Dogs may fly the friendly skies with you as a pet or service dog. Additionally, rescues and breeders may ship dogs to a new owner via air travel. Airlines maintain different policies regarding pet travel and the costs may differ by airline depending on various criteria.
Under Seat Travel
Most U.S. commercial airlines including Southwest, AirTran, United and US Airways allow dogs to fly in a carrier that fits under your seat in the cabin. Under seat dimensions vary by airline so check requirements before purchasing a ticket. The cost for a ticket for dogs flying under seat averages about $100 per dog, each way. Tickets must be purchased in advanced and some airlines maintain breed-specific bans. Service dogs may be allowed to fly free or at a discounted price.
If your dog is too large to fit underneath the cabin seat, airlines may allow your dog to fly in a carrier in the cargo area. Considered baggage, fewer airlines offer this option. The average cost of a cargo ticket for your dog is $165. Costs are based on carrier size, pet size and overall weight of carrier with pet. Airline requirements may include carrier size requirements to allow mobility for your dog and limitation on connection times.
Pet Airways is the only pet-specific airline, dedicated to flying “pawsengers.” Tickets for dogs flying Pet Airways start at $149. If rescuing a dog from a shelter or rescue, the ticket is discounted by 50 percent. You can make a reservation through their website or by calling 408-248-6000. When flying your dog, check-in is 2 hours before take-off and a potty break is provided before flight. Pet attendants care for your dog during and after flight.
Most airlines impose health requirements for flying dogs. Airlines, including Pet Airways, Frontier, Continental and Delta, require a veterinarian-issued health certification stating your dog is in good health and up-to-date on shots such as rabies and bordatella. Airlines with health requirement will not allow dogs to board without proper documentation. Some airlines, such as Southwest, do not require any documentation or proof of health or vaccines.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.