Planning Key to Pawtastic Experience Flying with Pets
Dogs and people traveling at the airport in a queue waiting to board destination flight, passenger luggage behind dog

Aug. 30, 2023 – For some of us, a family vacation or trip to see Grandma would not be complete without our fur babies. You can take your dog or cat on a domestic flight in many cases, but there are several things you need to do to prepare for your trip. In this article, we are talking about pets; there are different rules for certified service dogs.

First and foremost, check with your airline. Each airline has its own rules for flying with pets, including whether the animal can fly in the cabin or must go in the cargo area. Also, reserve your pet’s spot when you book your trip. Most airlines only let a certain number of animals on each flight.

Once you have booked travel for you and your pet, here’s what you need to do:

Pre-flight check-up

  • Most airlines require a pet health certificate signed by a veterinarian just a couple of days before your trip to ensure the animal is healthy and cleared for travel. Be sure to get the form your airline requires.

The carrier

  • Verify your pet carrier is compliant with your airline when it comes to size, shape and material. You’ll also want to make sure it’s cool with your pet. Leave it out for a few days before your trip and put a favorite toy or small blanket that smells like you inside.

Travel day

  • Some pet owners like to exercise their dogs right before traveling, so they’ll be ready to nap on the flight. Consider stopping at a dog park or going for a long walk before arriving at CLT.


  • First and foremost, do NOT put your pet in the x-ray tunnel! Take your dog or cat out of the carrying case and then put the carrier on the belt.
  • Be sure to keep your pet on a leash or in your arms. Ask a Transportation Security Administration agent how they want you to proceed. Sometimes they will ask you to walk with your pet through the metal detector, sometimes they may pull you aside for a separate screening.

The terminal

  • Chill. If you have time before your flight, find a quiet area to relax with your furry friend. Going through security can be stressful, so be sure to give them lots of love.
  • Visit one of CLT’s pet relief areas:
    • Concourse A near gates A21-A29.
    • The Plaza, near the intersection of Concourses D and E, located near the restrooms.
    • Concourse E near Gate E36.
    • Baggage Claim, Zone E.
  • Reward your pup. When picking up a latte for yourself, ask the Starbucks barista for a pup cup for your furry friend. Dunkin’ will give you one too, they just don’t get as many requests.
  • Watch where you walk. In consideration of your pet’s safety, please do not let them ride on moving sidewalks or escalators. We don’t want their little paws or nails to get caught in any of the many moving parts.

A little bit of preparation can make traveling through CLT with your pet a pawsitive experience for everyone.

Did you know?

Certain breeds of dogs and cats are not allowed to fly in the cargo area? Brachycephalic or short-nosed animals, like pugs, bulldogs, Shih Tzus as well as Burmese, Persian and Himalayan are more prone to respiratory problems. Changes in air pressure and temperature can make it worse. Rules for short-nosed animals vary by airline.

Links to individual airlines’ rules for traveling with pets:

American Airlines


Frontier Airlines (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

jetBlue Airways

Southwest Airlines  

Spirit Airlines

United Airlines