The price of air travel is a big consideration when planning a vacation. After all, the less you spend on travel, the more you can spend on accommodation and fun activities after you land.
And that means that understanding just how much a plane ride with your pup will cost is super important, and, you’ll want to find the best deal possible.
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Can you buy a plane ticket for a dog?
Well, no. Technically, dogs don’t need a plane ticket as they don’t get a seat.
However, this doesn’t mean that they’ll ride for free.
In fact, despite being confined to the cargo hold or a kennel beneath your seat, most airlines require owners to pay a ‘pet fee’ along with their own ticket price.
And that’s because, as far as airlines are concerned, your beloved fur baby is, well… luggage.
This means that if you fly with your dog in-cabin, they take the place of one of your carry-ons. And in cargo, they are charged based on the size of their crate.
So, does that mean I don’t have to pay extra to fly with my dog in-cabin?
Unfortunately, no. Whilst flying with your dog in-cabin reduces the amount of carry-on luggage you can bring, there is usually an additional fee.
You see, your dog’s crate counts as hand luggage, mainly because it must be stored under the seat in front. And this space is usually reserved for bags.
This also means that you should consider the airline’s carry-on policy before booking your flight.
That’s because some airlines only allow one carry-on item per person. And if this is the case for your flight, you’ll need to think about what you need to bring with you, in order to have a comfortable flight.
Do you usually bring books or a laptop with you? What about glasses or a change of clothes?
Of course, some belongings will fit in your pockets, but if you need more storage, it may be worth choosing an airline that allows you to bring two bags on board.
But do bear in mind that for some airlines, bringing an extra bag incurs an additional cost.
Remember, traveling with a pet isn’t always cheap!
OK, so how much does it cost to fly with my dog in-cabin?
Flying with your dog in-cabin is a popular option. Many people feel more comfortable keeping their pets close by. And dogs often feel safer when close to their human companion.
So, if your dog meets airline regulations, how much will it cost you to fly with your dog in-cabin?
Well, the exact price varies between airlines. But, here is a list of what you can expect to pay on some domestic flights:
- Alaska: $100 each-way
- American: $125 each-way
- Delta: $125 each-way
- Frontier: $99 each-way
- Hawaiian: $35 for travel within Hawaii and $175 for travel to any other US state
- JetBlue: $125 each-way
- Southwest: $95 each-way
- Spirit: $110 each-way
- United: $125 each-way
Of course, these fees may change at any time. So, it’s always best to check the airlines’ websites before booking your tickets!
And what about in-cargo?
As much as we’d all like to keep our pets close during a flight, some dogs just aren’t suitable to fly in-cabin.
So, if you’re pooch is on the bigger side, you’ll need to buy them a spot in-cargo. But, how much will it cost?
Well, your options for flying with your dog in-cargo are a little more limited. Unfortunately, some airlines only accept pets that meet the requirements for in-cabin travel.
But, there are still plenty of options to choose from. So, let’s take a look at some of them:
- Alaska: $100 each way
- American: $200 each way
- Delta: $200 each way
- Hawaiian: $60 within the state of Hawaii and $225 for other domestic flights
- United: Price varies according to the weight and size of the dog and kennel
Again, these prices are subject to change and you should check with the individual airlines before booking tickets.
The cheapest airlines to fly your pet on
OK, so we’ve seen the prices charged by many of the top domestic airlines. So, who is cheapest?
Well, if you’re flying in the state of Hawaii, Hawaiian is the obvious choice. With in-cabin travel costing just $35 and cargo coming in at $60, it’s an easy win.
But, when you’re choosing your flights, it’s important to weigh up the cost of your seat too. There’s no point saving $25 on the cost of bringing your pet onboard if you could’ve saved $50 on your own ticket elsewhere!
Our best advice? Compare each airline before you book your tickets. It takes a little more work, but it is the best way to ensure you get the best deal possible.
And, if you need a little help, price comparison sites like Kayak, Vayama, and FareCompare are a great place to start.
But, what if you don’t want to pay any extra for your four-legged friend?
Which airlines let pets fly free?
At this time, no domestic airline allows pets to fly free.
“But”, I hear you say, “My neighbor/colleague/best friend’s cousin swears that they take their dog on flights for free”.
And they’re probably not lying. In fact, many dogs do fly for free every day.
But these well-traveled dogs are not pets.
You see, as service animals are essential to the people they support, they’re considered to be working animals rather than pets.
And, because they are vital to the people they work with, these hardworking pups are usually allowed to travel for free.
So, what’s stopping you from saying Fido is a service dog and scoring a free spot on your flight?
Well, apart from the fact that lying about needing a service animal is wrong, it is also illegal in many states.
And this means that claiming your pet is actually a service dog or emotional support animal could get you into serious trouble.
OK, so we’ve covered airfare. But what about extra costs?
Are there any other costs associated with flying with my dog?
Once you’ve bought your ticket, and paid for your dog’s spot on the plane, you might think that’s everything.
But, there are a couple of potential costs you should also be aware of, like:
Paying for a health certificate
Before your airline allows you to board, they might ask to see proof that your dog is healthy. And this proof usually takes the form of a vet issued health certificate.
And, even if your airline doesn’t demand that you have a certificate, it is a good idea to have your pet checked over, to avoid any unforeseen problems.
So, how much will this cost?
Well, it depends on your veterinary practice. But on average, you can expect to pay between $25 and $150 for your consultation.
Inserting a microchip
When you’re far from home, it’s important to protect your dog in case he becomes lost. And that’s why it’s recommended that you have a microchip fitted.
A microchip is a permanent method of electronic identification which is inserted below your dog’s skin.
When a dog has a microchip, wardens and vets can easily use a scanner to retrieve this information. And this means that you can easily be reunited with your pet, should the worst happen.
Of course, you may already have chipped your dog. But if not, expect to pay around $45.
And, you may need to pay ‘pet fees’ once you reach your destination
That’s right, the additional costs of traveling with your dog don’t stop at the airport. Unless you are staying with friends, your accommodation may cost more too.
And that’s because many hotels, motels, and vacation rentals include an additional ‘pet fee’ for people traveling with their four-legged friends (see also ‘Sharing A Hotel Room With Your Cat: Everything You Need To Know‘).
So, how much extra can you expect to pay?
Well, ‘pet fees’ vary considerably but $20 per night is considered reasonable, according to gopetfriendly.com.
So, there we have it. The cost of taking your dog on a plane certainly isn’t cheap. But if you manage to get a good deal on your seat, it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive…
(Just remember to budget for those added extras.)
And, wherever you’re going, your dog is sure to appreciate some extra time with his favorite person- You!
So, don’t forget to check airline regulations, and pack his most loved chew toy…
We hope you have a blast!
P.S, if you want to watch an adorable puppy take flight, check out this YouTube video: