How Much Does it Cost to Fly a Dog?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated February 23, 2024

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A dog sits on a leash next to a pet carrier, exploring the cost of flying a dog.

So you have to travel across the country for an extended period of time. You don’t want to leave your precious furry BFF behind, because let’s face it, even leaving your dog alone for eight hours during work is too much.

By doing your research, you’ve found that transporting a dog can be overwhelming and tedious. But there’s an easy way to do this: traveling by airplane. This way is also the fastest, even though there can be a lot of logistical issues involved with doing so. But don’t fret, it can be done!

We’ll go through everything that encompasses transporting a dog via airplane and how much it will cost, depending on several factors.

Wondering How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Dog?

There are a lot of factors that involve flying your dog to its final destination. Even if it’s a short distance, there’s a range of cost variables. Check out the airline websites for more info: United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines. Let’s take a look at those variables.

What Determines the Cost to Fly a Dog?


About 99% of breeds are accepted by all airlines, but if you are the unlucky 1% that have brachycephalic (or snub-nosed) dogs, like boxers, bulldogs or pugs, they are not allowed on flights at all. The reason? The flight poses a significant health risk to your dog.

Weight and Size

The weight and size of your dog (or pet in general) will determine whether they can go in the cabin. Suppose the dog is small and fits in a carrier under the seat in front of you. In that case, you’re in luck because the fee is usually inexpensive (between $95 and $125 for a one-way ticket).

If the dog cannot fit under the seat in front of you — for example, larger dogs like golden retrievers or Doberman pinschers — it will be required to go in the cargo hold. This will increase the cost substantially. Keep in mind only a few airlines allow pets in the cargo hold: American, Delta and United

Tips for Transporting Your Dog via Air Travel

Many factors drive up costs and cause headaches. Before going through the planning and costs, consider these tips to ensure you’re prepared for the trip and it fits your budget.

  • Traveling in the off-season can help reduce costs, as fewer people will be at airports, making it less stressful for your dog.
  • Consider the time of year before booking — airlines will cancel pet tickets if the temperature isn’t between 45°F to 85°F.
  • Take direct flights with no layovers. Layovers will only stress your dog more, especially if they are in the cargo hold.
  • Freeze water in a large crate bowl, so your dog has enough water for the entire flight.
  • Carry all veterinary certificates and requirements that the destination will need to see and the airline requires. Keep them in a secure location that is easy to access.
  • Include all contact information on the crate and your dog’s collar.
  • Get to the airport at least half an hour earlier to check in early, so that means two and a half hours for domestic flights.
  • Don’t let airline attendants take your dog until 30 minutes before departure; this will allow your dog to remain more calm.
  • Don’t board until you see that airline baggage handlers have loaded your dog onto the plane. This is important to ensure your dog is safe in the cargo hold.
  • Keep a picture of your dog just in case the worst happens and you get separated at arrival.
  • Don’t give your dog any sedatives. It makes it difficult for your dog to adjust to the cargo hold temperatures and turbulence during the flight.
  • Use a high-quality crate. Your dog should have enough room to stand up and move around.

If your crate is inadequate, you’re late or the airline suspects you’ve sedated your dog, they are likely to cancel your pet ticket.

This big dog will have to fly in the cargo area.

What Is Required to Fly a Dog?

All dogs should have the required vaccinations, veterinary certificates and other public health requirements required by the state you are flying to. Here’s a list of states’ pet requirements.

Requirements for Service Dogs

If you have a service animal, then you’re in luck. There is no fee to have your service dog in the cabin with you. Only qualified persons with disabilities can bring a dog on board, however. 

For those with a qualifying disability, you’ll need to complete several forms and turn them into the respective airline. One thing of note, airlines no longer accept emotional support dogs as service animals.

Requirements for Dogs in the Cabin

Most airlines have a strict weight limit, but a small dog that can fit in a carrier may go in the main cabin. Typically, airlines allow one per passenger. Your dog’s carrier — a cost roughly running from $25 to $75 — should be small enough that your dog can fit inside and underneath the seat in front of you. Call in advance because airlines only allow one or two dogs per flight. If you wait until the last minute, you run the risk of an overbooked plane that can’t take more dogs.

Requirements for Dogs in the Cargo Hold

When your dog is not under a specific weight, the airline will require you to put it in the cargo hold. While it’s generally safe for pets, it can be a traumatic experience for your dog and you must follow many requirements. For one, there is a special cargo crate that you need to buy. These crates run about $100-$200. There are also requirements associated with putting dogs in the cargo hold.

Pet Cargo Crate Requirements

  • The crate has to be big and roomy enough for your dog to stand up and turn around and they cannot touch the top of the crate.
  • It needs secure locks all around with pins that extend past the extrusions above and below the door.
  • The crate has to be ventilated on all sides.
  • It must have your dog’s name, as well as your contact information visible for others to see.
  • Attach a water and food bowl to the door. They must be accessible from the outside of the crate.
  • And finally, the crate needs to be secure with hardware instead of plastic fasteners that can easily come off.

