Can the family fly with Fido?

We talk a lot about flying with kids on this blog but now I need to know about flying with your dog!

The rich and famous do it all the time, but I’m trying to figure out how possible and how terrible it would be to fly with our 16-pound Shih Tzu (and three kids)?

Michael wants all of us to join him on trip out West later this summer — including the dog. But he’s never flown before.

I’ve heard horror tales of dogs dying from the heat (on the ground) or freezing to death (in the air) being in the cargo holds of planes so I feel like putting him below the plane is a non-starter. (Just imagine waiting for the carrier to come around the luggage conveyor and there being our dead pet inside. Can you imagine what the kids would do?)

You can try to convince me otherwise on putting the dog below the plane if you’ve had good experiences with this. Although it looks like according to Delta’s rules we couldn’t check the pet as baggage between May 15 through Sept 15 or anytime the ground temp is 85 degrees or above.

From Delta’s Web site:

“Weather Restrictions

Summer Restrictions—May 15 through September 15

  • Pets cannot be checked as baggage on Delta and Aeromexico operated flights.
  • Pets may be shipped as cargo. See below for year-round temperature restrictions including live birds and snub-nosed breeds.
  • Prices for shipping pets as cargo are different from shipping pets as baggage. And, cargo locations may not be located in the airport terminal, so be sure to contact 1-888-SENDPET (736-3738) for details.

Winter Embargo—November 1 through March 31

Animals will not be accepted as checked baggage on flights operated between Salt Lake City, UT (SLC) and Sun Valley, ID (SUN), Twin Falls, ID (TWF), or Jackson Hole, WY (JAC).

Year-round Restrictions

Delta will not accept animals as checked baggage but may ship as cargo during extreme weather if at any point during the animal’s trip the temperature is forecast to be:



  • 20° Fahrenheit (-7°C)
  • 75° Fahrenheit (21.1°C) for for snub- or pug-nosed dogs and cats. See chart below.
  • 85° Fahrenheit (29.4°C) for all other breeds.”

The site says you can ship as cargo but I’m not even clear on what that means – they would fly in the body of a different plane and meet you there? I think that would be scary for the pet not to be with you. I wouldn’t stick a kid alone on a plane.

So then there’s flying as a carry on. I’m just not completely sure he could fit below the seat – maybe in a soft carrier. I’m also not sure what you do if he’s barking the whole time. (I’m thinking the dog is staying home.)

From Delta’s Web site:

“Pets As Carry On

Your pet can travel with you in the cabin for a one-way fee of 125 USD/CAD* (to be collected at check-in) for travel within U.S./Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico (200 USD/CAD/EUR* for travel outside the U.S., excluding Brazil where the fee is 75 USD/CAD/EUR*). Fee is $100 to/from/within Asia.

Pets permitted in the cabin include dogs, cats, and household birds. The following restrictions apply:

  • Your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel under the seat directly in front of you. Maximum carry-on kennel dimensions are determined by your flight. You must contact Delta Reservations to determine the appropriate kennel size.
  • Your pet must remain inside the kennel (with door secured) while in a Delta boarding area (during boarding and deplaning), a Delta airport lounge, and while onboard the aircraft.
  • Your pet must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • You may not carry on more than one pet.
  • Your pet in-cabin counts as one piece of carry-on baggage.
  • If you’re traveling to Hawaii, your pet won’t be able to go with you in the cabin, and other restrictions may apply. See Pets to Hawaii for more information.
  • *CAD amount will be charged exit Canada, and EUR amount will be charged exit Europe. Fees established by the contract of carriage in effect at the time of ticket issuance will apply.”

So tell me your experiences of flying with a dog. What is the best way to make it work? Do you drug the dog even as a carry on? How many pounds can the dog be and actually fit under the seat? Do they have to stay in the carrier the whole flight? Do they have to stay under the seat the whole flight? What about those rich ladies with the doggies in their purses? Can a parent actually control three kids and a dog on a plane?

131 comments Add your comment


June 9th, 2010
5:03 pm

@Tiger..Did I also mention that I don’t like cats and think that the only good ones are dead ones?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 9th, 2010
5:08 pm

@Becky…you failed to mention that! I actually have a cat and she’s pretty cool, very low maintenance and easy to leave behind when on vacation!


