Flying with dogs can be a complex and confusing process, especially when it comes to our furry friends. Many pet owners wonder if it is possible for their dogs to sit on their laps during a flight. In this article, we will explore the regulations and guidelines set by airlines regarding pets on board, the benefits and drawbacks of having a dog sit on your lap during a flight, and alternative options for ensuring your pet’s comfort and safety.
In this article we will discuss in detail which airlines may allow you to sit with your dog on your lap during the flight. Furthermore, we will share tips for flying with dogs and discuss exactly what you will need to prepare for your flight.
Can my dog sit on my lap during a flight?
Many airlines allow small dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners, on certain routes and planes. However, many of them require that they stay in their pet carriers, stowed under the seat in front of their owners. This is the case with Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest, United and West Jet. These airlines specifically state that dogs must remain in their carriers stowed under the seat for the entire flight.
Nevertheless, there are many airlines that only state dogs must remain stowed away under the seat in front of their owners during taxi, takeoff and landing. Many do not specifically state that you aren’t allowed to sit with your dog’s carrier on your lap after the flight takes-off and before landing.
JetBlue actually states that you may hold the carrier on your lap during the flight.
Additionally, if your dog is an emotional support animal, it is more likely that he or she will be able to sit in your lap during a flight.
Can I bring fly with my dog in cabin?
Before considering whether your dog can sit on your lap during a flight, it is essential to understand the regulations set by airlines and aviation authorities. Most airlines allow small pets to travel in the cabin under certain conditions. However, these regulations vary among airlines and may depend on factors such as the size of the dog, the type of aircraft, and the destination.
1. Your dog must be healthy.
Many airlines require an animal health certificate to demonstrate that your dog is healthy and ready for travel. These must be issued by an authorised veterinarian, and in some cases, must be endorsed by your local governing body. Some airlines will also require your dog is microchipped and has a valid rabies vaccination.
2. Dogs must be small and light.
Most airlines require that dogs and their carriers weigh less than 8-10kg combined. This is because they usually require dogs to fit in a pet carrier that must fit underneath the passenger seats.
The rules and regulations have been set out by International Air Transport Association (IATA) ensure that dogs are comfortable when travelling. Thus, inside their travel carriers, dogs must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position in their kennel (without touching any side or the top of the container).
Please note the weight and size does vary between airlines:
Therefore, if you are the owner of a large dog, it is likely that you will need to ship him in cargo hold.
3. Certain breeds may not be able to fly.
Some airlines have restrictions on which breeds they allow to fly.
United doesn’t permit any pit bull type dogs in their cabins.
It is rather common that airlines do not allow brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs of any “mix” to fly, however this is often only mentioned as checked pets. This is in the interest of your dog’s own health and safety. Certain breeds often are more prone to certain illnesses which put them at risk when flying. Due to some cases over the years of dogs not making it to the end of their flight, airlines have gotten stricter on which pets they allow on the plane.
Different airlines have different pet policies, double check your airline to see if your dog breed can fly with you.
4. Your dog must be well behaved.
Airlines often require that dogs are obedient to commands and can behave appropriately in public. Thus, he mustn’t bark or growl at other passengers or staff. If your dog does not behave in an appropriate manner, some airlines may transfer him to the cargo hold at an additional cost, or refuse to transport him all together.
Some airlines require a consent form to ensure your pet is flight-ready.
Can my dog sit on my lap during a flight? These airlines say no.
The following airlines do not allow a dog to sit on their owners laps on a flight. These airlines specifically state that dogs must remain in their carriers, stowed away for the whole duration of the flight.
Your pet must remain at all times in a closed pet carrier stowed under your seat.
On flights with American you can bring 1 kennel as your carry-on bag if your pet stays in the kennel and under the seat in front of you the entire flight
Pets must be secured in the pet carrier at all times while in the gate area, during boarding/deplaning, and they must remain in the carrier for the entire duration of the flight. Failure to follow this requirement may result in denial of transportation of the pet onboard Southwest Airlines.
Cats and dogs must remain in the carrier (including head and tail) and the carrier must be stowed under the seat in front of the Customer (owner) for the entire duration of the flight.
