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Can large dogs fly in cabin on airlines?

July 30, 2019 3 Comments

DJANGO Dog Blog - Can I fly with my large dog in cabin?

Is there any airline that will allow my large dog to travel with us in the cabin?

This is a question we at DJANGO Dog Blog get frequently.

An increasing number of dog owners are traveling with their pups, both domestically and internationally. Just two years ago, Mike and I (Steph) flew with our dachshund Django to Europe. We spent three weeks bouncing around France and Italy with our little guy. We fortunately had no issues bringing Django since he's 15 lbs and fits comfortably in an airline-approved pet carrier.

Can large dogs fly in cabin?

We wish we could tell you otherwise, but unfortunately no airlines that we know of allow large dogs in-cabin. When we say large, we are referring to dogs that cannot fit under a plane seat in an airline-approved pet carrier.

Are there any exceptions?

The only exceptions are if the dog is a certified service animal (i.e. a guide dog for the blind) or, in some cases, an emotional support animal or therapy animal.

Most U.S. airlines including United, Delta and American allow emotional support dogs. Please do keep in mind, however, that weight and occasionally breed restrictions still apply. United Airlines, for instance, has a 65lb weight limit for emotional support dogsDelta does not accept pit bulls as service or support animals, and they don't allow ESAs on flights with a duration longer than 8 hours. American Airlines requires that service animals and ESAs fit at your feet, under your seat or in your lap.

We always recommend that you visit an airline's pet policy page prior to booking travel (here are the in-cabin pet policies of every major international airline).

What about business class?

Even if you are willing to pay a first class fare for your pup, unfortunately the same rule applies: no large dogs. In fact, most airlines prohibit dogs in first class entirely. The only exception we are aware of is Lufthansa which allows small dogs and cats in business class on certain transatlantic flights.

Is there ANY way to get overseas with my large dog?

Yes! You have two options for getting overseas with your larger dog.

Option 1: Cargo

Most major airlines allow large dogs to fly via cargo, or in the hold of the plane. And despite 

Dogs that fly via cargo must be transported in rigid, well-ventilated animal crates.  The crates are secured in a climate-controlled, pressurized compartment of the hold apart from the rest of the luggage.

The most reputable airlines have well-defined and enforced animal transport programs to ensure the safety and comfort of your dog. For example, Delta and American Airlines have strict Temperature Policies for warm-blooded animals. American's policy states that dogs are only transported when ground temperatures are between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures your pup is never exposed to extreme temperatures if the cargo area's climate-control mechanism fails.

Most airlines also prohibit snub-nosed dogs, or brachycephalic breeds, from flying via cargo. Short-nosed dogs like bulldogs, boxers, pugs and boston terriers can experience respiratory distress when they are stressed or overheated. For the safety of these dogs, you'll find that airlies prohibit their travel via cargo.

Option 2: Sea travel

If you are adamant about not putting your dog in cargo, you have one more travel option: sea travel.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the only ship that allows the transatlantic transportation of dogs from New York City to Southampton, England. There are 24 kennels that are overseen by a “Kennel Master” who walks, feeds and cleans the pet area. The kennels are open throughout the day, so pet owners can visit and walk their dogs as often as they’d like. You can find more about the kennel arrangements by calling Cunard at (800) 728-6273.

The downside to sea travel is the time commitment, usually 7 days at sea. The price will also be higher than economy air travel, especially once you account for the cost of your pet’s care. With that said, this is a very safe travel option for anyone going to Europe with their larger dog – and the only way to avoid putting him or her in cargo.

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3 Responses

Erik Backlund
Erik Backlund

June 21, 2022

Good info, however the Cunard Queen Mary is a bit off. You are not allowed to see your dogs whenever throughout the day, it’s from 7am-10am, 1pm-3pm and 5pm to 8pm. I took this cruise with my dog 4 years ago

DJANGO
DJANGO

February 10, 2021

Egle, hello and congrats on your upcoming move to the US! Very exciting! You’re correct that you should have no issues flying in-cabin with a 7 lb dog, assuming of course the airline of your choice allows in-cabin pet travel. Regarding the dimensions of your pet carrier, I strongly recommend reaching out to your airline directly to inquire about their pet policy. Many airlines display max carrier dimensions BUT allow soft-sided pet carriers to be slightly bigger in height assuming they will still fit under the seat in front of you.

Although pets that aren’t service or assistance animals are required to stay in their carrier at all times, I imagine no one will notice if you unzip the top of your carrier to let your girl stretch and also offer her water. And yes, I agree that flying in cabin is better than putting your girl in cargo.

Our soft-sided airline carrier was 11.5 inches in height. Again, most airlines allow slightly larger soft-sided carries so long as they fit underneath the seat. Definitely call your airline to confirm if you haven’t already.

Re: airlines, we’ve flown with Django on so many. Here is a DJANGO Dog Blog article detailing the pet policies of every major international airline. This should help you narrow down your options.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to reply back here and let me know what LOT airline says about their carrier size restrictions and whether they will allow a soft-sided carrier that is slightly larger in height.

Egle
Egle

February 10, 2021

Hi, thank you for all informative posts about flying with a dog!

We are relocating to US in January and planning to take direct flight from Warsaw to Los Angeles using LoT airlines (https://m.lot.com/us/en/travelling-with-pets).

Our dog weights only 7 lbs, so it seems no problem to take her in cabin, but I am concerned about airline requirements for the height of the carrier. Similar to other airlines, the limit is 20 cm (~8 inches), my dog is mixed breed – size between toy terrier and pincher (so quite long legs), she can fit lying down in a carrier this high, but won’t be able to sit up or stand up, unless we unzip the top during flight. Normally she would spend most of the time lying down anyway, but still needs to stretch her legs from time to time. Compared to the stress she’d probably experience traveling in cargo, taking her in cabin still seems better option. Another challenge – I looked for the soft carriers online and didn’t find any option that would be as low as 20 cm/8 inches.

How big was the carrier that you used for Django and which airlines did you use? We chose LOT because that’s the best direct option for us (still we’ll need to drive to Poland, since we live in Lithuania). Would be great to get any tips, because I’m starting to panic that it’s not possible to meet airline requirements :(

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