Tips for flying with pets


It used to be that the only way a dog or cat could fly was in the belly of a plane. Times have changed, of course, and airlines like JetBlue now allow you to bring pets onboard, albeit with some caveats. Before you start thinking about how darling Bits will look posed on that tropical beach, make sure you’ve considered all the necessary procedures for flying with her.

Corgi in a pet carrier
Photo credit: @lilothewelshcorgi

Consult the vet and your own better judgment
Although animal vaccination requirements generally only apply to international itineraries, it’s still a good idea to visit the veterinarian to make sure your cat or dog is physically fit for travel, regardless of your final destination. You should also take a few moments to consider your pet’s temperament in crowded or unfamiliar areas. Airlines set strict rules for the behavior of pet passengers, as well as procedures for what your pet can and can’t do in the airport and on the plane.

Confirm airline policies before you book
Airline policies relating to animal travel are often strict and non-negotiable, from documentation requirements for service animals to weight and breed restrictions for onboard pets. It’s a good idea to verify these policies in advance of your trip, because if you violate them and have to forfeit your ticket at the last minute, you won’t be eligible for a refund. Airlines limit the number of animals per cabin (for JetBlue, this number is four), so book as far in advance as possible.

Pack everything your dog will need
Like babies on planes, dogs are ignorant to the social rules of the aircraft. Although it’s impossible to completely prevent unwanted barking, make sure you pack all of your dog’s creature comforts, from toys to snacks to a muzzling device if he needs one. On the other hand, you should avoid sedating or tranquilizing your dog without explicit approval from your vet, as this can cause serious health problems because of conditions inside the aircraft cabin.

Dog in a suitcase

Arrive early and leave time for connections
Many airlines require that you check in for travel with pets at the airport, which means that unless you qualify to check in at the elite counter, you will need to wait in line. Additionally, security screening procedures for pets can be long, and since your pet can’t use the plane lavatory, you’ll need to build in time for visiting the pet relief area. Usually this is a fairly small corner of the airport, but if you’re at JFK, you’re in luck—JetBlue has opened its very own Wooftop at Terminal 5, so your furry friend can have an entire roof’s worth of space to stretch his legs and do his business before the flight.

Dachshund on the Wooftop dog park area of Terminal 5 at JFK Airport,

Allow yourself extra time to care for your companion during connections as well. And remember, just like new fliers, you may need to take a moment to comfort your pet if he’s a nervous traveler. Flights can be traumatic for our furry friends, regardless of how many treats or toys you bring, so leave ample time for pets.

Download the JetPaws™ Travel Guide
Still anxious about traveling with your pet? Not to worry. Take a look at JetBlue’s JetPaws™ Travel Guide, which gives you everything you need to know about traveling with a dog or cat on JetBlue. It includes information on carrier bag-tags and TrueBlue points (which you earn 300 of for each segment of your flight when traveling with a furry friend). Read up on the best practices for flying with a pet and you’ll both have a purrfect experience.