Can I Buy My Dog a Seat on an Airplane?

If you’re a dog owner, there’s a good chance that you’ve considered taking your furry friend on vacation with you. And if you’re like most people, you’ve probably wondered if your pet is allowed to travel in the passenger cabin of an airplane.

Can I buy my dog a seat on an airplane? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t always clear-cut.

But this blog post is going to give you all the information you need to make the best decision for your pet. Plus, we share 6 documents you require when flying with your dog, and what you need to do before departure day!

Can I Buy My Dog a Seat on an Airplane? Cabin vs. Cargo Difference

The first thing you need to understand is that there are two different ways your dog can travel on an airplane – in the cabin or in the cargo hold.

Each option has its own set of pros and cons that you’ll need to consider before making a decision.


  • Small pets only (usually 20 lbs or less)
  • May be required to stay in a carrier under the seat in front of you
  • You’ll be able to keep an eye on your pet and comfort them if needed
  • Usually more expensive than cargo travel


  • All sizes of pets are allowed
  • Pets will travel in the hold with other cargo
  • You won’t be able to access your pet during the flight
  • Usually less expensive than cabin travel

As you can see, there are some major differences between these two options. And the best option for you will ultimately depend on your circumstances.

If you have a small dog that doesn’t mind being in a carrier, then traveling in the cabin may be the best option. But if you have a larger pet or one that gets anxious in new environments, then cargo travel may be the better choice.

Which Airlines Allow Dogs In The Cabin

AirlinesDog policy
United AirlinesYour pet may sit on your lap. Pet must remain in a carrier
Delta AirlinesSmall dogs only allowed in cabin 21” x 15” x 16” size restriction
American AirlinesShort flights pets can stay in cabin (smaller pets). Long haul flights – all pets must go in cargo
Southwest AirlinesSmall dogs only allowed in cabin. Max size of kennels: 18.5” x 8.5” x 13.5”
Air CanadaPets allowed in cabin under seat. Larger pets must travel in cargo
JetBluePet friendly treats and program available. Smaller pets only travel in cabin, not cargo

General Airplane Rules and Restrictions for Flying With Dogs in Cabin

Now that you know the difference between cabin and cargo travel, let’s take a look at some general rules and restrictions for flying with dogs in the cabin.

pomeranian on board an airplane

Size and Weight – Your Dog Should Be Small and Light

Your dog must be able to fit comfortably in a carrier that can be stored under the seat in front of you. And the carrier itself should not weigh more than 20 lbs. Also, your pet must be able to stand up and turn around inside the carrier.

Breeds – Certain Breeds May Be Denied To Fly

There are certain breeds of dogs that are not allowed to fly in the cabin, due to their size or aggressive nature. These breeds include (but are not limited to) pit bulls, mastiffs, and bulldogs. This is because these dogs are more likely to cause injury to other passengers in the event of an emergency.

This is not a complete list, so be sure to check with the airline before booking your flight.

Behavior – Your Dog Should Be Well Behaved

Your pet should be well-behaved and not cause any disruptions during the flight. This means that your dog should be quiet, calm, and not try to escape from its carrier.

If your dog is disruptive or does not meet these criteria, then the airline has the right to deny them boarding.

Health Requirements – Your Dog Must Be Healthy With a Pet Passport

Your dog must be up-to-date on all their vaccinations and have a pet passport. This is to ensure that your pet is healthy and will not pose a risk to other passengers.

You may also need to get a health certificate from your veterinarian within 10 days of your flight. This is to prove that your pet is fit to travel and does not have any contagious diseases.

Dog’s Classification – Is Your Dog a Pet, Service Dog or Emotional Support Dog?

There are three different classifications for dogs that fly in the cabin – pet, service dog, and emotional support dog.

Pets are just that – pets. They provide companionship and love, but they do not have any special training or purpose.

Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for their owners, such as guide dogs for the blind or hearing dogs for the deaf.

Emotional support dogs provide comfort and support to their owners during times of stress or anxiety.

Each type of dog has different rules and regulations that you’ll need to follow when flying.

For example, service dogs and emotional support dogs are not required to stay in a carrier during the flight. And they are also allowed to sit on your lap or on the floor at your feet.

However, all dogs (regardless of classification) must be properly vaccinated and have a pet passport.

6 Required Documents For Flying With Your Dog In-Cabin

Now that you know the general rules and restrictions for flying with dogs in the cabin, let’s take a look at the required documents.

travelling with a luggage and dog in pet crate

#1 – Microchip certificate

This is to prove that your pet has been microchipped in case they get lost during the flight. Also, make sure that the microchip information is up-to-date.

