Flying home with a puppy, even with the post COVID and new airline animal regulations, can be stress free with a little preparation. Roman Reign puppies are Puppy Culture raised, logging many hours riding around in a vehicle and traveling in an airline bag. They are either paper trained or litter trained by the time they go home.
Our recommended airlines are Delta (and their partners) and Southwest. Do note that Delta requires puppies to be at least 8 weeks for flying (updated Nov. 2023). You will book a flight, round trip from your selected airport to MSP. We typically recommend flying in and then flying out the same day for ease, but spreading it across two days is fine too. We also recommend at least 90 mins between your flight landing and the departure flight so we have ample time to meet you in passenger pick up.
Once you have booked your flight, you will call the airline to book your pet on the flight home. The reservation agent will typically ask of the species, age, breed, weight of dog, type of carrier, and size of the carrier. Most carriers have the sizes listed on the product information. For those who do not already have a carrier, we can get one for $20 or so for you to take home. The typical size of those are 18 x 10 x 10 inches.
If you are looking to purchase a carrier for regular trips (i.e. multiple uses), our favorite is the Sturdibag size large or extra large. These bags are not inexpensive, but they are worth it. I try to find them used on local resale sites or ebay. The extra large will fit under the plane seat. If the airline representative questions it, you can easily use your hand to show that the top is flexible.
When you arrive at the MSP airport, we will pick you up, go to a local coffee shop or park, talk you through all the supplies, and drop you off at the airport. We will provide litter or paper pads for the trip home. We will feed your puppy on the normal schedule, but we do recommend withholding food until you arrive home so your puppy doesn’t need to make a bowel movement at the airport or on the plane.
When you arrive back at the MSP airport, you will check in at the desk for your airline. Most airlines will not allow you to use the online check in for a flight with a dog. You will need to pay the pet fee at the counter as well. For Delta, you will have to go to the Agent Assist counter as opposed to the regular check in counters. Some agents will ask for proof of age when checking in, and you can use the vaccine record or vet exam record that contains the date of birth.
When you go through security, you will go through whichever way your ticket allows. When you enter the screening area, you will put all your items through the screening process, put your dog carrier on the counter, and then take your puppy out of the bag. It is easiest to take out the puppy at the very last minute so you’re not trying to juggle your luggage and a new excited puppy.
Carry your puppy through whatever security device you are required to go through. Sometimes, they’ll want to do additional screening on your items. Things that seem suspicious going through screening are odd shaped dog chews, bags of dog food, and copious amounts of hair brushes. When you get through security, put your puppy in the carrier, gather your things, and head over to your next destination, a flight lounge, the bar, or the gate.
When at the airport, I try to attract as little attention to my dog as possible. Well-meaning bystanders can sometimes cause you trouble. There are a fair share of people in the world who have uninformed opinions about the role of dogs in our society, the role a dog should play in your life, where you should get a dog, how a dog should be traveling on a plane, what kind of carrier is appropriate for a dog, and some sort of Karen disorder. Some of these people will start a rallying cry to the airline representatives to refuse you to board with your puppy. It is best to just avoid getting into the middle of a fight or having to change your plans because someone else can’t mind their own business.
At the MSP airport, there is a dog relief room inside the secure area. If you do not want to use that room, you can put down a pad on the floor in the human bathroom. I usually go into the handicap stall if it is not occupied.
Your puppy can usually go several hours without having to use the bathroom, but you’ll want to offer the opportunity to relieve him/herself before each leg of your flight home. After boarding, you’ll want to remove all unnecessary items from the carrier like a leash. You can allow your puppy to have a bully stick if you like. On the flight, your puppy will likely sleep for hours. If your puppy gets too warm in the bag, you’ll want to open up the carrier vents to allow air circulation. If your puppy whines, you can slide your feet under the bag and rock your puppy back to sleep if needed. Upon arrival, give your puppy an opportunity to use the bathroom.