If you want to bring your dog on a plane, you probably have a lot of questions, including just exactly where dogs go on the plane and if it is safe and comfortable for them.

Dogs usually go into the cargo hold during a flight, though it is possible to also bring a dog with you into the cabin in a pet carrier.

Your dog must be in an approved pet carrier or crate on a flight, and the airline may provide you with either one if requested.

You cannot buy an extra seat for your dog. And you’re not allowed to release your dog from its carrier if it is in the main cabin, either.

Most airlines also charge you extra for bringing dogs and other pets. These additional charges will likely range in the hundreds of dollars. 

Where Dogs Go on a Plane

Dogs and other pets are place in part of the plane’s cargo area underneath the cabin.

The cargo has the same temperature and pressure as the cabin for all animal’s well-being, including dogs. 

Dogs Must Be Placed in Suitable Carriers

The International Aviation Transport Authority (IATA) specifies that dogs must be placed in carriers with enough room for them to stand up, turn around, and lie down.

The carriers can be made from plastic, wood, or other appropriate materials.

The carrier must also have a water bowl and funnel for pet travel. 

Some airlines will provide pet carriers themselves, while others require you to bring your own.

If you have a large dog, you may need to request a large wooden crate. 

Are Dogs Allowed to Be Placed in the Cabin?

Dogs are not generally allowed in the cabin with passengers.

Some airlines may permit you to bring your dog in a pet carrier onboard if stored safely as a carry-on pet.

In any case, you can’t let your pet wander freely in the cabin. 

You also can’t buy an extra seat for your dog. At most, you can store your pet in a pet carrier in the cabin.

How Much it Costs to Fly With a Dog

Most airlines charge a fixed fee for pets, ranging from $50 to $250 per flight.

Depending on your airline’s policy, you may also be charged the following fees. 

  1. Cargo fee: You’re charged a cargo fee if your dog is placed in the cargo. The fee depends on your pet’s size and weight, plus the crate. The fee can be anywhere between $200 to $400 for a 75-pound dog. 
  2. Bag fee: You’re charged a bag fee if you bring your dog in a pet carrier into the cabin (if the airline allows this). This fee will likely be the same as your other bag fees. 
  3. Cabin carrier fee: You’re charged a cabin career fee if you request a cabin carrier from the airline instead of bringing your own. The fee starts at $25 and can go over $125. 
  4. Cargo crate: You’re charged a cargo crate fee if you request a cargo crate from the airline instead of bringing your own. The fee is usually between $50 to $150, depending on the size and material of the crate. 

There May Be a Weight Limit

Most airlines won’t allow a dog that weighs more than 20 pounds into the cabin.

As for the cargo bay, most airlines don’t have a weight limit as long as the dog is in a suitable carrier. 

No One Monitors the Dogs

No one monitors dogs or other pets during a flight.

Unfortunately, there have been many instances of cats and dogs being malnourished during flights or suffering from strokes and injuries.

Some airlines may have cameras in their cargo holds to monitor pets, but this practice is not universal. 

Dogs are provided a bowl of water or ice to prevent dehydration, but they’re not given food. For long flights, pets are sometimes fed during the layover period. 

As plane are very loud, you might also want to protect your dog’s hearing while flying.

Dogs Can’t Fly for Too Long

Most airlines don’t allow dogs on a flight longer than 8 hours. Some airlines will have different limits, though, and allow a dog on flights that are over 12 hours.

Generally, taking a dog with you on a flight longer than 12 hours is inadvisable. It’s better to choose a flight with a layover instead.

How Dogs Go Potty on a Plane

Dogs cannot go to the bathroom on long flights.

Passengers are required to limit their pets’ water intake 18 to 24 hours before the flight. At most, passengers can place pee or poop pads on the carrier’s flooring.

Is Can Be Stressful for Dogs to Fly

Flying is extremely stressful for dogs, especially for elderly dogs and young pups. You should provide suitable training to your dog to ensure they experience less stress while flying. 

Dogs Ears Can Hurt When Flying

Dog ears are as vulnerable to high altitudes as human ears.

So yes, dog ears hurt just like human ears if they’re not equalized.

Luckily, dogs’ outer ear canals naturally equalize pressure in their ears. So the pain will pass quickly within a few minutes for most dogs. 

Flying is generally as safe for your dog as it is for yourself.

Pets do need a health certificate issued by a veterinarian a week before travel to ensure they can fly, though.

In conclusion:

  • Dogs either go in the cargo bay or can be brought into the cabin with an approved pet carrier.
  • Dogs must be placed in an IATA-specified crate or kennel in the cargo bay.
  • In the cabin, dogs must be present in a pet carrier at all times.
  • You cannot buy an extra seat for your dog, and you cannot let your dog loose in the cabin.
  • Dogs and other pets are as safe in the cargo hold as the passengers are in the cabin.
  • But air travel can be stressful for dogs and potentially dangerous if your dog is either a young pup or very old.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).