Buzz Lee Takes Flight: Travel Tips for Flying with Pugs

By Chun Chun

Flying with Pugs
Buzz the pug waits to board his flight

I recently flew for the first time with my pug, Buzz, from NYC to San Francisco. It was a six-hour flight with a one-hour delay in the cabin due to weather. The whole trip was luckily very smooth. But, I was very nervous before the trip, so I did a lot of research to make sure we were fully prepared before the flight. Here are some tips for flying with pugs that I learned from my experience:

Preparation Before the Trip

Before booking your flight, make sure the airline allows you to take your pug inside the cabin. I do not recommend ever checking your pug or any short-nosed breed for travel in cargo. There have been numerous incidents of short-nosed breeds having issues in cargo, due to things like uncontrolled temperatures, air pressure, etc.

Before you book your ticket, call the airline to make sure there is room for your dog on the flight you want. If there is, after you book your ticket, call the airline ASAP to reserve the space for your dog. Many airlines limit the number of dogs they allow on a plane, so be sure to grab your spot.

Carefully read the airline pet travel policy. Each airline’s policy differs, so it’s important to check beforehand. I was trying to book a flight on JetBlue, because I heard they were super dog friendly, but I discovered their pet carrier size (17″L  x 12.5″W x 8.5″H) was too small for Buzz. I ended up booking a flight on a different airline whose pet carrier size requirement was larger.

Make a vet appointment to make sure your pug is ok to fly and to get the required documents for travel. Things like your airline choice and your destination (international vs. domestic) require you to have different documents on hand.

Shop around for the perfect pet travel carrier. I ordered a large Sherpa deluxe carrier. It’s roomy, has good ventilation, and fits the airline size requirements. It also opens up on the side to give Buzz extra room when possible. Some owners start to familiarize their dogs with the carrier weeks in advance to make sure they’re comfortable and familiar with it before travel. Don’t forget to check the dimensions and weight of the carrier before you purchase.

If possible, book a direct flight. Carrying your pug on and off multiple planes might create stress for both of you. A window seat is also good for added privacy. Be sure not to book the first row of the plane or an emergency row, as there is no seat in front of you to stow the carrier.

What to Bring on the Plane

Here are some suggestions for things to have handy on the plane during your flight:

Collapsible water bowl: in case your pug gets thirsty. The airline can provide water, but be sure to bring a drinking bowl your pug can use!

Eye drops*: air inside the cabin can be dry.

Ziplock bag: temperatures inside the cabin can be unpredictable. You need to be prepared for both hot and cold situations. Bring a ziplock bag with you so you can make ice packs for your pug if they get too hot.

Doggie jacket and/or blanket: in case your pug gets cold.

Treats: to reward your pug for being a good dog.

Favorite toy: to use as a distraction and/or to provide comfort.

Pet wipes: in case of any accidents or spills.  

Flying with Pugs
Buzz dozes off in his carrier under the seat

Flight Day Tips

Limit and monitor the amount of food and water your pet gets before the flight. You don’t want them flying on a full stomach or having to use the bathroom mid-flight. Ask your vet about this if you have any questions or concerns.

Arrive early to the airport. You will have to wait on line to check in for yourself and your pug. Be sure to have all of your necessary documents on hand (health certificate, etc). We waited to check in at the counter for 45 minutes! (Busy Saturday morning.) When going through security, be sure to take your dog out of the carrier.

Many airports have pet relief areas. Ask where they are, and check them out for any last minute bathroom needs. Also, check to see if your airport has a pet relief area before you arrive. That way, if they don’t have one, you can make sure your pug goes outside before you enter the airport.

Be aware of air pressure in the cabin during take off and landing. Your pug might need some extra attention if the change bothers them.

Have you flown with your pug? Share your own tips in the comments!

*Always check with your vet before using eye drops on your pug.