How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Dog on an Airline?

Adaeze Nwakaeze Adaeze Nwakaeze · Updated June 3, 2024

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Wondering how much it costs to ship a dog on an airplane? Great news — it doesn’t have to cost as much as sending a space shuttle into orbit! Maybe you are a pet parent traveling or relocating with your pet or a breeder wanting to transport puppies to their new home.

Whatever the case, you definitely want to know what this move means for your wallet. Because let’s face it — you want the absolute best for your furry family member without breaking the bank — or scrimping on safety standards. So, how much does it cost to fly a dog on an airline? Let’s take a look!

Ways to Transport a Dog — Ground Transport versus Airline Transport — Which is Cheaper?

Before getting into specifics, let’s compare transporting a pet by ground transport (by car or train) with traveling by plane.

Generally speaking, air travel tends to be on the high side for both domestic and international flights. However, the cost of an air ticket typically depends on the size of your furry friend and where they stay during the flight (in-cabin or cargo hold).

But even with seemingly high costs, over 2 million pets fly in and out of the U.S. each year, making air travel a popular pet transportation option for many pet parents.

For ground transport, the cost can vary depending on the distance traveled and whether the pet is having a solo ride (VIP service) or riding with other pets (Pet rideshare).

Still, it can be a lot more affordable than flying and can sometimes be the only way to transport your canine companion if they have health concerns that restrict them from flying — (think short-nosed breeds like Bulldogs or Pugs).

However, if your dog is traveling internationally, the only way to go is by air. And with this option, you’ll need to factor in additional costs for a travel crate, pet visits, health certificates, vaccinations, microchipping, and import permits, as the case may be.

Airline Pet Policies and Rates — What to Expect

When transporting your dog by air, you definitely want to check out the airline’s pet policy and fees before buying a ticket (usually through an IPATA-approved pet transport company).

Here are some important policies to consider:

#1. Weight Restriction Policies — Flying in-cabin versus cargo transport

Many US-based airlines, including Alaska, United, and Delta Airlines, allow small dogs to fly in the cabin as carry-ons for a moderate fee.

But this is only if your pet fits in an IATA-approved airline dog carrier that meets the airline’s specifications and can fit under the seat in front of you.

For American Airlines, the weight restriction is capped at 20 pounds and requires that your pup fit comfortably in their crate with enough room to move around.

If your furry friend is on the bigger side — maybe a Labrador or a Great Dane — you’ll most likely have to ship them in the cargo area.

Airlines that accept larger dogs to fly in cargo hold include Delta, Southwest, American, and Alaska airlines – but you must make sure that your pet is in a kennel that complies with IATA standards and is approved by the airline.

#2. Airline Rates and Fees for Cargo Transport

Now for the big question: how much does it cost to ship a dog by air?

The cost of shipping a pet by air will depend on the size and weight of your dog and the airline you’re flying.

While Alaska Airlines charges $100 for both in-cabin and cargo pet transport, most of the other airlines have different fees for each option.

For example, American Airlines charges $125 for in-cabin transport for a one-way trip, while the cargo transport fee varies according to the weight of your dog.

If you are using Delta Airlines, you can expect to pay a flat fee of $95 for tickets issued after February 2022, $200 for international transport, and $75 for flights into and out of Brazil — all for in-cabin transport.

However, not all airlines charge above $100; Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines allow small dogs to fly in the cabin for just $95 and $99, respectively.

It’s also important to note that some airlines may require additional requirements or paperwork, such as travel crates, health certificates and permits, and other documentation, which can increase the overall cost.

But while pet transport cost might be a major consideration, your main priority should be the safety and well-being of your pet. So, don’t just settle for the cheapest option — instead, ensure that the airline you choose is reputable and has a good track record for transporting animals safely.

Also, don’t forget to consider the possibility of delays, cancellations, lack of a direct booking option, and breed restrictions, all of which can cause added stress — and extra costs if not adequately prepared for.

Transporting Your Dog with Air Nannies

If you’re still overwhelmed by the prospect of shipping your pet by air, you may want to consider hiring an air nanny.

Air nannies are professional animal handlers who will personally accompany your fur baby on their flight, ensuring their needs, like food, water, and bathroom breaks, are taken care of.

You can trust them to look after your pet from start to finish, from the initial check-in process to boarding the plane and even seeing them safely off the plane — all while providing them with plenty of TLC every step of the way.

Of course, this added level of service comes with a price and will add to the total cost, but the peace of mind you get from knowing that your pet is in safe hands is worth every penny.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, you want to do what is best for your pet and ensure that they have a safe and comfortable journey.

So, while the cost of transporting your fur baby by air is certainly something to consider, it shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision.

Take the time to research thoroughly, consider all your options, and find a reputable airline you can trust.

Post your requirements on our platform today and get multiple quotes from certified pet transporters in minutes!