Flying with a Large Dog in Cabin – Airlines – Criteria

Large Dog flying in Plane

Overview of the possibilities to fly with a large dog

All airlines have limits on the size and weight of a dog to determine whether the dog is allowed to fly in the Cabin or not.

In the case of assistance dogs, this is generally something else, but that is a separate topic we do not cover here.

Are large Dogs allowed to fly in Cabin?

Unfortunately, all standard Airlines do not allow you to travel with your large dog as carry-on luggage for various reasons. 

Most Airlines do not allow large dogs in Cabin

As a general rule for all airlines, the dog must not weigh more than 8/9 kilos and must fit under the seat, including the airline-approved carrier crate/bag. This restriction excludes taking large dogs in the Cabin as PETC (Pet in Cabin).

Can I Buy a Seat for my Dog on an Airplane?

We’re often asked if you can just book a seat on the plane for your dog. Unfortunately, this is mostly not the case. Only few airlines allow to purchase a ticket for the dog. Most airlines charge a fee for the dog, but this does not entitle the dog to a dedicated seat on the plane.

Alternative I – Private Charter 

If you can budget for the higher cost of chartering your own aircraft, you have a little more freedom in your choice of bringing a large dog on a plane. Here you have to ask the various charter companies individually. Of course, safety aspects during the flight also play a major role here. However, the basic rules for taking dogs on an airplane also apply here. Here are the US American rules as an example

The US Department of Transportation and their Department of Agriculture have the following guidelines for flying with pets within the USA:

  • Dogs and cats must be 8 weeks old
  • Animals must have been weaned
  • Require proof of rabies vaccination
  • Each State has specific Centres for Disease Control (CDC)

Alternative II –  Pet Shipping Companies

Professional Pet Shipping companies specialize in safely transporting dogs from one place to another. Depending on their size, dogs are also transported here in the cargo area. The advantage is that these companies know which airlines are best to work with, and the dog owner doesn’t have to worry about anything else.

To learn more about professional Pet Shipping Companies, please start at the IPATA sites to learn more about this alternative.

What does PETC mean?

PETC is a standard term in the airline industry for “Pet in Cabin”

Max Size and Weight for Dog to fly in Cabin (PETC)

As a rule of thumb, these are the limits for a Pet In Cabin

  • Maximum size: 40 x 25 x 23 cm (length x width x height).
  • Maximum weight: 8 kg (pet + transport bag).

Pets traveling in the cabin must be able to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably while in the carrier/bag. If these requirements are not fulfilled, airlines have the right to deny your pet on board.

Please note that these are average values ​​that vary slightly from airline to airline.

If you want to read the lengthy kind of scary documentation of the IATA on Dog Containers please see here (don’t say later we haven’t warned you)

Are the airlines enforcing PETC (Pet in Cabin) policies strictly?

Regarding vaccinations, especially against rabies, neither airlines nor the destination countries take it lightly. However, we often hear that dog owners are allowed to take the smaller dogs out of the box/crate if the cabin crew agrees. However, this is not guaranteed.

Is it cruel to have the dog flying in the cargo hold?

If you ask dog owners whether they have flown with their dogs before, they usually say no. If you ask why, you often hear the answer. “Our dog is not allowed in the cabin, and we are afraid that he will survive a flight without us in the plane’s cargo area.”

These concerns are so widespread that travelers even drive thousands of miles in their car to spare the dog flying in the cargo area. Is it really that bad? So many factors go into this that it’s impossible to give a blanket answer.

Checklist if the dog is fit to fly in the Cargo hold

  • Is it the first time your dog to fly alone?
  • Is your dog anxious, and how does he react to strange noises?
  • Is your dog used to being alone in its crate, even for several hours? 
  • Has he been used to it yet?
  • Can the dog generally be left alone?
  • How does the airline deal with the dogs? 
  • Does the airline have a good reputation for handling dogs in cargo?
  • Are there several dogs in the cargo area simultaneously or just one dog alone?
  • Did you speak to your vet about your travel plan? Does the vet think your dog is fit to fly cargo?

Positive Aspects for Dog flying Cargo

Cats and dogs often travel better this way because it is quieter, and they will rest in a pressurized and temperature-controlled darkened environment. In the Cabin, there are a thousand new smells and sounds, children screaming, food being served, and people walking around. Unfortunately, this can also unsettle a dog.

For more general information on Pet travel by planes, please also see the official IATA regulation that applies for all airlines

Attention: Above information is to be used as general guidelines and may not be updated to meet the current requirements. Before you travel, be sure to contact the appropriate authorities for your destination country.

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Travelled the world. Visited 17 countries together with the dog. Information research expert, others would say an investigator.

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