Airport Mayhem


If you're on this page, chances are you adopted a dog that is an airplane trip away, congrats! Hopefully your trip will go smoothly at my expense, as I enlighten you on what I did do and what I wish I did. Let me preface this by saying that my trip at the airport could have been a lot worse, even though it could have also been a lot better.
For convenience, I have broken this page into a few different sections.

Travel Plans

Book as soon as you put the deposit down.
Getting Kazoo didn't feel real to me even though I paid for her. I sort of felt like it could have been a scam despite my research, and that the whole thing was a dream so I pushed it off until I could no longer push it off.
Cost wise, this wasn't too traumatic for me, as I live by a major airport and my breeder was willing to meet me at a different major airport. Prices, however, basically doubled overnight on the Monday before my Saturday pickup. I was lucky enough to find a last-minute cheap flight, but last-minute searching was not worth the anxiety.
It is also worth noting that some airlines do need a certain amount of advance notice for flying with a pet, and that some airlines charge additional fees for long layovers with pets. Since you cannot stand at a gate and wait for a last minute cancellation when you have a pet, and you need to order a bag anyway, at the very least I would suggest not buying tickets the week of your flight.

Pet Carrier

Call the airport and double check size.
I'm not sure if all airlines do this, but I flew through Spirit and when I called to add a pet onto my flight, they offered to sell me a bag. This bag was priced at $45, and I didn't purchase it as I could get one half the price elsewhere. This, however, did give me a piece of mind that if my carrier did not come in the mail, it was theoretically possible to pick up a bag at the last minute.
The carrier I ended up buying was a Jespet carrier from Chewy, I made sure to check what size the airplane accepted for pet carriers, and I didn't have a problem with it on my trip with Spirit airlines in April 2023. Oddly enough I was most worried about getting my personal stuff through the airport because I didn't buy an additional bag and the breeder sent me home with a gallon bag of dog food and a blanket which I had to fumble on top of everything else. By everything else I mostly mean I had just bought dinner and I was trying to board the airplane with a dog on one arm while balancing a soda cup inside a bag with my book and paperwork in the other bag.
The good thing about carriers is that they are not single use, I took Kazoo to the vet in it afterwards, although she was only big enough to go to the vet in it once. My biggest fear before I picked her up was that she wouldn't fit in the carrier to begin with, but since there was no flexibility for carrier sizes and 8 weeks was the smallest, she was going to be I just had to hold my breath. Kazoo, by the way was 15 pounds, when I picked her up and took up the entire bag while standing.
Kazoo In the Airplane

Puppy Travel Supplies

It is better to have things you do not need, instead of things you wish you had.
When I picked Kazoo up, the breeder gave me a folder of her vaccination records and a microchip tag as well as a gallon bag of food, poop bags and a blanket. To hold this stuff, I brought a drawstring bag since it was easy to collapse and didn't take up much space. I would make sure to ask your breeder what supplies the puppy comes home with to figure out if you need to buy a carry on for your stuff and theirs. Some carriers, like the one I bought do have storage pockets on the sides to keep in mind too.
With food taken care of, I didn't have to bring food for the flight. Even if your breeder does not give you food, your puppy might be fine as they should not eat 4 hours before a flight. If they cannot make it that long, I did hand feed her a few pieces of food in the airport and she did fine for the flight.
Water was a different story. Everybody knows that taking liquids through the airport is a huge ordeal, so avoid it. Instead, I bought a collapsible bowl, which was a huge life saver. I clipped it onto my belt loop, and it was such a low worry and convenient thing to have. I filled it from the water fountains in the airport, but only enough to coat the bottom as I didn't want her to drink a bunch before the flight.
And then, as we all know, what goes in must come out. I put potty pads in the carrier before I picked her up and brought along an empty gallon bag just in case I needed to hold on to something gross. Since the package of potty pads was small, I just took the whole thing along thinking worst case I would throw them out if I needed space since they weren't expensive. Kazoo ended up not soiling herself the entire time she was at the airport. When my dad let her out of her carrier when he picked me up, that was a different story. On that note, bring towels or rags with you too!
Basic needs to sustain life aside, the other items I brought for Kazoo were a collar, tag and leash as well as my own poop bags. I didn't need the leash or poop bags. If you are picking up your puppy at 8 weeks old, they will not be fully vaccinated, and I didn't know this, but proof of vaccination is not required by all airlines, so who knows what diseases lurk in the artificial turf at the airport rest stop? If you feel like your puppy needs to get out of the bag, take them out and place them on a potty pad and don't let them off of it.
The leash I picked was honestly too big anyway, I got a nice thick rope which is great to hold, but not great when you have limited storage. If I had to do it again, I would bring a more compact leash, so it matters less space wise if you don't end up using it.
Of course, I mostly picked the rope leash because it matched Kazoo's collar. Her collar at the time was a size small waterproof collar. I picked waterproof for the sole reason that it had a different texture than a normal fabric collar, it was smoother, since her breeder mentioned that she didn't like wearing collars and I felt that maybe it was a material thing, so I picked a nontraditional collar material. Kazoo didn't have a problem with it at all, and she took great pleasure in the fact that it is water resistant once she was settled at home and introduced to the hose.
On her collar I honestly didn't know what to do for a tag. I knew TSA had metal detectors, so I did not want to get anything metal. In hindsight her collar had metal on it anyway, but when I made her tag, I went with 3D printed plastic to avoid any issues.

