Tips for Traveling on a Plane with a Dog
Updated: Apr 16, 2019
Don't do it. I kid, I kid. I'll give you some actual tips below, but hear me out. The most terrible flight of my life happened in June on a cross-country flight from New York City from Los Angeles and wasn't due to weather delay, an excessively long haul or maintenance issues. It was caused by the non-stop, high-pitched barking of our 6 month old puppy named Mushu.
Notice how happy and confident I look before the flight from Los Angeles to New York City. HAHAHAHAHA. Not for long...
Actual footage of a Gremlin eating after Midnight on a cross-country flight from LA to New York City.
Mushu literally turned into a Gremlin that's been fed after Midnight.
The persistent barking you hear in the video above lasted for, no exaggeration, 6 hours. Airline regulations prevented me from removing Mushu from the pet carrier in front of my seat, so there was literally nothing I could do. It was mortifying to know I was enraging some of my fellow passengers, particularly those without the blessing of noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs.
Now, you might think I'm a horrible person for subjecting Mushu and my fellow passengers to a cross-country flight, but my family on the East Coast really wanted to spend time with him and my husband, Josh was a little overwhelmed at the prospect of taking care of Mushu alone for the weekend.
Here are my lessons learned so you can avoid the mistakes I made!*
1. Bribe your pet with tantalizing treats
Yea, yea. Dave the Dog Trainer would disagree with me 100% on this, but feeding Mushu through the tiny cracks of his carrier was the only temporary respite from his persistent barking. I highly recommend squeezable apple sauce and crispy chicken tenders from Trader Joe's, because they can be easily broken up and slipped through the zippered crack. I felt like I was negotiating a hostage release wherein the hostage was myself.
2. Select an aisle seat in the back
Never pick a middle seat if you're traveling with your pet, because you're literally trapped and will only infuriate the aisle passenger. If you sit in the back of the plane, it's much easier to pop-up to the restroom to refill their water dish or grab a paper towel to clean up an apple sauce face.
3. Make nice with your neighbors
Although I apologized profusely to my seat mates, they still hated me. Next time (if there is a next time), I'm packing several pairs of earplugs, mini alcohol bottles and a snack for adjacent passengers.
Happier times when Mushu was sweet and pleasant before our flight to New York.
4. Take him to a urination station immediately when you land
Yes, that's what they're called. Figure out where it is before your flight, so you can dash your little friend as quickly as possible for a pee.
5. Give him to your sister immediately
Take a little break from your pet after you land, so you can slowly regain love for them again.
My sister, Christine doted on Mushu all weekend and even had VOSS water and a bed waiting for him after our redeye nightmare.
6. Walk them a ton
We walked around New York City four hours and Mushu loved every second of the concrete jungle. And just like that, I couldn't imagine traveling here without him.
Our walk lasted from Stuyvesant Town to Bryant Park, which is an incredible feat for a tiny dog like Mushu.
*Obviously I'm not a dog trainer, animal behaviorist, genius, etc. so take these entertaining travel tips for what they are, which has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience