well.

3. Are there any flights for my 120lbs calm/obedient/boring puppers to take in cabin?

Yes! There are options for larger dogs to fly in-cabin. Some airlines, like K9Jets, specialize in accommodating larger dogs. However, it's essential to check with individual airlines for their specific size and weight restrictions and inquire about in-cabin options for bigger dogs.

4. What to do when they are anxious? How do you train them?

While no one on our team has ever had to worry about an anxious dog, it's always wise to consider the possibility of anxiety during travel - especially as it's not uncommon for dogs. To ensure a smoother journey for your furry friend, take a cautious approach. Begin with gradual exposure to travel, using positive reinforcement to help your dog become accustomed to the experience. Avoid feeding your dog immediately before the flight to reduce the chances of motion sickness or discomfort. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise before the flight to help them relax during travel, and allow them to relieve themselves before boarding. Bringing along a familiar toy or comfort item can provide reassurance, and consulting with your veterinarian before flying is always a good idea. And finally, consult with your veterinarian for advice on sedatives, anti-nausea medications, or natural remedies if you're concerned about your dog's anxiety.

These measures can contribute to a more comfortable travel experience for your beloved canine companion.

5. Airline inflight limits seem to have gotten really strict/small - what do you do?

The rules and regulations around Emotional Support Dogs has recently changed, but the other rules seems to be the same, if not a bit more lax. For example, in the past passengers were required to weigh the dog during time of check in. As we checked in online with Flair Air, we weren't asked to do this. They did have a weigh scale before boarding, and we saw some passengers were asked to weigh their bags, but we were not hassled. We believe this is because our dog was in the right size carrier - not to mention he is within the size requirement.

6. How much does it cost?

Fees typically range from $75 to $100 each way ($150 - $200 round trip). If you're interested in diving deeper into pricing for popular airlines, we've recently published an article that includes rates for the top 5 airlines in the industry.

7. Which airline would you recommend?

Our team's most recent travel experience was with Flair Air, and it was seamless. One noteworthy convenience is their option to add your dog to your reservation online after booking, eliminating the need for lengthy phone waits. This user-friendly feature made our journey planning exceptionally convenient.

Note: Some airlines may require a phone call to book a ticket for your dog. Since the number of available pet seats is often limited, it’s a good idea to secure your dog’s spot right after booking your own ticket. This way, you’ll have plenty of flexibility to accommodate your furry friend on your flight, and it can make your travel plans more convenient and enjoyable. If you’re uncertain about availability, you can also reach out to the airline before booking to check if there are spots open for pets on your chosen flight.

8. Are you allowed to walk your dog through the airport?

We spotted quite a few dogs taking leisurely walks around the airport! It appears that, as long as your canine companion is well-behaved, well-trained, and under control, it’s generally permissible to let them roam a bit outside of their travel crate. While this has been our experience during our dog-friendly travels, it’s important to note that rules and policies can evolve over time. However, if someone were to ask, it would probably just mean gently guiding your dog back into their crate.

9. What should you do when going through security?

You can either walk your dog on leash through the security check with you, or you can carry your dog.

10. Was your pup with you at your seat?

Our pup was comfortably under the seat in front of us when flying. We were allowed to open the crate to administer medicine and/or give him some water. Our flight was packed, and we weren't beside the most friendliest of traveller, so we kept our dog inside his crate. However, in previous experiences with more relaxed flights, flight attendants have sometimes allowed us to let our dog stretch his legs. It's worth noting that these instances occurred before the pandemic, and while we wouldn't rely on this option, we've heard similar stories from other pet owners - especially when on an empty flight.

11. What airline did you fly with?

We flew with Flair Air this time around, but have flown with Air Canada and West Jet in the past. We've even had someone on the team take their dog to Vegas once - which is a very dog friendly spot with lots of restaurants that allow dogs right at your table!

12. How do Emotional Support dogs travel?

Travel regulations for Emotional Support Dogs have recently changed. In the past, they could travel without a crate, but this is no longer the case. Emotional Support Dogs must now adhere to the same cabin and cargo regulations as other dogs. The only difference seems to be that Emotional Support dogs can travel for free on some airlines (Flair Air being one of them). Be sure to check with your airline for any specific requirements and documentation needed for traveling with an Emotional Support Dog.

Required documents usually involve:

· Document from a physician or medical health professional who is licensed and in good standing with their governing body advising that the person requires an emotional support animal to accommodate their disability.

· A veterinary certificate that includes the following:

· Identifies the specific emotional support dog by name and breed.

· Identifies the person with a disability who relies on that dog as an emotional support dog.

· attests that the emotional support dog is healthy enough to travel; free from contagious diseases, ticks, and fleas; and current on its vaccinations; and

· states whether the veterinarian has any knowledge of inappropriate behaviour exhibited by the emotional support dog, including aggressive behaviour, excessive whining or barking, or causing injury to others.

13. Which airlines allow dogs in cabin?

We recently posted about this on our Instagram, which you can check out here. We've also written an article on the topic here, and we're excited to bring you a series of articles dedicated to flying with your furry friend. If you'd like to receive email notifications about these upcoming articles and more, simply enter your email address below. We'll only send you updates as part of our Weekly Bark Emails, and you can unsubscribe at any time :).

More about GoDoggo GoDoggo is your ultimate dog-friendly city guide, making planning days out with your pup easier than ever. With 18 different categories ranging from restaurants, coffee shops, breweries to shopping, attractions, gyms, hikes and trails, the app helps dog owners discover and explore places based on their location, read and leave reviews from the perspective of dog owners, and learn more about the dog-friendliness of each location. Soon, the app will also have dog-friendly events. Download the app here.

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