June 9th, 2010
5:32 pm

@ Cekker, Ghost, & Denise,
If you do fly regularly, you HAVE, absolutely, flown with many, many dogs in the cabin. Most people that fly their dogs in-cabin are VERY aware of dog-haters like yourselves. We go to great lengths to make sure you are not offended, and not even aware that a dog may be traveling under your seat.


June 9th, 2010
6:37 pm

Becky, as a cat lover, that is HARSH.Like Tiger’s, my kitties are low maintenance, sweet & loving. Although I don’t have a dog, I would NEVER say the only good dog is a dead one. I thought you were better than that :(


June 9th, 2010
6:45 pm

@BlondeHoney -I’m with you! I love animals although I don’t necessarily want some as pets (like rabbits). However, I certainly don’t think the only good rabbit is a dead one! I love my dogs, but I must say that the best, most loving and wonderful pet I’ve ever had was a cat, and I can’t wait to get another one. Wow, I have a nanny whom I take on vacation AND love cats -I better steer clear of Becky!


June 9th, 2010
10:31 pm

I’m just looking over the comments and have noticed that almost all of the objections to bringing pets in the cabin are centered around allergy problems and sanitary conditions. However, the people who want to continue to allow pets in the cabin keep yapping about how well behaved their dogs are. When you completely ignore legitimate concerns and can’t answer them, that usually means you’re wrong.

Pets will be banned from the cabin within 10 years – guaranteed. Maybe 5.


June 10th, 2010
12:42 am

Just off of 2 flights to Washington state and yes I saw dogs.

@ Tiger, thanks for the laughs today…too much!

I failed to mention the time we flew to Orlando and their were PENGUINS on board….flying to Seaworld. They did not go to cargo, they had their own seats…in a special carrier.

Tiger, we had a big dog…Ole Yellar. We put him to rest at 14. Now we have a prissy dog.
She has my husband and son wrapped around her tail….so to speak. Neither thought they would like a little dog but both of them adore her. Live and learn! Night all!


June 10th, 2010
2:04 am

@ Tim, I believe that most pet owners who are willing to shell out what often amounts to double the price of their own ticket for a pet to fly is well aware of the allergy concerns of others. Personally, I thoroughly bathe my dog immediately before leaving for the airport so that he smells lovely and is dander free as possible. With him being in an enclosed bag with very tiny vents, there is little room for the dander to escape and cause major concern, cat dander is a totally different story from what I understand. As far as sanitary conditions go, planes are FILTHY to begin with. An animal in an enclosed bag who should under no circumstances be taken out of the bag does not pose a huge sanitary risk.

I have a severe allergy to perfume and other scented chemicals but no one is concerned about that. I do, however, have sense enough to carry medication with me at all times in the event that I encounter such fragrances in flight or out and about in the city. At some point people have to take some responsibility for themselves and stop blaming (and complaining) about every little thing.


June 10th, 2010
8:31 am

@Tiger..I don’t actaully hate cats…They just aren’t my type of animals..We (the kids) have 3 dogs, 2 cats, a hamster and we feed the wild rabbits out behind our house, so I’m not an animal hater..

@BlondHoney and JATL.. Sorry if I upset you, that was suppose to be more of a joke and I didn’t say it right..I like all animals and would never wish any harm on any animals..

@MJG..Sorry about your dog, but I love the name that you gave him..My 2 love the movie Old Yellar..I bet we have seen that movie about 25 times in the last month or so..

@Sunny..I’m with you, I worry more about perfume and other fragrances than I do dogs and cats..


June 10th, 2010
8:51 am

JATL it used to be a dead rabbit meant you were pregnant. No dead rabbits for me either please


June 10th, 2010
8:58 am

@FCM -LOL -I didn’t think about that! No -PLEASE no dead rabbits!

@Becky -gotcha! -kind of like how my husband always says little dogs are great -for footballs! However, (Tiger will appreciate this), whenever he’s around a little dog he gets all sweet and lovey and winds up with it in his lap!


June 10th, 2010
9:13 am

@JATL..Yeah, I’ve heard that one also..My husband is the same way around prissy dogs..More so about babies though..I think that sometimes what a lot of us might say, isn’t always what we really think..Could be wrong about that though..


June 10th, 2010
9:38 am

@Becky…no hard feelings! I didn’t think that sounded like you :) JATL, that is hilarious about your husband…such a softy

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 10th, 2010
10:46 am

I think we can all agree that Becky was joking. I would have apologized to cats yesterday to for offending them, but realized

(a) that I don’t speak feline, and
(b) they’re too busy plotting the violent overthrow of the the world’s governments and militaries to be reading this blog.