Your pet must stay in their kennel with the door closed at all times while in the airport, at the boarding area and while on board the plane.
Your pet’s kennel must stay at your feet, underneath the seat in front of you.
Pets travelling in the cabin must remain in the kennel and be stored under the seat in front of you at all times. If you remove your pet from its kennel while on board, you may be banned from travelling with your pet in the cabin on future WestJet flights.
Can my dog sit on my lap during a flight? Maybe with these airlines.
The following airlines do not specifically state that dogs must remain stowed under the seat in front of you for the entire duration of the flight.
Many of them state that dogs must remain in their carriers, stowed away during taxi, take-off and landing. However, they do not state that you cannot sit with the dog carrier on your lap after your flight takes-off and before landing.
It’s important to note that flight attendants have the final say — if they tell you to stow your dog, then you will need to stow your dog.
The pet must stay in its container (including head and tail) with the door/flap secured at all times in the boarding area (during boarding and deplaning), Alaska Lounge, and while onboard the aircraft.
They must be stowed under the seat during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
While at the airport terminal and onboard the aircraft, pets must remain completely in the carrier and only be handled by the traveler. If a passenger does not comply, the pet may be denied boarding for future flights.
All carriers must be stowed on the floor during take-off and landing.
Your pet must remain inside the kennel (with door secured) while in a Delta boarding area (during boarding and deplaning), a Delta airport lounge and while onboard the aircraft.
For safety reasons, your pet must remain in the travel container at all times. If your pet is disruptive, it’s up to you to soothe him/her without taking him/her from the pet container.
The animal must be confined to the pet carrier, and is subject to inspection and approval by airline personnel prior to acceptance.
The animal is required to stay in its carrier while in the terminal and onboard the aircraft.
All pets must remain inside the pet carrier while at the airport and on the plane.
During taxi, takeoff, and landing, your pet must remain inside the carrier under the seat in front of you. During the rest of the flight, you may hold the carrier on your lap (or, if you purchased an additional seat for your pet, you may place the carrier on that seat or on your lap).
The pet will be kept in a soft-sided carrier during the entire flight. The soft-sided carrier which is provided by me is leakproof and sealed to ensure that the animal cannot escape.
The soft-sided carrier with the pet will either be stowed under the front seat or secured to your seatbelt by a leash. The animal may not sit on a passenger seat.
Animals must remain in the carrier for the duration of the flight.
You must store the pet carrier with your pet inside on the floor, between your legs or under the seat in front. You must not take your pet out of the pet carrier until you have disembarked.
The dog must fit between your legs or under the seat and must be secured with a safety harness before and during take-off and landing.
Can my dog sit on my lap during a flight? Maybe if they’re an ESA.
If your pet is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) then it is more likely that airlines will allow your dog to sit on your lap during a flight.
ESAs are animals that are required for a person’s ongoing mental health treatment by a licensed mental health professional. These professionals include licensed therapists, psychologists and doctors (GPs). An ESD brings comfort and minimises the negative symptoms their human companion’s emotional or psychological ‘disability’.
Some airlines will allow an ESA dog to sit on their owners lap during a flight, outside of the carrier.
For example, West Jet state that you can fly with an ESA dog on your lap as long as they are no bigger than a 2 year old child. Air France state emotional support dogs weighing less than 3 kilos / 6.6 pounds, may sit on your lap, as long as he is attached to the seat structure or seat belt (except while meals are being served). Latam Airlines state your ESA dog can travel at your feet, under the seat in front of you, or on your lap if it’s smaller than a 2-year-old child.
For more information on flying with Emotional Support Animals, check Taking Emotional Support Animals on Planes [COMPLETE GUIDE].
Alternative Options for Pet Travel.
If your dog is not eligible to sit on your lap during a flight, or if you prefer to explore alternative options, there are a few alternatives to consider. Your dog may still be able to travel in the cabin with you, stowed under the seat in front. Alternatively, you may consider shipping your dog in the pet cargo hold of the plane.
