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Traveling by plane with an in-cabin dog: Simplify boarding

In an earlier post, I talked about boarding a plane with your dog: When you get to your seat, extract from your Small Personal Item the things you’re likely to need before the seat belt sign goes off (book, pillow, iPod, water, collapsible bowl, dog treats, etc.), and stow your dog under the seat in front of you.

In practice (and I’ve been practicing a lot recently), this is really time-consuming and awkward, especially if you’re traveling alone, or if your seat mates are right behind you, or if you’re in a rush to get your SPI into the overhead compartment before every scrap of space disappears. It’s important to do, though, because on some flights the seat belt sign hardly ever goes off; and even if it does, if you have your dog’s carrier on your lap it’s awkward to re-stow her and stand up to retrieve your stuff.

On the flight I took yesterday, I tried a different approach, and it worked pretty well. I borrowed the Filson Travel Vest I bought my husband a while ago, and loaded it up before I got on the plane with the stuff I wanted close at hand. It made boarding much easier — I just put my purse in the overhead compartment and (wearing the vest) scooted in to my seat and stowed Chloe — and when I deplaned, I didn’t have to worry about whether I’d left anything in the seat back pocket. (I’d also like to think it made me look like Lara Croft, but I suspect the Michelin Man would be more accurate.)

The Filson vest is well-made and awesome — entire pillows and bottles of water disappear into it with ease — but it’s expensive. If you’d like something less pricey, there are other vests out there that have lots of pockets and will do almost as well. TravelSmith has a Voyager Vest that’s very reasonable, for example, as is Ex Officio’s Tooly Vest. National Geographic’s Travel Vest looks both useful and lightweight. Orvis’s Zambezi Twill Travel Vest is nice, but costs nearly as much as the Filson vest. For a sleeker look, try Magellan’s Classic Travel Vest.