Choosing a Pet Friendly Airline for a Large Dog

Large dogHi PetRelocation,

What airlines allow dogs to fly in the cargo area?

When looking online many only outline rules for pets traveling in the cabin, but my 100 lb dog is obviously too big. How do I find out if/what airlines will fly a dog that size?




Hi Courtney,

Thanks for your question, it's a great one—deciding on the right airline is one of the most important parts of planning a safe journey for your pet.

Most airlines now have a section of their website devoted to covering pet shipping options. Some airlines are definitely more pet friendly than others, however, and we have a few that we regularly book flights with.

United is who we typically choose when flying domestically (for international flights we often go with KLM and Lufthansa). United's PetSafe program entails certain procedures, such as making sure pets are the last to board the plane and the first to be removed. And, contrary to what many people assume, the cargo area is pressure and temperature controlled and pets are not simply “treated like luggage.”

Because not all airplanes are equipped to hold large pet crates (which your dog will need), it's important to call the airline and check ahead of time to make sure you'll be accommodated. We have flown large dogs with United, but again, check with them before booking your flight because it all depends on the size of the plane they're using for your chosen route.

It's worth mentioning that you don't necessarily need to be on the same flight as your dog. Most of our customers end up flying separately from their pets, which just means you might need to enlist some help on one or both ends of your trip. 

Contact us if you're interested in hiring assistance with your move—we will help with choosing a pet friendly airline, offer tips for crate training your dog, and discuss any other questions you have relating to pet travel and your upcoming trip.

Good luck and safe travels!


Pet Travel Question Details:

Name: Courtney
Number of Pets: 1
Pet Type: Dog
Pet Breed: Weimaraner
From: California
To: Texas


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2013 and has been updated with new information. 


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines




United States


Add a Comment

By Lili on November 19, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Do NOT even travel with united whether with or without a dog.They are famous to kill dogs, search and do your homework. That airline is NOT to travel with (period)

By on November 20, 2017 at 10:03 am

Hello Lili,

Thank you for reaching out with your feedback. Unfortunately, only the negative stories about pet travel surface when it comes to flying pets with United Airlines, which is what you seem to be referencing.

We actually fly hundreds of pets with them each year without any issue and find that their PetSafe program offers special care for traveling pets in comparison to other airlines.

It's also important to keep in mind that United moves a greater volume of pets than other airlines so the "accidents" are few and far between. Also, most pet travel issues or deaths come from underlying health conditions that were not caught in the health check (heart murmurs, cancer, etc.).

With this in mind, we also agree it's important to do your homework with your airline choice for your pet, but don't let the negative stories override your decision.

By Dan on April 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm

It's interesting you recommend United. Have you read the story that happened to this dog, and his owner???, After reading that, I wouldn't ever want to fly my dog with United. And what about some options for international flights other than to Europe?

By on April 17, 2017 at 10:15 am

Hi Dan, though your concerns are certainly understandable, we do feel comfortable using United based on their strong record of safety overall. We have had a working relationship with United PetSafe for several years and know that the numerous positive stories tend to be overshadowed by the very rare negative ones. As for your other question, it depends on where you're going, but we'd be happy to recommend alternate carriers we have used for our clients. If you'd like to discuss your move with us, you're welcome to contact us here to set up a consultation: Hope this helps!

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