Updated on February 5, 2024.
Fact checked
writing Written

Whether you’re looking to move to a new place and want to pack your pup along for the flight or simply want to explore the world with your four-legged friend, you may be wondering if dogs can fly on planes. Obviously, trained service animals are allowed, but what about your pet?

Yes, your dog can fly with you, though where they are welcome depends on their size and function. Let’s dig deeper into how to fly with dogs on planes.

Key Takeaways

  • Small dogs can be transported in the passenger cabin if they can fit in a carrier under the seat, while larger dogs must be transported in cargo.
  • Before flying with your dog, it’s important to check with your airline for their specific rules and regulations, as well as to consult with your vet if your dog has anxiety or other health concerns.
  • Service dogs can fly in the passenger cabin at no additional charge, but you must provide documentation at least 48 hours before your flight.
  • Flying with your dog in cargo can be risky, and many organizations advise against it due to potential safety concerns.
  • Whether your dog is flying in the passenger cabin or in cargo, it’s important to take steps to ensure their comfort and safety during the flight, such as giving them plenty of exercises beforehand, providing them with a comfortable carrier, and making sure they have all necessary food and supplies.

Small Dogs

If you have a small dog, you’re in luck. They can fly as a carry-on item as long as they are small enough to fit in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. Typically, that will mean your dog should be 20 pounds or less, though you’ll want to check with your airline if you plan to bring your dog on board with you.

Unfortunately, you cannot buy an extra seat for your dog, and they’ll have to stay in the carrier during the entire flight. You cannot take them out, even if they’re barking or need to potty, so make sure that they have all their needs taken care of prior to the flight.

If your dog has anxiety or you’re worried about traveling with them, consult with your vet. They may be able to prescribe something to help make your dogs more comfortable.

Large Dogs

Large dogs who are not service animals can fly, but they will need to be transported in cargo. The cargo hold is pressurized and temperature controlled, so it’s not much different than flying in the passenger cabin. However, some dogs have been injured or even died as a result of transit, so only fly with your dog in cargo if absolutely necessary. Even the Humane Society of the United States advises against flying with your dog in cargo.

If you plan to fly with your large dog, you need to check them as you would a bag. Check with your airline as soon as you book. Some allow you to book with your ticket, while others won’t let you do so until two weeks before your flight. Some airlines do not allow pets in cargo at all, so if you need to travel with a large dog, make sure to check if they are allowed.

Service Animals

can dogs fly on planes

Fully trained service dogs can fly in the passenger cabin at no additional charge. You will need to submit documentation to prove that your animal is a qualified service dog at least 48 hours before your flight.

During the trip, your dog must remain harnessed or leashed. They must be small enough that they fit at your feet, under your seat, or sit comfortably on your lap. Please note that any lap animals must be smaller than a two-year-old child, or less than 32 pounds, and shorter than 37 inches tall.

If needed, you may need to purchase a ticket for the animal if they are too large to fit comfortably without blocking an aisle or encroaching on another passenger’s personal space.

So, Can Dogs Fly On Planes?

Yes, dogs can fly on planes. Small dogs can be transported in the passenger cabin or in cargo, while larger dogs can only be transported in cargo. This rule does not apply to service dogs, though in select cases, service dogs may need to be transported in the cargo hold.

Many organizations do not recommend flying with dogs in cargo as it can be unsafe for your pet, so you’ll need to be extra careful when you fly. The experience may be traumatic for your pup, so make sure to give them extra love, treats, and pets when you get to your final destination.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can my small dog fly with me in the passenger cabin?

Yes, small dogs can fly in the passenger cabin if they fit in a carrier under the seat.

  • What size must my dog be to fly in the passenger cabin?

Typically, your dog should be 20 pounds or less to fly in the passenger cabin, but it’s important to check with your airline for their specific rules.

  • Can I buy an extra seat for my dog to fly in the passenger cabin?

No, you cannot buy an extra seat for your dog. They must remain in their carrier for the entire flight.

  • Can larger dogs fly on planes?

Yes, larger dogs can fly, but they must be transported in cargo.

  • Is it safe to fly with my dog in cargo?

While it is possible to fly with your dog in cargo, many organizations advise against it due to potential safety concerns.

  • Can service dogs fly in the passenger cabin?

Yes, fully trained service dogs can fly in the passenger cabin at no additional charge.

  • What documentation do I need to provide for my service dog to fly in the passenger cabin?

You will need to provide documentation to prove that your animal is a qualified service dog at least 48 hours before your flight.

  • Can I bring my emotional support animal on the plane?

As of January 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation no longer considers emotional support animals as service animals, so they do not have the same rights to fly in passenger cabins.