How to Get a Dog on a Plane for Free

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Many pet owners face the challenge of traveling with their beloved canine companions. Whether it’s for a family vacation or a relocation, flying with a dog can be a stressful and costly experience. However, with the right guidance and knowledge, it’s possible to get your dog on a plane for free or at a minimal cost. In this guide, we’ll explore some tips and tricks to help you navigate the process of flying with your dog without breaking the bank.

1. Research Pet-Friendly Airlines

When it comes to flying with your dog, not all airlines are created equal. Some airlines are more pet-friendly than others and offer better policies and services for traveling with pets. Research various airlines and compare their pet travel policies, including fees, size restrictions, and in-cabin or cargo options for transporting your dog. Look for airlines that offer free or affordable pet travel options and have a good track record of safely transporting pets.

2. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs and Credit Card Benefits

Many airlines offer loyalty programs and credit card perks that can be leveraged to offset the cost of flying with a pet. Consider signing up for an airline’s frequent flyer program or getting a credit card that offers travel benefits, such as waived pet travel fees or complimentary pet carrier options. By accumulating points or taking advantage of cardholder benefits, you may be able to secure free or discounted pet travel on participating airlines.

3. Utilize Military or Service Member Discounts

If you or a family member are active-duty military personnel, a veteran, or a first responder, some airlines offer special discounts and perks for pet travel. These discounts can include waived pet travel fees or reduced fares for traveling with service animals or emotional support animals. Be sure to check with the airlines’ policies and eligibility requirements for military or service member discounts when traveling with your dog.

4. Fly During Off-Peak Times

Choosing to fly during off-peak times, such as mid-week or during non-holiday seasons, can often result in cost savings for pet travel. Airlines may be more likely to offer discounted or waived pet travel fees during less busy travel periods, providing an opportunity to fly with your dog for free or at a reduced cost. Plan your trip strategically to take advantage of these potential savings for flying with your furry friend.

How to Get a Dog on a Plane for Free

5. Bring Your Dog as an Emotional Support Animal

For individuals with qualifying mental health conditions, bringing a dog onboard as an emotional support animal (ESA) may offer the opportunity to fly with your dog for free. ESAs are protected under the Air Carrier Access Act, allowing them to accompany their owners in the cabin free of charge. However, keep in mind that specific documentation and approval may be required by the airline, so be sure to review their ESA policies and procedures beforehand.

6. Explore Volunteer Pet Escort Programs

Some animal rescue organizations and volunteer groups offer pet escort programs that facilitate free or low-cost pet transportation by matching traveling pet owners with volunteers who are already flying to the same destination. These volunteers assist in transporting pets as accompanied carry-on baggage, relieving pet owners of the burden of individually arranging and paying for their dog’s travel. Research local and national pet escort organizations to see if they can help with your dog’s plane travel at minimal or no cost.

7. Choose a Small Dog Breed for In-Cabin Travel

If your dog meets the size and weight requirements for in-cabin travel, opt for airlines that allow small dogs to travel in the cabin with their owners. In-cabin pet travel fees are often more affordable than cargo options, and some airlines may even permit small dogs to fly for free as carry-on luggage. Check the airline’s pet travel policies and cabin pet restrictions to see if your dog qualifies for free or low-cost in-cabin travel.


8. Consider Pet-Friendly Travel Destinations

When planning your trip, consider choosing a pet-friendly travel destination that offers accommodations, activities, and transportation options conducive to traveling with a dog. Some destinations are known for being more welcoming to pets, with pet-friendly hotels, attractions, and public spaces. By selecting a destination that embraces canine visitors, you can enhance your travel experience and potentially find cost-saving opportunities for flying with your dog.


Frequently Asked Questions On How To Get A Dog On A Plane For Free

Can You Bring Your Dog On A Plane For Free?

Yes, some airlines allow dogs to travel in the cabin for free, as long as they meet certain requirements and fit into an approved carrier.

How Can I Fly With My Dog Without Paying Extra?

To avoid extra fees, ensure that your dog meets the airline’s size and weight restrictions, and fits in an approved carrier that can be stowed beneath the seat in front of you.

What Airlines Allow Dogs To Fly For Free?

Several airlines, such as Southwest and JetBlue, have a pet-friendly policy that allows small dogs to travel in the cabin for free. However, it is always best to check with the specific airline for their current policies.

What Are The Requirements For Flying With A Dog In-cabin?

Most airlines require your dog to be well-behaved, fully vaccinated, and have a health certificate from a veterinarian. They must also be able to comfortably fit in an airline-approved carrier.


Flying with a dog doesn’t have to break the bank. By researching pet-friendly airlines, leveraging loyalty programs and credit card benefits, exploring discounts for military or service members, flying during off-peak times, considering emotional support animal status, partnering with pet escort programs, choosing in-cabin travel for small dog breeds, and selecting pet-friendly travel destinations, you can navigate the process of getting your dog on a plane for free or at minimal cost. With careful planning, you and your furry companion can embark on your next airborne adventure together without emptying your wallet.

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