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How to Travel With Your Dog Companion for Free

Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Dogs Vets

How to Travel With Your Canine Companion for Free


In a world where our furry friends are considered family, the idea of taking them on a journey, even by plane, is not out of the question. But what if we told you there’s a way to do it for free? Yes, you read that right!

“When it comes to traveling, whether it’s a vacation or a cross-country move, the question of bringing your pet along often arises. One common concern is whether there’s a fee associated with flying with your dog.

This comprehensive guide will show you how to get your beloved dog on a plane without breaking the bank.

The general rule is that only official service dogs can travel by air for free.

The specific regulations for flying with dogs, however, depend on the airline you choose. In this discussion, we’ll delve into these rules and what you should be aware of before booking your dog’s trip.

When Can Dogs Fly for Free? Flying for free is a privilege reserved for fully trained service dogs. Regardless of their size, these service dogs are permitted to accompany their owners in the cabin.

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It’s important to note that in the past, some airlines allowed emotional support animals (ESAs) to fly for free.

However, this practice was discontinued in the U.S. on January 11, 2021, with Canada following suit on March 1, 2021.

Under the new policy, airlines are required to accommodate service dogs assisting individuals with sensory, psychiatric, physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities in the cabin. ESAs, on the other hand, are now classified as pets, subject to the same regulations as any other pet flying.

This means that all pets must be placed in a carrier in the cabin, and owners are required to pay a fee. Even if your ESA previously flew for free before these policy changes, those privileges no longer apply.

Fully trained service dogs, including psychiatric service dogs, remain exceptions and can fly for free, provided they sit by their owner’s feet and come with all the necessary documentation.


Why Are ESAs Now Classified as Pets?

The decision to categorize ESAs as pets stems from various factors. One key reason is the ease with which dogs were designated as ESAs.

Some individuals without disabilities took advantage of the free travel policy for ESAs.

They obtained letters from therapists claiming that their dogs provided psychological well-being benefits, allowing them to bring their dogs on flights without extra charges.

Unfortunately, this led to widespread abuse of the system, negatively impacting those who genuinely rely on ESAs. Additionally, there was no assurance that these dogs had undergone proper training, resulting in incidents like flight attendants being bitten by ESAs.

While not all ESAs misbehave, the lack of standardized training verification made it necessary to treat them as pets to ensure the safety of all passengers, crew, and the animals onboard.”

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Planning Your Pup’s Perfect Flight


Finding Pet-Friendly Airlines

Before you pack your pup’s bags, it’s essential to choose the right airline. Not all airlines are created equal when it comes to pet policies. Research pet-friendly airlines that allow dogs in the cabin.

Once you land, if you’re visiting Minnesota, check out Pet-friendly lodging in Minneapolis to ensure a comfortable stay for your four-legged friend.

Eligibility: Is Your Dog a Fit?

To fly for free, your dog must qualify as an official service dog. This means they should be fully trained to assist individuals with disabilities, whether sensory, psychiatric, physical, or intellectual.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) used to have similar privileges, but things have changed. ESAs are now classified as pets, and the days of them flying for free are gone.


The Journey Begins

Preparing for Takeoff

Booking your dog’s ticket is the first step. Ensure you follow the airline’s rules regarding carrier size and dog size allowed in the cabin.

When checking in, you may need to complete an animal checklist, verifying that your pup has had food and water within four hours of your departure.

Health Check

A trip to the vet is crucial. Your dog will need a health certificate, valid for 30 days, to present during departure and return. Also, check the destination country’s pet restrictions to avoid unexpected quarantine.


Making the Most of Your Free Flight

Cost Considerations

While your dog’s flight might be free, there are still expenses to consider, such as the carrier and other essentials. Be prepared for these additional costs.


Now you’re equipped with the knowledge to get your dog on a plane for free. Remember, only fully trained service dogs qualify, and the days of ESAs flying for free are over.

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Plan ahead, choose the right airline, and ensure your pup’s health is in tip-top shape.



FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)



Can any dog fly for free?

Only fully trained service dogs can fly for free.


What happened to emotional support animals (ESAs)?

ESAs are no longer recognized for free air travel; they are treated as pets.


Do I need a health certificate for my dog?

Yes, a health certificate from your vet is essential for your dog’s flight.


Are there pet-friendly airlines?

Yes, some airlines are more accommodating to pets; research and choose wisely.


What costs should I prepare for when flying with my dog?

Apart from the ticket, consider expenses for a suitable carrier and other necessities.


Can my dog travel internationally for free?

International travel may involve additional fees and paperwork; research the requirements for your destination.


Are there any size restrictions for dogs flying in the cabin?

Airlines have specific rules regarding the size of dogs allowed in the cabin; be sure to check these guidelines.



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