"Can My Large Dog Fly In-Cabin?"
I'm desperately trying to find a way my dog can ride in the cabin of a plane to relocate to Japan.
She is 40 pounds, so "too large" by all standards I can find, but I'm hoping someone can give me an alternative (service dog, therapy dog, specific airline?). We are too scared for her to fly under the plane in cargo.
This is a common question about pet shipping, as many pet owners are not aware of the conditions within airplane cargo holds and are afraid of transporting their pets that way. A 40-pound dog is indeed too large to travel in-cabin on most (if not all) airlines and will have to ride as cargo.
Apart from very small pets, only trained and certified service or support dogs with legitimate documentation are sometimes allowed to accompany their owners in-cabin. If your dog is not a certified assistance dog and you are simply trying to find a way around following pet air travel regulations, you will not be allowed to fly your pet in-cabin. Falsely labeling a pet as a service animal is harmful to the validity of true service animals (and the reputation of owners) if the mislabeled dog misbehaves.
More importantly, you should know that flying a pet as cargo is very safe and may in fact be more comfortable for your dog. Check out this post where we address questions about flying pets as cargo and another where we disprove myths about shipping pets as cargo.
You'll see that cargo holds are pressurized and climate-controlled, and aren't that different from the conditions in which human passengers fly in the cabin. Assuming you book with a pet-friendly airline (such as United) and that your dog's crate is airline-approved and appropriately-sized, your pet should ride safely and comfortably as cargo on his trip to Japan.
If you have any more questions about pet transport to Japan and are interested in hiring some assistance, be sure to contact us for a consultation. We've helped many pets travel safely via cargo and would be happy to discuss your questions and concerns.
Thanks for your question and good luck with your move!
Pet Travel Question Details:
Number of Pets: 1
Pet Type: Dog
Pet Breed: Soft coated Wheaton/Golden retriever mix
From: United States
To: Tokyo, Japan
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2013 and has been updated with new information.