Even though I’ve flown many times with pups, I’m always running scenarios through my head the night before we travel. And they are always the possible problem scenarios. So far, I’ve never had an issue when flying with a dog but I chalk at least some of that success to what I do the day before and the day off the trip.
Here’s my routine:
- Get up extra early and run your pup. I do this both to help empty them and to tire them out.
- Back inside to water and a light breakfast.
- With pups I then crate them – often bringing the crate with me as I do my last minute pre-travel things. I bring the pup along because I want to keep them awake as much as I can. A tired puppy is my goal by the time I tuck them under the seat. Older dogs can just tag along.
- If possible, they travel to the airport in a hard carrier so they don’t get a chance to start digging or fussing.
- I arrive early with all my paperwork in place so I can check in at the counter without a hitch.
- At the airport, the dog goes into the airline-approved carrier. I get the largest one that airline allows (sizes can differ slightly airline to airline). I like a soft, utilitarian-type carrier but others like a hard plastic, smaller and more fashionable, double or wheeled option. Use what works for you.
- Go straight to the counter, pay and get checked in. Your dog counts as one of your two pieces of carry on luggage.
- Get a window seat if you can that way there is less of a risk of your dog being jostled or stepped on in a full flight.
- Going through security, your dog comes out of the bag. The bag gets scanned, you walk through the machines holding your dog, security wipes down your hands with gauze then tests the gauze then you are on your way.
- This was Button’s first flight and she was anxious at the airport. I set her carrier on my wheeled carry-on and kept her moving up and down the airport. That kept her quiet but awake.
- About 15 minutes before loading, we went into a family bathroom. I put down her papers and she peed on them right away. Good puppy!
- Once on the plane, I tucked her under the seat in front of me with the screened end facing me so she could see me and I could watch her.
- As hoped for, Button fell immediately asleep.
- If she had not, I had packed a few chewies that I would have slipped into her bag one at a time to keep her amused.
This routine got us from St. Louis, MO to NYC, NY without an incident. In fact, without fussing or scratching of any kind.
If you travel with your dog routinely, I’d love to hear your tricks and tips to help things go smoothly.