#2 – Animal health certificate

This is to prove that your pet is in good health and does not have any contagious diseases. Your veterinarian will need to fill this out within 10 days of your flight. Information on this certificate includes:

  • Your pet’s vaccinations
  • Your pet’s weight
  • Your pet’s description
  • Your contact information

#3 – Rabies vaccination certificate

This is to prove that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies. No matter where you are traveling, your pet must have this vaccination. Rabies is a deadly disease that can be passed on to humans, so it’s important to make sure that your pet is protected.

#4 – Parasite treatment certificate

This is to prove that your pet has been treated for parasites, such as fleas and ticks. This is important because these parasites can cause diseases that are harmful to humans.

#5 – Additional vaccination certificates

Depending on where you are traveling, your pet may need to have additional vaccinations. For example, if you are traveling to a country that has rabies, your pet will need to be vaccinated against the disease.

The vaccination certificates must be issued by a licensed veterinarian and include the following information:

  • Your pet’s name
  • The type of vaccine
  • The date of vaccination
  • The expiry date of the vaccine
  • The name, address, and phone number of the veterinarian

#6 – Rabies titer test results

If your pet is over 4 months old and has been vaccinated against rabies, you’ll need to have their titer test results. A titer test measures the level of antibodies in your pet’s blood to see if they are still protected against the disease.

Things To Do With Your Dog Before Departure Day

Now that you know the rules and documents required for flying with your dog in-cabin, let’s take a look at some things you’ll need to do before departure day.

1. Booking preparations

Make sure to book your flight early so that you can get a spot for your pet. Many airlines only allow a certain number of pets on each flight, so it’s important to book in advance.

Also, make sure to let the airline know that you’ll be traveling with a pet. Some airlines charge a pet fee, so it’s important to factor this into the cost of your flight.

2. Preparing your dog

A few days before your flight, start getting your dog used to their carrier. Put their food and water in the carrier so that they get used to eating and drinking in it. You may also want to put a toy or blanket in the carrier to make them feel more comfortable.

Further, get your dog used to being in small spaces by taking them on short car rides in their carrier. This will help them feel more comfortable on the plane.

3. Freeze a dish of water

On the day of your flight, freeze a dish of water for your dog to use during the flight. This will help keep them hydrated and prevent them from getting sick.

Choose something that will fit easily into their carrier so that it’s not a hassle to take on the plane. Similarly, prepare something they like or a favorite treat so they have something to look forward to and that will help with any anxiety they may have.

4. Attach a photo of your dog to the top of the kennel

In the event that your dog escapes their kennel, it’s important to have a photo of them so that you can easily identify them. This will help you find them quickly and get them back safely.

putting sticker on top of a dog cage

Similarly, make sure that your contact information is clearly visible on the kennel so that anyone who finds your dog can easily get in touch with you.

5. Don’t go with a full stomach

It’s important that you don’t feed your dog a big meal before the flight. A full stomach can make them uncomfortable and more likely to get sick. Instead, give them a light meal a few hours before the flight. 

6. Security screening

When you go through security, your dog will need to be screened. This usually involves putting them through an X-ray machine.

Make sure that you take everything out of their kennel so that it can be properly screened. This includes their food, water, toys, and blanket.

After the security screening, you’ll need to put everything back in the kennel and make sure that it’s secure.

What Airlines Allow You To Purchase a Seat for Your Dog?

There are a few airlines that allow you to purchase a seat for your dog, including American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and United. Make sure to check with the airline in advance to see if this is an option.

Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a Flight?

No, your dog cannot sit on your lap during a flight. They must be in their kennel under the seat in front of you at all times. This is for safety’s sake in case of turbulence or an emergency.

How Big of a Dog Can Fit Under an Airplane Seat?

The size of the dog that can fit under an airplane seat depends on the airline. Most airlines have a weight limit of around 20 pounds, but it’s important to check with the airline in advance.

What Is the Best Seat on a Plane With a Dog?

The best seat on a plane with a dog is usually a middle seat. You are not allowed to have your dog in the aisle, so a window or middle seat is often the best option. This way, your dog will not be disturbed by people walking by and they will have a seat on either side to lean against.

Can I Buy a First-Class Seat for My Dog?

Yes, you can usually buy a first-class seat for your dog. This is a good option if you are looking for more space for your dog to stretch out. However, it is important to check with the airline in advance to see if this is an option.


Can I buy my dog a seat on an airplane? Yes, you can!

Flying with a dog can be a bit of a hassle, but it’s important to take the time to prepare in advance. This will help make the experience go more smoothly for both you and your dog.

When flying with a dog, it’s important to remember that they will need a kennel that meets the requirements of the airline. You will also need to make sure that your dog is well-fed and hydrated before the flight.

With a little preparation and planning, flying with your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience!

Have you ever had to travel with your dog on a plane? What was your experience?

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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