In-Cabin Dog Travel

Planning pet travel on your itinerary

We get a lot of questions about traveling with pets in-cabin. While PetRelocation can support these types of moves, it is important to note that we are limited in the scope of services we can provide (more about that below!).

In some cases, pet parents may have a strong preference for making sure their dog can fly with them in the cabin of a plane instead of as manifest cargo. Such cases include traveling with a very small dog or puppy, or an assistance animal. Below are some of the most common questions we get on this topic, along with some helpful information to navigate your pet's move if they are unable to fly in-cabin with you!

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 does not have to 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.   
  • Service animal: Any dog that is 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 the purposes of 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?

Note: having your pet tied to a passenger ticket places a good deal of responsibility on the pet parent (or ticket holder). Since we are not tied to the pet's travel itinerary, we are unable to manage this portion of the move. 

petrelocation specializes in transporting pets via manifest cargo

As a professional pet shipping company, this is the most reliable way we can ensure a pet's move is monitored (by us) from start to finish. When a pet travels as manifest cargo, this allows us to work with the airline directly and become the primary contact for all information related to that pet's travel. When the pet is tied to a passenger ticket, that person becomes the responsible party in the eyes of the airline and we are not provided any information as a third party.

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 as well as track your pet on their journey with the use of their individual 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, obtaining any import permits or government endorsements. 

Ground transportation

If you are traveling across the United States and your pet is a snub-nosed breed or in need of an extra-large crate, flying may not be an option. PetRelocation offers long-distance drives for pets that are 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. Make sure to 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. Due to an increase in demand for pet relocation services, we are only taking on clients who need full support. However, we have requirements pages for many top destinations if you need guidance on import requirements! 

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