Human Travel Supplies

Good news on the human front, they sell human stuff at airports.
Bad news on the human front, they are not afraid to seriously upcharge humans. Good news again, humans are pretty resilient and resourceful.
That said, they are not typically flexible when they lose things like their phones. Number one priority, make sure you have a phone and that it's charged. I like bringing my portable charge bank with me to recharge while on a plane, or off as I don't really trust airport outlets. I actually forgot to bring mine on this trip and was waiting for my dad to pick me up with a twelve percent charge. When I picked up Kazoo I left the house at 9am and was back home at midnight, my flight was delayed and I didn't expect to be out anywhere near that long, so even if you don't think you need it, I highly encourage you to get a portable bank that you charge before your flight, or at the very least bring your cable. Keep in mind though that you can only use your cable to charge in the terminal and that you would be out of luck in the air.
Assuming your phone stays charged, I suggest you download music onto it to listen to and bring headphones. Classic airport stuff. Additionally, if you like reading I would download a book. I brought a book to the airport since I prefer reading on paper, but I would have much rather had the extra space. Anything that can be digital should be digital or you risk losing it.
When I booked my flight back, I was not given a digital ticket and had to go to the counter at the gate to get my ticket. I am going to tell you right now that despite only having that ticket for maybe 30 minutes at most, it looked like it went through hell.
Of course, I did have a hoodie pocket to stuff it in, not a jeans pocket. I cannot stress how grateful I am for wearing my hoodie. First off, airports and airplanes are cold, solution? Hoodie. Second, you need to take off jackets for TSA, not generally hoodies. Third, the pocket, remember the pocket. And most importantly number four, visibility!
Visibility? I had never met my breeder before and had no idea how the interaction would go down as we met at an airport. When we both arrived at the airport, we were on different floors trying to find each other by saying what we were around all while avoiding swarms of people. Solution? Hoodie. I made sure to wear a neon orange hoodie and told my breeder I would be wearing it and the second I came down the stairs she spotted me and waved me over. It got rid of so much hassle with no extra work.
Speaking of hassle, one thing I would bring is a granola bar or one of those meal replacement bars. I had no time to get anything for lunch and dinner was an ordeal. This way you do not need to wait in line to buy something and can have a meal whenever you want. In conjunction with that, I would bring a water bottle to fill at the fountains in the airport. I recommend one with a clip so it can stay outside your bag. Absolutely nobody was at the water fountains while everybody was in line at the marketplace. Huge time saving potential.
Where are you going to put all this stuff? Great question. As I mentioned earlier, I brought a drawstring bag with me to the airport. They are very portable and easy to just stuff in your pocket when empty. I will confess that I did not buy mine online, I got mine for free from my college, so it is sufficiently branded.

Ending Notes

It is better to be safe than sorry.
If you think you may need something, I say get it. If you're getting a large breed, there is a good chance it will be their only time being on an airplane or navigating an airport, but that is not an excuse to slack on basic care. The only difference between small and large breed puppies is that a small breed has the potential to go on an airplane again, in which case it would be fair to splurge on a better carrier that would garner more than one use, but that is the only nuance I will honor at this time.