We traveled with United Airlines which allows small dogs as carry on as long as they are in a kennel that fits under the airplane seat. They charge $125 each way. We bought this soft sided kennel that measures 17.5” X 10” x 11”9 for Riley who weighs about 9 lbs. It is a tight fit but he has room to stand up, turn around, and lie down. United has a webpage all about their current pet policy. They allow soft sided kennels that are about 18 x 11 x 11 as long as they conform to the space and don’t block the aisle. The dog must be inside the kennel at all times and when on the plane, he must be under the seat just like with regular carry on.
We left from Sacramento International Airport and had a layover at Chicago O’Hare Airport. I found a wonderful resource that gives a whole bunch of information regarding dogs on planes. As well as specifics about dog-friendly airports and where the pet relief areas are!
About a week before we left I had been training Riley to like his new crate by giving him treats for being interested in it, going in it, getting zipped up inside, and being carried around in it. It seemed to work because he never really fought us when it was time to go in his crate! Here are a few pictures of him getting used to his airplane crate.
We brought Wolfie, his favorite toy, a food and water dish, food, and treats for the ride. I read that giving doggy CBD oil may help calm him down before we go but we ended up skipping that step and it wasn’t an issue. We made sure to go on a nice walk before we headed out to the airport to get him nice and tired.
We parked in economy parking which was pretty far away from our terminal but thankfully we caught a bus that drove us there. The bus driver told me that I had to tell her Riley was a service dog or he wasn’t allowed on! He was in his crate for the bus ride. Once we got to the terminal, we let him go potty one more time. Then we put a belly band on him and went straight to the United check in. Because we had paid before hand for Riley’s “ticket”, we had no issues checking in and getting Riley’s tag for his crate.
From there we went through security. The line was short and Rye seemed amused by the people around him but content to stay in his crate. We were informed that we had to take Riley out of his crate and hold him in order to go through the xray together while his crate went on the conveyor belt to get scanned separately. After, they check your hands while you are still holding your doggy. Riley went back into his crate easily although a little spooked now by the hussle and bussle.
By the time we sat down to wait for boarding, we realized that our plane was delayed by one hour. We let Rye sit on our lap instead of in his crate for a little bit. This was the only time he was a little antsy about having to stay still. He whined a little and scratched at his crate but ended up settling in.
Once we boarded, we put Riley down at my feet. The crate fit perfectly! I think Rye knew that it was time to sleep because he curled up and went right to sleep. He slept through take off and as far as I could tell, only moved to get into a better sleeping position! He did such a good job.
Once we landed, we didn’t have time to take Riley to the pet relief area on the other side of the airport or take him outside and go back through security. I figured that since we took an overnight flight, it was the same thing as Riley sleeping through the night without going potty.
Flight number two went the same uneventful way, although I did hear someone whisper, “Look, I think that is a bunny!” when pointing at Riley. That gave me a giggle. When we landed at our destination and I picked Riley up from his place under the seat, the woman across the aisle said, “Wow, you had a dog that whole time? I didn’t even notice! He was so good!”
The trip back went exactly the same way as our trip out. We saw so many small dogs traveling for the holidays. I think there may have been 3 or 4 dogs just on one of our planes! Overall, traveling via plane with Riley was way easier than I expected. It was a relief to know that Riley didn’t seem to care about the pressure difference of taking off or landing. I guess he just thought it was a car ride. He does well in car rides too! I am much more willing to consider taking Riley with us by plane again in the future.
Thanks for reading! Please let us know about your experience you've had with traveling by plane with your dog. Also, feel free to ask any questions about doggy carry-ons you may have!
Abbey is the owner of Coddled Canine and her dog, Riley. Join us on our crazy adventures as we journey through this awesome life together!
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