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Flying With A Chihuahua: 13 Must-Read Tips + Cost Breakdown

Can Chihuahuas Fly On Airplanes?

We all know that babies can go on airplanes.

But what about our furry baby (read: Chihuahua)?

Read further to find out:

  • Why it’s important to crate-train your Chihuahua before flying.
  • What costs you can expect – different airlines prices compared.
  • How to ensure that you comply with the airline’s requirements (#3 is essential).
  • The dangers of sedating your Chihuahua and why you should never do it (#7 explains everything).
  • And a lot more…

Can a Chihuahua fly on a plane?

Your Chihuahua can fly on a plane given that you have followed all the necessary guidelines. Bring an approved carrier that is well-ventilated, leak-proof, and fits under the seat. In addition, prepare all of the documents that the airlines and your country of destination require.

How much does it cost to fly with a Chihuahua?

Flying with your Chihuahua can be an enjoyable experience. 

But for it to be so, you need to plan everything in advance. So that on the day of your departure, it’s a smooth ride from your home to your destination.

Bringing a pet on a plane is not free. The price depends from airline to airline. So be prepared to pay extra. 

If you’re traveling with one Chihuahua, they will be counted as one carry-on baggage. Thus, you’ll have to pay the corresponding fee. 

But if you’ve got 2 Chihuahuas, they can both stay in the same carrier. Provided that they are:

  • Of the same size. 
  • Of the same species.
  • Younger than 6 months.

If they don’t fit in one carrier, you’ll have to pay for an extra ticket for your pet in another carrier.

Below is a table showing the fare of some airlines. It is by no means a comprehensive list. 

But it will give you an idea of how much you’re likely to spend on your Chihuahua. 

DeltaUSA, Canada, Puerto RicoUSD 125 each way
InternationalUSD 200 each way
American AirlinesUSA, Canada, Central America, Colombia, CaribbeanUSD 125 each way
United AirlinesUSD 125 each way
Qatar AirwaysTo/From QatarUSD 200
All other routesUSD 350
LufthansaDomestic routes (Germany)EUR 50
USD 57
Routes within EuropeEUR 60
USD 69
Short intercontinental routesEUR 90
USD 103
Long intercontinental routesEUR 110
USD 126
CAD 165
SouthwestDomestic flightsUSD 95
JetBlueDomestic and internationalUSD 125 each way
SpiritUSD 110 each way
FrontierDomestic flightsUSD 99 each way

Table 1. Price for a small dog according to airline and destination.

Disclaimer: The price reflected here is for a small dog, and it could change without prior notice.

Note: Always check the updated prices of the airline you choose.

13 tips for flying with your Chihuahua

#1: Familiarize yourself with the guidelines

Not all airlines accept pets on board. And those that do have policies and regulations that must be followed.

Call the airlines as early as possible to know about these policies. 

Aside from that, here are a few things to remember:

  1. Securing a slot for your pet on the plane is on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

This is because the number of pets in the cabin and cargo hold is limited.

  1. Some airlines require giving them a call a few days earlier if you’re planning to bring a pet on board. 

Singapore Airlines, in particular, will ask you to call their office 2 weeks in advance. You will need to provide the details about your pet such as the following:

  • Age.
  • Color.
  • Name.
  • Breed.
  • Gender.
  • Weight.
  • Weight of carrier/crate.
  • Dimensions of carrier/crate.
  1. Your dog must be a certain age for travel. 

For instance, Singapore Air requires that your dog must be at least 3 months old. But United Airlines and Delta allow dogs at least 10 weeks old (Table 2).

  1. Speak to someone of authority who can give you ample details about bringing a pet onboard. Ask about their policies.
  1. If you have a flight in mind, ask if the plane can take live animals on board. If it can, tell them your dog’s breed, size, and weight.

FYI, some seats do not have space under. Such as in Business Class of certain aircraft. 

In addition, passengers with pets will not be allowed to sit in bulkhead seats or in exit rows.

  1. If your Chihuahua will be kept in the cargo hold, ask them where you will collect your pet. 

Will you wait by the baggage conveyor belt in the arrival section? Or should you go to a building, such as the cargo building? 

Sort out these details to make sure you can get your pet.

  1. If the airline can’t answer these questions for you, get a hold of the airport of your destination. Get their assurance that you can collect your pet without any problem.
  1. If everything’s arranged, book your flight.

Note: If you’re traveling internationally, know that many airlines do not allow pets in the cabin. Even small ones such as a Chihuahua. They will have to be kept in the cargo hold the entire flight.

