Flights with a Large Dog in 2024 - Our Guide
Planning on Flying with a Large Dog on a commercial airline?. Here’s what the airlines AND the Airport don’t tell you.
“Give us a story first Paddy boy!”. I heard someone shout it. I did. Don’t worry it’s educational! And no, it’s not the one about the Cargo Manager and the box of Plutonium.
That’s for a special occasion….
This story is actually legendary in this business we call aviation. I’ll give you the quick version – because I know you have real airport jobs and puppies to watch on TikTok. You want to get to the dog-by-air related facts quick
… so let’s go walkies.
Our Large Dog Story
This is a true flight story. Two Baggage Handlers in Milan Malpensa were tending a flight on the hot ramp. They were feeling the summer heat, so they decided to have a quick nap inside the shady baggage truck.
Sometime later… they returned to loading their British Airways LHR flight, only to find a pet carrier hidden behind a pile of Samsonite’s. Inside the crate was a deceased dog.
Oh, mio dio.
Try as they might (and they did try) they could not resuscitate the large dog who had succumbed to the sweltering Italian summer. This cruel, cruel world had taken this poor animal.
To avoid the inevitable wrath – the boys hatched a foolproof plan. One of them would slowly resume loading the London bound bags, while the other ran to a nearby pet shop where he would procure an identical replacement dog. Delighted with the doppelganger, he shot back to Malpensa and the geniuses swapped dogs.
Large dog “Charles” was disposed of respectfully. And the Italian-speaking imposter, Large dog “Carlo”, was dispatched to his new English home (somewhere close to Buckingham Palace, according to the permit) with plenty of time to spare.
Two weeks later, one of the baggage handlers was having an espresso near a fountained Piazza in Milano when his colleague came running over like some maniac. He thrust a newspaper across the tiny table. It was a UK daily paper with a puff-piece about an elderly English couple…
They had arranged for their dead dog to be transported back to England. It was to be buried in a special plot in their back garden.
Except a miracle happened somewhere between Italy and England.
The husband speculated that it must have happened over Lourdes. But either way, arisen from the dead it had. It was a pan-European miracle. Frustratingly, it didn’t understand them anymore. And it refused to eat Tesco brand dog food. But it was alive! and that’s all that mattered.
We often wonder whether other folks tried that MXP-LHR route with their recently deceased pets after reading that story.
Animal Airline Travel
Us large dog owners want cabin pet information and facts. But first, you want an answer to that question. If I am flying with a large dog (or cat!) to the Airport, is there a chance that he could be removed from my possession and put in the hold compartment and not in the cabin with me?
Here’s what we know. There are many airlines that allow your large dog into the cabin. Some even offer special flights for your pet or service animal. But here’s the thing – the flight is not the only problem. The airline industry has been changing rapidly since 9/11. Security measures have become more stringent.
You definitely don’t want any surprises at security checkpoints. So, they may ask you questions about your dog. You could be requested to show them pictures of your dog. They may take your dog out of the box (or carrier) and search him.
Temperatures and Pressures
And what if he gets sent down to the hold? What awaits him down there? Does he stay in his pet carrier? Or will he be put into a cage with other dogs? Will he be able to walk around? Is he allowed to drink water? Is there a nice man down there that plays fetch?
I’m afraid that’s a no to the fetch.
Approved Pet Carrier
First, he needs to get inside an airline (IATA) approved box. So, he needs to be able to fit in that box. And have extra room because that’s where he will stay. For quite a while.
Large Dog Long Distance Preparation
Airports & Pet Travel
The Boxes are shipped as Cargo boxes. The IATA pet container is the Series 200 kennel. And don’t forget – your cost basis is the combined weight of the large dog AND the crate or kennel.
You also need your pet to have a Microchip (readable) and a Veterinary Health Certificate. Watch out also as some large dog types are not allowed. For example, younger dogs and puppies are not allowed to accompany you on your air travel plans. Especially for international flights.
Large Dog Policies
There are two ways to look for this information. First, you can contact the airline directly. Second, you can use the internet. Look for the airline name and then type in “pet transport” or “airlines and pets”. This should give you a list of airlines that offer pet transport.
Pet crates – These are smaller than cargo boxes and are made of plastic or wood. They are suitable for small animals such as cats and smaller breeds of dog.
Airline approved carriers – These are specifically designed for pets. They are usually made from PVC or ABS plastic. All are lightweight and easy to handle. These specialist travel kennels are equipped with handles and latches. All are designed to protect your pet during travel.
Carry-on Pet Carriers
Which one do you choose?
It depends on how far you’re flying with a large dog and how big your dog is. A crate is best for short trips. But if your dog is bigger, like a service dog, you might consider a larger carrier like a kennel.
The best option would be to buy both. Buy an excellent quality crate and an excellent quality kennel. Both are available online.
When you’re flying within the US, most major airlines allow dogs in the passenger cabin. Most of these airlines include Delta, United, American, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue, Spirit, Frontier, Sun Country, and Allegiant.
If you’re traveling internationally, it’s a bit trickier. Many countries require that all pets must be quarantined for several days before boarding as part of their health requirements. Others only allow certain breeds or sizes. It’s always a clever idea to call ahead of time to make sure of the requirements.
Carry-on Pet Key Takeaways
If you decide to bring your dog on board, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your dog must be microchipped.
- It must have a current rabies vaccination certificate.
- The Pet must be up to date on his shots.
- It must always wear a leash.
- You must always have your large dog under control.
- Some airlines may charge extra fees for bringing a dog on board.
- Look for disability assistance for Service dogs. They are different to pets.
Partner Pet Airlines
As someone who has flown with my own large dog multiple times, I can tell you that there are many factors involved when deciding whether to fly with your dog.
First off, does your dog get along well with other animals? If so, then they won’t mind being confined in a kennel. However, if other animals stress your dog, then it could cause them to become ill.
Also, what kind of climate does your destination have? Is it warm enough for your dog to enjoy the outdoors? Does it snow? Are there any extreme weather conditions? Can you take your dog to the vet if needed? Do you have an emergency kit prepared? What about food and water? Will you have access to fresh drinking water during this entire flight?
Large Dog Aircraft Travel
Pet travel agents such as PetTravel.com can help you find the right carrier for your pet, such as soft-sided kennels which are available. They also provide advice on international travel and vaccinations. They will also know the carrier policies and carry-on items in your state. It does differ from Airline to Airline and from pet to pet. Small service animals are better accepted than Rockweilers. For some reason.
You will need to check with the airline before booking your flight. Most airlines will allow you to bring your dog on board. But there may be restrictions on size, weight, etc.
Flying with a Large Dog FAQs
Q. How much should I expect to pay to carry my pet?
It depends on how big the dog is and how far you are flying. If you are on a domestic flight, then most airlines will charge around $10 per flight. If you are travelling internationally, then some airlines pet policies cost more.
Q. What else should I consider when flying with a pet?
Make sure you have enough room for your pet. Dogs do not like being cramped. Check the airline’s website because they often have specific requirements. Take note of any special instructions given by the airline. For example, Delta Air Lines does not allow dogs under twenty pounds. Nor do they allow Cats, Fish, Snakes, Rabbits, or Lizards.
Q. What pet food can I bring on board?
Most airlines allow only dry food. However, many airlines now allow wet food. Check with the airline.
Q. Can I take my pet on board without a crate?
Yes, you can. But make sure that you have a suitable crate in case you are asked to put it away for any reason.