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Animal transport options by air

13 January 2020

Holidays are coming or you want to move to another place and (like me) you can’t imagine parting with your pet? So it’s time to choose a suitable option for transporting your dog (or other animal) on the plane, and then start all preparations for the journey.

However, remember that the place where your pet will be located during the flight depends on its weight and size. There’s no need to fool yourself, with a smaller dog there will be fewer problems and more plane transport options.

It is also worth remembering that airlines are only allowed to take a limited number of animals, so you should inform the airline in advance.

Dog on a plane in a transport box or in a special bag to carry animals

This is definitely one of the best options for transporting a dog on the plane. In this case, you will be with your four-legged friend all the way, which must be placed in a suitable transport box or in a soft bag to carry animals.

Sounds good, right? But this option is not for everyone. In this case, there are weight limits for the animal, so before the flight, it is worthwhile to slim your dog a little so that his weight, including the container, does not exceed 8 kg. I’m obviously joking with this weight loss, but only small dog up to 8 kg, which must be at least 10 weeks old, can use this option.

You need to take into account that different airlines may have different weight limits, and this depends on the type of aircraft you will be travelling on, as the transport box must fit under the seat. Check this information before purchasing air tickets and the permitted dimensions of the transport box on the aircraft. As a rule, the maximum dimensions are 46 cm long, 28 cm wide and 24 cm high.

Remember, however, that during the whole flight the dog must remain in the transport box, so it is worthwhile to start getting used to it well in advance. You want this trip to be stress-free for both of you, right?

When choosing the right transport box or travel bag, make sure your dog feels comfortable in it and has enough room to stretch his legs.

If you plan to give your pet sedatives, remember to consult it with your vet first. Any medicine can cause an unwanted reaction, which is better checked under the supervision of a vet before travelling.

transporter placed under the airplane seat

Transporting the animal in the cargo hold

In this case, the dog flies in the so-called cargo hold, which is a special place for transporting animals under the aircraft. Don’t worry, your dog doesn’t fly with the luggage, but in a special place designed and properly prepared for this.

The conditions in the cargo hold should be maintained at the same level as in the passenger cabin. I mean, of course, air temperature, pressure and access to light and oxygen. Before you choose an airline, first make sure that the same conditions apply in the cargo hold at the animal transport location as in the passenger cabin.

In this case, the dog travels in a special transport box, which must meet the requirements set out in the IATA regulations, the International Air Transport Association.

Make sure your dog travels in a comfortable environment, so the container should be large enough to give your dog freedom of movement. Equip it also with special water and food bowls that can be attached to the cage. This type of bowl can be easily purchased online in pet shops. The underside of the transport box should be lined with a possibly well-known blanket or other liner, which is well known to the dog. null


  • Avoid connecting flights. Each plane change extends the time your dog stays in the transport box
  • Start getting your dog used to the transport box well in advance, even a few months before the planned journey. Start by feeding him in it, and then start travelling with him by car in such a way that he will be locked in it while driving.
  • The permitted size of the transport box or cage should be checked carefully with the airline that your dog will travel with. Airlines may also have special requirements regarding the material of the cage or the box. If the transport box is too small or does not meet IATA requirements, airlines may refuse to transport the animal.
  • It is worth putting a sticker on the transporter with such information as: The dog’s name, feeding instructions, owner’s name and telephone number.
  • Before booking a flight, you should check the regulations governing the entry and exit of animals in the country of your destination. Such information can be found, for example, at the consulates of individual countries.
  • Most airlines have an animal weight limit of 75 kg.
  • Sedatives should only be given after prior consultation with your vet. If you miss plan your dog medication, your dog may wake up during the flight, causing him extra stress.
  • Also remember about your current vaccinations, health booklet, passport and microchip attachment. You will find all the information about this in my previous entry. Click here
  • If you are going to the UK, remember that animals are only allowed to be transported by cargo.
  • Also, make sure that your dog will have the right amount before the travel. You’ll read about how I’m preparing my dog for flight in the previous article.

Fees for the carriage of animals by LOT airlines

Animal transport in the cargo hold as cargo

What does that mean exactly? This means that the dog flies on a different plane than you, or more precisely, it flies in a cargo plane. In this option, the procedure for transporting the dog will look similar to that for transporting pets in the cargo hold, which I described above.

Remember, however, that each airline may have different requirements, so check all the information before buying your ticket. In a cargo plane there is no limit on the weight of the dog and the size of the cage, although the bigger the cage, the bigger the fee will apply.

Service and ESA dog

Service dog is a guardian dog that accompanies a disabled person. The dog is trained to assist and do specific work for its carer.

ESA (Emotional Support Animal) is an emotional support dog, which mitigates the effects of a person’s disability and is a great support for them. Sometimes it happens that a certain person is afraid to fly, so the ESA dog helps them to fly safely and comfortably.

The ESA certificate can only be issued by a psychiatrist or psychologist licensed by the medical union. It is worth mentioning that the emotional support dog is a term that started in the USA, that is why flights with ESA animal are respected only in the USA and also “to” and “from” the USA. Many airlines (other than US airlines) do not recognise ESA dogs, but for flights to the US they do in most cases.

In both cases, the dogs fly free of charge, do not have to be in any transporter, nor do airlines introduce weight or size limits.

Remember, however, that travelling with an ESA dog and service dog does not exempt you from the general regulations for bringing your dog into a foreign country. Therefore, all documents (which I described in the previous article) will still be valid.




Hey! My name is Kaja and I'm so happy to see you here. :) By traveling around the world, I make my dreams come true and I share my experiences on my blog and Instagram. I’m discovering amazing places, taking photos of them and infecting others with the desire to explore them. I haven't been "everywhere" yet, but I have it on my list. :)