June 10th, 2010
11:00 am

if you are used to traveling with your pet…and your pet is crate trained…thats one thing.,…i am thinking that just from ‘knowing’ theresa on here that your dog isnt crate trained. and i know you arent used to flying with kids. if you take your kids and your dog i think you will probably have a nervous breakdown. i wonder what michael is thinking in asking that you bring the dog….do we know you better than he does? im not trying to be mean at all…when my kids were young i would not have taken them AND a pet on a flight…no way,…people and animals who are used to doing these things are fine but theresa you arent!!! its gonna be enough of a challenge to keep up with your kids and keep them occupied on the flight without having to add an animal in the equation., either hire a trusted neighbor kid to come twice a day to walk and feed the dog or take it to a pet hotel. my niece babysits animals all the time when her neighbors go on vacation…and my sister leaves her dog in a pet hotel…my older sister who lives in atlanta was a manager of a vet clinic for years and she would babysit her clients pets when they went on vacation….maybe you can ask at your vets office for reccommendations if you dont know of a pet hospital….but i would not take the dog if i were you! (i woudnt takke my dog on a plane at all…just not our usual thing to do)


June 10th, 2010
11:02 am

oh MJG!!!! i would love to have been on the penguin flight!!! awesome lol


June 10th, 2010
11:28 am

@ Tiger you got the cats confused (comment “b”) with Pinky and the Brain.


June 10th, 2010
11:35 am

@Dogsnotkids – I am absolutely NOT a dog hater. I just don’t want to deal with them in some environments. And unlike Tiger, the magnificent, I prefer froo-froo dogs that can sit on my lap :-) I don’t want that can wrestle me to the ground thinking we are “playing”.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 10th, 2010
11:53 am

“Tiger the magnificent”….awwww…you’re gonna make me blush!

David S

June 10th, 2010
12:08 pm

The airlines don’t care about your luggage and they don’t care about your animals. If your dog isn’t small enough to fit under the seat and be part of your carry-on luggage, then drive or leave them at home or at a caring boarding facility.

The rich and famous can take their dogs with them in their private chartered airplanes and let them have the run of the place. This is how an animal should travel by plane ideally.

Please, as much as your pet would like to go with you, it would much rather be alive to enjoy your return.

Airlines kill hundreds of animals every year and they just DONT CARE.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 10th, 2010
12:21 pm

@David S…’re right. Legally speaking, pets are property, and the airlines are under no obligation, other than a PR one, to treat them as anything but property. they don’t have to reimburse you for anything other the the fair market value of replacing the property (your pet), just as if they had lost your luggage. So unless you’ve got one pretty charming, income making pet…I’m thinking like Arnold on Green Acres (and lets face it, he was a pretty charming pig), then the airlines look at your pet as a $200-$500 item of luggage they have to replace if they destroy it.


June 10th, 2010
12:45 pm


You can’t ban perfumes. That would be impossible to enforce. However, you can ban pets.

And you may take pristine care of your pet before bringing it in the cabin (which still doesn’t mean it won’t cause problems for people), but not everyone does. And as for planes being filthy already, yeah, let’s just make them worse. Sounds good.


June 10th, 2010
12:46 pm

@MJG: PENGUINS?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How cool is that?! (no pun intended!)

I’ve been on so many flights (not as many as MJG, but enough) and I have never had a problem with dogs, pets, etc. However, I have a casual friend who is SO allergic to dog dander that it is life-threatening to her — she cannot even be in a house where a dog has been without having an anaphylactic reaction. When she was looking for a new home, she couldn’t even look at a house that had had a dog, unless the house was vacant and the carpets were new. However, on flights, she simply tells the the gate attendant that she cannot be seated within 10 rows of a dog, and he discreetly reassigns her or the dog. Since the dog is in a carrier, it’s usually not a big deal, but the more distance, the better for her. Ironically, she likes dogs — she simply cannot be around them. When I know I’m going to see her, I try to make sure that my clothes are freshly cleaned and that my dog doesn’t come near me before I leave to see her. It’s been a big problem that she’s had to duck around her entire life.


June 10th, 2010
1:54 pm

DB, those who sneak their dogs on the plane and take them out of the carrier could perhaps affect a future passenger with the animal dander on the seat. Is it fair for a flight to be grounded with a passenger having a severe allergic reaction ( like your friend) because someone chose to break the rules of keeping their pets in their container? The entire flight full of passengers would be inconvenienced due to a pet’s owner not following the rules! If someone snuck their pet inside their carry-on and did not pay to lfy their pet, how would the flight attendant know where to assign your friend a seat?


