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The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Pets by Air: Tips and Best Airlines

Travelling with Pets

Traveling with pets can be challenging, as pet owners often find it difficult to leave their furry companions behind. However, flying with pets has become increasingly popular as airlines recognize the importance of including them in travel experiences. Nonetheless, it requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a safe and stress-free journey for both you and your pet.

Before taking your pet on a flight, there are several crucial factors to consider.

Each airline has its own rules and guidelines for pet travel, and the process can be complex, especially for first-time pet travelers. To help you navigate through this process, we have compiled a comprehensive guide and highlighted some of the best airlines to consider for pet-friendly travel.

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During the flight, pets such as dogs and cats are typically placed in pressurized and air-conditioned holds within the same aircraft as the passengers. They are housed in secure and appropriately sized kennels or containers, ensuring a calm and comfortable environment. Airlines follow strict regulations, including providing suitable containers that allow animals to move freely. Some airlines assist in selecting the right containers, while others leave this responsibility to the pet owners.

It’s crucial to check each airline’s website for specific measurements and weight limits.

In certain cases, smaller dogs weighing under 8 kilograms may be allowed to travel in the cabin with their owners. However, this practice varies among airlines and may not always be the best option for your pet. Cabin travel can be noisy and distracting for animals, and there is limited space for them to move around. It’s essential to consider your pet’s comfort and well-being before opting for cabin travel.

It’s important to note that pet spots on flights are limited, and not all aircraft or cabins have the capacity to accommodate traveling pets. To ensure a smooth process and avoid disappointment, thorough research and early booking of your pet’s flight tickets are highly recommended.

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Before your pet travels by air, certain essential steps must be taken. Flying can be stressful for animals, so it’s crucial to ensure they are fit to fly. This involves a comprehensive health check by a veterinarian to ensure your pet is in good health and can handle the stresses of air travel. Additionally, your pet will require appropriate vaccinations and treatments based on the destination’s requirements. Microchip implantation is also recommended, as it serves as a safety net and helps in case of unexpected separation.

Proper documentation is another crucial aspect of pet travel. Your veterinarian will assist in completing the necessary paperwork, including an Animal Health Certificate or a pet passport, depending on the destination. These documents outline your pet’s medical history and vaccination status, so accuracy is key.


Investing in an airline-approved pet carrier or kennel is essential. Familiarize your pet with the carrier well in advance to reduce stress. It’s important to ensure that the carrier meets the guidelines of your chosen airline, as these requirements may differ. Some airlines may offer approved carriers for an additional cost.


For those traveling with recognized service dogs, certain airlines may allow them to travel in the cabin free of charge. However, emotional support dogs are generally not included in this category and must travel with other pets in the hold. It’s crucial to check your airline’s service dog travel policy during the early stages of flight planning.

The cost of flying with pets can vary significantly depending on the airline, type of animal, breed, size, and weight. It is advisable to research different airlines and their pricing structures to make an informed decision.

Here are some pet-friendly airlines to consider:

  • British Airways: British Airways allows service dogs to travel in the cabin with the owner for free. For other pets, they have partnered with PetAir UK to ensure the well-being of cats, dogs, and rabbits during their journey.
  • American Airlines: American Airlines permits pet travel for cats and dogs on certain flights and within specific destinations. Pets may travel as paid and checked carry-on or through American Airlines Cargo. Fully-trained service animals can travel in the cabin free of charge.
  • Emirates: Emirates offers a dedicated pet-friendly service called Emirates Pets, which follows strict regulations for the care and transport of animals. They have facilities at Dubai Airport to support pets in transit. Specific breed restrictions apply, and service dogs may be allowed in the cabin.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: KLM allows one cat or dog in the cabin on European flights, provided they fit in a closed pet travel bag or kennel and weigh no more than 8 kilograms. Multiple pets of the same litter may travel in the hold if they meet certain criteria. Snub-nosed animals face restrictions due to potential breathing difficulties.
  • Qantas Airlines: Pet travel on Qantas can only be booked through Qantas Freight Pet Travel Specialists. Service dogs can travel in the cabin, while other animals are transported in a special area in the hold. Snub-nose breeds are allowed on Qantas flights, subject to the airline’s policy.

It’s essential to contact each airline directly or visit their websites for up-to-date information on pet travel terms, conditions, and pricing.

Flying with pets requires careful consideration and thorough preparation. By following these guidelines and conducting proper research, you can ensure a safe and comfortable journey for your beloved family pet.

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