I’ve had quite a few questions from fans about how to fly with your dog, so I thought it was about time I go through and tell you what I know. I won’t claim to be an expert though, so if there is something I missed, feel free to let me know in the comments. Also keep in mind that I do receive special exceptions sometimes due to my celebrity status, but I will try and detail this for the average flyer ; )
Booking a Dog on Your Flight
So to start off, most airlines will say you can bring a small dog in the cabin of the plane if the dog is small enough to fit comfortably under the seat in front of you and is less than about 15-20 pounds (varies by airline). They also need to be in a pet carrier (travel bag) – recommended to be soft-sided. Here is me with my carry bag which I got from the JetBlue pet program called JetPaws.
Then there will be a pet fee that once again varies by airline, but in my experience has ranged from $50 – $100 per direction.
Some airlines will let you book the dog online with your regular ticket, while others require you to call in. Most airlines usually have a limit of about 2 dogs per flight as well! (Celebrities excepted).
Airline Pet Friendliness
We all know that some airlines have better customer service than others. I’ve only traveled a few, but here’s what I think based on my experiences.
JetBlue has awesome people service, and great dog service as well. The flight attendants usually don’t mind if I come out from under the seat and sit on Mum or Dad’s lap (all airlines will say the dog has to stay in the carrier under the seat for the whole flight). Then there’s WestJet, which is essentially the Canadian version of JetBlue. They have awesome people service as well, but they are less than accommodating when it comes to dogs. As soon as my nose peeps out from my bag, there’s an attendant there to say, “zip it up!“.
American Airlines isn’t that great with dogs either. They aren’t as bad as WestJet, but not as good as JetBlue.
I have also traveled Air Canada a few times, and they are very much like American Airlines in that their people service is less than par. Yet, ironically, they have the best dog service of them all! Their flight attendants are always happy to see me out and about from my travel bag. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that I had some really nice attendants, or maybe it’s just because they recognized me and were trying to suck up to my celebrity stature.
Now I am just speaking generally on my experiences with these airlines. There is always the chance that you will just find a super nice (or grumpy) attendant on any of these airlines who will make or break your flight.
Check out the small dog travel blog for more info and experiences on various airlines, dogjaunt.com.
How I Feel About Flying
I am a very comfortable flyer. In fact, I did a post a while ago called Jet-Settin’ Dachshund that you might want to check out after reading this one.
I took my first flight when I was just a few months old, and then at fairly regular intervals after that. So I am pretty well accustomed to flying.
However, during takeoff I get the nervous shakes. I look to Mum and Dad for affirmation that everything is okay. Once we’re in the air I am fine, and actually, even a little curious..
The landing is a bit scary as well.
One thing that Mum is always worried about is that I will pee in my carrier, just because it happened one time (geez, get over it, I was a puppy). Anyway, I like to hold it in the day of travel, and no matter how much Mum and Dad try, I won’t pee for a long time.
Actually, one time Mum brought along puppy peepee pads. After a long first flight, a connection, and then onto our second flight – I still hadn’t peed. So while on the plane, Mum asked (ordered) Dad take me into the bathroom, where he laid out the peepee pad to try to get me to go. I wouldn’t. So he tried peeing a few drops himself onto the pad to spur me into thinking it was appropriate. I was just disturbed by this, which didn’t help.
Mum always brings a bunch of small treats to feed me throughout the flight (so the swallowing equalizes my ears).
Traveling With Your Dog Outside Your Country
This is quite a bit different than traveling within your own country. If you are looking to take your doggy to another country though, I recommend you check to see if that country has a quarantine rule. Some will require you leave the dog in quarantine for around 2 weeks or more upon arrival to make sure the dog is healthy and not carrying any diseases.
As you can imagine, I am way too famous to do that.
Each country will have their own regulations for bringing a pet. I will use my upcoming trip to Bahamas as an example.
Traveling With Your Dog to the Bahamas
Here’s everything you need to do to bring your dog to the Bahamas:
- You need to download and fill out an import permit application from the Bahama Tourism website. There are some restrictions listed in this document. For instance, the dog has to be at least 6 months old, have had the correct vaccinations, etc.
- Once you fill out the form with some basic questions about your dog, you have to mail it to the Bahamas Department of Agriculture with a $10 money order or cheque for processing fee. If you provide an extra $5 then once the application is granted, they will fax the import permit back to you instead of mailing it back. This is what I did to expedite the process. The permit is valid for traveling within one year from time of issue.
- You will need to bring this import permit with you when you travel. You also have to bring a Veterinary Health Certificate of the dog that has been issued within 48 hours before importation, and the vet also has to sign the import permit.
- Once you arrive, you need to give a duplicate copy of all the documentation to a customs officer, and then again, within 48 hours after arrival, the dog has to see a Bahamas vet for the same check (update: when we went to the Bahamas, no one even looked at our papers, and we never bothered to go see a vet on the island (there wasn’t even one on the island we went to). This part I would say is not necessary).
I can’t say I’m looking forward to the double-vet visit. As you can see, I can’t even look at a vet..
And actually, one thing I haven’t looked into yet is any regulations in coming back to Canada. So, good thing I did this post! I’ll get my manager on that right away.
So, it’s a long and complicated process, but it will all be worth it for the Bahamas! I can’t wait to strut my stuff down the beach!
If you have any questions or insights of your own, please let us know in the comments!