#2: Research about your destination

As with different airlines, countries have different requirements.

Some countries are strict about bringing pets into the country. For example, Japan will require pet owners to call them 40 days prior to the arrival of the pet.

They will also require documents, so it’s best to research what those specific documents are. 

If you know someone in the country of your destination, ask for their help.

#3: Comply with the pet carrier/crate requirements

Airlines differ in their requirements for pet carriers or crates. 

But basically, they have to know if the carrier can fit under the seat. If not, the pet will be kept in the cargo hold. 

To give you an idea of the carrier/crate size restrictions, check the table below:

AirlineCarrier/Crate DimensionsAge
DeltaCall the Reservations office for the required dimensions.10 weeks to 6 months old
American AirlinesMaximum kennel height = 56-117 cm (22″-46″)at least 8 weeks old
Note: Depends on aircraft type.
United Airlinessoft-sided – 46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm (18″ x 11″ x 11″)at least 8 weeks old
hard-sided – 44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm (17.5″ x 12″ x 7.5″)
Qatar AirwaysLength of crate = length of the animal + 1/2 the length of their legsat least 12 weeks old
Height of crate= height of the animal
Width of crate= width of the animal’s shoulders x 2
Lufthansa55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm (22″ x 16″ x 9″)at least 16 weeks old
Southwest47cm x 22 cm x 34 cm (18.5″ x 13.5″ x 13.5″)at least 8 weeks old
JetBlue43 cm x 21 cm 31 cm (17” x 8.5” x 12.5”)at least 8 weeks old
Spirit45 cm x 35 cm x 23 cm (18” x 14” x 9)at least 8 weeks old
Frontier45 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm (18” x 14” x 8”)at least 16 weeks old

Table 2. Crate and pet’s age requirements.

All airlines seem to agree that a carrier must be:

  • Leakproof.
  • Well-ventilated.
  • Fit under the seat in front. 

This Sherpa Travel Pet Carrier will be a great pick for your Chihuahua. It comes in 3 sizes with top and side entries.

Caution: Make sure that the carrier/crate is Federal Aviation Administration-approved. The airlines have the right to turn you down if you do not follow the crate guidelines.

For domestic travel, a crate must have air ventilation on 3 sides. For international, all 4 sides must have air ventilation.

This Petmate Vari Kennel is a great choice if your dog will be kept at cargo. It is heavy-duty and made of durable materials. It provides ventilation on all 4 sides as well.

Note: Airlines have restrictions when it comes to the combined weight of your pet and the carrier. If the combined weight exceeds the limit, your dog will be stored in the cargo hold. Follow your chosen airline’s requirements to a T for a smooth air trip.

#4: Have your pet crate-trained before flying

Long flights and untrained pets are a bad combination.

Being confined in a carrier/crate could stress your Chihuahua. It could forever damage whatever bond you and your Chihuahua have created.

What’s more, it could be more challenging if your Chihuahua has separation anxiety. Even a short flight can stress them. As a result, it will be difficult bringing them along as carry-on baggage.

Look at Pablo the Chihuahua. It was to be his first flight and the owner was showing him his carrier:

Being crate-trained will help tremendously in flying.

That’s because your Chihuahua will feel comfortable and safe in their crate. Even if they’re at cargo hold, it will be less of a problem.

Thus, crate-train your Chihuahua as early as possible. This could prevent separation anxiety in the long run.

Not only that. 

Exercise and socialization have an effect on the prevalence of separation anxiety.

That was what this research found out. The researchers observed that anxious dogs had:

  • Less daily exercise.
  • Fewer socialization experiences.

Note: Giving them plenty of exercise and life experiences is not only to prepare them for flying. These factors are important to keep your dog a happy one.

#5: Get all documents prepared

Preparing all the necessary documents starts with a visit to your vet.

Have your Chihuahua checked up within 10 days of travel. Consider all the vaccinations necessary as compliance before entering a particular country.

After the checkup, your vet will issue a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection if your Chi is fit for flying.

And don’t forget about your pet’s passport and rabies certificate.

Most airlines or countries of destination also require that your dog be microchipped. If this is the case, talk to your vet about this.

Microchipping is fast and doesn’t need surgery. And don’t forget to register once your dog is microchipped so you can input your contact numbers. 

To make sure you’ve got all documents ready:

Ask your airlines for the specific documents they require.

Also, call your place/country of destination. They may ask for certain documents for your pet at your arrival.

