Can you take your dog on a plane?

person with toy airplane on world map

One day we will return to some level of normality, including travelling abroad! To help you prepare for travel abroad with your pooch this post covers the rules for taking your dog on a plane. You should also read our post about entry requirements to the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), Canada, the United States (US), New Zealand and Australia.

To avoid confusion, and language differences, we’re going to use ‘plane’ instead of ‘airplane’ (US) or ‘aeroplane’ (UK).

SHOULD you take your dog on a plane?

Alongside environmental, financial and convenience factors, you should ask yourself if the plane journey is worth the potential stress to your dog. For example, taking your dog in the hold while relocating or setting out on the journey of a lifetime may outweigh the potential discomfort and stress for your pooch. There are lots of videos on YouTube about dogs on a plane – this one shows the process AirCanada followed to load a corgi.

We strongly recommend that you speak with your vet if you are considering travelling on a plane with your dog regularly. Unless they’re absolutely tiny and can happily travel beside your feet in the cabin, of course. Plus, some of the alternatives can be really exciting and bring their own experiences, such as driving across country borders in a campervan. Where plane travel is the best for you and your pooch, this post will hopefully be useful!

Dog sizes

Airline rules for pets differ by pet and then size. In this post we will detail the airline rules for dogs (excluding assistance dogs) using the following sizes:

Toy dogs

Under 12 pounds / 5.4 kg

animal dog pet cute
Photo by Jayendra Patel on Pexels.com

Small dogs

12-25 pounds / 5.4-11.3 kg

brown dachshund on bed
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Medium dogs

25-50 pounds / 11.3-22.7 kg

serious bulldog sitting on soft sofa
Photo by Christian Montes on Pexels.com

Large dogs

50-100 pounds / 22.7-45.5 kg

selective photo of dark golden retriever puppy stands on snowfield
Photo by Robert Broderick on Pexels.com

Extra large dogs

Over 100 pounds / 45.4 kg

animal big blur breed
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Main airlines in the UK

These are the main commercial airlines that fly in and out of the UK. To enter the UK all animals must go in the hold, some can travel in the cabin to exit the UK.

AirlineToySmallMediumLargeExtra LargeWebsite
British AirwaysHoldHoldHoldHoldHold
Virgin AtlanticHoldHoldHoldHoldHold
EasyJetNot allowedNot allowedNot allowedNot allowedNot allowed
RyanAirNot allowedNot allowedNot allowedNot allowedNot allowed
KLMCabinCabin*HoldHoldHold**
LufthansaCabinCabin* HoldHoldHold
EmiratesHoldHoldHoldHoldHold
EtihadHoldHoldHoldHoldHold
FlyBeHoldHoldHoldHoldHold
Thomson / TUICabinCabin***HoldHoldHold
* if under 8kg including carrier **if under 75kg ***if under 6kg

Other airlines

The UK Government keep a list of pet-friendly commercial and charter airlines: Pet travel: airlines and airports you can use – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). We have provided some useful information about these other airlines below. Remember, all animals must go in the hold to enter the UK, the below is for dogs leaving the UK.

Click here for information about other airlines

We have tried to provide succinct and clear guidance however we note that some of the airlines use terminology differently (e.g. cargo to refer to the cargo bay hold and/or separate freight flights). In the below table, ‘Cabin‘ means in the same part of the plane as human passengers, ‘Hold‘ means in with the checked baggage or in the cargo bay of the same plane as you, and ‘Cargo‘ means on a separate freight flight. Always check the airline’s website for the latest information prior to booking.

Other factors to consider

Size and type of animal aren’t the only factors that are considered when planning pet travel. Other factors relating to dogs include:

  • Breed – are they on a banned breed list? Are they a breed that aren’t accepted by the airline (e.g. ‘snub-nosed’)?
  • Duration of flight – for example Aegean Airline will not transport pets in the hold on journeys longer than three hours
  • Carrier required for your dog
  • Import/export country requirements – read this for guidance relating to entry requirements in the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), Canada, the United States (US), New Zealand and Australia.

Pet travel agencies

The rules are complicated and there are so many things to consider. It’s a bit of a minefield. We strongly recommend (and in some countries it’s required) that you engage a pet travel agency to help and/or make the arrangements for you.

6 thoughts on “Can you take your dog on a plane?

  1. Great post. I had no idea that some carriers don’t take snub-nosed dogs. The thought of my dogs in the hold of a plane just doesn’t sit well with me. Can you move your country closer s it can just be a ferry visit? 😉

    1. We can try! Sash has been on a ferry and it’s much nicer. You can sit in the café area with them and watch the sea. I’m a little uncomfortable about taking dogs on planes but I understand that sometimes it is necessary.

  2. I love an informative and well researched post!! This is great info and I’ll definitely be sharing it! I actually had someone asking about this just the other day!

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