Traveling with a large dog can be challenging, especially when it comes to air travel. If you’re wondering where big dogs sit on an airplane and what the rules are, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: most airlines require large dogs to ride in the cargo hold of the plane in a special airline-approved kennel. But rules vary by airline, so check with yours for specifics.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about flying with a large dog, including airline policies, tips for booking, what to expect on travel day, how to make your pup comfortable, and more.

Airline Policies for Large Dogs

Weight/Size Restrictions

When it comes to flying with large dogs, airlines typically have weight and size restrictions in place. These restrictions vary from one airline to another, so it’s important to check with the specific airline you plan to travel with.

Some airlines may have a maximum weight limit for dogs, while others may have a combination of weight and size restrictions. It’s essential to ensure that your dog meets the airline’s requirements to avoid any issues or additional fees.

Approved Dog Carriers

Airlines have specific guidelines for the type of carriers that can be used to transport large dogs. These carriers must meet certain criteria to ensure the safety and comfort of both the dog and other passengers.

Typically, the carrier should be sturdy, well-ventilated, and provide enough space for the dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It’s recommended to choose an airline-approved carrier that meets these requirements to ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience for your furry friend.

Temperature Restrictions

Temperature restrictions are another crucial aspect of airline policies for large dogs. Airlines prioritize the well-being of pets and want to ensure they are not exposed to extreme temperatures during the flight.

Therefore, some airlines have temperature restrictions in place, especially during the summer and winter months. They may have specific rules regarding when dogs can be transported in the cargo hold, and may even have temperature limits for cabin travel.

It’s important to be aware of these restrictions and plan your travel accordingly to ensure the safety and comfort of your dog.

Number of Pets Allowed

Each airline has its own policy regarding the number of pets allowed on a plane. While some airlines may allow multiple pets to travel in the cabin, others may have a limit on the number of pets permitted per flight. The number of pets allowed in the cargo hold may also vary.

It’s important to check with the airline in advance and make necessary arrangements to ensure that your dog can be accommodated on the flight.

Banned Dog Breeds

Some airlines have restrictions on certain dog breeds due to safety concerns or breed-specific regulations. These restrictions may vary from one airline to another but are usually in place to prevent any potential incidents during the flight.

It’s important to be aware of the banned dog breeds before booking your flight, as it may affect your travel plans. Check with the airline or visit their official website for a list of banned dog breeds to ensure compliance with their policies.

Booking Your Flight

Notifying the Airline

When it comes to flying with your big dog, it’s important to notify the airline in advance. Most airlines have specific policies and regulations regarding the transportation of pets, especially larger breeds.

Some airlines may require additional documentation or have restrictions on the number of pets allowed on a flight. It’s always best to check with the airline directly or visit their website for detailed information on their pet policies.

If you’re unsure about the specific requirements or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the airline’s customer service. They will be able to provide you with accurate information and assist you in making the necessary arrangements for your furry friend.

Choosing a Flight Time

When booking a flight for your big dog, consider choosing a flight time that aligns with their usual routine. If your dog is used to a specific feeding or walking schedule, try to find a flight that accommodates those needs. This will help minimize stress and discomfort during the journey.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to avoid booking flights during extreme weather conditions, as it can impact the safety and well-being of your pet. Keep in mind that some airlines may have restrictions on transporting pets during certain seasons or weather conditions, so be sure to check with the airline before finalizing your travel plans.

Direct Flights vs Layovers

When it comes to flying with a big dog, direct flights are often the preferred option. They minimize the overall travel time and reduce the chances of your pet getting lost or mishandled during layovers. However, direct flights may not always be available or feasible depending on your destination.

If you must book a flight with a layover, try to choose one with a longer layover time. This will give you ample time to collect your pet, take them for a walk, and ensure they are comfortable before continuing the journey.

It’s also important to consider the layover airport’s pet facilities and amenities, such as pet relief areas or pet-friendly lounges.

Additional Fees

When booking a flight for your big dog, be prepared for additional fees. Most airlines charge a pet fee, which can vary depending on the size and weight of your pet. It’s important to factor in these fees when budgeting for your trip.

Additionally, some airlines may require you to bring an appropriate pet carrier or crate. Make sure to check the airline’s guidelines for pet carriers to ensure compliance with their regulations. Investing in a sturdy and comfortable carrier will not only keep your pet safe during the flight but also make the journey more pleasant for both of you.

For more detailed information on flying with your big dog, you can visit This website provides valuable insights into pet travel regulations and tips for a smooth journey.

Preparing For Travel Day

Required Veterinary Health Certificate

Before embarking on a journey with your big furry friend, it is crucial to ensure their health and well-being. Most airlines require a veterinary health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within a certain timeframe before the travel date.

This certificate verifies that your dog is in good health and free from any contagious diseases. It is recommended to schedule a visit to the vet well in advance to allow time for any necessary vaccinations or treatments.

