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Dog Flight – Airline Requirements For Dog Vacation

Are you ready to take your Pooch on a great adventure? Does it require a dog flight or two? If you plan on taking your dog on a plane or jet, knowing the rules about dogs and flying, and dog carriers, can save you a ruined trip that could cost you large for your vacation.

I’ve done the research for the major airlines operating both internationally and nationally in many countries. The countries I selected were chosen because they have some of the highest occurrences of dogs as pets, globally speaking. That being said, I assume this will be a useful resource for anyone who wants to travel with pets.

Airline Dog Flight Requirements

Air Canada Airlines

Small Breeds

If your dog is small enough to fit in a carry on bag, you can your Pooch in the cabin with you for a little dog vacation. There are several requirements for this and they depend on several factors. One of these is the size of the carrier and this can depend upon which type of jet you are flying in. For the sake of being prepared for the worst, we will use the smaller of the two carrier sizing requirements. This applies to cats or dogs, by the way, either is okay to take on a flight in the cabin, as long as the requirements are met.

Maximum Size of Carrier

  • Height: 21 cm (8.25 in)
  • Width: 38 cm (15 in)
  • Length: 43 cm (17 in)

Taking your dog in the cabin with you requires the dog is kept in a carrier for the duration of the flight. Totally worth it to keep an eye on your Pooch while taking them to a dog vacation destination. The carrier must meet certain requirements.

Your dog or cat MUST be able to do the following, comfortably, within the carrier:

  • Stand
  • Turn-Around
  • Lie Down

Cost To Fly With Your Pet In The Cabin

Within Canada and Canada/U.S. (except Hawaii)*
$50.00 – $59.00 CAD/USD*

$100.00 – $118.00 CAD/USD*

*Conditions apply. See Airline Website for full details.

Other Requirements

  • Only one cat or small dog is allowed in the cabin per passenger
  • Soft or hard carriers are allowed
  • Pet carrier must be well ventilated
  • Pet carrier must be leakproof
  • No part of the pet can extend out of the carrier
  • The pet must remain inside the carrier for the entire flight
  • The pet carrier must remain under the seat in front of the passenger for the duration of the flight
  • Pet must be fully weaned
  • Pet must be at least 12 weeks old
  • The carrier counts as one piece of your carry on baggage

Tips For Check-In:

Arrive at least 30 minutes before the suggested check-in time. You cannot use an automated check-in process because you have a pet. There will be extra check-in time because you have to meet with an agent when checking in with a pet.

Medium/Large Breeds

A massive Scottish Deerhound stands proudly atop a hill with snow-capped mountains in the background in this majestic file photo.
Scottish Deerhound By Linda Lindt/Richard Hawkins – Fernhill website, CC BY 3.0,

If your dog is too big to fit in a carrier that will fit in the cabin, then follow this part of the guide for a checked kennel.

Size of Carrier For Checked Baggage

Maximum Carrier Dimensions:

292 cm (115 in) in linear dimensions
(length + width + height)

Example: If you have a 4′ (48″) long x 2′ (24″) wide x 3′ (36″) tall carrier, this totals 108″ so is okay and just within the 115″ maximum.

Maximum Carrier Weight:

Up to 45 kg (100 lb) – Pet and carrier combined weight

Cost for Checked Baggage Pet Carrier

Within Canada and Canada/U.S.(except Hawaii)*
$105.00 – $120.75 CAD/USD

$270.00 – $318.60 CAD/USD*

*Conditions apply. See Airline Website for full details.

Points To Consider For The Dog Flight

  • Summer Heat – Due to summer heat, some flights can’t have pets in the cargo compartment when temperatures rise above 29.5 degree Celsius
  • Many aircraft do not accept pets in the cargo hold from November 1 to March 31st due to cold, winter conditions.
  • Some destinations may restrict pets entry or may require veterinarian reports of the dogs’ health before access can be granted
  • Always check with your airline before booking your flight to make sure you’ve covered all your bases
  • Pets leash or harness must be removed before the pet is put into the carrier for the flight
  • Remember to bring some food and water in a pet travel kit for your dog.

