Take the stress out of flying with pets

Navigating the dos and don’ts of taking your four-legged friend on holidays with you can be tough work if the trip involves air travel. We’ve gathered together most major airlines’ policies on flying with pets to take the stress out of planning your trip.

Take the stress out of traveling with your furry friend by reading up on your airline's pet policy. Image credit: Nadisja/iStock
Take the stress out of traveling with your furry friend by reading up on your airline’s pet policy. Image credit: Nadisja/iStock

Flying with pets can be tricky. Johnny Depp’s Pistol and Boo saga or the mental image of French bulldog Kobe making the lonely trip home to the US from Australia are proof enough that researching before taking your pet overseas is a must. So here’s a few things to get sorted before you start planning which airline to fly with.

A visit to the vet before flying with pets!

Firstly, you will need to make an appointment with your vet to make sure your pet is healthy enough to fly. Some breeds of dogs with short noses such as pugs, Boston terriers, boxers, and bulldogs are more susceptible to respiratory problems during air travel, so talking with your vet can help to minimize the risks.

You will also need to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and ask the vet for a health certificate, as most airlines require this document before travel.


The next step is to check what the regulations are for bringing your pet into the country you are traveling to. Rabies and other various diseases, which can be carried by pets, are taken very seriously so it’s important to get in contact with the embassy of your destination country to find out what steps you need to take before bringing your pet.

Keeping a pet passport for your animal is one way to make sure all relevant documentation is kept in one place.

If your pet is in tip-top shape and you have clearance to bring them along, then the next step is working out which airlines are best suited to you. We have broken down some major airlines to give you an idea.

Aer lingus

No pets are allowed into the cabin on any international Aer Lingus flights. If you are flying with pets through Europe, they must be booked through a freight forwarder, which puts them into the aircraft hold. For those traveling on Transatlantic flights, household pets (cats and dogs) can be booked as excess luggage. Bulldogs, pugs, boxers and persian/exotic cats are restricted breeds, not carried by the airline.

Assistance dogs are the only animals allowed in the cabin on any Aer Lingus flight, however they must not be a breed listed in the airline’s restricted category.

Air Canada

All Air Canada flights allow you to bring a cat or small dog into the cabin, which counts towards your carry-on baggage allowance. The airline states the animal must be able to stand, turn around, and lie down in its airline pet carrier under the seat in front of you. If your pet is unable to fly in the cabin, it can fly in the baggage compartment of the aircraft, however there are restrictions on breeds, the age of the animal, and the time of year it is traveling. Air Canada also flies to countries where animals are not permitted to be in the cabin or baggage compartment and can only travel as cargo, so it is best to check with the airline prior to booking your flight.

Air France

Dogs or cats can be taken into the cabin on Air France flights with prior approval from customer service. Pets are not allowed in the Business cabin on intercontinental flights and must, in these instances, travel in the hold. In situations where your pet can’t travel with you in the cabin or in the hold, they must be transported by freight. All animals must have the required vaccines and those traveling within the EU must be identified with an electronic chip and hold a European passport.

Be sure to make a visit to the vet before you book flying with pets Image credit: demaerre/iStock
Be sure to make a visit to the vet before you book a flight for your furry friend. Image credit: demaerre/iStock

American Airlines

American Airlines has an extensive list of dog breeds that are restricted from flying. The airline recommends passengers check in advance to make sure your cat or dog’s breed, size, and requirements are fit to travel as carry-on, be checked in, or transported with American Airlines cargo.

The airline has a restriction on the number of animals it allows into the cabin per flight, excluding service animals, so it is highly recommended to contact reservations to make arrangements prior to booking your flight.

All dogs must be at least eight weeks old when traveling within the U.S. and Puerto Rico and at least 16 weeks old when traveling into the U.S.

British Airways

Only recognized assistance dogs are allowed to travel in the cabin of any British Airways flights. All other pets, including emotional support animals, need to travel in the hold as cargo.

Cathay Pacific

According to the airline’s website, pets can join you onboard as check-in baggage, but passengers are urged to check their destination countries and/or connecting airlines for certain restrictions. The airline also has a list of animals they do not let you bring onboard or travel via cargo. It is recommended to contact the local reservation office at least two days prior to travel.


Small dogs, cats, and household birds can travel in any Delta cabin for a fee, as long as they fit into a small, ventilated pet carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. The animal counts as part of your carry-on luggage. If your animal is larger than the size required for check-in, it will be shipped as cargo.


Emirates only allows guide dogs for the blind and falcons (on flights between Dubai and certain destinations in Pakistan) into their cabins. All animals arriving in Dubai must be transported as cargo, while other itineraries allow for falcons, pet birds, dogs, and cats to be transported as checked baggage in the hold.


No flying with pets are allowed in the cabin of any Etihad flight, according to the airline’s website. All animals are transported via a climate-controlled, pressurised compartment onboard. Passengers traveling into Abu Dhabi are encouraged to make bookings via one of the local vets.

Checking airline policies ahead of time can save you and your pet stress at the airport. Image credit: millann/iStock
Checking airline policies ahead of time can save you and your pet stress at the airport. Image credit: millann/iStock


Small dogs and cats can travel in Economy Class cabins on most KLM flights and in Business Class on most KLM flights through Europe. The animal and airline pet carrier must not exceed eight kilograms, and must fit under the seat in front of you. It would be good to have this in check before flying with pets using KLM.


Small dogs and cats, weighing no more than eight kilograms, can travel with you as additional carry-on baggage in the cabin. All other sizes must be transferred to the cargo hold. Passengers are required to fill out and sign two forms and hand them into the check-in counter.


Qantas only allows service dogs in the passenger cabin of its aircraft. Those who have already booked a flight can check availability on their flight for their pet. Qantas also provides services for unaccompanied pet and animal travel if your pet cannot take the same flight as you.

Qatar Airways

Domesticated dogs, cats, and birds can travel as excess baggage from most countries. For connecting flights to Qatar Airways, pets must travel as cargo. Animals which cannot maintain a normal body temperature are restricted from boarding Qatar Airways flights.

Singapore Airlines

Only service dogs are permitted in the cabin on Singapore Airlines flights. All other animals must travel as either checked baggage or in cargo. The airline recommends getting in touch at least two weeks before your departure.

Thai Airways

No pets are allowed in the cabin on Thai Airways flights, with the exception of guide dogs and assistance dogs for some destinations. Passengers can check in and collect their pets at passenger terminals of their departure and arrival gates. There are a number of Thai Airways flights which prohibit the transport of animals in the hold, including flights to Auckland, Denpasar, Dubai, Hong Kong, and London. Flights to and from some Australian cities also prohibit animals in the hold.


Domesticated cats, small dogs, rabbits, and birds can travel in the aircraft cabin of most United flights within the U.S.Those animals which are not allowed to travel in-cabin are shipped via PetSafe.

Once you’ve booked your flights, make sure you also book a reliable Blacklane car service ahead of time to make sure we can deliver you and your pooch with ease to your destination.