Flying with a dog to Key West


Flying with a dog to Key West can feel more like work than vacation. Consider these steps and your only worry will be salt or no salt on your margarita!

Though we know our pets need vacations too, flying with a dog to Key West is no walk in the park. It can be confusing and stressful for both you and your dog. We’re clearing up the confusion in hopes your best friend will join you on your next trip to Key West.

Where will my dog sit on the airplane?

flying with a dog to Key West

Sorry, guys. You belong under the seat or under the plane!

If yours is a Yorkie, Chihuahua, or teacup breed, she’ll be small enough to fit in a crate under the seat in front of you. Otherwise, she will travel in an airline approved kennel in the pressurized, temperature controlled section of the airplane where luggage is stored.

What’s the cost?

No free rides for Fido! Each airline’s prices to fly with a dog vary. The cost to “carry on” a dog is about $125 each way, and to “check” a dog is $175 – $200 each way.

What type of crate do I need?

Whether she is with you or under the plane, the size of the crate must allow your dog to stand, sit and turn around naturally. Dogs get to be way more comfortable than their human companions!

A “checked” kennel must be sturdy, escape-proof and have plenty of ventilation. Place something absorbent on the floor, like torn-up paper towels or a doggie training pad for any accidents.

If your dog is riding in the cabin, her crate or carrier must fit under the seat in front of you. On American Airlines, the maximum dimensions are 19” long x 13 “ wide x 9” high.

Pack wisely, the in-cabin crate or carrier counts as one of your carry-on bags.

Will it be too hot under the plane for my dog?

The temperature in the luggage section of the plane is the same as the cabin. However, the storage area and tarmac may experience extreme cold or warm conditions. For their safety, airlines limit the months when dogs can travel.flying with a dog to Key West

Should I provide food and water for “checked” dogs?

Yes! And major airlines require it. Attach two dishes – one for food and one for water – inside of the kennel. Tape a small bag of food to the outside of the kennel, enough chow for an entire day to be safe.

Freeze a small amount of water for your dog to place inside the crate. It won’t spill, and your pup will lap it up once it melts.

Should I give my dog a sedative for the trip?

flying with a dog to Key West

Haytham and Alison’s pet, Mojo, relaxes in his pet carrier. Look at that grouchy traveling face!

No! Unless, of course, your vet recommends it.

Follow these steps to ensure a smooth trip for you and your dog:

  1. Call your airline when booking your human ticket to make sure there is space for your dog. Major airlines have a maximum number of dogs allowed on each flight.
  2. Spend the extra cash for the direct flight. We can’t think of a worse way to start your vacation than finding out your dog was left in Newark during your layover.
  3. Visit your vet. Florida requires a health certificate for any animal entering the state by airplane. See your vet within 10 days of your flight to get your pooch caught up on immunizations and keep the certificate with you while traveling.
  4. Check size requirements for your crate or carrier. Once you have the perfect size and style for your pup, mark it up with a Sharpie! Write the words “Live Animal” in clear sight on the top and sides of the kennel. Draw arrows to show the upright position of the crate. On the top, write your dog’s name, your contact information and the contact info of where you’ll be staying – hopefully, it’s Old Town Manor & Rose Lane Villas. Attach a picture of your dog as well. In case of an escape, this could be a lifesaver.
  5. Make your pup comfortable in her traveling kennel weeks before the flight. See our favorite dog expert, Cesar Millan’s video on getting your dog to love her crate.
  6. Experts recommend no doggie dining or drinking 4 to 6 hours before you’ll be in the airport. So if you’ve got an early flight, make sure she has had good nourishment the night before your trip. Take her for a long walk just before you leave for the airport. You’ll want your dog to be in nap-mode.
  7. Arrive to the airport early. Dogs are not allowed to check-in online or at the curb like humans and must be manually checked in by airline personnel.

You’re in luck if your dog has been named your emotional support animal or service dog. The TSA mandates that airlines give these documented pups a free ride, cage-free. But even if your animal is for service for emotional support, she must be well behaved. Around Thanksgiving last year, an “emotional support pig” made headlines when it was removed from an airplane for being disruptive, snorting and defecating in the isle. Yikes!

We know your dog will do better than that!


Read more of our pet friendly blogs, or check our event calendar to start planning your trip to Key West!