Flying with your furry friend can be a rewarding experience, but it comes with its own set of considerations. One common question dog owners have is whether their canine companion can sit on their lap during a flight. In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of traveling with your dog in the cabin, airline policies, and helpful tips for a smooth journey.

Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a Flight? The Short answer is It depends. While many airlines do not allow dogs to sit on your lap during the flight, there are some exceptions for certain airlines. If you want to explore more about airline pet policies, this is the right address for you. Let’s begin!

Airline Policies

Each airline has its own policies regarding dogs in the cabin. While some welcome lap dogs, others may have specific rules and restrictions. It’s crucial to check with your chosen airline in advance to ensure you comply with their guidelines. Most airlines require dogs to be in an approved carrier, but some may allow smaller breeds to sit on your lap during the flight.

Airlines explicitly prohibit dogs from sitting on their owners’ laps during flights.

These carriers explicitly specify that dogs must stay confined within their carriers throughout the entire duration of the flight.

American Airlines Pet Policy

During American Airlines flights, you are permitted to bring one kennel as part of your carry-on luggage, provided that your pet remains inside the kennel and under the seat in front of you for the entire duration of the flight.

Air Canada Pet Policy

Air Canada says, “Your pet must stay consistently inside a secured pet carrier stored beneath your seat.”

Southwest Pet Policy 

Pets must be kept in their carriers consistently, encompassing the gate area, during boarding and deplaning, and throughout the entire flight on Southwest Airlines. Non-compliance with this regulation may lead to the refusal of pet transportation on board.

Dogs must remain inside the carrier, including their head and tail, which should be stored under the seat in front of the owner for the entirety of the flight.

United Pet Policy

Your canine companion is required to remain inside its kennel with the door securely closed at all times, both within the airport premises, at the boarding area, and while on board the plane. The kennel must be positioned at your feet, stored underneath the seat in front of you during the entire duration of the journey.

West Jet Pet Policy

Animals accompanying you in the cabin must consistently stay within the kennel, securely stored under the seat in front of you. Any attempt to remove your pet from its kennel during the flight may result in a ban on traveling with your pet in the cabin on future WestJet flights.

Airlines that might allow dogs to sit on lap during a flight?

The listed airlines do not explicitly specify that dogs must stay stored under the seat in front of you for the entire flight duration. While many emphasize that dogs should remain in their carriers during taxi, takeoff, and landing, they do not explicitly prohibit sitting with the dog carrier on your lap after takeoff and before landing.

It’s essential to recognize that the ultimate authority lies with flight attendants. If instructed to stow your dog, compliance is necessary.

Alaska Pet Policy

Pets must stay within their container, including head and tail, with the door/flap secured at all times in the boarding area, Alaska Lounge, and while onboard. They must be stowed under the seat during taxi, takeoff, and landing.

Allegiant Pet Policy

Pets must remain inside the kennel, with the door secured, in Delta boarding areas, airport lounges, and onboard the aircraft.

Delta Airlines Pet Policy 

Your pet must remain inside the kennel (with door secured) while in a Delta boarding area (during boarding and deplaning), a Delta airport lounge and while onboard the aircraft.

Frontier Pet Policy

For safety reasons, pets must remain in the travel container. If disruptive, the owner must soothe them without removing them from the pet container.

Hawaiian Pet Policy

Animals must be confined to the pet carrier and are subject to inspection and approval by airline personnel. They must stay in the carrier in the terminal and onboard the aircraft.

JetBlue Pet Policy

Pets must stay inside the carrier while at the airport and on the plane. During taxi, takeoff, and landing, the pet must remain in the carrier under the seat. In-flight, the carrier may be held on your lap or placed on a purchased additional seat.

Lufthansa Pet Policy

Pets will be kept in a leakproof and sealed soft-sided carrier. The carrier will be stowed under the front seat or secured to the seatbelt by a leash. The animal may not sit on a passenger seat.

Spirit Pet Policy

Pets must stay inside the carrier throughout the entire flight.

Vueling Pet Policy

The pet carrier with the pet inside must be stored on the floor, between your legs, or under the seat in front. The pet must not be taken out of the carrier until disembarking. The dog must fit between your legs or under the seat and must be secured with a safety harness before and during takeoff and landing.

snub-nosed dog in the cabin of a plane

Can my Emotional Support Animal (ESA) sit on my lap during a flight?

If your pet serves as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), there’s a higher likelihood that airlines will permit your dog to sit on your lap during a flight.

