>  Pet Travel   >  Can pugs fly on planes? Yes, snub-nosed breeds CAN fly!
Pebbles the Pug on an airplane

There’s something that’s been bugging me lately. It seems the internet wants you to believe that snub-nosed breeds can’t travel or fly on a plane.

Well guess what? That’s just not true. Pebbles is a pug, a snub-nosed ball of energy, floof and love. She’s been to 28 countries which has meant we have had to fly with her. On 8 flights, to be precise. 

Please note this article is purely based on brachycephalic breeds flying in cabin, not in the hold or via cargo.

What are snub-nosed breeds?

Snub-nosed dogs are breeds that have a short snout and are often described as flat faced. Another term you might have heard to describe these breeds is brachycephalic. 

Some examples of brachycephalic dogs are:

  • American Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier 
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon 
  • Bulldog
  • Chow Chow
  • English Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Pekingese
  • Pit bull
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu

Without going into too much science, because of their short snouts, brachycephalic breeds are prone to airway and breathing problems. Breathing problems can be exacerbated by many factors, including the weight of the dog and it’s genetics. Temperature and airflow also play a big part in these breathing issues, which is why people question whether or not these breeds can fly. 

Can pugs and other brachycephsalic breeds fly?

In short, so long as your dog is happy and healthy then yes. However we would highly caution against ever flying a snub-nosed breed in the hold. When you see people online saying that a particular airline won’t allow brachycephalic breeds to fly, usually they mean in the hold. 

For the most part, airlines that allow pets in cabin only restrict banned breeds. Brachycephalic breeds are USUALLY permitted to fly in cabin. We like to think if cabin conditions are set to keep humans alive, snub-nosed breeds should be fine too. 

The devastating stories of snub-nosed breeds dying on flights are usually when the pet was flying in the hold and subject to high temperatures and/or poor airflow. One notable story of a pet dying in cabin was of a poor French Bulldog that died after it’s owner was ordered by cabin crew to place the pet in the overhead compartment. It’s believed that the lack of airflow within the compartment is what caused the death. 

Which airlines allow brachycephalic breeds to fly?

Of the extensive research and planning we have done to fly we have only come across one airline that wouldn’t allow snub-nosed breeds on it’s planes (including in cabin). That airlines is Volaris.

Airlines that we’ve personally flown with that let pugs and snub-nosed breeds fly in cabin

  • Air Baltic
  • Air Transat
  • Interjet
  • Norwegian
  • Transavia

Other airlines that let pugs and snub-nosed breeds fly in cabin

This is a list of airlines that allow dogs, including brachycephalic breeds, to fly in cabin. This is subject to size and weight restrictions.

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Aeroflot
  • Air Baltic
  • Air Canada
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Air India
  • Air Serbia
  • Alitalia
  • American Airlines
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Condor
  • Copa Airlines
  • Delta
  • Edelweiss
  • Eurowings
  • Finnair
  • Frontier
  • Iberia
  • Interjet
  • Jetblue
  • KLM
  • TAP
  • Lufthansa
  • Norwegian
  • Pegasus
  • SAS
  • Southwest (domestic only)
  • Swiss Air
  • Transavia
  • TUI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Ukraine Airlines
  • United
  • Vueling

This list isn’t fully extensive. Please remember that lots of airlines will have route restrictions. For example, you can’t fly to the UK with a pet in cabin. Most airlines also ban restricted/dangerous breeds from flying in cabin.

What can I do to make flying with a snub-nosed breed safer?

Well first things first, you need to make sure your dog will be able to handle travel. If you have an over-excitable dog that’s full of energy and prone to getting itself worked up, flying might not be the best option. 

While we don’t believe flying with a pet in cabin holds too many risks, you definitely don’t want to get your snub-nosed dog stressed out as that can seriously affect their breathing. 

Ideally, if travelling to or from somewhere warm, you should fly in the morning or at night. Even though planes have air conditioning, it’s often turned off when you’re on the ground. This leaves plenty of time for your pet to overheat.

Top tips for flying safely

We always travel on planes with several things specifically for keeping Pebbles healthy:

  1. We spent a long time getting her used to her travel bag. You risk stressing your dog out by forcing them into a space that they haven’t acclimatised to.
  2. Make sure to give your pet plenty opportunity to do it’s business before getting on the plane.
  3. A cool vest. As mentioned above, it can be warm on the plane so this comes in handy. All you need is some cold water to activate it and we’ve found it does a great job of cooling Pebbles down.
  4. Sandwich/ziplock bags. Again, these are for cooling purposes, as you can ask the cabin crew to fill them with ice and use them as ice bags. 
  5. A blanket. On the other hand, sometimes planes are absolutely freezing (or you are leaving or flying somewhere cold). We always keep a blanket handy to wrap Pebbles up in if it’s cold.
  6. Water bowl and water. This helps with temperature control and preventing dehydration. Lots of people advise to not give water on long flights and if you know your dog won’t be able to hold a wee then you might not want to leisurely give out water. But you should always have it on hand, just in case.
  7. A pet first aid kit. This includes basic things like bandages, wound dressings, anti septic cream, painkillers and antihistamines. We’ve always travelled with a human first aid kit and would always recommend doing so given you don’t want to not be able to deal with common problems when you’re 40000ft away from a pharmacy. If you’d do it for yourself, you should definitely do it for your pet.

Conclusion

Healthy snub-nosed breeds can usually fly in cabin without experiencing any adverse problems. After taking a pug on 8 flights, we feel confident that Pebbles isn’t at all bothered by the conditions of the cabin.

Abbey Walsh

I'm Abbey, Pebbles' momager, biggest fan and ghostwriter. I am primarily responsible for making our travel plans - including getting Pebbles ready to travel! My knowledge on pet friendly travel comes from experience, research and the occasional meltdown.

Comments:

  • Keren Thomas

    May 4, 2020

    Thank you for that very informative post. Do you know of any chsnges since this pandemic?

    reply...
  • Maisie

    June 30, 2020

    Hi.
    We’ve just discovered your blog and it has been so helpful and reassuring! Would you be willing to consult with us about travel a bit more (we’re happy to pay a consultancy fee)? We have to move our pug from the UK to California (COVID-19 permitting) and we’re struggling to find the best route/airlines for taking her in cabin and the best soft crate, things like that so it would be great to hear what Pebbles flies in and what her experiences are a bit more!

    Thanks for your time! Can’t wait to see more of Pebbles adventures!

    reply...

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