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Airlines and Flat Faced Dogs or Cats

Published on: July 18, 2023  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

English bulldog outside

Airlines are now giving special attention to flat-faced dogs and cats. These brachycephalic pets are considered unique cases due to the increased risk they face during air travel compared to dogs and cats with longer muzzles.

Air travel can worsen the breathing difficulties that flat-faced pets already experience, causing increased anxiety and further compromising their ability to breathe. In addition to this general concern, there are specific factors related to air travel that pose a greater risk for these pets. Some of these factors include:

  • Weather conditions can significantly impact pet travel. Airlines have imposed embargoes on pet travel during very cold or hot temperatures, as pets are exposed to the elements during loading and unloading. This poses a particular risk for snub-nosed dogs and cats, especially in warm weather.
  • The length of the flight also plays a role in the risks involved. Trips lasting longer than a few hours can increase the potential dangers for flat-faced pets.
  • Furthermore, pet size is a determining factor in whether they can travel in the cabin or hold. While some airlines allow small and lightweight flat-faced dogs and cats in the cabin, others do not permit them in the hold. This means that if your dog or larger cat doesn't meet the requirements for cabin travel, they may not be able to fly at all on many airlines.

It is important to note that some airlines have completely stopped accepting brachycephalic pets. For the airlines that still allow them, there are varying policies in place, and to add to the confusion, different airlines have different lists of dog and cat breeds classified as "brachycephalic." To avoid any last-minute surprises at check-in or the cargo terminal, it is crucial to thoroughly research airline policies for flat-faced pets before making any bookings.

To give you an idea of how popular pet-friendly airlines handle brachycephalic dogs and cats, here are some examples:

American Airlines

Flat-faced dogs and cats are welcome to accompany their owners in the cabin on American Airlines flights - assuming they meet the requirements. However, it is important to note that American Airlines does not allow brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs or cats of any "mix" to travel as checked pets or as cargo.

American considers these breeds to be brachycephalic:

  • Cats: Burmese, Persian, Himalayan, Exotic Shorthair
  • Dogs: Affenpinscher, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer (all breeds), Brussels Griffon, Bulldog (all breeds), Cane Corso, Chow Chow, Dogue De Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff (all breeds), Pekingese, Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Pug (all breeds), Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel


Lufthansa will allow pets to travel in the passenger cabin as long as they meet the requirements. However, they will not transport snub-nosed dogs or cats as accompanied baggage. They will allow flat-faced dogs and cats to travel as cargo, with restrictions that can vary by airport, temperatures, and time of year.

These breeds include:

  • Cats: British Shorthair, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, Persian, Scottish Fold
  • Dogs: Affenpinscher, American Bully (these are also classified as fighting or dangerous dogs), Bulldog (all breeds except American Bulldog), Pugs (all breeds), American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Bull Mastiff, Bull Terrier (excluding Miniature Bull Terriers), Chow Chow, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Japanese Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Pekinese, Pit Bull, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel


KLM allows flat-faced cats and dogs to travel in-cabin or as cargo, but not as checked baggage (a different part of the cargo hold). That said, they will not accept these breeds under any circumstance: English Bulldog, French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Pugs.

KLM considers the following breeds snub-nosed:

  • Cats: Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, and Persian
  • Dogs: Affenpinscher, American Bully, Boston Terrier, Boxers (all breeds), Bulldogs (all breeds), Bull Mastiff, Cane Corso, Pugs (all breeds), Chow-Chow, Great Dane (all breeds), Certain breeds of Spaniel (Tibetan, Japanese, English, King Charles), Brussels Griffon, Lhasa Apso, Mastiffs (all breeds), Neapolitan Mastiff, Pekingese, Small Brabant, Shih Tzu, Shar Pei, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier

British Airways

British Airways will only accept recognized service dogs in the cabin of the plane. All other pets must travel as cargo. They will not allow any Bulldog, Pug, or Pekingese to travel with British Airways. They will, however, allow the following breeds to travel, with restrictions.

  • Cats: Exotic Longhair or Shorthair, Himalayan, Persian
  • Dogs: Bull Mastiff, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Chow Chow, Tibetan Spaniel, Shar Pei, English Toy Spaniel, King Charles Spaniel, Cavalier Spaniel, Japanese Spaniel, Japanese Chin


Qantas only allows pets to travel as cargo, and they will only accept certain brachycephalic breeds in the cargo hold. They do, however, require the travel kennel for snub-nosed breeds to be 10% larger than the standard required size.

These flat-faced breeds include:

  • Cats: Exotic Shorthair, Persian, Himalayan
  • Dogs: Affenpinscher, French Bulldog, American Bully, Japanese Chin/Japanese Spaniel, American Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Australian Bulldog, Neapolitian Mastiff, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Boxer, Pug, Brussels Griffon/Griffon Bruxellois, Chinese Pug, British/English Bulldog, Dutch Pug, Chow Chow, Japanese Pug, Dogue De Bordeaux, Shih Tzu, English Toy Spaniel/King Charles Spaniel, Tibetan Spaniel, French Mastiff, Valley Bulldog

We can help

Some destinations, both within the country and internationally, may impose restrictions on pet travel due to concerns about heat. These restrictions can vary depending on the airline, time of year, or the destination country's regulations. It's important to note that certain countries do not allow pets of any breed to travel in the cabin, so it's crucial to compare the rules of your destination country with those of your chosen airline to ensure they align.

Airline policies regarding brachycephalic pets are constantly evolving, and each pet's journey is unique. To ensure the safest and most efficient flight for your dog or cat, we recommend contacting our Starwood team. We are in regular communication with airlines worldwide, so we are aware of the latest requirements and can provide information on which carriers prioritize pet well-being. What sets us apart is our personal experience as pet parents. We understand your concerns and anxieties about pet travel, and we will treat your pet with the same care and attention as if they were our own, regardless of their breed.

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