ESAs are animals essential for an individual’s ongoing mental health treatment, as prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, which can include therapists, psychologists, and general practitioners (GPs). These animals provide comfort and help alleviate the negative symptoms associated with their human companion’s emotional or psychological disability.

Certain airlines may authorize ESA dogs to sit on their owners’ laps during a flight, outside of the carrier.

Latam Airlines emotional support dog policy

If you require the companionship of your emotional support animal for travel, you are permitted to accompany them in the cabin of the plane on routes that recognize the concept of an emotional support animal. These routes include travel to or from Mexico, Colombia, and on domestic flights within Colombia.

Emotional support dogs are permitted on routes to or from Mexico and Colombia.

Please consider the following:

  • You are allowed to travel with only one emotional support animal, which must be at least 4 months old.
  • The final approval for boarding will be conducted directly at the airport counter to ensure compliance with requirements and conditions, including behavior and size, ensuring their safe transportation in the cabin of the aircraft. If not meet the criteria, the animal will have to travel in the aircraft’s hold within a suitable container at no additional cost.
  • There is a limit of six emotional support dogs, and the transport of potentially dangerous breeds of dogs is prohibited in the passenger cabin.

Air France emotional support dog policy

You can travel in an Air France cabin with your service dog for free. Please check their website for more information

Check out our article about Can Emotional Support Dogs Fly? A Comprehensive Guide if you are looking for more information.

Size and Breed Restrictions

Understanding size limitations is key when flying with your dog. Airlines often have restrictions on the dimensions of carriers allowed in the cabin. Additionally, certain breeds may have specific considerations. Research and adhere to the size and breed guidelines provided by your airline to ensure a hassle-free journey.

Preparing Your Dog for Air Travel

To make the flying experience pleasant for your dog, it’s important to prepare them in advance. Get your dog accustomed to the travel carrier by allowing them to spend time in it before the trip. Consider short practice trips to help them adjust to the new environment. This preparation can significantly reduce stress for both you and your canine companion.

Lap Dogs vs. Larger Breeds

While lap dogs are often allowed to sit on their owner’s lap during flights, larger breeds may have different requirements. Larger dogs may need to remain in an airline-approved carrier under the seat in front of you. Be sure to check the specific regulations for your dog’s size and follow the guidelines provided by the airline.

Dog in the aircraft cabin near the window during the flight

Practical Tips for a Smooth Flight

  1. Pack Essentials: Bring your dog’s favorite toys, a water bowl, and any necessary medications.
  2. Feed Strategically: Avoid feeding your dog right before the flight to minimize the chances of motion sickness.
  3. Comfort is Key: Ensure your dog is comfortable in the carrier with familiar bedding and a familiar scent.
  4. Exercise Beforehand: Give your dog a good walk or play session before the flight to help them relax during the journey.

FAQs about Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a Flight

Can my dog sit with me on a plane?

It depends on the airline and their specific policies. Some airlines allow small dogs to sit with their owners in the cabin, usually in an approved carrier stowed under the seat. Larger dogs may need to travel in the cargo hold or in a specific area of the cabin.

Can I buy my dog a seat on a plane?

Generally, most airlines do not allow you to purchase a separate seat for your dog. Dogs are typically required to travel in an approved carrier under the seat or in the cargo hold, depending on their size and the airline’s policies. Check out our article about the best seat to have when traveling with a dog for more information.

Can I fly with my dog as a carry-on?

Yes, many airlines allow small dogs to travel in the cabin as a carry-on, typically in an airline-approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. However, there are size and weight restrictions, and it’s essential to check with the specific airline for their policies.

Can I hold my dog during takeoff?

In most cases, airlines require dogs to be secured in an approved carrier during takeoff, landing, and while the plane is taxiing. Holding your dog in your lap is generally not permitted during these phases of the flight for safety reasons.

Can I take my dog out of the carrier on the plane?

During the flight, most airlines require dogs to remain in their carriers, especially during takeoff, landing, and taxiing. Some airlines may allow you to take your dog out of the carrier when the seatbelt sign is off and the plane is at cruising altitude, but this varies, and it’s crucial to follow the specific airline’s guidelines.


Traveling with your dog can be an enjoyable experience, and with the right preparation, it can be stress-free for both you and your furry friend. Always check the specific policies of your chosen airline, prepare your dog for the journey, and follow these practical tips to make flying with your lap dog a breeze. Safe travels!


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