ID Tag and Microchip

While traveling, it’s essential for your dog to have proper identification. Make sure your furry companion is wearing a collar with an ID tag that includes your contact information. Additionally, consider having your pet microchipped, which provides an extra layer of identification and increases the chances of being reunited if they were to get lost during the journey.

Feeding Schedule

Proper nutrition is key to keeping your big dog healthy and comfortable during travel. It’s important to maintain their regular feeding schedule leading up to the travel day. Feed them a balanced meal a few hours before departure to avoid any discomfort or potential motion sickness.

Avoid feeding them right before the flight to minimize the chances of an upset stomach.

Crate Comfort and Practice

When traveling by plane, big dogs are typically required to be transported in a crate or carrier. It’s crucial to ensure that the crate is spacious enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Line the crate with a soft bedding material and include their favorite toy or blanket to provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. Additionally, it’s beneficial to practice crate training with your dog beforehand to help them feel more at ease during the journey.

Carry-on Supplies

When traveling with a big dog, it’s important to have some essentials readily available in your carry-on bag. This may include a leash, collapsible water bowl, waste bags, and any necessary medications or treats.

Having these supplies easily accessible will ensure that you can attend to your dog’s needs during layovers or in case of any unexpected delays.

Remember, each airline may have specific requirements and guidelines for traveling with big dogs, so it’s essential to check with the airline before your travel day. By being prepared and following these tips, you can ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for both you and your furry friend!

At the Airport and On the Plane

Checking In Your Dog at Cargo

When it comes to traveling with big dogs, checking them in at the cargo area is usually the best option. Most airlines have specific procedures for transporting pets in the cargo hold of the plane, ensuring their safety and comfort during the journey.

Before your flight, it’s important to contact the airline to understand their specific requirements and regulations for shipping pets. This may include providing the necessary documentation, such as health certificates and vaccination records, as well as securing an appropriate pet carrier that meets the airline’s guidelines.

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to your furry friend at the airport can be emotional, but rest assured that airlines take the utmost care when handling and transporting animals in the cargo hold. It’s recommended to arrive at the airport early to allow plenty of time for the check-in process and to say your goodbyes.

Some airports even have dedicated pet relief areas where you can spend some quality time with your dog before they board the plane.

Cargo Hold Conditions

The cargo hold of a plane is specially designed to ensure the well-being of pets during the flight. The temperature and pressure inside the cargo hold are regulated to provide a comfortable environment for animals.

Airlines also take precautions to minimize turbulence and noise levels in the cargo area, reducing any potential stress on your dog. However, it’s important to note that not all airlines allow pets to travel in the cargo hold, so it’s essential to check with the specific airline you are flying with.

Claiming Your Dog at Arrival

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s time to reunite with your furry friend. After disembarking the plane, head to the designated area where you can claim your pet. The airline will typically provide clear instructions on where to go and what to do.

It’s important to have all the necessary paperwork ready to present to the airline staff. Be prepared for a joyful reunion as your big dog comes bounding into your arms!

Making Your Dog Comfortable

When it comes to flying with your big dog, one of the most important things to consider is their comfort. Just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety during travel. To ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for your furry friend, here are some tips on making them feel at ease.

Familiar Bedding

One way to make your dog feel more comfortable on a plane is to bring along their familiar bedding. The scent of their own bed can provide a sense of security and familiarity, helping to reduce anxiety.

Whether it’s a favorite blanket or a cozy dog bed, having something familiar to snuggle up to can make a big difference in their comfort levels.

Anxiety Vests and Calming Aids

If your dog tends to get anxious during travel, consider using an anxiety vest or other calming aids. These specially designed vests apply gentle pressure to your dog’s body, similar to a hug, which can help them feel calmer and more secure.

Additionally, there are various calming aids available, such as natural supplements or pheromone sprays, that can help reduce stress and anxiety for your furry friend.

Water and Food Bowls

Proper hydration and nutrition are essential for your dog’s well-being, especially during a long flight. Make sure to bring collapsible water and food bowls that are easy to pack and convenient to use.

It’s important to check with the airline regarding their policies on providing water and food for pets during the flight. Some airlines may require you to bring your own, while others may have specific guidelines in place.


Keeping your dog entertained during the flight is another key factor in ensuring their comfort. Bringing along their favorite toys can help distract them and provide a source of entertainment. Interactive toys, such as puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys, can be particularly beneficial as they engage your dog mentally and physically.

Just make sure to choose toys that are appropriate for the confined space of an airplane cabin.

Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s essential to understand your dog’s individual needs and preferences when preparing for air travel. Taking the time to make your dog comfortable can go a long way in ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry companion.


Traveling by air with a large dog requires planning and preparation, but taking the time upfront to learn policies, book flights, and get supplies will give you peace of mind. Focus on making your pup as comfortable as possible in their crate, and follow airline pet handling rules for a smooth travel experience.

With the right information and supplies, you and your big dog can have safe and stress-free flights together.

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