Flying with Fido

Life from the ground up is pretty simple.

Most four-legged friends love their owners with an unmatched loyalty. You have work and the gym and the whole outside world. You have family and friends to share your life with.

They have their forever home, but more importantly, they have you.

So when it comes to planning your next family adventure, it may add to the fun for everyone involved to consider bringing Fido or Fluffy along for the ride.

If your travel plans involve a visit to or from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, there is more than the standard BWI pet policy to consider.

Traveling with your pet tips

Here is what you need to know to make sure traveling with your pet goes as smoothly as your liftoff:

  1. A healthy passenger is a happy passenger. This is true of most travelers, but particularly important as it pertains to traveling with your pet. As a best practice, a good place to start is to bring your pet to their veterinarian before an extended journey to make sure vaccinations are up to date and that they are in good health. Many airlines prefer, and almost all require, health certifications prior to boarding the plane. That can include anything from an airline-specific checklist to a record of your pet’s shots.
  2. Plan for crating. Some airlines, like Southwest, allow small pets to be crated in-cabin. Others prefer pets be crated in the cargo area regardless of their size. Despite what the requirements are, it is inevitable that crating will need to happen. Research shows almost three of every four flights to and from BWI are through Southwest, which provides detailed instructions about crating for your in-cabin companions. Southwest, which charges a $95 per way pet fare, sells an approved crate for $58 including taxes.
  3. Make sure Fido is properly identified. Any pet owner who has had their beloved pet escape in the neighborhood knows how scary that can be. The devastation can multiply quickly in a foreign place, so making sure your pet is properly identified can help your chances of making sure Fido finds his way back home no matter how far away that may be. It doesn’t matter how well trained your pet is off-leash either. Make sure to pack a sturdy leash and collar with tags that, at the very least, include your dog’s name, your name, your home phone number and proof of rabies vaccinations.
  4. Get to know the airline’s policies. Most airlines provide general information about traveling with pets. Getting an approved pet carrier, bringing your pet to the airport inside the carrier and paying the pet fare are among the items on Southwest Airline’s checklist. In Southwest’s case, pets must be vaccinated and travel under the seat in front of you on the plane. In addition, each flight only allows for up to six pets per flight, spots which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations must be made in advance for domestic flights with Southwest, which reserves the right to refuse the acceptance of any animal that exhibits “characteristics that appear incompatible with air travel.” Southwest does not allow animals in-cabin on international flights, or on any itinerary that includes an international flight.
  5. Get to know the airport’s policies. While many airports, including BWI, defer in-flight policies to each unique airline, there are some BWI pet policies to be aware of as well. At BWI, there are two relatively new pet relief areas at BWI. One is located at the end of Concourse E on the lower level outside door No. 19 and the second is located in front of the hourly parking garage.
  6. Explore safely. Regardless of where your final destination may be, the health of your pet during the time away is another thing to keep in mind. It’s always a good idea to maintain your pet’s regular diet, so bringing their food along (or making sure you can obtain it from a local store when you arrive) is imperative.
  7. Don’t forget the basics. Be sure to pack your pet’s medications as needed, and try to ensure your pet isn’t in a situation where they are traveling with a full tummy or bladder. In addition, make sure you bring your pet’s medications as needed.

Life from the ground up is pretty simple. Traveling with your four-legged friends can be as well, assuming you take the proper steps to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.

BWI pet policies for major servicing airlines*

There are many airlines that allow pets at BWI. It’s important to know that almost all pet friendly airlines have their own rules. Whether you are flying with cats, or traveling with dogs, be sure to check with your carrier(s) on the costs to fly your pet. Depending on the carrier, your travel plans and the type of animal, it also may be worthwhile to explore separate pet transport shipping services. Below are links and information on BWI pet policies for major servicing airlines:

Southwest Airlines: small pets are allowed in-cabin with airline approved carriers under the seat in front of a paying passenger for a fee of $95 per way. Pets that do not fit inside approved carriers may not be shipped as cargo. There is a limit of six pets per flight, and reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Delta Airlines: small pets are allowed in-cabin with airline approved carriers under the seat in front of a paying passenger for a one-way fee starting at $125. Larger pets may be shipped as cargo through Delta Cargo, though they are not guaranteed to be shipped on the passenger’s same flight or flight schedule.

American Airlines: small pets are allowed in-cabin with airline approved carriers under the seat in front of a paying passenger for a fee starting at $125. Depending on the animal’s breed, size and requirements, pets can travel as a carry-on, be checked or transported with American Airlines Cargo. Almost two dozen dog breeds are excluded from travel.

Spirit Airlines: small pets are allowed in-cabin only (not as cargo) with airline approved carriers for a per-way fee of $110. There is a limit of four pets per flight, and reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Spirit Airlines does not allow pets to be transported in the cargo area.

United Airlines: Small pets are allowed in-cabin with airline approved carriers under the seat in front of a paying passenger for a $125 per-way fee. Larger pets may be shipped in the cargo area of the plane.

*Based on BWI airline market share reported from April 2015 through March 2016. All rates on this page are have been established by the airline carrier and not Econopark Express as of 12-07-2016. Econopark Express is not responsible for changes in BWI pet policies. We recommend to check with your individual carrier prior to traveling.