Airline Pet Travel in the Cabin

airline pet travel in cabinAirline pet travel in the cabin of the aircraft does not have to be stressful if you follow some simple rules. First of all, you must make reservations for your pet to travel with you over the phone with a representative of the airline. All airlines permit only a limited number of pets on board, and there will be a cost for you to bring your pet in the cabin with you. Be sure and make your pet’s reservation before you make your own.

Secondly, does your pet exceed the size and weight limits to travel in the cabin? Remember that airlines require that your pet be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier. Stuffing your pet into an airline compliant pet carrier that is too small will almost guarantee that neither one of you will get on the plane. Normally, a pet that exceeds 18″ from the tip of? nose to the base of the tail and 10″ high will be too large to travel in the cabin except in First Class or overseas flights. You can always call the airlines and ask what the measurements are under the seat in front of you on the aircraft that serves your route. This will help in deciding whether your pet’s carrier will fit.

Be sure to choose an airline compliant pet carrier. This carrier has a waterproof bottom and adequate ventilation. A?good pet pad is a must, especially for long flights. Many pets will eliminate out of nervousness, so it is best to have several layers of absorbent material in the carrier.

The closures must be secure so that the pet cannot escape. (Here are some beautiful zipper locks that accomplish this.) You must not take your pet out of the carrier for any reason during the flight, however, you should be able to slide the carrier out so that it will be in between your legs when the plane is in the air. Pack some favorite toys or something with your scent on it in the carrier as these things will comfort your pet.

A few days before airline pet travel, take your pet to their veterinarian for a health check up. The reason for this is to be sure that your pet has no fleas, ticks, or diseases. This is becoming important for in cabin travel because many people are allergic to fleas. Additionally, get your pet bathed and groomed. A clean pet is a comfortable pet and odor will not be a problem.

More than 4-6 hours before flying, you should feed your pet a light meal and water. Just prior to getting in the car to go to the airport, take a long walk and give your pet plenty of time to do their business and stretch their legs. Put your pet in their carrier before getting into the car and don’t remove them at the airport unless you are taking them to an airport dog park. Pets can be unpredictable in strange environments. Additionally, you will want to keep your pet calm prior to the flying on the airplane. If your pet is skittish, take along a treat and a natural herb relaxer to give them prior to the flight. This will only help keep them calm and should not affect their breathing in any way.

Do not feed them on the airplane if possible. Oftentimes, feeding will encourage bowel movement, and that would be very inconvenient for your both. If you are on a long flight, dip your finger in a little water and let your pet lick it through a small opening in the carrier for hydration. Again, do not remove your pet from the carrier as the flight attendant will ask you to put them back immediately.

When you reach your destination, try to find a quiet place and be sure and attach your pet’s leash before taking them out of the bag. Your pet will be happy to walk down the concourse with you. Get them outside as soon as possible so they can relieve themselves. As for cats, a portable kitty litter tray and an empty corner of the concourse could help. Be sure and keep them on a leash at all times when in and around the airport. Feed them only when you have arrived at your pet friendly hotel or other accommodations and no more car or bus rides are necessary.

Thousands of pets travel by air each day. Yours can do the same without a lot of fuss if you follow the airline rules and do a bit of planning beforehand.

More information on airline pet policies.


Airline Pet Travel in the Cabin — 19 Comments

  1. Katherine – forgot to mention that, if you plan to return to the UK, get a rabies titer test done before you leave. If the results are recorded in your pet’s EU Pet Passport, it will be much easier to return to the UK.

  2. Has anyone flown from the uk to Qatar with a cat in the cabin? Only BA and Qatar airways fly direct but I read somewhere that pets must be in the hold on these airlines. There?s no way I?d put my elderly cat in the hold!!!

  3. What is an effective calming or anti-anxiety medication/treat to give to my Shih Tzu before flying? We have a 3hr flight going to Nevada. This is her first time flying in cabin but she has traveled cargo before from the PH. I do not want her barking the whole 3 hours too.

  4. Hi Judy – in order for your dog to travel in the cabin, it must be able to stand up and turn around in an airline-compliant carrier like these: and the carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. Emotional support and service dogs are allowed to fly in the cabin without a carrier as long as if your airline has a program in place to allow that.

  5. Can a pre arranged booking for a dog to travel in the cabin be made where a passenger seat could be bought . My dog is 13lb and she would not be able to stand up in a carrier under the seat. I would be willing to buy the extra passenger seat.

  6. Norma – shame on the owner for allowing this to happen. It is not a bad thing to bring it to the flight attendant’s attention, however. Pet owners need to understand that they should not affect the quality of experience for other passengers, and flight attendants should effectuate changes to ensure this, even if it means relocating the pet owner and the pet.

  7. I was on a Delta Flight today and a dog stored under my seat barked and yapped the entire time we were flying. I was in First Class and wanted to relax and rest. Not possible! What ever happened to the courtesy toward the other flyers who paid a considerable amount of money to have a quiet, restful flight??? Maybe dogs should not be allowed to fly in the cabin as they cannot be forced to be quiet. It seems very unfair for all other passengers to be bothered to accommodate the one flyer with the dog. His head was always outside the carrier and the barking was continuous…most unpleasant trip!

