Today I’m doing something totally different to help a friend and reader out. She wrote in with a question that I don’t have the answer to, so I thought I’d crowd-source some information for a future tip since I know nothing about this subject. If any of you have answers or experience with this topic, please feel free to drop a comment on the article. OK, so here’s Lindsay’s question:

I’m wondering if you know the answer to this, or if it might perhaps inspire a post …. here’s my dilemma:

Once we are vaccinated, we’re looking forward to traveling to visit my in-laws in Cleveland (who we haven’t seen for over a year now!).We’re planning to stay for a few weeks, since it’s been so long and we want some quality time with them. That said, we have a small elderly dog who I don’t want to leave at home all that time. But I refuse to put her under the plane. I’ve checked different airline policies and they’re all a little different with regard to size, etc.. I’ve actually flown with her once to DC, no problem…The second time I tried to fly with her to ATX (Austin), I was turned around at the check-in because while she fits in the carrier fine, she’s tall and her head touches the top of the carrier, which the check-in agent said is not allowed. It was a fiasco and I had to delay my trip that day to figure it out… Obviously, I don’t want to risk this happening again and being at the mercy of whatever the gate agent that day thinks, especially now that I’ll be travelling as a family of four! But getting someone from the airlines on the phone to answer me specifically about how to know FOR SURE we’d be allowed to bring her onboard is impossible since it’s a little grey…. The carrier size is easy to adhere to.. She meets the weight requirements.. But if her head touches the top of the carrier when she’s standing, does it matter or not?! When she’s lying down, she’s perfectly comfortable in the carrier and would likely sleep the whole flight anyway.. I’m even wondering if I could purchase an extra seat just for the dog, if that would make a difference.. Or if I flew in the business/first cabin, would that make a difference?

Of course, we’ve debated doing the drive, but can you imagine driving from LA to CLE with a 2- and 3-year-old?!

Anyway, if you have any insight or a good source who knows what I need to do to ensure how and if I can bring my dog onboard, let me know!

My reply: Don’t drive! I just drove from L.A. to Santa Barbara and the last 15 minutes were a challenge when my 19-month-old started screaming to get out of her car seat … and that was on a short drive that was under two hours. I can’t imagine a drive across the country, which would take days even without stopping.

For starters, I grew up with dogs so I know the love of them but haven’t had the pleasure of owning one in my adult life since I travel way too much or at least, I did before the pandemic started. Unfortunately, many non-dog owners cannot comprehend that dogs are part of the family. What is also unfortunate is that not all airlines and gate agents are created equal when it comes to, well, anything but especially when it comes to pets.

The rules have changed a lot lately and I can’t keep up with all of the policies but even if an airline has a specific policy, it doesn’t mean the agents will abide by it, especially when the dog is in a grey area. It could be a judgement call.

So my question is: Which airline do you think does the best job at catering to dogs? If you have some recent knowledge, please leave a comment below so we can help Lindsay out and create a helpful tip for future.

Johnny Jet
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5 Comments On "Travelers With Pets: We Need Your Advice"
  1. Susan Smith|

    All airlines have different policies with regard to flying pets in the cabin and many will vary their maximum dimensions for carriers based on the aircraft serving the route. Your reader can contact the airlines to see how much room there is under the seat in front of them on their aircraft. Owners should measure their pet from tip of nose to base of tail and from top of the head to the ground (when standing) in order to best select an airline-compliant pet carrier. The best and lightest carrier that offers the most height is the SturdiBag pet carrier which can be found here: https://www.pettravelstore.com/pet-carrier-sturdibag/ The check-in agents will look for pets that are too large for their carriers so pet owners should be sure there is ample room for their pet to stand up and turn around in the carrier. If your pup is too large to fly in cabin, then you can consider ground transport service should you not wish to fly it in the cargo hold. Your reader can contact us for more information if needed.

  2. Em|

    After reading the comments from the woman that wants to take her elderly dog on board in a pet carrier, I thought I would give you the perspective of the airlines.

    If she, in the past, has been permitted to bring her dog on without an agent preventing her, most likely the agent never checked the ability for the dog to stand easily and must be able to turn around in the carrier. This is a fairly standard requirement, since people have a tendency to think that their dog is perfectly fine, just lying down in the kennel that is too small for them. It actually is quite cruel and air travel at 30,000 feet is difficult on the human body at times and also on the animal. Carriers must meet size guide lines and the dog must be able to move around as I described above. I do find it interesting that driving is out of the question, seems to be the best solution for her beloved dog.

  3. MF|

    Make and appointment with a pet psychologist and get a referral that you need to travel with your dog to control anxiety. Get a “support animal” saddle and walk on boad with you dog under the seat in front of you. Airline websites provide the needed paperwork.

  4. Em|

    MF, Please aware that many of the airlines have restricted emotional support animals on board and only trained and certified support animals are allowed (like those for the visually impaired), so it is important for her to check with her airline of choice and check to see if they have adopted the new restrictions.

  5. Anonymous|

    I have spent 4 months researching how to fly with my dogs
    Right now “no airline” is willing to accommodate a pet unless is a 2 lb pet.
    Cargo/baggage not available, and. even if these options are dangerous to ur dog
    The ailines do not want ur pet. An one is worse than tje other

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