How to Bring a Big Dog on a Plane
The majority of us are lucky enough to have never needed to fly with our dogs, but owning a larger breed becomes inevitable at some point in life. Some breeds, especially more traditionally ‘working’ breeds, tend to be on the bulkier side of the spectrum.
This might not pose problems for most types of transportation when you travel with your dog, whether cars or trains, but flying can become an issue. Especially if you regularly travel by airplane with your dog(s), you should know what to expect and how much it will cost you.
The Basics of Flying with a Large Dog
So, how to bring a big dog on a plane? The first and most important thing you need to know is that there is no definitive answer as to whether or not your dog can fly in the cabin of an airplane.
The regulations vary from airline to airline and even flight to flight. Some airlines will allow large dogs in the cabin as long as they can fit into a carrier that meets specific size restrictions, while other airlines will require that your dog travels in the cargo hold.
The best way to find out if your dog is allowed on the plane is to contact the airline directly and inquire about their specific policies. It’s important to call ahead because specific airlines only allow a few dogs on the flight, so you must reserve a spot. Read more about airlines that allow large dogs in the cabin.
If your dog cannot fly in the cabin, there are two other options: checking your dog as baggage or sending them as cargo. When checking your dog as baggage, they will travel in the cargo hold of the airplane but will be treated as carry-on luggage, meaning that you will be able to see them, and they will receive regular food and water breaks.
If you choose to send your dog as cargo, they will be placed in a particular cargo area of the plane and will not be able to interact with you or any other passengers. It is essential to remember that sending your dog as cargo can be dangerous, as they are not guaranteed the same level of safety and care as checked baggage dogs.
How Much Does It Cost?
The cost of flying with a large dog can vary depending on several factors, including the airline you fly with, the destination, and whether or not you choose to check your dog as baggage or send them as cargo.
Generally speaking, checking a dog as baggage will be cheaper than sending them as cargo, but it is essential to contact the airline directly to get an accurate estimate. The price typically ranges anywhere from $50 – $200 one way.
Cabin, checking, or cargo
When flying with a large dog, you have three options: cabin/checking/cargo.
Cabin: Some airlines will allow large dogs in the cabin as long as they can fit into a carrier that meets certain size restrictions. This is the cheapest and most hassle-free option, as your dog will be able to travel with you in the passenger area of the plane, and you will not have to worry about them being in the cargo hold.
Checking: When checking your dog as baggage, they will travel in the cargo hold of the airplane but will be treated as carry-on luggage, meaning that you will be able to see them, and they will receive regular food and water breaks.
This is the second cheapest option but may require a little more hassle at the airport as you will have to pick up your dog after their flight.
Cargo: If you choose to send your dog as cargo, they will be placed in a special cargo area of the plane and will not be able to interact with you or any other passengers. It is essential to remember that sending your dog as cargo can be dangerous, as they are not guaranteed the same level of safety and care as checked baggage dogs.
This is typically much cheaper than checking your dog, but many risks are involved – most notably, being exposed for several hours to the elements.
National or International
The cost of flying with a large dog can also vary depending on whether you are flying domestically or internationally. Domestic flights within the United States typically cost less than international flights, so keep this in mind when planning your trip.
Another thing to consider when flying with a large dog is the airline you choose to fly with. Some airlines are more pet-friendly than others and have specific policies for handling dogs on their planes. It is essential to do your research ahead of time and find an airline that will be the best fit for both you and your furry friend.
The destination you are traveling to can also affect the cost of flying with a large dog. Certain airports are more pet-friendly than others and may have lower fees for checking or sending your dog as cargo. For example, some airlines restrict travel to Hawaii and certain parts of the Caribbean. Do a little research beforehand to make sure the destination you are traveling to allows large dogs.
The size of your dog can also play a role in how much it costs to fly with them. Larger dogs typically cost more to check as baggage or send as cargo than smaller dogs. Prices can range from $75 – $200 per dog.
Choosing the Best Crate
To prepare for the flight, you’ll need to find what’s called an airline-approved dog carrier. They are made of hard plastic or metal with openings at both ends where your dog will be able to enter and exit.
There are two crates: Wire Kennels and Plastic Kennels. For flying purposes, they come in a variety of sizes which are different depending on each airline. Airline-approved kennels are typically molded or stamped with an identifying label on the top or side of the carrier. Here are 3 of the best airline-approved dog crates you can buy today for your upcoming trip.
Keeping Calm While Flying in a Crate
Although it may be difficult, it’s essential to remain calm when flying with your large dog in a crate. For one, it will help keep your pet calm and relaxed. And secondly, it will help prevent you from getting too stressed out, which could increase the risk of an in-flight emergency.
Some things you can do to help keep both you and your dog calm during the flight include:
- Giving your dog a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter or other treats that will keep them busy and distracted.
- Putting on some calming music or white noise that will soothe both of you.
- Bringing along their favorite blanket or bed to make them feel more comfortable.
- Offering plenty of water and stopping for potty breaks when necessary.
- Talk to your veterinarian before traveling for more tips and tricks to calm them down.
Remember, the key is to remain patient and take things one step at a time. By following these tips and staying calm, you’ll make the journey much smoother for both you and your furry friend.
Flying with a large dog can be a daunting task, but by following these tips, you should make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Keep in mind that every airline has different policies for flying with pets, so it is essential to contact them directly to get all the information you need. And most importantly, have fun on your trip!