Do Airlines Allow Dogs on Board?

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There is the popular saying that a dog is man’s best friend, and many of us will stand testimony to the truth of this. So, of course, when it comes to traveling, one wants to be able to take one’s dog with one. Do airlines allow dogs?

Some airlines will allow dogs to travel on board, and pets may either travel in the cabin with travelers or as cargo. Where on the aircraft a dog must travel will depend on its size, breed, and the airline in question. Dogs will need to be kept within a pet carrier unless they are service dogs.

Related: Do airlines allow cats?

Do Airlines Allow Dogs?

Many American airlines do allow dogs to travel by air. It is of importance to note that every airline will have its own set of regulations as well as allowances for dogs on board the aircraft. Certain airlines only allow dogs as cargo, while others may allow them in the cabin.

Dogs will generally need to travel on airlines in a pet carrier. This is for both animals that are allowed to travel within the cabin and those who have to travel with the cargo.

We will look at some of the requirements and pet travel guidelines of some of the local US airlines as well as a few international carriers.

Pet Travel Guidelines For Dogs On Airlines

All airlines that allow dogs to travel on their aircraft have several guidelines that will need to be followed for a dog to be allowed to fly.

As a rule, be sure to check the airline’s regulations with regard to pets before making a booking. When in doubt, contact the airline directly so that they can provide notification of any requirements or limitations. Some airlines will have a limit as to the number of pets a person can travel with.

Although these guidelines may vary to some degree from airline to airline, it is always a good idea to be aware of what may be expected, particularly if different airlines are being used in a single journey. These are the more generally experienced guidelines and requirements for flying with a dog:

  • Pet vaccination and health certificates.
  • Pet carrier.
  • Health and temperament of the dog.
  • Take note of the season and flight times when planning your travel.
  • Food, water, refreshments.
  • Costs

Pet Vaccination And Health Certificates

Not all airlines may require these records, particularly domestic airlines, when flying within a home state. It is always advisable to have these all up to date as it will increase the number of flight options.

Always check with the carrier with regards to the requirements at the destination and, of course, what the requirements are for the city that is being traveled from. Depending on the length of the trip, additional arrangements may need to be made to ensure that the dog has a record of a clean bill of health closer to the return journey.

Dogs will usually need a health certificate to travel in cargo, so if the pet is large or if that is the only option the airline offers, be sure to have the health certificate ready for the flight. A common requirement is for the certificate to have been issued within 10 days of the outgoing flight and 30 days of the return flight.

Dogs that travel within the cabin are less likely to require health certificates; however, be sure to first check with the airline and the requirements of the destination city and state.

Pet Carriers

Unless the dog is a service animal, it will need to travel in a pet carrier. Most airlines will allow pets in carriers that fit under the seat to travel within the cabin, but always check this with the carrier directly.

There are both hard-shell and soft-shell carriers available. In both instances, make sure that the size of the carrier is compatible with the under-seat space on the aircraft. If one is unsure, it is recommended to contact the carrier directly for exact dimensions.

The pet carrier must be big enough for the dog to be able to lie down, stand or sit comfortably within it, and it shouldn’t be a tight fit either, allowing the dog enough space in which to turn around.

As larger breeds will not fit under the seat within their carriers, they will need to travel in the cargo hold.

Flying can be stressful for dogs, so it is important for the dog to be comfortable during its journey. Carriers should have enough padding, as well as ventilation.

Pet carriers are considered part of one’s carry-on luggage, so be prepared to sacrifice some carry-on weight allowance if traveling with a dog in the cabin area.

Health And Temperament Of The Dog

An important consideration is knowing the dog. Not all dogs are suited to traveling on airplanes. The dog will need to be calm enough not to disrupt the flight with barking or growling. It is unlikely that airlines will transport aggressive or loud animals.

Some airlines will not allow puppies that have not been weaned in the cabin and will generally need them to be at least 8 weeks of age to be allowed to fly.

Certain brachycephalic breeds will also have difficulties on a plane, and some airlines will not allow these breeds to travel cargo due to their inherent breathing difficulties.

As flying can be stressful, ask the vet for anti-anxiety medication for the dog if it has a nervous temperament.

Plan The Season And Time Of Your Flight

If the dog is traveling in cargo, take into account the season of travel as well as the time of the flight. The cargo hold is not as well temperature controlled as the cabin, so please be sure to consider the season of travel.

During the summer months, it’s advisable to choose early morning or late evening flights as temperatures during the day may make it too hot for a dog.

During winter, midday flights are preferable to mitigate the likelihood of the dog getting too cold.

Some airline carriers will not allow dogs in the cargo area during certain times of the year due to the likelihood of extreme temperatures so check with the carrier before making any bookings.

Food, Water, Refreshments

Airlines will require dogs to not travel with food or water, and they will also ask that the pet not be fed at least 6 hours before a flight. Dogs may, however, be provided with bottled water before the flight.

As hydration is very important, airlines do allow dogs to travel with water bowls or cups that can be attached to their carrier. This is very important on long flights, and water will be refilled if there is a layover between flights.


Each airline will have its own charge for flying with a dog, but as a guideline, one will be looking at anything from $90 to $225 for flying with a dog. Some of these charges will be each way.

Charges will additionally vary depending on whether the dog travels in the cabin or in the cargo hold.

Again it is best to contact the carrier directly before making a booking to get clarity on the costs and requirements involved.