We know many of our readers aren’t traveling these days. The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us to stay home, and those who do travel are choosing cars over airplanes. But there are still pet parents in the skies, and with the holidays drawing near, you may be thinking more seriously about bringing Fido along.


The hard truth is that the pandemic has temporarily changed pet travel. Over the past few years, fewer airlines are accepting animals as cargo and checked baggage. Those who continue to allow cargo transportation have imposed stricter size and weight limits on traveling animals. According to a story published by USA Today, COVID-19 has only exacerbated these trends. Many airlines have updated their pet policies to include the phrase, “subject to availability.” In lay terms, this means they’re waiting to better understand the caseload and economic situation before guaranteeing pet travel.


The Latest on Airlines

Airlines are in a tricky spot right now. With fewer folks in the air, there are fewer opportunities to make money. In many cases, this has resulted in massive layoffs, reduced flights, and fewer in-flight services. Some airlines have eliminated middle-seat placement for customers, but this doesn’t necessarily mean Fido or Fluffy can take that spot. Plus, with fewer airline staff members, there are fewer employees to help you navigate the pet travel process.

What’s more, the coronavirus pandemic has also decreased the number of animals able to fly. Most airlines place a limit on the number of animals allowed on a plane. Typically, this includes 3-5 animals in the cabin and slightly more in the cargo hold. With fewer planes in the air these days, there are fewer opportunities to get an animal onboard.

Still, it is possible to get an animal on an airplane. Hundreds of people are still able to do it every day. If you’ve decided to bring Fido along, you’ll need to do a bit more research than usual.


What to Expect if You Plan to Fly

Most airlines have not released changes to pet policies. If you plan to fly with an animal during the pandemic, we recommend calling your individual airline’s customer service. This will give you a direct line into the company to see if there is any updated information. Those planning to fly with pups in the cabin should note that limited passenger capacity may also translate to limited animal seats.

We also recommend double checking how much you’ll need to pay to get Fido on the plane. With limited revenue, some airlines may increase the cost of a pet boarding pass.

If you need to fly, we also recommend checking your airline’s policy on masking and social distancing. It appears that most major US airlines have already released plans and guidelines for holiday travel. This master list updates with new information whenever an airline announces a change. The safer your travels, the more likely you are to return home with a happy dog and a clean bill of health. Whether you choose to fly for the holidays or decide to wait it out, it’s best to have as much information as possible.