Note: Put all of your pet’s documents in a Ziploc: their passport, health certificates, Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and other necessary forms. This way, you can easily access them whenever airport officials ask for them.

#6: Consider your Chihuahua’s comfort

Chihuahua Airplane Comfort Meme

Your Chihuahua may be an excellent travel companion.

But it doesn’t hurt to always ensure they’re comfortable.

If it’s a long flight to another country, make sure your flight has few layovers. 

Opt for a direct flight instead. This is to avoid delays and chances of your Chihuahua being sent to the wrong destination.

Some pet owners also pick an arrival or departure time to avoid extreme temperatures. Choose a nighttime or early morning arrival if you’re going to a hot country.

You can also arrange your flight according to airports that have a pet relief area. 

#7: Do not sedate your Chihuahua

Airlines will not accept sedated pets.

This study reported that sedation was the most frequent cause of deaths in pets during airline transport.

It’s because sedating a pet for air travel is risky. For one, it reduces heart rate, body temperature, and respiration. They will find it difficult to adjust to changes in pressure, temperature, and altitude.

Also, a sedated pet is woozy. They won’t be able to balance or remain steady if there are movements. This could result in injury.

Thankfully, there’s a better and safe alternative to sedation:

Exercise your Chihuahua before you leave home. Tire them out as well before putting them in the carrier or crate.

#8: Keep the most important things handy

On the day of your departure, bring:

  • Your pet’s favorite blanket and put it inside the carrier. But there’s also a chance that the blanket will fold and end up on one side of the crate which is not ideal. So, it’s best to test out this prior to flying.
  • Dog poop bags. This Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags comes recommended as it is 100% leak proof.
  • Toys and chews, such as this West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone. It will keep your Chi occupied during the flight. And it will help them relieve the discomfort that comes with take-off and landing.
  • Pee pads to line the carrier with. Pee pads will also come in handy during layovers when your Chihuahua needs to pee.

#9: Keep important things accessible

Your dog’s most important things must be in your carry-on bag.

This includes all of their documents. 

Have their harness, collar, and leash in your bag as well. 

#10: Check in at least 2 hours before the flight

Always allow extra time.

By doing so:

  • Your dog can get settled before the departure.
  • You still have enough time to arrive at the airport despite the traffic.
  • You have plenty of time for checking in your pet and for re-checking your pet’s stuff.
  • Your Chihuahua can walk around or do their business. The extra time will also facilitate doing simple exercises.

Depending on the airlines, you may need to complete some forms, such as:

  • Quarantine certificate.
  • Release and Indemnity Form.

Aside from these, your Chihuahua has to be weighed in and you can pay the transport fees. After checking in, get the bag tag that will be attached to your Chi’s carrier.

Note: Some airlines may require you to check in 3 hours for an international flight. This is to facilitate security screening. 

#11: Prepare for the unexpected

The worst that could happen when flying with your Chihuahua is a delayed flight.

As you know, dogs don’t have the patience that humans have. 

You can wait for hours until the next flight is available. But long waits can stress out your Chihuahua.

For times like this, better have some toys handy. Keep your Chihuahua entertained during the wait.

Also, use the waiting time to walk your Chihuahua. This will make up for the hours they will be confined in their carrier.

Plus, it will tire them out. You’ll want them sleeping rather than barking or jumping around because of excess energy.

If your Chi will be kept in the cargo hold, remind the baggage handlers about your pet. 

Tell them to put the crate in a well-ventilated area. And to ensure that your Chi has clean water. 

Airlines require that a crate must have water and food bowls attached to the inside of the front door. This makes it easier for a handler to refill the bowls without having to open the door. 

#12: Avoid feeding shortly before and after the flight

Feed your Chihuahua at least 4 hours before departure.

This is to give your dog plenty of time to digest the food. And they will also have enough time to pee and poop before being put in the carrier.

In addition, a full stomach can lead to an upset stomach. This will only make your Chihuahua stressed.

The last thing you want is your Chihuahua pooping in their container.

Aside from food, do not give your Chi too much water. Just a little at a time.

Even when you have arrived at your destination. Too much food and water will make them sick.

#13: Be calm

You could be a seasoned flyer and still feel nervous about your Chihuahua.

It’s particularly nerve-wracking if they’re kept at cargo hold. You’ll be thinking about them the whole flight.

Though it’s hard sometimes, remember to be strong and calm for your pet. Keep the nervousness at bay. Otherwise, your Chi could pick up on it and be stressed.

But show them you are calm and they will follow your lead.