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Airlines That Let Your Pet Travel With You

Published on: October 26, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

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Many airlines let your pet travel with you. That can be a tremendous comfort to pet parents traveling with their dog or cat for the first time, and it can be a great convenience for frequent fliers with small pets. But the rules vary from one airline to another and even from one flight to another. So which airlines let your pet travel with you in the cabin will vary according to your pet and your itinerary.

In-cabin rules can be different for domestic and international flights on the same airline. For a few airlines, “travel with you” might also mean your pet can ride as excess baggage (as opposed to cargo), as long as they are on your same flight(s). This can be a useful alternative if your dog is too big to fly in the cabin. As an example, United allows pets of certain military and government personnel to travel this way if you are moving due to official orders.

Flight-to-flight variations get more complicated when your itinerary involves more than one carrier. You’ll have to check with all of them to find the rules that apply across the board. You don’t want to get stuck halfway from here to there because your pet cannot board the next leg of your trip with you. Here are some examples of carrier policies:

  • British Airways will only allow recognized service dogs to travel in-cabin with a passenger. All other pets must fly as cargo. BA's franchise partner, SUN-AIR, will allow recognized service dogs in the cabin, as well as other pets up to 6kg. However, if your destination is the UK, then pets must travel as cargo.
  • Lufthansa will accept pets in-cabin, as accompanied baggage, or as cargo with a few limitations such as their breed, size, weight, and destination.
  • KLM lets pet travel in-cabin, as excess baggage or as cargo, with some restrictions. But that can vary if you’re in Premium or Business Class or venturing beyond Europe.
  • American Airlines will allow some small pets or service animals to fly in-cabin, while others must travel as cargo. They will only allow pets accompanied baggage for active-duty U.S. Military or U.S. State Department Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders.
  • Qantas will only allow service dogs in the cabin on their flights while all other pets must travel as cargo with Qantas Freight (with some restrictions).
  • Air New Zealand also only allows service animals in the cabin of the plane. Cats, dogs, and small caged birds are permitted as accompanied baggage only on domestic flights around New Zealand. All other pets must travel as cargo, with some restrictions. 
  • Air Canada lets your pet travel with you in-cabin, as excess baggage, or as cargo. However, there are some restrictions based on aircraft and pet size.
  • Aer Lingus will not allow any pet in-cabin or as accompanied baggage, aside from trained service dogs. All pets must fly as cargo.
  • Cathay Pacific allows service dogs in-cabin, but all other pets must travel as accompanied baggage or cargo, with some restrictions. 

Special considerations

  • Under-seat space varies by type of aircraft and the specific seat. So while your pet may be allowed on a particular flight, they may not be able to ride in the cabin.
  • Snub-nosed dogs and cats face many restrictions on many airlines due to their anatomy and issues with breathing. But again, policies differ from one airline to the other.
  • Space for in-cabin or accompanied pets is limited for each airline. Pets are booked on a first-come, first-served basis so it's important to make your reservation early. 
  • Taking your dog or cat onboard means giving up one of your carry-ons (perhaps your only one). Their carrier becomes your carry-on and it has to fit under the seat in front of you. They have to stay inside it during the flight, but you can take them out on a leash while you’re in the airport. Your cat might not think much of this, but your dog will thank you. Either of them will thank you for a trip to the airport’s “pet relief area.”

What does your destination country say?

Knowing which airlines let your pet travel with you is just the beginning. There is one more thing you’ll need to consider before booking your pet’s flight, and it is critical. Just because your preferred airline allows pets to travel onboard with you doesn’t mean your destination country allows it. Some countries require incoming pets to arrive as cargo, typically because pets will be immediately transported to a quarantine facility.

The airlines try to account for these rules. For instance, United allows in-cabin pets for most flights, but not if you’re headed to Australia, Hawaii, or Micronesia. Don’t make any assumptions, though, find out for yourself what your destination requires.

You’ll need to know all your destination’s pet import requirements anyway. Research that first, so you’ll know whether it’s worth your time to learn which airlines let your pet travel with you.

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