How Much Does It Cost to Fly A Dog

Fernando Meyer


In recent years, an increasing number of pet owners prefer to take their furry companions along on their journeys. Whether relocating or just vacationing, including your dog in your travel plans requires some financial preparation. This article aims to break down these variables and comprehensively understand the real cost of flying a dog.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that over 2 million pets and live animals fly annually. However, the actual financial burden of flying your pet isn’t just the flight ticket. There are numerous additional costs to consider. Even the ticket price can fluctuate based on your dog’s size, the nature of the journey, and more. 

Factors Influencing the Cost of Flying a Dog

The cost of flying with your dog can be influenced by several factors:

  • Dog Size & Weight: The bigger your dog, the bigger the cost. Small dogs that can fit under the seat in an airline-approved carrier are generally cheaper to fly than larger dogs that require a spot in cargo.
  • Carrier Type: Purchasing an airline-approved carrier or crate is crucial for your dog’s flight and can cost anywhere from $30 to $150, depending on the size and quality.
  • Airline Policies: Different airlines have different fees and policies. It’s important to research and choose the airline that aligns with your budget and provides a comfortable travel experience for your dog.
  • Destination: International flights usually cost more than domestic ones. Additionally, some countries may have quarantine requirements that could incur additional costs.
  • Travel Insurance for Pets: To safeguard against the unexpected, travel insurance for your pet is advisable. Prices vary, but expect to pay at least $50 for a basic plan.

Costs Breakdown by Airlines

Each airline has its own set of fees for pet travel:

  • For instance, Delta Airlines charges $125 per pet for domestic travel and $200 for international travel (small dogs in cabins). Larger dogs that need to travel in cargo will incur additional charges.
  • American Airlines has a similar pricing structure, with a fee of $125 for domestic and Canada flights and $200 for transatlantic/transpacific flights.

It’s advisable to check each airline’s pet policy page for the most accurate and updated pricing.

Tips to Minimize Costs

Here are some tips to keep your costs down:

  • Early Booking: Book your pet’s flight reservation to secure a spot and potentially get lower rates.
  • DIY vs. Pet Relocation Services: If it’s a straightforward trip, handling the arrangements yourself can save money. However, complicated international relocations might be easier with the help of professional pet relocation services.
  • Off-Peak Travel: Travel during less busy times to avail of discounts.
  • Health Check-ups: Ensure your pet is fit for travel to avoid any last-minute medical examination fees.

Hidden Costs & Considerations

Don’t forget about the less obvious costs and considerations:

  • Certain destinations require health certifications and updated vaccinations.
  • There might be extra costs at the destination airport, like pick-up fees or customs charges.
  • Consider the emotional cost of your pet and ensure they’re comfortable and safe throughout the journey.

Understanding Airline Pet Policies

Each airline has its own set of guidelines regarding pet travel. It’s crucial for pet owners to thoroughly investigate and inquire about these rules before finalizing their flight bookings.

  1. Health Documentation – Most airlines mandate health and rabies certificates, as well as updated vaccinations, before allowing dogs to board. Acquire these certificates from your veterinarian a few weeks prior to your departure to ensure timely acceptance and to keep your pet’s immunizations up-to-date. Typically, these certifications should be issued within 10 days of your journey. Additionally, for pets moving across state borders in the U.S., a current rabies vaccine and a valid health certificate (dated within 30 days of the flight) are compulsory as stipulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  2. Airline-Specific Carriers – Pet owners need to familiarize themselves with the airline’s carrier size specifications. If your pet’s kennel doesn’t meet the airline’s criteria, there’s a risk your pet won’t be allowed to fly. For more detailed information, refer to articles that focus on carrier guidelines for individual airlines.
  3. Weight Restrictions – Airlines maintain specific weight limits for pets. Typically, smaller dogs weighing up to 20 pounds are permitted to travel in the cabin, provided they are kept in an under-seat carrier. On the other hand, larger dogs usually fly in the cargo hold. For instance, some airlines cap this weight at 70 pounds, but others, like American Airlines, allow the combined weight of the dog and carrier to be up to 100 pounds.
  4. Breed Limitations – Certain breeds might be deemed ineligible for flights, particularly brachiocephalic breeds or those perceived to exhibit aggressive tendencies.

Domestic vs. International Travel

Flying your dog internationally generally incurs a higher fee compared to domestic flights. Moreover, international destinations often have specific documentation requirements, and vaccinations may be mandatory depending on where you’re headed.

Cabin vs. Cargo Costs

The placement of your dog during the flight – either in the cabin or the cargo hold – significantly affects the cost. The primary determinant for this is the dog’s size. Transporting your dog in the cargo hold can be particularly pricey, with charges sometimes reaching up to $1000. Conversely, if your pet qualifies as checked baggage, the expense ranges from $200 to $400. For those who can bring their pets in the cabin, expect to set aside $50 to $250.

Investing in a comfortable and safe travel experience for your dog provides peace of mind. You’ll also be able to enjoy your vacation or smoothly transition to your new location without worrying about how your furry friend is doing back home or the costs of boarding.

How much is it to fly a dog internationally?

The cost of flying a dog internationally varies widely based on the airline, destination country, and the dog’s size. On average, international pet flight fees can range from $100 to $500 for in-cabin travel. For larger dogs that require cargo transport, the costs can go up to $1,000 or more. Depending on the destination country’s regulations, it’s also important to factor in additional costs, such as health certifications, customs charges, and potential quarantine fees.

How much does it cost to fly a 100-pound dog?

Flying a 100-pound dog typically requires cargo transport due to the dog’s size. The cost of transporting larger dogs in cargo can range between $200 to $1,000 or more, depending on the airline and the flight distance. Additionally, there might be extra costs for an airline-approved crate suitable for the dog’s size.

How much does it cost to fly a 40-pound dog?

The cost for flying a 40-pound dog varies by airline and whether the dog can be transported in the cabin or if they must fly in the cargo hold. If the dog plus its carrier exceeds the airline’s weight limit for in-cabin transport, they’ll need to travel in cargo. Depending on the airline and route, you could expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 or more.

How stressful is flying for dogs?

Flying can be as stressful for dogs as it can be for humans. Dogs may experience anxiety due to the unfamiliar environment, the sounds of the airplane, pressure changes, and the sensation of takeoff and landing. Preparing dogs for air travel is essential by acclimating them to their crates beforehand, ensuring they’re well-exercised before the flight, and consulting with a veterinarian about potential calming measures or medications. Always ensure they have a comfortable carrier with familiar toys or blankets to ease their stress.

Can dogs fly in the cabin internationally?

Whether dogs can fly in the cabin on international flights largely depends on the airline’s pet policy and the destination country’s regulations. Some airlines allow small dogs to travel in the cabin on international routes. In contrast, others may restrict all pets to the cargo hold. Moreover, certain countries have strict regulations about pet entry and might require animals, regardless of size, to arrive as cargo. Always check with the specific airline and research the destination country’s pet import regulations before booking.

Understanding all the costs and considerations when flying with your dog is essential for a smooth travel experience. While it may require an investment, the joy and peace of mind of having your pet with you are well worth it.

Fernando Meyer

Fernando Meyer

Fernando Meyer is a freelance writer and founder of F-Meyer website. His writing strengths include business, financial topics, and lifestyle. He uses his life experiences to inspire his detailed and informative style of writing.

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