Checked Baggage Carrier Requirements

  • A maximum of 2 dogs (each weighing no more than 14 kg/31 lb) who are used to cohabitation may be in one carrier. Note that the applicable fee will be charged twice.
  • The pet carrier must be hard-sided and not collapsible
  • Kennels and pet carriers must be ventilated
  • The pet carrier must be leakproof

Breed Restrictions

No snub-nosed breeds of dogs or cats are allowed in the baggage compartment. This is due to the fact that these breeds are “…susceptible to increased risks of heat stroke and breathing problems when exposed to extreme heat or stressful situations. “

Some breeds require extra strong carriers due to being classified as ‘strong’ breeds. According to Air Canada, these breeds are listed as ‘strong’:

  • Caucasian Ovcharka (Caucasian Shepherd Dog)
  • Karabash (Kangal Dog, Anatolian Shepherd Dog)
  • Pit-bull – all breeds
    Mastiff – all breeds
  • Wolf Dog Hybrids


American Airlines

American Airlines’ website focuses heavily on the type of jet and its specific requirements. The downside to this is that you must know in advance which model of jet you will be flying on. That being said, unlike Air Canada, it is much more difficult to make generic guidelines for American Airlines as they appear to have an extensive amount of different models of jets. Each model appears to have its own special requirements. See their website and call them for specific details pertaining to your flight.

Small Breeds

The basic same rules apply for flying with dogs on American Airlines as applies to Air Canada flights. There are a few different points of information shared on the American Airlines site than those shared on the Air Canada site. Presume all the same applies, and I will outline the differences where applicable.

Size of Carrier

Although not mentioned on the site with regard to exact dimensions, the same applies to where the dog carriers must be situated. During the flight and for the entire duration of the flight, the dog or cat must remain in the carrier. The carrier must fit under the seat. There are multiple vehicles that cannot accept baggage under the seat. It is strongly recommended you call the airline ahead of time to determine the proper size of the carrier and if the flight accepts it or not.

Cost To Fly With Your Pet In The Cabin

$ 125 but may change based upon destination. This cost is per dog kennel.

Flight Maximum Kennels Allowed

American Airlines states they have a maximum number of kennels allowed on a flight. So this means if there are a lot of other people also traveling with pets, it’s first booked, first-served:

Per flight, American Airlines can only accept:

  • 7 kennels on American flights, excluding service animals
  • 5 kennels on American Eagle flights; 1 in First

As a result, you should contact reservations to make arrangements for your pet in advance to avoid disappointment.

A fantasy giant dog and a boy are shown in this image.
Large Breed?

Medium/Large Breeds

Again, when the dog is too large to fit in a carry-on, it must go in the cargo compartment. This holds it’s own special set of requirements again.

Size of Carrier For Checked Baggage

Again, this depends on the model of jet you are flying in. The maximum height of the dog kennel must be no more than 28″-63″. This depends on the model of jet, as mentioned. Again, it’s dependent upon the jet and no overall guideline for the entire airline can be established here.

Maximum Carrier Weight:

The American Airlines website does not appear to state any checked dog carriers’ weight restrictions. Therefore, we should assume weight restrictions are the same as normally checked baggage weight restrictions.

Cost for Checked Baggage Dog Carriers

$200 per kennel to most locations.

Checked Baggage Carrier Requirements

The same requirements apply as Air Canada’s requirements, with a few exceptions.

  1. The kennel must have a small bag with 24 hours worth of pet food attached to the carrier. This way, should there be a delay to the flight, staff can ensure the pet does not starve during that time.
  2. You must provide a veterinarian note stating the health of the pet within a defined time close to the flight date.

Breed Restrictions

American Airlines website has a more extensive list of breed restrictions than does the Air Canada website. Here is a list of restricted breeds of both dogs and cats from the American Airlines website:

Restricted Dog Breeds – No Dog Flight For These Pooches

It’s important to know if your dog is on the NO Dog Flight list. Taking your dog to the airport, all ready for a dog vacation just to find out it’s canceled because your Pooch can’t board. Not fun so read this list first.

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer (all breeds)
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog (all breeds)
  • Cane Corso
  • Chow Chow
  • Dogue De Bordeaux
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff (all breeds)
  • Pekingese
  • Pit Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Pug (all breeds)
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Restricted Cat Breeds

  • Burmese
  • Persian
  • Himalayan
  • Exotic Shorthair

Temperature Restrictions

Heat restrictions

No travel with a pet is permitted if the temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4 degrees C) at any location on the flight itinerary.

Cold restrictions

It’s important to note that no travel with a pet is permitted if the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees C) at any location on the flight itinerary.

Health Tip: Make sure you’ve had your dog checked at a vet before booking the flight. Not only to get your clean bill of health certificate for the dog but also to make sure the dog won’t have any complications during the flight. Just imagine if your dog had something like heartworm and you didn’t know. Then the dog could have a heart attack during the flight and no one would be able to do anything.


Speaking about cold temperatures, check out my related articles here:

I hope this article has been useful to you. But tell me, where have you traveled or are considering traveling to with your dog or cat? Leave a comment below and let me know. Similarly, don’t forget to sign up at the bottom of the page to get subscribed to our mailing list for great articles sent right to you.

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