June 10th, 2010
3:39 pm

Delta limits the number of pets they allow to fly on board – 2 in coach, 1 in FC. And, if you carry them on the plane with you, it’s considered your 1 carry on allowance.
Don’t do it. Do you want to have fun on vacation or constantly be running back to the hotel to let the dog out or even worse apologize to the hotel because every time someone walks down the hall the dog starts barking and disturbs the other guests? Your dog will be fine at Camp Woof.


June 12th, 2010
6:02 pm

I agree with everyone who said, if it wasn’t a permanent move, leave the poor thing at a kennel or use have someone come to the house several times a day. Please think of you pet first and yourself (and the 3 kids) second!!

I have travelled with a dog. I flew from London to Boston with a 50lb. lab. She flew as baggage, and the steward was kind enough to go down occasionally to give her a bit of water (It was mid-July). She came out unscathed and quite happy upon arrival. I also flew with Bichon in a carrier in the cabin (Seattle to Boston) in a soft carrier. She was about 3 months old, and didn’t make a sound the entire trip. I gave her little sips of water and petted her from time to time. No problem there either. No one noticed that I had a dog until we were deplaning.


June 12th, 2010
6:22 pm

I hate when people compare Dogs to humans “I think that would be scary for the pet not to be with you. I wouldn’t stick a kid alone on a plane.” even if it’s safer for your pet? Some people are so stupid I swear.


June 12th, 2010
7:23 pm

We fly with our dog all the time. She had been on a plane more than 20 times. She goes under our seat. Super easy. She is considered a member of our family so boarding her is not an option. We want her around for Christmas and summer holidays. She does not cry, whine or bark. Typically, when we deplane the flight attendants always say I didn’t even know there was a dog on the plane.


June 14th, 2010
7:08 am

I have flown my dogs via Delta Cargo, when I moved from HI to Atlanta and they did okay. But I would not fly them for a vacation, or when driving them somewhere was an option. Get a petsitter (ask your vet or the lovely folk at City Dog Market for recommendations) and leave your dog at home. He’ll do much better and be glad to see you when you return.


June 14th, 2010
8:20 am

We have flown with our small dog–12 lbs–several dozen times. We do NOT drug him, but we do restrict his food and water on the day of a flight. Mostly he goes to Europe with us. We fly to one of Delta’s German cities.

There you can get off the plane, quickly clear customs and go outside. By far the biggest hassle is returning to Atlanta which is as traveler unfriendly an arrival city as there is in the world.

The only rule that you really need to be aware of is the limit on how many pets may be in a plane at the same time. Unless it has changed there can be no more than two in coach and one in first or business class.

Our guy is in the carrier for ten to twelve hours. That’s a long time to go without a bathroom break, but he’s never had an “accident.” I suppose he’s gotten accustomed to the routine and what to expect.

Take your’s with you, it’s no big deal.


June 14th, 2010
8:41 am

A couple of other thoughts. Smuggling a pet onto a plane is really no longer possible, the TSA agents will know you have it and they are trained to look for the tag that is placed on the bag indicating that you have paid the fare.

Up the thread there is mention of taking a small poodle out of the carrier and keeping it under a blanket on your lap–that is done a lot and unless you get a fellow passenger complaining to the flight attendants you can probably get away with it–especially if you’re flying all night like we do to Europe.

When you get to the other end do NOT even talk about what you’re carrying. It is very unusual to have your baggage inspected when arriving in any country–even the US–so just shut up. Of course don’t lie or fill out any forms that deny you have your dog or cat with you, but if you read what you’re being asked it almost always deals with importing food products that could be tainted.

Remember that short legs have to move a lot in order to keep up with you if you’re out walking. If you’re going to be doing that you’ll want another bag to carry them in–one with a shoulder strap. The typical under the seat carrier is too big to be a good choice for walking–we have a bag that looks like a large lady’s purse, with a hard bottom and mesh sides. It has lots of pockets for camera batteries, a water bottle, etc. While too small to be comfortable for a long flight it’s exactly right for him to ride in when his legs are about to give out.

The idea that he’s not having fun is nonsense. He’s with his family and getting to see and smell bratwursts on a cobble stone street in Bavaria–what could be better?