  8. Hi Camila – dogs do tend to sleep when on airplanes, especially in the hold. I am guessing that this is your puppy’s first flight, and there will most likely be some anxiousness on puppy’s part. I don’t know your pet’s size and personality, but I would think your puppy would be happier traveling with you in the cabin. Should there be an accident, you can take it out of its carrier in the lavatory. I suggest that you put 2 pads in the carrier so that you will have a fresh one if you need it. During the flight, you can take the carrier out and put it between your legs on the floor, but you will not be able to remove your pet from its carrier. Before making your decision, try putting your puppy in its carrier and go for a drive. See how your puppy behaves in the carrier. This may help you decide what is best for your pet.

  9. I’m moving from Denmark to the USA with 2 cairn terriers (flying Lufthansa via Frankfurt to Seattle)

    One dog will be in the hold area and the youngest, a 4 months old puppy will be coming into the cabin with us, however, I’m getting second thoughts whether or not it’s more comfortable for her to be traveling in the hold.

    The reason to this is although she fits into the size requirement, she is growing fast and I can’t help but think a 11 hour trip might be very uncomfortable for her in such a small space?!

    Do dogs tend to just sleep away while flying?
    Another concern is, in case she eliminates while travelling, am I able to change the pad inside her bag?

    Thanks in advance!

  10. there any way to make a pet travel with you in cabin even if it exceeds max allowed weight\size ( only by 1 kg and a few inches)? I mean, could I buy a ticket for it? It’s an 8 yr old dog, 9 kg and 15 inches high at the neck…has traveled in cargo before, when it was 2\3 yrs old.. now I am moving and have to take it with me and wouldn’t like to take it in cargo…Any options? Thank you, Adriana PS Flight from Milan (eventually Paris or any other erutopean city, which I can reach by car\train) to Buenos Aires…13 hrs!

    RESPONSE: Hi Adriana – this is something you need to work out with your airline. We cannot suggest that there are ways to extend rules as they are enforced by the ticket and gate attendants of each airline. What you may consider doing is taking your pet in its carrier to the airport during off peak times and speak with an agent for the airlines. Should they indicate that they will allow your pet in the cabin, you need to get it in writing.

  11. hi i’m taking my 3 year old maltese to korea for the first time, and he barks alot, and i mean alot. And I have heard that if your dog barks before going on the plane exesively then it can’t go on the plane. What should i do?
    RESPONSE: If your pet is traveling in the cargo hold, it should not be a problem. If you are traveling in the cabin, that is another story. If other passengers will be bothered by incessant barking, you may be asked to move your pet to the hold which will mean you must purchase a cargo crate. You may try an all-natural pet calmer like this one: Try it first at home and see if your pet’s barking is affected.

  12. I would like to take my Shin Tzu with me on the Southwest flight but he is 20# and has trouble fitting into the carrier. Is there a private airlines that will transport him in the cabin inside his larger carrier?

    RESPONSE: there are a lot of air charter companies that will transport your pet. You can search a database here: Please note that not all of these companies are pet friendly. You will have to ask when you contact them. PetAirways used to transport pets in the cabin, but I am not sure whether they are accepting reservations at the moment. We do arrange pet friendly private charters. More information here:

  13. Does anyone besides me have an issue with the ridiculous fees the airlines are charging us now to put our pets where we can put our computers or knitting bags for FREE? I do not mind a minimal fee for paper work but other than that, once my two bichons are under the seats, they are quiet and no one knows they are even there. I think this $125 fee per dog, per flight (one way) is getting quite out of hand. I should like to know if anyone else feels the same way and would be willing to join in a write in or petition signing to make the airlines aware that they cannot make extra money on the backs of pet owners. These fees have increased substantially in just the last few years. Other than a bit of paper work there is nothing the airline has to do.

    I am very resentful that it costs me $500 roundtrip each time I fly with my beloved pets. Often their tickets cost more than mine and yet I was told I cannot purchase a seat for them without paying the pet charges too. If I bring them aboard as my carry on luggage, what right does the airline have to charge me for using the space at MY FEET for my pets. They don’t charge me for my computer or knitting bag.

    I’d trying like to hear how others feel. Thanks.

  14. Hi,

    Im flying with my Shin Tzu for the first time in the cabin. We are going from San Diego to Montreal, its a long flight. We have one stop and at the return flight 2. So, my question is, if is OK, if she can walk around when we go to a gate from another.
    Thanks a lot,
    Pets are not allowed out of their pet carrier inside the airport although you might not be challanged. You can take the pet inside the pet carrier outside the terminal and then take it for a walk.

  15. What would be the cost of flying with a small cat (persian)in the cabin.would you have any measurements for the cage or a cat bag?
    We are not an airline but if you advise me which airline you are flying I should be able to give you an approximate cost. Each airline sets its own rates. You will need a soft sided carrier and most are small enough to carry a cat under the seat. Again, each airline has different size requirements. You can find the approved pet carriers here:

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