Is Air Travel With Small Pets Possible?

Is Air Travel With Small Pets Possible?


Have you ever been booking a holiday and wondered 'is air travel with small pets possible'? Today, we are going to explore how household pets can travel across the skies with us in commercial airliners. We will discuss why you would fly with pets, how to make air travel with small pets possible, what airlines will accept pets plus many more of your questions on air travel with small pets.



Is Air Travel With Small Pets Possible?


Air travel is possible with pets both in the cabin and in the cargo. The airline, pet weight and size will determine where they can go. Some airlines will allow pets in the cabin if their combined weight with a container is under 8kg, otherwise they will go in the air-conditioned cargo hold. 


The key things you must do before you book them onto a flight are;

  • Find out which airline to use
  • Train them accordingly to get used to their enclosures
  • Phone the airlines well before you book
  • Understand the difference between the hold and the cabin


Before we go any further it is important to know that 9 times out of 10 taking your pet on a plane will be scary for them. It can be dark, it can be loud and it could leave them feeling very anxious. We are all about travelling with pets using many different methods, but flying with pets needs some serious consideration, preparation and should be out of necessity more than anything else. This article has been created to make you more informed of how flying with pets is generally handled. Here are some natural products which could help to alleviate some of the stress if flying is necessary. 



Are Small Pets Allowed On Planes? 

Yes if an additional fee is paid, however it does depend on the airline and you must check in advance. The typical, maximum weight of a pet allowed in the cabin is below 6kg inclusive of a carrier. This is very small however one or two airlines do accept 8kg. 


Why Choose Air Travel With Pets?

There can be a number of reasons and if it is a long distance then it might be your only option. It also could come down to necessity such as relocating for family or work issues. it could be for a holiday together or maybe you are bringing a new pet home to the family. 



Can You Fly With Pets?

There are three different methods of flying with pets and these include:

  • Flying in the cabin.
  • Flying in the cargo hold.
  • Flying as cargo on a cargo aircraft. 

 Lets explore these in more detail. 

Flying in the Cabin

Flying in the cabin might be great for your pet in comparison to being in the cargo hold but is it great for your passengers? In some cases, passengers love seeing pets on board and will join in on petting them, ask you questions about them and will find them to be a more enjoyable companion than some of the other passengers on the plane. On the other hand, you could have a barking dog or meowing cat that could be so nervous that it causes them to toilet on many occasions. The action and the smell may put people off their meals and make for an awkward flight for you and them. 


Flying in the Cargo Hold

One of the main reasons that health, stress and anxiety come to mind when people imagine pets in the hold is due to the horror stories. Now I am not going to pretend that going in the cargo hold is fine, because it's not. It can be intimidating so what I am going to do is help you understand more about the cargo hold so you can make informed choices.  Lets start by understanding where the pet cargo hold is located on planes with a little diagram from our fleet of pet friendly Travfurler planes ;)


Pets in the front (FWD) cargo hold, luggage in the back (AFT) cargo hold




Cargo is placed on the lower deck in the FWD or AFT designated cargo sections and the pets will typically go in the forward (FWD) cargo section as this is pressurised and has a warmer temperature which is controlled by the captain for live stock. The middle section is simply used for the landing gear wheel bay. 



Flying as Cargo on a Cargo Aircraft


If you have larger animals such as horses or you're Mike Tyson and happen to own a Tiger which needs transporting then a specialised cargo plane will be the choice of transport because larger animals cannot fit into the FWD cargo of commercial airliners. 


Will Pets Suffocate In the Cargo Hold? 


Pets will not suffocate in the cargo from a lack of pressurisation. The cargo is pressurised the same as it is for us in the cabin, just do not sedate or drug your pets as they need to be able to breath as normal.  

Flying in the FWD Cargo Hold is not where pets go to freeze to death or get too hot. It is essentially climate controlled by the captain. However, the captain cannot meet the needs for each animal that is in there so where one might be slightly too cold, the other maybe just a little too warm. 


What Questions Should I Ask an Airline Before Booking Flights With Pets?

If you are flying in the cabin then you need to check the airlines criteria for flying with pets. 

  • What type of pet do they allow?
  • What size pet do they allow? 
  • What age must your pet be to fly? 


If you are putting them into the cargo hold:

  • They will go through in the same way you check in baggage
  • Once checked in, the ground crew are then responsible for them
  • Pets are separated from other cargo and go in the Forward cargo hold 
  • The FWD cargo hold for pets is pressurised and the heating is controlled by the captain 
  • Pets cannot be too big for the hold


For an example of how strict the requirements can be for taking pets in a cabin, please see the Delta airlines 'Carry-On Pet Requirements' as a good example of what might be expected. You will need to contact your airline prior to booking and you should work hard to get all requirements clearly understood so you can meet them and not leave your pet in quarantine because of a lack of due diligence. Delta Carry-on Pet Requirements. 


Which Airlines Let Pets Travel In The Cabin?


British Airways / (Sun Air)

If you want to fly your pet with British Airways then it will have to be in the hold as they cannot go in the cabin with you unless they are assistance dogs which can fly for free. It is also worth checking out Sun Air who operate as their franchise partner as they fly in and around Europe and the UK and do allow pets in the cabin so long as they are not over 6kg. 



