Once you have a destination and accommodations you're sure you and your pup can enjoy, it's time to book your flight. Don't book your trip online so that you can make sure your plane can accommodate your pup.
Some flights don't allow dogs, while others generally have limited space in their live animal cargo hold.
When choosing a flight, remember to consider the weather. In the summer, it’s best to avoid midday flights where it might get too warm in the cargo hold.
In the winter, avoid evening or early morning flights to keep your dog from getting too cold. Or, you can fit your pup in some weather-appropriate dog clothes to keep them comfortable during the trip.
When booking, it’s always best to do so over the phone, so you can select one that can surely accommodate your pup. Speaking with an airline representative will also allow you to ask all the questions you might have about flying with a dog.
Remember that different airlines will have different regulations, so it's essential to do your homework before you book. To help you out, however, here are 3 airlines that are generally recognized for their excellent service when traveling with dogs:
Except for Hawaii and a few international destinations, Delta will allow you to take your pup as part of your carry-on luggage if they are small enough to fit in a dog carrier stowed under the airplane seat. That will cost anywhere from $75 to $200 per way, depending on your destination.
For larger dogs, Delta Cargo is a safe and reliable option for pet shipping within the US and some international destinations. Note that you may or may not be able to share a flight with your pup using this option.
2) Southwest Airlines
Like Delta, Southwest Airlines allows you to carry your dog in-cabin during your flight for as long as they’re small enough to fit in an appropriate dog carrier under the seat in front of you. Also, that’s limited to domestic flights. With the exception of service animals, pets aren’t allowed inside the cabin on international flights. They will be held in a separate pressurized cargo hold specifically for live animals.
The pet fare on Southwest Airlines is $95 each way. Keep in mind that they only allow up to 6 pet carriers in the cargo hold per flight, so make sure you book your spot in advance.
3) American Airlines
With the exception of snub-nosed or brachycephalic dog breeds, American Airlines allows you to travel with your pets within the United States and Canada, as well as several international locations. Note that restrictions vary per destination, so make sure you double check before you book.
Like other carriers, American Airlines will allow small animals in the cabin while larger animals will be held in the cargo area. Carry-on pets cost $125 per way, while checked pets cost $200 per way.
Once you've selected a flight and have booked your tickets, make sure you read through the fine print. Pay special attention to the pet policies, so you know what to expect and how to prepare your dog as well as yourself for the flight.