How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Dog?

By Kat George

Traveling with Fido: Learn about the fees and more when flying with your four-legged friend

How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Dog?

No one wants to leave their furry best friend behind when they're traveling, and luckily, you don't have to. For a small fee that differs slightly from airline to airline, you should be able to take your four-legged friend with you on your next cross-country trip without a problem.

Airline tickets for dogs

Fees vary among airlines. You can find rates either on an airline's website or by calling the airline directly. The cost will also differ depending on if you check your pooch into the cargo hold or want to keep him or her in the cabin. American Airlines, for instance, charges $200 for a “checked” pet or $125 for a “carry-on” pet. However, airlines generally do not charge for service animals.

More about pet safety

To fly your canine friend, you'll also have to meet certain health requirements, both because the airline policy dictates and also for the safety of your dog. You will find the specific requirements for each airline online, but you'll generally need to provide a health certificate for your pet, showing his or her vaccination record. You will also have to take strict measures to ensure your pooch is fed and washed prior to flying, and provide water, food and feeding instructions to the airline.

In certain circumstances, and for the safety of your pet, you might not be able to fly him or her. High or low temperatures might be dangerous for your pet, and you should consult with the airline or your vet before flying. You will also have to provide a certificate from your vet if you wish to sedate your dog for the duration of the flight, as sedation can be dangerous for pets when coupled with cabin pressure.

Airline pet policies

Different airlines have different policies for your pets. These can be found online. Some airlines have restrictions on the types of breeds that can travel, carrier sizes and other guidelines, especially for dogs traveling in the main cabin. United Airlines, for instance, does not allow pets to be stowed in overhead containers or to travel in exit rows.

The screening policies

Pets, like humans and luggage, will have to be screened at security checkpoints per TSA rules. But unlike luggage, your pet should not go through the luggage X-ray machine, and you should either carry your little pup or let your larger dog walk, on a leash, through the human X-ray machine with you. Your dog cannot go through security in his or her kennel. Your hands will also be swabbed by a TSA officer for explosives residue. Once you're through customs security, your dog will have to hop back into his or her carrier.

Taking your dog to far-off destinations

Where you can take your dog depends largely on the local policy. You can fly your pet freely across the U.S., except Hawaii, which has strict rules you must comply with, including a mandatory quarantine period. Likewise, flying to other countries may carry a quarantine period, as well. For example, a flight to Australia requires a lengthy quarantine period for your pooch and much higher fees than flying domestically, which can be calculated online via the Australian government's website.