Can pets fly with EasyJet? Only service animals can and this is only allowed on selected flights.  



Do Emirates fly with pets? They can fly in cargo only and no pets are allowed in the cabin. 



Cats, dogs and Ferrets can fly in the hold only and in the UK only. 



Very small cats and dogs can fly with you in the cabin, which means under 8kg which includes the weight of the carrier (ensure you choose a lightweight one). Well done KLM. Pets can also go in the hold like with other airlines. If you do want them in the cabin with you, make sure you call well in advance and before you make your booking! 


Lufthansa Group Germany

Very small cats and dogs can fly with you in the cabin, which means under 8kg which includes the weight of the carrier (ensure you choose a lightweight one). Well done Lufthansa. Pets can also go in the hold like with other airlines. If you do want them in the cabin with you, make sure you call well in advance and before you make your booking! 



Can pets fly with Ryanair? Only assistance dogs can. 


TUI Airways 

Under 6kg is allowed in the cabin otherwise if any heavier then it's into the hold. 


Delta Air Lines United States

Delta airlines allow flying with pets in a cabin. Small dogs, cats and household birds can travel in the cabin for a one-way fee, collected at check-in. They must be able to fit in a small, ventilated pet carrier that fits under the seat in front of you.


Virgin Atlantic

Pets can only fly in the hold and cannot go in the cabin with you. 


What Air Routes Are Approved For Pets?


Here is a List of all airlines that will transport pets in the hold from the UK. Use the link below if you also want to see charter pet friendly airlines too. 

Approved Air Routes for Pet Travel 


Airline To - airport
Aegean Airlines London Heathrow
Aeroflot Russian Airlines London Gatwick, London Heathrow
Aeromexico London Heathrow
Adria Airway Cambridge
Air Baltic Corporation London Gatwick
Air Canada Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester
Air Europa London Gatwick
Air France - KLM Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester
Air Malta London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester
Air Mauritius London Heathrow
Air New Zealand London Heathrow
Air Transat London Gatwick, Manchester
All Nippon Airways London Heathrow
American Airlines London Heathrow, Manchester
Atlantic Airways Edinburgh
Austrian Airlines London Heathrow
Avianca London Heathrow
Azerbaijan Airlines London Heathrow
British Airways London Heathrow
Brussels Airlines London Heathrow
Cathay Pacific London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester
China Airlines London Gatwick
China Southern London Heathrow
Czech Airlines London Heathrow
Delta Air Lines Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester
Egyptair London Heathrow
El Al Israel Airlines London Heathrow
Emirates SkyCargo Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester
Ethiopian Airlines London Heathrow
Etihad Airways Edinburgh
Etihad Cargo Edinburgh, London Heathrow, Manchester
Finnair London Heathrow
Gulf Air London Heathrow
Iberia Express London Heathrow
Icelandair Glasgow, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester
IEG London Gatwick, London Heathrow
Japan Airlines London Heathrow
JSC Rossiya Airlines London Gatwick
Kenya Airways London Heathrow
Korean Air London Heathrow
Kuwait Airways London Heathrow
LOT Polish Airlines London Heathrow, Manchester
Lufthansa Edinburgh,Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester
Malaysia Airlines London Heathrow
Middle East Airlines London Heathrow
Oman Air London Heathrow, Manchester
Philippine Airlines London Heathrow
Qantas London Heathrow
Qatar Airways Edinburgh, London Heathrow, Manchester
Royal Brunnei Airlines London Heathrow
Royal Jordanian Airlines London Heathrow
Rwandair London Heathrow
Scandinavian Airlines System Cargo London Heathrow, Manchester
Singapore Airlines London Heathrow, Manchester
South African Airways London Heathrow
SriLankan Airlines London Heathrow
Swiss International Air Lines Edinburgh
Swiss WorldCargo London Heathrow
Tarom Romanian Air Transport London Heathrow
Thai Airways London Heathrow
Travel Service - SmartWings London Gatwick
Tui Airways Bristol, Doncaster Sheffield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Gatwick, Manchester
Turkish Airlines Edinburgh, London Heathrow
United Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Heathrow, Manchester
Uzbekistan Airways London Heathrow
Vietnam Airlines London Gatwick, London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic Airways London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester
West Atlantic Aviation UK Gatwick



Should I Sedate My Pet Before They Fly?

Based on a study conducted in 2002 on the Physiology and behaviour of dogs during air transport which concluded that sedation had no positive impact on dogs. I would say it is a waste of time and would suggest you focus 100% of your time and energy on getting them use to crate training. There are great alternatives including natural calming remedies which would prove useful to keep your travelling pets calm. 


 Travel Calming Kit


Herbal Travel Sick Tablets 


Calming Cat Treats


In Conclusion


To conclude, air travel with small pets is possible but it is also a complicated task which requires time, effort, attention to detail and an element of stress for both you but more importantly them. I hope this article has provided some insight into what flying with pets entails. 


Happy and safe travfurling to you and your pets!

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