Flying with your dog is complicated enough as it is – you have to worry about extra fees, airline policies and making your dog as comfortable as possible. Things get more complex when dealing with large dogs, because no major airlines allow large pets to ride as carry-on luggage in the cabin with owners. On top of that, most airlines classify large pets as those weighing more than 22 pounds – with some companies placing the cutoff as low as 15 pounds including the carrier – whereas most dog lovers classify large dogs as weighing more than 50 pounds.
Still, many airlines allow larger dogs to travel in their cargo holds, as long as they're old enough (usually at least eight to 10 weeks) and have all their required vaccines.
You'd be hard-pressed to find an airline that allows larger dogs to ride in the cabin, but it's common to permit dogs in the cargo hold of the plane or in the checked baggage compartment. At time of publication, the following fees and and restrictions apply to airlines that allow dog owners to check their pets:
Air Canada: Dogs weighing up to 100 pounds (including the kennel) are permitted in the baggage compartment. The fee for domestic flights is $105 to $120, and for international flights, $270 to $318.
Air France: Non-snub-nosed dogs weighing between 17 and 165.3 pounds (kennel included) may travel in the hold for fees from $75 to $245, depending on the destination.
Adria Airways: Dogs weighing more than 17 pounds may travel in the hold.
Aegean Airways: Dogs weighing more than 17 pounds may travel in the cargo compartment. This applies only to flights on the Airbus 319, 320 and 321 aircraft. Fees range from $50 to $250, depending on the time of year, your destination and how much the dog weighs.
American Airlines: Checked pets weighing up to 100 pounds (including the carrier) are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis for $200 per kennel, or $150 on flights to and from Brazil.
Austrian Air: Dogs weighing more than 17 pounds can travel in the hold for fees ranging from $125 to $370, depending on the size of the kennel and the flight route.
Delta Airlines: Pets may travel in cargo as long as the flight is shorter than 12 hours, for a fee of $200, or $150 for flights to and from Brazil.
Emirates: Dogs can travel in the hold as checked baggage as long as the flight time is less than 17 hours. Fees range from $500 to $800, depending on the weight and size of the kennel and dog combined.
Etihad Airways: Dogs can travel in the cargo hold, but travelers must contact the airline for pricing.
Hawaiian Airlines: Dogs weighing up to 70 pounds (including the kennel weight) can be transported as checked baggage. Heavier dogs may travel in the cargo department.
Iberia: Large dogs may travel in the cargo hold for fees ranging from $120 to $370, depending on the destination.
LATAM Airlines: Large dogs may travel in the cargo hold as long as their weight (combined with carrier weight) doesn't exceed 100 pounds (70 pounds for select destinations) for fees from $65 to $300, depending on the destination.
Lufthansa: Dogs weighing more than 17 pounds (including the transport container) may travel as excess baggage in the cargo hold for fees ranging from $150 to $400, depending on the destination and size of the carrier.
Qatar Airways: Large dogs can travel as checked baggage for fees ranging from $200 to $450, depending on the weight.
Sun Country Airlines: Large dogs may travel as checked baggage for a one-way fee of $200 per flight segment.
Swiss International Airlines: Dogs weighing more than 17 pounds must travel in the hold for fees ranging from $125 to $400, depending on kennel size and destination.
Turkish Airlines: Pets weighing more than 17 pounds (carrier weight included) must travel in the aircraft hold for either $30 or $45, depending on weight.
WestJet: You may travel with your dog as checked baggage for fees from $75 to $88.50.
Tips for Flying With Dogs
It can be nerve-wracking to place your dog in cargo, where you can't keep an eye on it, for the duration of a flight. To ensure your dog's comfort and safety, take the following precautions before boarding your flight:
- See the vet before you travel to make sure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on all vaccinations.
- Make sure you have an appropriately-sized carrier, in which your dog can stand, turn around and lie down comfortably.
- Refrain from feeding your dog right before flying, if possible, to prevent an upset stomach.
- Avoid giving tranquilizers to your dog, as they have been associated with respiratory and cardiovascular issues with increased altitude pressure.
- Pack any toys or blankets that usually comfort your dog, to help it feel as at-home as possible.
Also make sure to book a place for your dog as early as possible, because many airlines restrict space for carrying pets. Arrive at the airport a few hours early to ensure that everything goes smoothly. And remember to show up with your pet's health certificate and medical records, veterinary contact information, grooming products, necessary medication, food, treats, water and food dishes.