Flying With a Dog in Cabin
I get asked about flying with Pebbles a lot. It’s probably the most common message I get on Instagram. Kids on TikTok have accused me of illegally smuggling her onto planes because they don’t think it’s allowed. What lots of people don’t know that it’s actually quite easy (and perfectly legal, TikTokkers) to fly with a dog in cabin.
We are from the UK and I imagine so are a lot of the people that will read this post. You CANNOT fly into the United Kingdom (or Ireland) with a pet in cabin. I have searched high and low for the reasoning behind this but don’t have an answer for you. You can fly out of the UK with a pet in cabin though. But, because of the potential for confusion a lot of airlines won’t allow you to fly out of the UK either. Make sure you double check with the airline before booking anything.
As an example, Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet all had flights that suited our plans to leave the UK. Air Canada and Air Transat allow pets in cabin out of the UK, but WestJet does not.
Who We Have Flown With
So far we have taken 6 flights with Pebbles, ranging from an hour in length to nine hours. We have flown with Air Baltic, Air Transat (twice), Norwegian and Transavia (twice). We have two upcoming flights with Interjet booked as well.
The process to book a flight with a pet in cabin varies from airline to airline. For Norwegian, Transavia and Interjet we were able to add a pet in cabin as an extra when booking online. If you want to double check that option is available, pick your flights – always use a private browser and clear your cookies – and go through as if you were making a normal booking. Once you get to the extras page see if there’s an option to add your pet on. Sometimes it’s obvious if you can. Sometimes it can be under a different category that you might not think of like special or additional baggage.
For Air Baltic and Air Transat we called the call centre to make sure there was space on the flight we wanted for a pet in cabin. This is because there are limits to how many pets can be carried per flight. You then have to go ahead and book your flight and call them back to add your pet on.
This again differs between airlines and depends on your route. I will eventually write an extensive post about all the airlines that allow pets in cabin and the costs. For now I will just tell you what we paid.
- Air Baltic – €60 but I’ve just looked at their website and it seems to have gone up to €70.
- Air Transat – Varies depending on where you’re flying. We paid £58 from London Gatwick to Toronto and 50 CAD from Toronto to Cancun.
- Norwegian – £60 but the cost varies depending on the flights, it can be between £45 and £60.
- Transavia – €45, which is the same for all Transavia flights.
These prices are all for one way flights. Normally you have to pay these fees each way.
Make sure your pet is used to the carrier you’ll be using in flight. It can help to put in blankets, toys or treats. We use the treat method to coerce Pebbles into hers!
On the day you should make sure to leave a few hours between the last feed and the flight. Just like humans, flights can play havoc on a pets tummy.
You also don’t want your pet to drink too much before the flight, to prevent any accidents.
Our usual routine is to check in and drop our bags off, then stay landside for a little while. This gives Pebbles the opportunity to go to the toilet as close to the departure time as possible.
At The Airport
The vast majority of airports are happy for your pet to walk about on a lead. There are some that require all animals to be crated/bagged whilst in the airport (Toronto Pearson is an example).
At the check in desk the agent will usually check your pets documents. They can also ask to weigh your pet and to see the carrier.
Security varies from airport to airport. We have to strip Pebbles of her harness and lead so they can go through the baggage scanner. Most often we have carried her through the scanners, like you would a baby. We were once taken to an enclosed area that had the same scanners, but Pebbles had to walk through by herself.
Make sure to leave plenty of time to get your pet settled into it’s carrier once you get to your gate.
On The Plane
Usually, your dog has to stay in the carrier on the floor under the seat in front for the duration of the flight. I have seen some people ignore this rule. We have always let Pebbles be once she’s in her carrier so she can settle down and get to sleep.
We also pack a puppy pad, doggy nappies and wipes just in case of any unexpected accidents! On longer flights we always put a puppy pad in her carrier, just in case. So far, so good though!
Also in our carry on is a pet first aid kit (as well as a human one and essential medication!). I read a good tip that said to carry empty zip-lock bags so you can ask the flight attendants to fill them with ice if your dog gets too warm.
What if my dog needs to go to toilet in-flight?
Another frequent question that comes up is about pets going to the toilet during the flight. Realistically if you are planning on flying with your dog you should know how long they can go without going to toilet as ideally you don’t want them to go on the plane. But, if needs must and your dog lets you know they need to go it’s generally accepted that you take them into the toilet, place a puppy pad on the floor, let them do their business and clean up thoroughly afterwards.
Like I said though, ideally you don’t want your dog to need to go – so make sure to follow the food and drink instructions and not book flights that are too long for your dog.
How Do You Find Flying With Your Dog In Cabin?
Now that we have been on plenty of flights we know what to expect. Just like anything, the more you do it the more normal it gets. We have our travel routine down to a tee. Getting Pebbles ready and flying with her is just another part of that routine now.
In air, Pebbles normally spends the entire time sleeping in her carrier, interrupted by the occasional snack.
After The Flight
Depending on who you are and where in the world you are going, you might need to clear immigration, get your bags and declare your pet at customs. As there aren’t a lot of airports with pet relief areas, bear in mind it can take a little while to get outside after landing!
I hope this post has given you a brief insight into how to travel with a dog in cabin and what to expect. I will expand on everything here in separate blog posts in the future, including individual reviews of all the airlines we have used and the airports we have been to.
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