Home » Family Travel » Dog Under Airplane Seat: Tips and Regulations

Dog Under Airplane Seat: Tips and Regulations

By Molly Weinfurter


Updated on

If you plan to travel long distances with your dog, you may need to learn about dog under airplane seat rules. If your dog is small enough, they can come in the cabin and stay under your seat during a flight. However, there are lots of things to consider before flying with a dog for the first time.

So, what do you need to know about dogs on planes before booking a flight? Keep reading to find out how to travel with your small pooch.

Where Do Dogs Go on a Plane?

Dog Under Airplane Seat

How to fly with a dog varies based on the type of dog you’re bringing. If your dog is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, they can usually fly in the cabin. However, the exact pet policies and under seat dimensions will vary based on the airline.

If you have a medium or large sized dog, they won’t be allowed in the cabin unless they’re a service dog. Large dogs go with the checked baggage, so they’ll be in a pressurized, temperature-controlled space separate from the cabin. The rules for a dog flying as cargo will also vary between airlines.

In both instances, your dog will need to be up to date on their vaccines before flying. Not all airlines ask for proof of a recent vet visit, but it’s a good idea to have it with you just in case. Dogs also need to be at least 8 weeks old to fly on an airplane.

Dog Under Airplane Seat Restrictions

Dog Under Airplane Seat Restrictions

The in cabin rules for dogs will vary based on the airline you choose, but most allow dogs of a certain weight in a certain carrier size on board. Always check your airline’s pet restrictions before booking your pup on a flight. Most flights have a limit on how many dogs can board, so plan your dog friendly vacation far in advance.

Weight Limit for Dogs on Planes

Most airlines require dogs in the cabin to be 20 pounds or less. However, they should also be able to comfortably fit in the under seat space. A short, round 20-pound dog may have no problems fitting, but a lanky pup may feel squished. So, even if your dog fits the weight restrictions, make sure they will have enough space to relax.

Dog Airplane Carrier Size Restrictions

The dog carrier has to be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, so research your airline’s under seat dimensions before choosing a carrier. Not all airlines have their under seat dimensions listed online, so you may have to call them to confirm the appropriate pet carrier size. Most airline pet carriers should be smaller than 18 x 11 x 11 inches. Soft carriers are the best option because they’re more flexible.

Things to Consider Before Flying with a Dog

Things to Consider Before Flying with a Dog

Even if your dog and their carrier fit an airline’s requirements, you may not want to travel with them. The following are things to think about before flying with dogs.

Consider Your Dog’s Behavior

Will your dog be behaved during the flight? If your dog has car anxiety, is loud, or has difficulties sitting still, the answer is most likely no. Bringing a badly behaved dog on a plane will cause stress to you, your dog, and the people around you, so it’s best to leave them at home if possible. You know your dog better than anyone, so it’s up to you to decide if they will do well on a plane.

If you want to prepare your dog for travel, you should start by taking them to local pet friendly places for short periods of time to see how they do. Dog friendly stores and dog friendly restaurants are great places to start.

Talk to Your Vet

Before you fly with your dog for the first time, you should notify your vet. Your vet can give you tips and let you know if your dog would benefit from any medication during the flight. Plus, they can get your dog updated on vaccines since your pup will need up-to-date medical records to fly. 

Get Your Dog Used to Their Carrier

If you don’t regularly put your dog in a carrier, it will be an unusual adjustment for them. The carrier should be big enough for them to comfortably lie down and turn around in. Spend some time carrying your dog around in the carrier at home to make sure it’s comfortable for them. If they’re uncomfortable for short sessions at home, they likely won’t be comfortable during a flight.

Some dogs are scared of being picked up off the ground in a carrier, and carrying a dog at the airport may be exhausting for you. So, some pet carriers come with wheels to make the process easier for both of you. If your dog is struggling with a traditional carrier, consider one with wheels instead.

Give Them Bathroom Breaks in Advance

A dog in an airplane will need to be good at holding their bladder. Some flights are long, and there isn’t a place for them to pee on board. So, take your dog to the bathroom as close to your flight as possible. Some airports might only have grassy areas outside before going through security while others may have indoor potty areas. However, not all dogs are willing to pee on the fake grass of indoor bathrooms, so make sure they go outside just in case.

If your dog isn’t fully potty trained or has a hard time holding their bladder for long durations, flying may not be good for them. The last thing you’ll want is to make your row smell like urine during the flight. 

Bring Paper Towels

Even if your dog is fully potty trained and good with traveling, it’s always a good idea to bring some paper towels with you just in case. Accidents can happen, and if your dog pees, poops, or vomits, it’s your responsibility to clean up after them. So, it’s always good to be prepared for that in case of an emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Traveling with dogs isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve never done it before. Here are some questions related to dog under airplane seat rules.

What Airlines Allow Dogs?

Most airlines allow dogs to some extent, but here are some of the most pet friendly airlines:

  • Alaska 
  • American
  • Frontier
  • Southwest
  • Hawaiian
  • Spirit
  • Delta

These are just a few pet friendly airlines. Research an airline’s pet policy before booking a ticket.

How Much Does it Cost to Fly with Dogs?

Flying with a dog in the cabin usually costs $95 to $125, depending on the airline. Unfortunately, the dog doesn’t get their own seat and must remain under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight.

Can Emotional Support Dogs Fly for Free?

No, emotional support dogs cannot fly for free because they’re not service dogs. Many airlines used to allow ESAs for free on flights, but too many people were bringing on fake ESAs, so it’s not longer allowed.

Flying with Your Dog

Now that you know the dog under airplane seat rules, it’s time to decide if you want to fly with your dog. Will your dog be calm and well-behaved during the flight? If so, they may make the perfect vacation companion. If not, you should consider leaving them behind if you’re able to avoid stressing out your dog and those around them. Bringing your dog into the airplane cabin can be a thrilling experience, but only if your pup is prepared and comfortable.


About Molly Weinfurter

Molly Weinfurter is a freelance writer and editor that specializes in family, travel, and animal-related topics.

1 thought on “Dog Under Airplane Seat: Tips and Regulations”

Leave a Comment