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Flying the Pet Friendly Skies

Updated: Apr 19

Got a vacation that Fido is invited to?

Planning a vacation with your pup takes some thought. Just like kids they require their own travel supplies. Whether you are flying or driving consider what you need to pack to keep you and your pet happy.


When deciding to fly with your pet, air travel involves planning long before arriving at the airport. Different airlines have different rules for reservations, fees, number of pets allowed to travel, pet carrier sizes, etc. To find out more, call your airline directly well in advance of your flight. The chart below shows some general information on some popular airlines- be sure to verify information however, as prices and rules change. A link is included at the end of this blog to a pet friendly travel website that may be useful to keep abreast of these changes.


One Way charge for in cabin travel

Required age for flying

Required health clearance

Size of pet carrier allowed

Alaska-contact Alaska Airlines reservations at 1-800-252-7522



not required for pets traveling in the cabin with their passenger

Hard-sided kennels are 17.5 in x 11 in x 7.5 in. (l/w/h)

Soft-sided kennels are 17 in x 11 in x 9.5 in. (l/w/h)



Hard-sided kennel
  • Mainline flights: 19 x 13 x 9 inches (l/w/h)

  • Regional flights: 16 x 12 x 8 inches (l/w/h)

Soft-sided kennel

18 x 11 x 11 inches (l/w/h)

carry-on pets are not permitted in First or Business on certain flights



10 weeks

18” x 11” x 11”




not required for pets traveling in the cabin

18" length x 14" width x 8" height.

​You may not sit in row one or an exit row when traveling with a pet.



17" L x 12.5" W x 8.5" H and the combined weight of your pet and the carrier must not exceed 20 pounds.

​​ Pets are not allowed in Mint

Southwest- Reservations must be made in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.



​18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide.

Customers traveling with a pet may not occupy an exit row or a seat with no forward under-seat stowage. Unaccompanied minors may not travel with pets.




Hard-sided kennels are 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high.

Soft-sided kennels are 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high.

Pet Carrier. A soft sided pet carrier is recommended for a Shih Tzu. The airlines are more lenient about size for soft sided carriers than hard sided carriers as they are easier to fit under the seats. Consider one that is easy to carry or one that has wheels to roll through the airport.

Other recommended supplies (some may be more applicable depending on the age of dog and length of flight):

  • Treats. Crying babies and barking I right? Take some of Fido's favorite treats to help keep him (and your neighbors) happy. Just remember to keep them small since treats and altitude might not mix and Fido does not have access to a place to deposit those treats after processed (if you know what I mean!)

  • Wet wipes. Airlines often offer these now as a cleanliness practice, but you may need your own supply.

  • Waste bags. Just in case Fido can't hold it or the altitude does something to his stomach that creates an accident.

  • Potty Pads. See above (remember those treats Fido ate? They might need to make a reappearance before landing). Pee pads that line the carrier make accidents easier to clean up.

  • Toys. Again, keep Fido happy!


Short trips may not require too much planning but to ensure a successful and fun trip for you and your pet consider bringing along a few things.


  • Toys: Make sure you select toys that your pup plays with independently and that won't roll or move around in the vehicle too much causing a distraction from driving. If your pup has a favorite stuffed animal, this can be a great travel companion. Chew toys are also good things to keep your pup busy when bored.

  • Treats: Think about what treats are easy on your pups' stomach. Also, choose small treats that will not require you pup to have an increased need for water and therefore potty breaks.

  • Water bowl: There are several types of travel water bowls, however just a regular water bowl works too. My favorite is a No Spill, No Drip, No-Slip Slow Water Feeder Dog Bowl.

  • Harness/collar and leash: To ensure safety during those potty breaks, pack your pups' leash and harness.

  • ID tags: In case you pup gets separated on your trip make sure he has tags with your name and contact information on them!

  • Wee pads: If your pup is young (or old) and does not have full control of their bladder, remember to pack some wee pads and stop frequently to offer them the chance to go!

  • Waste bags: Everyone appreciates someone who cleans up after their pet!

  • Sunshade: Remember, Shih Tzus do not tolerate heat well so if your pup is going to be in the car on a hot day, consider a sunshade to keep the car cool.

Restraints: Many owners choose to place their pups in pet car seats. This can bring some peace of mind when considering the small size of the Shih Tzu. In the event of a crash at 50 mph, a 10-pound, unrestrained dog generates 500 pounds of projectile force*. While care seats can offer some protection, they are often not tested and cannot offer the protection a harness type restraint can. Check to see if your car seat or restraint has been crash-tested. Other reasons to consider restrains for your pet are to prevent distractions, manage the dog's deceleration rate in the event of an impact, and to keep the dog restrained post-crash. These are things that many owners may not or do not want to think about but are important to consider. If a vehicle is in a crash, a panicked dog may delay treatment for its incapacitated owner or may flee an accident through a broken window, possibly getting lost or hit by incoming traffic.

Insurance: Your existing auto insurance policy might cover pet injuries as part of collision or comprehensive coverage. For example, Progressive covers pets for up to $1,000 at no additional cost as long as you carry collision or comprehensive on your policy. Ask your car insurer if pet injuries are included in your policy and how much you’re covered for.

Other car insurers categorize pet injuries after an accident as property damage. This limits pet coverage to accidents that aren’t your fault. Also, consider pet insurance.

Longer car trips should include additional considerations.

  • Food: Don't forget to pack an adequate supply of your pup's food. Include a bit extra just in case!

  • Bedding: Remember to bring you pups bed if that is not possible, bring something that smells like home for comfort.

  • Hotel: Don't forget to plan ahead if your trip includes stops in a hotel. Many hotels are pet friendly but require a pet deposit (usually between 50-100 a night). There is also frequently a size and number limit (less than 40lb and no more than 2 per room). Some hotels may even restrict breeds, It may be helpful to request a ground floor room for potty breaks and one away from stairs or elevators if your pet is bothered by foot traffic.

*Melanie Monteiro, a dog safety coach and author of “The Safe Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch Indoors & Out.

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