The most common option is to transport your dog in an airline-approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. This provides a safe and secure environment for your pet, while also complying with airline regulations.
Another option is to choose a pet-friendly airline that offers specialized services for traveling pets. These airlines may have designated areas in the cabin where pets can be accommodated, ensuring their comfort and safety during the flight. It’s important to research and compare different airlines to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.
If your dog is not one of the small dog breeds that can fly in cabin, you may be able to check your dog into the cargo area of the plane.
When it comes to air travel, many dog owners are hesitant to put their pets in cargo. The thought of their furry friends being stowed away in the cargo hold of a plane can be a cause for concern, leaving many pet owners questioning if it’s safe for dogs to fly in cargo.
Although the large majority of pets traveling via cargo arrive safely at their destination, it is important to understand the potential hazards with cargo travel.
One of the biggest concerns for dog owners is the potential for their pets to experience distress or harm during air travel. While incidents of injury or death during pet air travel are rare, they do occur, and it’s important for dog owners to understand the risks.
Stress, dehydration, heatstroke, heart failure and injury are all risks that your dog faces when traveling in cargo.
With that said, assuming your dog is in very good health and assuming you properly prepare your pet for cargo travel, cargo travel should be a safe travel option for your four-legged family.
Tips for flying with dog in cabin
1. Select an appropriate, cabin-approved travel carrier.
Different airlines and aircrafts have different size restrictions for carriers. Be sure to check the restrictions for your specific airline, and aircraft.
For example, Delta recommends a soft-sided kennel with maximum dimensions of 18” x 11” x 11” since this fits most aircraft types.
I would recommend using a soft sided carrier as they usually give your dog more space.
Carriers must generally be leak-proof and well ventilated.
2. Get your dog used to it’s travel carrier.
3. Train your dog to stay calm.
Your dog will need to stay calm on the flight otherwise they risk being sent into the cargo area of the plane. Being obedient to orders is a requirement when flying with dogs.
4. Exhaust your dog before the flight.
Try to exhaust your dog a little by increasing the level of activity before your trip. A sleepy animal will be less prone to getting stressed out on the flight, and will likely be better behaved on the flight.
5. Limit access to food and water before the flight.
Limit your dog’s access to food. Therefore, it’ll be less likely that they will need to ‘defecate or urinate’ on the flight.
Additionally, some animals may experience motion sickness if they eat just before a flight. If you are flying in the morning, then feed them the night before.
Air Canada suggest feeding your dog four to six hours prior to departure, as a full stomach may cause discomfort during travel.
6. Familiarise yourself with the airport that you are departing from and arriving to.
Most airports will have a dedicated area for pets and service animals to rest. It is actually a legal requirement that all U.S. airports have pet-relief areas available for working animals and pets to rest. Take some photos of the airport maps, so you don’t have to wander around on the day trying to find a resting place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I fly with my large dog in the cabin?
Unfortunately, most airlines will only allow small and light dogs in the cabin. This is because they usually must comfortably fit underneath the seat in front of you. If you are traveling with a large dog, it is likely that you will need to ship him or her in the cargo hold of the plane.
Can I fly with my puppy on a plane?
Yes, if your puppy is over 4 months (16 weeks) old. Most airlines will not allow dogs under this age to fly on their planes. Some allow younger puppies to travel, for example, Alaska Air require puppies to be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned.
Can I take my dog out of the carrier on the plane?
Usually no. Your dogs are expected to remain in their carriers while in the airport and on board the aircraft. This is the case for all airlines, so that you do not disturb other passengers.
Can I take 2 dogs on a plane with me?
Possibly, this completely depends on the airline you fly with. Different airlines have different regulations when it comes to traveling with pets. Some will allow 2 dogs, such as Jet Blue and United Airlines, where others do not.
While the idea of having your dog sit on your lap during a flight may seem appealing, it’s crucial to adhere to the rules and regulations set by airlines for the safety and well-being of your pet. Before making any travel arrangements, thoroughly research your chosen airline’s policies regarding pets and consider alternative options if necessary. By doing so, you can ensure a smooth and stress-free journey for both you and your furry friend.
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