If you’re traveling on a plane for the first time with your pet, it can be a scary experience. Thankfully, proper planning can make the process much easier and less stressful.

As long as you do your research, choose airlines and flights carefully, and make sure your dog is safe and comfortable, you should have nothing to worry about.

Here are our tips for traveling with your pet.

Consider Which Airline to Travel With

Before finalizing your travel plans and buying your ticket, you need to do some research on the airline that you’re going to be flying with. Depending on the size and breed of your pet, they may be able to fly with you in the cabin.

Most airlines require that the carrier and your pet do not exceed a combined weight of 20 pounds. Larger pets will have to fly in the cargo hold.

You also need to consider the time of year that you will be flying, as some airlines have flying restrictions due to the outdoor temperatures during certain months of the year.

Pick a Direct Flight

Try and book a direct flight that has no transfers or layovers to avoid movement of your pet between flights. This will reduce stress for both you and your pet. 

Also be mindful that airlines only take a certain number of animals per flight. Delta, for example, operates on a “first come, first serve basis”. It’s always best to book your pet in advance so that arrangements can be made for them to fly on the same flight as you, otherwise, you may find your pet travelling on a different flight.

Take Your Pet for a Checkup

Pets need to be declared healthy, as they’ll be flying in close quarters with other animals. Take your pet to the vet for a checkup and get a health certificate that you can present to the airlines. Some airlines may also require a certificate of vaccination before they’ll allow your pet to fly.

The health certificate will not be accepted if it’s more than 10 days old, and if you happen to be flying to Hawaii you will also need two original copies of your pet’s vaccination certificates. When you’re booking your flight, find out what the airline's specific requirements are for flying with your pet.

Choose the Right Carrier

Make sure that the carrier for your pet is the right size and in good condition. If your pet carrier shows signs of wear and tear or has cracks in it, the airline could prevent your pet from flying.

Get your pet a carrier that’s airline-approved or TSA-approved. Check the airline’s requirements for the crate.

Make sure that your contact details are visible, you put a picture of your dog or cat on the outside of the crate, and label the top of the crate with “Live Animal”. Your pet’s collar and tags can be bagged and tied to the crate.

Other Tips and Tricks

Flying with your pet for the first time can be nerve-wracking, but here are some tips that can help put you at ease:

  • Familiarize your pet with the crate before you travel
  • Exercise your pet before the flight
  • Don’t put your pet through the x-ray machine in its crate. Carry or walk your pet through and send the crate through by itself
  • Line your pet’s carrier with a pet pee pad
  • Pack a spare collar with an ID tag
  • Take a spare blanket for your pet in case the airplane has floor air conditioning


Traveling with your pet on a plane doesn’t have to be scary! If you prepare in advance and do your homework on the process, you can rest assured your pet is safe and sound in their crate, whether they’re in the cabin with you or in the cargo hold.


Mike Powell is an enthusiastic dog-lover who enjoys traveling with his dogs whenever possible. He shares his knowledge and passion about pups, dog nutrition, accessories, and health over at Dog Embassy.