In-Cabin Dog Travel: A Guide to Flying with Your Dog | PetRelocation

Planning pet travel on your itinerary

Flying with Your Dog: Understanding In-Cabin Travel Options

Traveling with your dog in the cabin of an airplane is a possibility for some pets. In this guide, we'll address common questions about in-cabin dog travel, provide insights into airline regulations, and discuss how PetRelocation can support you on this journey.

In-Cabin Travel Criteria

In-cabin travel is typically reserved for smaller dogs, puppies, or assistance animals. Airlines often require dogs to fit comfortably in a carrier under the seat in front of you. Additionally, your dog's in-cabin eligibility may depend on meeting specific requirements, such as being an assistance animal or emotional support animal (ESA). However, please note that the Department of Transportation no longer recognizes emotional support animals as a type of service animal for aircraft carriers.

I have an assistance animal. Can they accompany me on my flight?

Note: the Department of Transportation no longer recognizes emotional support animals as a type of service animal when it comes to aircraft carriers. Your dog's in-cabin eligibility will depend on their ability to meet these requirements. Read below to make sure you don't have any surprises when travel day arrives!

Assistance animals defined

  • Emotional Support Animal (or "ESA"): The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) defines an emotional support animal as ​" animal of any species, the use of which is supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional based upon a disability-related need. An ESA must not be trained to perform any particular task." While ESAs were previously widely recognized by airlines as a type of service animal, a recent ruling by the Department of Transportation (effective January 11, 2021) has removed the requirement for air carriers to admit an ESA in-cabin based on their new status as a pet—not a service animal—under the new ruling.
  • Therapy Animal: an animal trained and registered by a therapy organization to be an integral part of a treatment process. These animals are not recognized as service animals.   
  • Assistance Animal: Any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, [or] alerting individuals to the presence of allergens..."

your options if an airline declines to allow your pet in-cabin

Depending on your dog's ability to meet certain criteria, you may have to adjust their travel plans. Not to worry! We can help. You can read more about your options and what role PetRelocation plays in providing the best service possible in each scenario.

Why can't PetRelocation fully manage my pet's in-cabin move?

PetRelocation's Role in In-Cabin Dog Travel

PetRelocation specializes in transporting pets via manifest cargo, which allows us to work directly with airlines and monitor your pet's move from start to finish. While we can provide limited support for in-cabin travel, we excel in door-to-door manifest cargo moves, ensuring the best journey for your pet.

In-Cabin is no longer an option for my dog. How Can PetRelocation help with their move?

Note: Although we specialize in door-to-door manifest cargo moves, we know that each pet's move is unique and may require a different approach. Below are the ways PetRelocation can help you help your pet have the best journey possible!

Manifest cargo

If PetRelocation is managing your move, your relocation coordinator can book your pet’s flight, manage the check-in and customs clearance, and track your pet on their journey using their air waybill number. 

Excess baggage/ in-cabin

If your pet is traveling as excess baggage or in-cabin under the seat, PetRelocation can still provide support, but in a more limited capacity. Depending on your destination, we can help with vet consultations, and obtaining any import permits or government endorsements. 

Ground Transportation

If you travel across the United States and your pet is a snub-nosed breed or needs an extra-large crate, flying may not be an option. PetRelocation offers long-distance drives for pets not accepted to travel by air, like Guinivere who recently moved by ground from Wisconsin to Florida.

What if my pet is small enough to fly in-cabin?

Note: regulations vary by airline. Check with your carrier of choice to ensure your dog meets the requirements for in-cabin pet travel!

Most airlines that accept in-cabin pets do require a dog to be able to fit comfortably under the seat in front of you, in a carrier. If this is the case, then great! Your four-legged family member can join you on your ticket. 

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