How to Ship / Fly a Weimaraner

Let’s talk about flying your Weimaraner!

Barrett Weimaraners fly all the time. LadyBug (2014 Torque x Friday) is probably our Frequent Flyer winner; she goes back and forth between California and Massachusetts all the time for dog shows, field trials, and breeding. LunaBot (2015 Bo x xMika) was also flown to Michigan and back to California for breeding. Blaise Pascal has also been to TX, MA, CA, WA, and AZ via airline cargo.

So, how do you successfully get your dog on a flight to go somewhere?

  1. Determine your origin and destination. Larger airports tend to have more flights and larger planes available. It may be worth driving a little farther to get your dog on a flight with fewer connections.
  2. Select airline. Based on where you are flying from and to, you may not have very many airline selections available to you. Our favorites are:
    1. Alaska Airlines
    2. Delta Airlines
    3. Southwest Airlines – IN CABIN ONLY (Dogs may not fly cargo)
    4. Continental Airlines and United Airlines will also fly dogs as cargo; but we don’t have any experience with them
  3. Determine flight method.
    1. In-cabin. Unless you possess current documentation indicating that you may fly your adult dog in-cabin with you (usually, this requires the dog being certified as a service dog or support dog), only Weimaraner puppies may fly in-cabin.
    2. Cargo.
  4. Confirm your dog’s personal information.
    1. Weight. The airline will ask you for your dog’s weight when you book the flight.
      1. In-cabin. Verify your dog is under the weight limit for flying in-cabin. Airlines vary, but we’ve seen the typical limit is 25 lbs, including the weight of the carrier.
      2. Cargo. Determine the weight of your crate. The airline may ask you for “total weight, including crate,” when booking the flight.
    2. Height.
      1. In-cabin. The airline will not need this information.
      2. Cargo. You need to measure your dog’s height, standing or sitting, from top of the head to floor. Add two inches to that height, and this is usually the height dimension you’ll need for your travel crate.
    3. Vaccination status. Regardless of how you fly your dog, you will need to get your dog into the veterinarian’s office for a health exam and “health certificate for air travel.” (Note: As of this writing, Southwest Airlines does not require a health certificate for travel.) The certificate should indicate that your dog is current on his/her vaccinations. (More on health certificates, later.)
  5. Obtain an airline-approved pet carrier. Write down the dimensions (H, L, W) for your pet carrier. You will need this information in front of you when you make the reservation.
    1. In-cabin. Here’s a link to a few airline-approved pet carriers. If you have an Amazon Prime account, one of these will work well, too. Note: I like the ones with wheels!!! I travel a lot with puppies (delivering them to new homes or picking them up from other breeders) and wheels make the looooooong connections much easier.
      1. Pro tip: Look up your airline’s pet carrier dimension requirements online, and get something that fits that requirement. 
    2. Cargo. Here’s an Amazon link to a few airline-approved crates (we’ve used these with success). PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ALSO PURCHASE A KENNEL CUP WITH TWO COMPARTMENTS. (Some airlines are very strict on this, so you might as well use it for every flight.)
  6. Compile information. Have the following pieces of information handy before you call the airline to make your reservation, and also before you take your dog into the veterinarian for the health certificate:Dog’s weight
    1. Kennel dimensions (height, length, width)
    2. Departure contact information – Name, address, and phone number of the person dropping off the dog. This person may need to show ID so the name must be correct.
    3. Arrival contact information – Name, address, and phone number of the person picking up the dog. This person WILL have to show ID so the information must be correct. The veterinarian MAY insist that this address is local to the airline destination.
  7. Make reservation.
    1. In-cabin. Your dog will likely be considered as “baggage,” and fees for live carry-on range from $95 to $125. Call the airline you’re traveling with to buy the “live carry on” ticket for your dog. Note that the dog will travel as your second carry-on. Anything else you’re traveling with should be checked in.
      1. Alaska Airlines: 1-800-252-7522 – IN CABIN OR CARGO
      2. Delta: 1-800-352-2746 – IN CABIN OR CARGO
      3. Southwest: 1-800-I-FLY-SWA – IN CABIN ONLY
    2. Cargo.
