Greyt Inspirations Life

A little about our life, our business and our pets.

Flying with dogs

With Thanksgiving coming up many people will be traveling.  Some will be taking their dogs with them to family gatherings or on short vacations.  I can tell you from personal experience that it’s getting harder to fly dogs these days.  One of my dogs has been staying with a friend of mine in California for a few months so he can get some field training.  We’ve been trying to get him home to me for the last few days.  It’s not been easy!  He was supposed to fly home yesterday but we had a winter weather advisory — there was going to be snow where I had to drive to pick him up — and we had to postpone his trip.


Our biggest problem trying to fly my dog home has been the size of his crate (he has to have a 500 crate because he’s tall).  Many planes flying to the regional airports don’t have the equipment to handle 500 crates.  We also run into trouble because some planes to regional airports may not have heated and pressurized cargo cabins which dogs must have.  And, when we have the right planes, we ran into trouble because he had to switch planes during his trip and there wasn’t enough time on the ground to allow him to change planes.  It’s been quite an ordeal trying to work things out.  I think it’s harder than it used to be to fly dogs, too, because so many airlines have merged and they have cut some flights.



Dog at the airport. Courtesy flickr

Dog at the airport. Courtesy flickr

If you’re trying to fly a dog, whether he’s flying alone or flying with you in the cabin or as checked baggage, make sure you begin talking to the airline early.  Even if you want your dog to fly with you in the cabin airlines only allow a limited number of dogs to fly so you will need to advise the airline when you make your reservation and reserve room for your dog, too.  If your dog is flying in the cabin he or she will need to be able to fit in a small pet carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you.  It’s a small space so only small dogs or puppies can fly in the cabin.



If your dog is flying as checked baggage you will need to make sure he or she is checked in at the appropriate counter 90 minutes to two hours ahead of your flight.  There are extra fees for flying your dog in the cabin and as checked baggage so discuss them with the airline agent when you book your flight.  Your dog will also need to have his rabies vaccination and a health certificate from your vet which you should obtain a few days before you travel.  It’s advisable that your dog be up-to-date on his other vaccinations as well.  The same applies to dogs flying as cargo.  Flying your dog as cargo can cost as much or more as a ticket for yourself, so be prepared.


If your dog is flying as checked baggage or flying alone he will need to be securely loaded in an airline crate.  Make sure that the crate is screwed together tightly or secured with cable ties.  You can attach your dog’s leash to the top of the crate.  He should be wearing a collar and identification with your phone number and address in case the crate door should spring open and he gets loose.  You can put additional identification on the crate itself but you will be filling out ID forms at the airport that will go on the crate.  The crate will also need to have some absorbent bedding inside as well as some detachable cups for food and water.  These cups usually come with the crate when you buy it.  If your dog is flying alone you will need to provide a zip lock bag of food for him attached to the crate.


Make sure you follow all directions about shipping dogs scrupulously.  If in doubt, call the airport ahead of time and talk to the people in cargo who will be handling the shipping.  Every cargo office is different.  Delta in Atlanta may do things differently from Continental in another city.  Ask them how they want the crate prepared.  Otherwise they can send you home with your dog without letting him on the plane.  It’s happened to me.  I drove two hours to the cargo office to discover they didn’t like the way I had secured the crate.  It was exactly the way the crate had been shipped to me with a dog in it a few months earlier.  At 5:30 in the morning they would not accept my dog and I could only take him and leave.  People in the cargo office, and at the airlines in general, are absolute gods in these matters.  There is no appeal.  Not when the plane is getting ready to leave and your dog isn’t on it.


There is just nothing fun about flying dogs or shipping them, at least in my experience.  Many times you are at the airport in the middle of the night to send a dog at 6 a.m., or picking a dog up at midnight.  Flying with dogs can be stressful and worrying.  The paperwork is a complete hassle.  With that said, every dog I have ever put on a plane has arrived safely and, to the best of my knowledge, they have been well cared for by airline and airport employees.  Every dog and puppy has come out of a crate happy and wagging his tail.  I think I was much more worried than they were about flying.  So, if you’re planning a trip with your dog that involves flying you should ask plenty of questions, make sure you understand what you’re supposed to do, follow the rules, and your dog should make the trip just fine.


November 22, 2008 - Posted by | General | , ,

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