How to Fly with Your Dog—and What to Do When You Don’t

Black lab dog

Flying with your dog isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. Whether your dog is a certified Emotional Support Animal or you’re going on a trip and want them to tag along, there’s a good chance that your pet will be a little scared—if for no other reason than up to 30% of people are apprehensive about flying. And chances are you’re a bit worried about your dog’s flying experience, too. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 2 million pets and other animals take to the skies each year. So, if you need to bring Fido on your next flight, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Fi, makers of the Fi Smart Dog Collar, to come up with a list of tips to keep in mind to ensure that your dog has as enjoyable a time on the plane as is possible—as well as what you should do if you have to leave him or her at home.


1. Prepare ahead of time

As Miguel de Cervantes wrote, being prepared is half of the victory. More often than not, flying with your pet isn’t as simple as buying a plane ticket, bringing your dog to the airport, and having an optimal experience – but you can get close with the right amount or preparation.

In the hours, days, weeks, and months leading up to your flight, you can help your dog get prepared by:

  • Taking your dog on road trips and train rides to get them used to the idea of traveling in vehicles
  • Confirming with your veterinarian that your dog is healthy enough to fly, we recommend getting a health certificate
  • Reviewing the pet policies of the airline you’re flying on to find out if your dog is permitted in the cabin or in the cargo
  • Getting a comfortable kennel and introducing it to your dog ahead of your flight so they are familiar with it
  • Packing a bag with your dog’s favorite toy
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise ahead of the flight, and goes to the bathroom right before checking in.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a decent idea of some of the things you can do to get ready ahead of your flight.


2. Fly direct

Avoid booking flights that have layovers, fly direct so that once you get to your destination, your dog can put his or her feet on solid ground and unwind until the return flight.


3. Get to the airport early

Whatever you do, you don’t want to have to try to rush through security with your dog. 

Avoid rushing through security with your dog by getting to the airport early, it’s important to build in wiggle room because you’ll have to check-in at the counter (self-service check-ins don’t work with dogs).


4. Don’t give your dog drugs

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association—despite any temptations you might encounter—you should avoid giving your dog sedatives or tranquilizers before your flight. These drugs can actually do more harm than good, causing respiratory or cardiovascular problems due to the pressure that comes with being so high in the air.


5. Use a smart collar like Fi when you’re not flying with your dog

No matter how much you love your dog, chances are you won’t bring them on the airplane every time you fly. Even so, the thought of leaving your dog somewhere else might make you feel a bit uneasy.

When you can’t take your dog on a flight, consider using a smart collar like Fi to give you peace of mind when you go on vacation without your pup. Fi allows you to track your dog’s location 24/7 from an app on your phone. Whether you are in Barcelona or Sydney (or anywhere else), you can simply open your Fi app and see where your pup is (as long as he/she is still in the US), how much activity they are getting, and how many walks they have been on. You’ll also get alerted if your pup ever leaves a designated Safe Zone, giving you peace of mind if you have a furry Houdini. 

With Fi, you can rest comfortably knowing that your dog is safe—even when you’re not around to care for them.

Whether you’re bringing Fido on your next trip or not, here’s to flying safe and worry-free!

  • Kyle Maltz, COO & Partner

    Kyle’s an adventure loving Seattleite who’s busy skiing or traveling the world when he’s not helping DFC move mountains. His favorite trips have been to Thailand, Turks and Caicos, and Costa Rica. Kyle stays busy connecting us with some of the best brands in the world and working on new ways for DFC to be the best in the business for helping travelers explore more and pay less. Kyle oversees daily operations and growth strategy for Dollar Flight Club, including the Flight Alerts product as well as the media publishing side of the business.

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