      1. Website research. Delta Cargo has a section on their website that will allow you to follow the motions of booking a reservation. Do this first and play around with departing and arriving airports, travel dates, travel times, number of connecting flights, etc. You may see significant cost savings if you choose an airport a little farther away. By the time you get on phone with an agent, suggest your ideal flight.
      2. Confirm weather conditions. Check the weather conditions for the departing flight, connecting flight, and arriving flight. If there are extreme weather conditions in the forecast for any of these legs, the flight may be in jeopardy of being cancelled. If it’s January and you have a connecting flight option of Minnesota or Florida, PICK FLORIDA. A savvy agent will also be checking the weather conditions with you as you’re on the phone together.
      3. Telephone reservation: Make sure you confirm with the agent how many hours ahead of the flight your dog needs to be checked in.
      4. Alaska Airlines: 1-800-252-7522 – IN CABIN OR CARGO
      5. Delta: 1-800-352-2746 – IN CABIN OR CARGO
      6. Southwest: 1-800-I-FLY-SWA – IN CABIN ONLY
  8. Obtain health certificate. Not every veterinarian offers health certificates for air travel. You may need to call around to find a vet who is willing to do this for you. Note that the health certificate is only good for ten days; if you are planning a quick round-trip visit (breeding, for example), time getting your certificate so that it is good on both the outgoing and returning trips. ASK FOR TWO COPIES. And then photocopy one for your own files. Your second copy will be needed for the return flight. Or keep it handy as a backup. If you think there may be questionable weather along your dog’s route, ask the veterinarian to write the following statement onto the health certificate. Select the minimum temperature to be slightly lower than what is expected for your dog’s travel. The maximum temperature cannot exceed 85° F :
    1. The animal(s) in this shipment appear healthy for transport but need(s) to be maintained at a range of ambient temperatures (in Fahrenheit) to which the animal(s) has/have been acclimated, as determined in consultation with the owner/authorized agent to be no lower than (W degrees) for (X) minutes and no higher than (Y degrees not to exceed 85° F) for no longer than (Z) minutes.”
  9. Monitor the weather.
    1. In-cabin. As long as your flight is still scheduled, weather conditions won’t impact in-cabin pet travel.
    2. Cargo. Weather is constantly changing; in the event of extreme weather conditions expected on the day of travel, bookings may be cancelled or postponed. Check the weather and call the airline the day before travel to confirm all flights are still scheduled.
  10. Prepare your dog for travel. If your dog hasn’t been in a crate for awhile, take a week to re-acclimate your dog to a crate before you fly him/her. This will make the experience less stressful.
    1. In-cabin.
      1. Evening prior to travel. Put a bag of your dog’s food (one meal) inside a pocket in the carrier. Put a blanket or cushy dog bed at the bottom of the carrier. Pack a chew toy or a bone. Pack a few potty pads and poop bags.
      2. Morning of travel. Skip feeding your dog, make sure he/she is sufficiently pottied, and do not provide too much water.
    2. Cargo.
      1. Evening prior to travel. Fill up your kennel cup with water (both compartments) and put it in the freezer. Tape a bag of your dog’s food (one meal) to the top of the crate. Put a blanket (I like fleece) in the bottom of the crate. If the crate is cumbersome or large, go ahead and put it into the car so you don’t have to fuss with it in the morning.
      2. Morning of travel. Skip feeding your dog, make sure he/she is sufficiently pottied, and do not provide too much water. PULL OUT THE KENNEL CUP FROM THE FREEZER and attach it to the inside of the crate (attach to the door).
  1. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport.
    1. In-cabin. Traveling with a puppy in-cabin can get a little cumbersome. Give yourself extra time to get through security and to the gate.
    2. Cargo. Depending on who your dog is flying with and where they are going, airlines will want your dog to arrive 2-3 hours PRIOR to departure. Note that you are NOT going to the airport terminal; you are dropping off your dog at “Alaska Cargo, Delta Cargo, etc.” which is usually a few miles away from the airport itself. Airlines are strict on check-in times and your dog may miss a flight if you don’t check-in on time.

BEST WISHES ON A SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s possible I missed a detail or two. Please contact me directly if you have any questions!

– Kim

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