Everything You Need To Know Before Flying With Your Dog

everything you need to know before flying with your dog

Written by Ed Thomason, Professional dog handler and breeder. He has over 20 years of experience flying with his dogs!

We're often asked "Are Impact dog crate airline approved?" The answer is yes! Is this your first time flying with your dog as cargo? Here is everything you need to know before booking a flight for your dog and how to prepare your dog crate for your trip!


 

"You have a trip planned and you are bringing your best friend along. Here are some useful tips to make that trip less stressful for you and your dog. The most important thing you can do for your dog is to make sure he/she is comfortable in a crate.  

If your dog is already comfortable in their crate, skip this paragraph. If your dog is NOT, then you need to make this your top priority before you take your trip. Start feeding them dinner in their crate. Give them short breaks throughout the day in their crate. If the weather allows, take short trips in the car with your dog in their crate.  

 

My dog is comfortable in his/her crate:

Now that your dog is comfortable in a crate, let’s start preparing you for your trip!  Once you have booked your ticket YOU must also book a spot for your dog on the plane. Whenever I’m traveling with a pet, I always call the airline customer service to purchase my ticket and book my pet’s space at the same time. It’s important to know the size of your crate. For example, my dog's crate is usually a 400 size.  Often they ask me the weight with the dog and crate combined.  If you’re traveling with an Impact crate you can find the crate weight on our website (click here) and add your pets weight plus a couple pounds for bedding and water.  

  • Flight booked ✔️
  • Dogs space booked ✔️


All Interstate air travel requires you to have a health certificate from your veterinarian. Schedule a vet appointment a day or two before you leave to get the health certificate. You will need to show proof of a current rabies vaccine and will need a physical address for the destination you are traveling to. Most health certificates are good for 10 days. While you are there, ask your veterinarian if you should have any health concerns for your pet with the destination you are traveling to (ie heartworms, ticks) so you can be prepared. 


I always recommend looking for a vet in the area you’re traveling to just in case of an emergency. If your dog gets sick for some reason, the last thing you want to do is look for a vet. Be prepared.  

    • Health certificate 
    • Vet info to where you are traveling to
    • Does my dog’s crate meet the IATA requirements for air travel? IATA (International Air Transport Association) is the organization that sets the requirements for dog crate and air travel. There are several different parts to what they require for a crate to be safe for air travel. 
    • Does my crate have a solid leak proof bottom?
    • Does my crate have 3 sides of ventilation?
    • Does my crate have absorbent material in the bottom?
    • Does my crate have a water bucket? (some airlines require two buckets.)
    • Does my crate have a door with at minimum 2 locking devices?
If you’re using an Impact crate the answer is YES! 

 

airline approved dog crate

click to see IATA brackets

Now that we have covered a few of the important points for Airline requirements, the next step is preparing your crate. I always recommend a vinyl pad on the bottom of the crate along with a throw blanket on top. The night before I leave, I put my 2qt water bucket half full in the freezer. This way when the dog is being loaded on and off the plane, the water does not spill into the crate. During the flight it melts and allows the dog to stay hydrated.  I ALWAYS pack some baby wipes, paper towels and extra bedding just in case they have an accident while traveling. 

  • Freeze water bucket 
  • Extra bedding 
  • Cleaning supplies 

water pail for impact dog crate

 

vinyl dog bed crate pad

When you arrive at the airport have your dog in their crate. If you have an Impact crate, have their collar and leash tied to the top handles. Get into the “needs assistance line." Have your health certificate ready for the front desk person. They will hand you some paperwork to fill out and most likely look at your dog crate. They are looking to see that your dog fits comfortably in their crate. Meaning they can sit, stand and turn around with ease. They are also checking that the crate meets IATA requirements we discussed above. If you have a Collapsible Impact Dog Crate, do NOT put it together in front of the gate agent (assemble it PRIOR to arriving at the gate.) IATA says NO collapsible crates. However, they also say a crate has to be put together with nuts and bolts or rivets. This is why we've designed our IATA kit for collapsible crates which meet the requirements to fly. But save yourself the headache, our collapsible crates with the brackets installed is a stationary dog crate that is put together with nuts and bolts. There is no reason to have that discussion with a gate agent.  

  • Have health certificate out 
  • Tie collar and leash to crate handles 

Now that you have paid for your dog’s space on the flight. You will have to go over to TSA and they will inspect the dog crate. Grab your collar and leash from the top of the crate, pull your dog out. The TSA folks are not there to have a meet and greet with your dog. They don’t care how sweet “Buddy” is and generally want to do this as quick as possible. They will scan the crate and give you the ok to put your dog back in. This is the last time you will see your dog until you arrive at your destination. Please do not leave a collar on your dog as they could get caught up by the collar during travel. Take it off and tie the leash and collar to the top of your handles on your crate. 

spring loaded handles impact crate

When you board your plane, ask the flight stewards if they can let you know that your dog is on board. They will radio down and usually let you know before the plane takes off. 

- Ask flight stewards if your dog is on board 

- Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.  


When you arrive to your destination, go to oversized baggage for the airline you are traveling with, that is where you will find your dog. They usually arrive after the luggage has been unloaded, so don’t be alarmed if they are not waiting for you when you get to the luggage claim. 

flying dog in cargo airplane

 

I hope this helps you with your future travels. If you have any questions that are not answered in this blog article, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer service staff."

 

Products Shown: 

Size 400 Collapsible crate in Teal

Impact Door Guard

IATA Brackets

Vinyl Pad

Berber Pad

 

All Airline Approved Impact Crates:

Collapsible

Stationary

Stationary Small/Medium

Stationary Side Door

High Anxiety

 

everything you need to know before flying with your dog