Cargo transport is the most expensive way to fly a dog.

How to Find a Pet Transporter to Fly Your Dog

It may feel overwhelming to use the internet to seek out a pet transporter to fly your dog. The great thing about the digital age is that sometimes just googling something can give you many results and options. 

The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, also called IPATA, provides an essential list of trusted pet transporters that you can look at to decide where to take your business.

Fly with an Air Nanny

You may ask yourself, what is an air nanny? You can hire your very own Nanny McPhee but for your dog! Yes, air nanny service is available and a very common way to transport pets long-distance. The air, or flight, nanny job recently exploded in popularity in part because of a TikTok video that went viral. Basically, there are people available for hire that are able to take care of your dog and fly it to your destination.

You’ll have to buy a roundtrip ticket for the nanny, but the great news is that sometimes air nannies may have the ability to waive the pet fees, which can reduce what you have to pay for this service. The air nanny can transport your precious dog either in the cabin or in the cargo hold.

So, How Much Does It Cost To Fly a Dog by Airline?

Smaller dogs are easier to transport by air. If they’re under a specific weight limit and their carrier fits under the seat, they can travel with you in the cabin. These tickets are far more affordable than tickets for the cargo hold. 

Transporting a dog in the plane’s cabin is estimated to be around $125 one way — remember, you’ll also have to pay for the ticket of the person flying with the dog. This ticket can cost hundreds of dollars.

Larger dogs must go in the cargo hold. They’ll need a special crate that meets all airline requirements. On top of that, airlines charge significantly higher prices for cargo hold tickets — usually between $500 and $1,000.

Of course, if you have the means, you can always charter your own private flight. That will cost you approximately between $5,600 to $11,000 per hour!

Here’s a simple table to show you the price ranges for several airlines, depending on whether you have a small or larger dog. The chartered private flight won’t be included on the table considering the price is astronomically high and will definitely be the highest costing option.

How much does it cost to fly a dog? It depends on the airline and method of transport.

Equipment Recommendations for Flying Your Dog

What do you need on that flight with your dog? Besides your dog’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket that should be with them at all times for comfort purposes, here are some recommendations of products that can come in handy for the long journey:

Small carrier for the cabin: 

Siivton Airline Approved Pet Carrier

  • Offers unique four-way expansion
  • Multiple entryways and excellent circulation
  • Doubles as an indoor pet kennel when not traveling

Cargo hold carrier:

SportPet Designs IATA-Approved Dog Crate

  • Includes two bowls and four “live animal” stickers
  • A floor gutter makes it easy to clean up after accidents
  • Wheels snap on and off as needed

Water and food bowl:

kathson Hanging Crate Dog Bowl

  • Made from food-safe stainless steel
  • Rotating white plastic locks secure bowls to carrier
  • Available in a variety of colors

Using CitizenShipper

Flying can occasionally be the best way to transport your dog, but it may not be the best for everyone or every dog. After looking at all the costs involved, consider using a pet transport marketplace like CitizenShipper! Our platform offers many advantages over traditional pet transporters.

  • Once you post a listing on our site, a fleet of background-checked, screened, and USDA-registered drivers will send you quotes instantly, usually within minutes. 
  • You can compare bids and chat with several drivers across our network, and once you choose the driver you like the most, you’re ready to book your trip! 
  • Payment is received either before or after delivery, which the driver usually decides.
  • There is a modest fee that we charge that varies per mileage, which accounts for our vetting process. 
  • We also have air nannies on our marketplace, which can make things a lot easier and affordable for flying with a dog.
  • Every transport comes with a $1000 pet protection guarantee, 24/7 TeleVet access through FirstVet and a booking assurance guarantee.
  • That’s how it works — it’s that easy!

We pride ourselves in making pet shipping run safely, seamlessly and stress-free. Your beloved pet will be in good hands with our qualified drivers, who provide frequent updates along the journey.

Because drivers compete for your business, we can save you up to 60-70% compared to traditional shipping companies! And the best part? There are no hidden fees!

How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Dog?: The Bottom Line

Whatever method you use — airplane or the CitizenShipper marketplace — transportation has a massive effect on your dog. If your dog is small, it may be easier to fly, but there may be hiccups and requirements to fulfill. If you have a larger dog, it must be put in the cargo hold, which can traumatize your dog.

The alternative is booking a driver through CitizenShipper. Our drivers understand what your dog means to you and will ensure proper, loving care for your dog during the ride. CitizenShipper also provides some added benefits for you so you’re even calmer — up to $1000 pet protection guarantee and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.

When you trust drivers on CitizenShipper to transport your dog, you will have peace of mind and comfort knowing your beloved dog is in the absolute best of hands. Transporting your dog long-distance doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful. Post your pet transport today and review free quotes in just minutes!

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