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Airport guide for dog parents

It can seem overwhelming, but there are a few things you need to know before bringing your dog along for a flight. A lot of it is common sense, and things you’ll get the hang of in no time. Know the regulations, think about your pup’s needs, and browse over our tips for an easy airport experience.

Dog Friendly Airport Changes

Nearly all airports are seriously stepping up their game to accommodate pets, because more and more travelers are looking to bring along some extra precious cargo. Below are just a handful of the airports making additional modifications just for Fido!

Denver International Airport. Drop your pup off at the lavish Paradise 4 Paws onsite pet hotel for a luxurious stay before departing. Not only will they receive lovely massages and their own suites, there’s bone shaped pools and expansive indoor grass areas to burn off that energy before a flight. (Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has one of these luxury hotels, too.) In the airport, you’ll find relief areas at every terminal.

Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson. Falling in line with other airports that feature dog parks, like Washington Dulles which offers indoor and outdoor spaces, and Phoenix Sky Harbor where five pre-security play places have been added, is Atlanta’s international flight hub. Coming it at 1,000 square feet, the terminal south park in Atlanta is accented with benches and waste stations for convenience.

Philadelphia International. Pups have absolutely no potty worries at Philadelphia’s major airport—seven relief areas at every terminal, called “pet ports,” have been carefully thought out and designed for maximum ease and convenience. If that isn’t enough, there are more spots for pups to do their business outside the airport. Note: Every major airport is required to have relief facilities for service animals.

Tips for Navigating the Airport with Your Dog

  • First things first, have your documentation ready to present when approaching security. There are several potential things you need depending on from where you are flying, and where you are going. This includes, but is not limited to, a Certificate of Veterinarian Inspection and vaccine records.
  • Your dog will be subjected to the same search guidelines as humans when going through TSA. Keep in mind, you must have them in a pet carrier until you reach security. Carry them or keep them on a leash. No one should ever ask you to put your dog through the x-ray tunnel—the empty carrier will be scanned.
  • After sifting through the TSA line, place your pup back in its carrier and head to your gate. If you have some waiting time on your hands, then look for a pet relief station for a quick break before boarding.

Reminders for Pet Air Travel

  • Keep in mind, airlines and airports sometimes have weight restrictions, only allowing dogs that are about 20 pounds or less. Research is everything before you decide to plan a flight.
  • Pet parents can request security screenings be done in a small room if their baby is prone to darting off.
  • There will be an extra fee, averaging around $100, for your furry one.
  • Your pet carrier will have to fit comfortably under the seat, and according to Delta, will have to stay there.
  • Make sure you check on your four-legged friend frequently, offering comfort and reassurance. If something seems strange, notify an attendant immediately.

Air travel can be a stressful experience for your dog, but if you plan far enough in advance, while thinking about all the details, it can be a smooth way to get from point a to point b. So, pack up their favorite blanket, get a super comfy carrier and don’t forget the treats. You can do this!


Karyn Wofford is a “Mom” to her fluffy, sweet dog Halli. She spends much of her time traveling and advocating for Type 1 diabetes—and Halli sometimes accompanies her on her adventures. You’ll find Karyn’s work on sites like Mother Earth Living, and in magazines such as Diabetes Forecast.

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