Are you flying with your dog for the first time? How exciting! But of course, it can also be nerve-wracking considering the different sets of challenges and considerations that you have to take. There are many ways that your dog can ride the plane with you. One popular option for pet owners is to travel with their dogs in the cabin of an airplane, specifically under the airplane seat. 

This practice allows owners to keep their furry companions close, ensuring their comfort and well-being throughout the journey. However, there are several important factors to keep in mind when traveling with a dog under the airplane seat, including airline policies, pet requirements, and the necessary preparations to ensure a smooth and safe travel experience for both the owner and the dog. Read on to learn more about how to make your journey a breeze.

Dog in the aircraft cabin near the window during the flight

Understanding Airline Policies

In general, your pet can travel with you on a plane either as a cargo, accompanied by baggage, or in-cabin. Traveling in the cabin will allow your dog under the airplane seat. Note that air policies can change anytime without notice so if you’re traveling by plane soon, you need to contact your airline of choice and ask about their policies.  Here are three considerations when traveling with your pet. 

  1. Your dog can travel on the plane with you either in-cabin or as cargo. Countries that allow in-cabin travel with dogs are the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and other European countries. Typically, this option will cost you around $50 to $250 or more each way, depending on the airline. The cost may also vary based on the length of the flight. 

Longer flights may have higher fees compared to shorter domestic flights. International flights may involve additional fees and requirements, such as health certificates, vaccinations, or quarantine regulations, which can impact the overall cost. That is why choosing a carrier for under-seat travel is crucial.

  1. You can book a separate flight for your dog. In this case, you will be charged the cargo rate usually around $300 for a small pooch, and more or less $1000 for bigger breeds. 
  2. You can have your dog shipped through a licensed commercial shipper. In this case, you will pay for the cargo plus the pet shipper’s fee. Many airlines now require this method unless your pet is small enough to be under the seat.

Size and Breed Considerations

When it comes to under-the-seat travel with dogs, most airlines have specific size and weight restrictions for pets that can be accommodated in the cabin. These restrictions are in place for safety and comfort reasons, as the space under the seat is limited. As a rule, dogs that weigh more than 100 lbs. (including the weight of the cage) will have to be charged as cargo. While airline policies for dogs under the seat may vary, here are some general guidelines regarding the size and breeds of dogs that are typically suitable for under-the-seat travel:

  1. Small Breeds: Smaller dog breeds are usually more suitable for cabin travel due to their compact size and weight. Some examples include:
    • Chihuahua
    • Yorkshire Terrier
    • Maltese
    • Pomeranian
    • Shih Tzu
    • French Bulldog (although some airlines may have restrictions on brachycephalic breeds)
  1. Toy Breeds: Toy breeds, known for their diminutive size, are often allowed in the cabin. These breeds include:
    • Poodle (Toy and Miniature)
    • Pomeranian
    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
    • Pekingese
    • Papillon
  1. Small-Medium Mixed Breeds: Some mixed-breed dogs that fall within the size and weight limits may also be suitable for under-the-seat travel. These can vary greatly, so it’s essential to consider each dog individually.
  1. Weight and Size Restrictions: The weight limit for dogs traveling in-cabin is typically around 20 pounds (9 kilograms) or less, including the weight of the carrier. As for size restrictions, the total dimensions of the carrier are usually limited to fit under the seat. Common size limits are around 18 x 11 x 11 inches (45 x 28 x 28 cm).

Preparing Your Dog for Travel

Each dog is unique, and some may require additional preparation or considerations based on their temperament and health. Taking the time to plan and prepare in advance will help ensure a smoother and more comfortable dog under airplane seat travel experience. Here are some tips for preparing your dog for under seat travel:

  • Visit the Veterinarian. Visit your vet in advance and have your dog thoroughly checked. Discuss any specific concerns or considerations related to your dog’s well-being during travel.
  • Crate Training. If your dog will be traveling in a crate or carrier, it’s important to acclimate them to it beforehand. Gradually introduce your dog to the crate, using positive reinforcement and treats. Allow your dog to associate the crate with comfort and security, making it a familiar and safe space.
  • Familiarize yourself with Car Rides. If you’re traveling by car, help your dog get accustomed to car rides. Start with short trips and gradually increase the duration. Make the experience positive by providing treats, toys, and praise. This will help your dog associate car rides with pleasant experiences.
  • Identification and Documentation. Secure all proper identification, including an updated ID tag with your contact information. Additionally, carry necessary travel documentation, such as health certificates, vaccination records, and any permits required by your destination or airline.
  • Pack Essential Supplies. Pack a travel bag for your dog containing essentials such as food, water, bowls, medications, poop bags, leash, collar or harness, and any comfort items that your dog is familiar with (like a favorite blanket or toy). Having these items readily available will help maintain your dog’s routine and provide a sense of familiarity during travel.

Choosing the Right Carrier for Under-the-Seat Travel

Choosing the right carrier is crucial when traveling with your dog in-cabin, as it needs to meet specific requirements to fit under the airplane seat. Here are some key aspects to consider when selecting a pet carrier for under-the-seat travel:

  • Take note of size restrictions for the airline of choice. Check the airline’s guidelines for the maximum dimensions allowed. Measure your dog to ensure they can comfortably stand, turn around, and lie down within the carrier. Consider the weight of the carrier as well, as it will contribute to the total weight limit imposed by the airline.
  •  Choose a plane-friendly carrier for your dog. A carrier made of sturdy, durable materials that can withstand travel conditions would be ideal. Common materials include nylon, polyester, or hard-sided plastic. Ensure that the carrier has proper ventilation to allow airflow and prevent your dog from feeling confined or overheated.
  • Consider features that prevent escape. The carrier should have secure closures, such as zippers or latches, to prevent accidental openings during travel. It’s essential to choose a carrier that your dog cannot easily escape from. However, make sure it provides adequate comfort and doesn’t restrict their movement or cause discomfort.
  • Look for comfort and padding. Select a carrier that offers sufficient padding or a removable cushion to provide comfort during the journey. Your dog should be able to rest and lie down comfortably. Ensure that there are no sharp edges or uncomfortable surfaces that could cause injury or discomfort.
  • Consider the convenience of using and maintaining the carrier. Look for features such as a top-loading option or an easily accessible opening to make it easier to place your dog in and take them out of the carrier. Additionally, choose a carrier that is easy to clean, as accidents or spills may occur during travel.
  • Your carrier must comply with airline regulations. Check the specific airline’s regulations regarding pet carriers to ensure compliance. Different airlines may have varying requirements, including the type of carrier or additional features such as waterproofing or the inclusion of absorbent pads.
  • Consider a carrier that allows you to attach identification tags or labels with your contact information. This ensures that your dog’s carrier is properly labeled and identifiable in case of any mix-ups or misplacements.

Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling with Your Dog Under the Airplane Seat

How do I keep my dog calm during the flight? 

Consider using calming aids approved by your veterinarian, such as pheromone sprays, calming supplements, or anxiety-reducing products. You can also comfort them through familiar items like a stuffed toy or pillow.

What items should I bring for my dog during the flight? 

When traveling with your dog, it’s important to bring essential items such as food and water, a leash, identification and pet passport, or other documents required by the airline, waste disposal items, comfort items, medication, and a first-aid kit.


Traveling with your dog under an airplane seat is probably the most convenient way for you to fly with your dog. This option allows you to closely monitor your dog’s condition during the flight.  Just remember to check with the specific airline for any additional requirements or restrictions on items allowed in the cabin. Prioritize your dog’s comfort, safety, and well-being throughout the journey to make the experience as smooth as possible. 

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