This past weekend I went home for a friend's wedding and my mom's birthday! It was a wonderful trip. I decided to take Winnie with me since it was a quick trip and my family hadn't met her yet. Not going to lie, I was really nervous about flying with my dog. I'd never done it before. As a first time pet flyer, I thought I would pass along some tips I learned!
1.) Pick a good carrier.
There are hundreds (literally) of great carriers to pick from on Amazon. My mom bought be one for Winnie right after I got her and I love it. It has mesh sides and a partially mesh top so she could peek out at me. I liked that my carrier has a pocket in the back. It made it easy for me to stuff a few personal items (ipad, chapstick, phone) in it during the flight since Winnie was my carry-on.
2.) Prep the carrier early.
This is probably one of the most important things to prep for before you travel. Your dog will be nervous because of all the extra stimulation at the airport. It helps for their carrier to be something that is familiar to them. The carrier came early in the year, so I just left it out next to her other one for a while. That way, it smelled like home and I wasn't stuffing her into it for the first time on our way to the airport. I also stuck a shirt of mine in the crate with her so it smelled like me.
3.) Make sure they have water.
I bought this water dispenser and loved it. It's really easy to fill up after security and it hooks right on to the carrier:
4.) Look up pet relief areas on airport (and get there early).
I looked up the pet relief areas on DIA's website and Mccarran's website ahead of time and still had a problem finding them. Maybe it's because most pet relief areas are super tiny and way out of the way. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to find them. Winnie was too stressed out to use it when we arrived at the airport, but when we landed she had no problems.
5.) Get a health certifIcate from your vet.
The airline you are traveling with may ask for this. I coupled my health certificate exam with some booster shots for her and it worked well. My vet suggested I don't sedate her for her first flight and see how she does. I'm glad she said this--Winnie did great!
6.) Consider the cost.
It is EXPENSIVE to fly with your pet! Southwest charged me $95 one way to have a pet on board with me. Because of this, I won't be flying with her that often.
I'll be honest, I was really worried that Winnie would lose it. She is well-behaved in her crate at home, but I was worried it would be too much stimulation. She did just fine. I think your dog can sense if you're a bit stressed and will go off of that. Stay calm.
The other takeaway I had was that I found it okay to take her out of her carrier at the gate as long as I was holding her. (Technically this isn't allowed.) She sat on my lap and chewed on a chewy while we waited. Once we got on the plane, she never settled down to sleep. But, she stayed quiet so long as she could see me.
Overall, it was an extremely positive experience. I flew with Southwest Airlines and they were fantastic with her. She got lots of attention id wonderfully for a 5-month-old puppy!
Have any other questions about my experience? Reach out to me in the comments below or on my Facebook page.