As a mom to French bulldogs, I get it. We want to go everywhere with our pups. It’s understandable that most dog parents want to bring their fur babies whenever leaving town. Are you considering a longer trip with your Frenchie, and you might even be hoping to fly? Here is a list of things you should know before you make your final decision.
The top concern amongst French Bulldog owners: how do I fly with my French Bulldog and is it safe?
Flying with Brachycephalic Breeds
Flying with these flat-nosed breeds can be stressful, so be sure your dog is ready for the trip. French bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds are known to have breathing issues and other health problems. Not every Frenchie does, but it is still something you need to keep in mind. There have been reports of French Bulldogs and other flat-faced dogs getting injured or even dying during flights, but this is luckily an exception rather than the norm.
That said, Frenchies can fly, and it comes down to finding the ideal flight route, the right airline dog carrier, and preparing properly before the trip. Let’s have a look at how you can make the flight as safe and comfortable as possible for your pup.
One of the first things you need to do before you book a flight for yourself and your Frenchie is to schedule a vet check-up. Your pup might be the healthiest dog around, but it is always best to consult a professional before going airborne with your pup. Also, make sure you mention your travel plans so that your veterinarian can weigh in. Most domestic flights don’t require a health certificate but if you are flying international, you’ll need a health certificate for your dog.
Be Aware of Warm Weather
Whenever possible, it is a good idea to avoid flying during the summer months. Small, flat-faced dogs like Frenchies can get overheated easily, and while your pup will likely spend most of its time with you inside the air-conditioned terminal and on the plane, it’s good to be aware of the weather, especially when you get to your destination. I definitely leave the pups at home with a sitter if we are going somewhere very warm.
Flying a Frenchie in Cargo vs. Cabin
A common question is whether to take your Frenchie with you in the cabin or if your pup will be okay to fly as cargo. French bulldogs are brachycephalic breeds–flat nosed dogs–and those breeds are banned from flying commercial airlines underneath the plane. It’s important to know that most airlines do not allow brachycephalic breeds to fly as cargo.
What does that mean?
I think when most people see this ban, they automatically assume “so, French bulldogs are not allowed on the plane?” This ban only applies to dogs who are flying in the cargo and underneath the plane.
We can fly with our French bulldogs in cabin. Most airlines charge $100-125 each way for a “pet ticket” and all you need to do is bring them in an airline-approved carrier (Sherpa Medium) as a carry-on. Which means, your French bulldog must be able to fit comfortably inside an airline carrier and be placed under the seat in front of you.
While thousands of dogs fly cargo every year, your Frenchie can only go in the cabin with you. Extra precaution is needed when it comes to brachycephalic dogs due to their short snouts and potential breathing problems.
The catch is that dogs flying in-cabin need to meet certain size requirements. Every airline has its own rules, but one thing almost all airlines require is that your dog’s carrier needs to fit under the seat in front of you. Some airlines do have weight limits.
Before you buy your pet carrier or choose your airline, make sure to check the airline’s pet policy page and get the maximum measurements for pet carriers. I’ve listed the most popular domestic pet-friendly airlines below with their max carrier measurements!
- UNITED – 18 inches length x 11 inches wide x 11 inches height
- AMERICAN AIRLINES – 18″ x 11″ x 11″
- JETBLUE – 17″ x 12.5″ x 8.5″
- SOUTHWEST – 18.5″ x 13.5″ x 8.5″
- DELTA 18” x 11” x 11”
- ALASKA AIRLINES 17″ x 11″ x 9.5″
Choosing the Right Dog Carrier for the Flight
For small dogs traveling in-cabin, a soft-sided carrier is usually your best option. This is because they tend to be easier to fit under the seat, but they are also more practical to store once your trip is over. Some carriers even fold down, making it super easy to stow away.
Getting Used to the Carrier
If your French Bulldog isn’t crate trained or used to spending time in a carrier, it is important to take some time to teach this first. You can leave the carrier out in the house for a few weeks, to allow your dog to familiarize itself with it on its own terms.
It is going to take some time and you want to make sure you start practicing well ahead of your trip. To make crating a positive experience for your dog, start by putting treats or toys into it, to encourage your fur baby to walk in on its own. Don’t forget to give plenty praise and love.
Tip: Put one of your used t-shirts inside the bag, so it smells like you. It will create the most safe and comfortable environment for your pup!
Pick a Good Flight for Your French Bulldog
Another step in the process is to pick the best possible flight for your dog. Look for flights with no layovers, if possible, to make the journey short and convenient for the two of you. The longer the flight, the more likely your Frenchie will get restless.
Now, if your flight is more than 6 hours, I definitely recommend breaking up the flight. When we flew to Paris with the dogs, we went from LA to NYC, then stayed in NYC a couple nights, then flew to Paris.
You might also want to consider traveling in the evening, so the outdoor temperature is nice and cool for your pup.
Notify the Airline
Make sure you double-check that the airline allows in-cabin pets during flights before you book your ticket, and once it is booked, contact the airline to let them know you will be bringing a dog. There is usually a pet fee (usually, $125 one-way) associated with taking dogs on planes, and there might be restrictions regarding how many pets are allowed on one flight. Always notify the airline of your travel plans as soon as possible.
Domestic vs. International Flights
Don’t forget to do your research if you are flying internationally. It isn’t just the airline rules you need to worry about, but you also need to double-check the pet import rules in the country where you’ll be landing, to make sure your French Bulldog has all the necessary shots, paperwork and more. This often requires months of preparation beforehand.
- Does My Dog Need a Health Certificate When Flying?
- What You Need to Know About Pet Passports
- FREE Domestic + International Travel Checklists
Pet Relief Areas
Most major airlines now have pet relief areas and/or rooms with artificial grass patches for your dog. At the Miami airport, there was a room with mini fire hydrants and a flush button! Once you flush, the hydrants turn on their sprinklers and clean the patch. How cute, right??
Ready to fly?
For those flying with their Frenchies for the first time — preparation is key. Ask yourself: Is my pet too old or too young to handle the stress of traveling? Is my pet in good health? Is my pet okay in a carrier?
Once your pup has been cleared for travel by your vet, you are ready to prepare for your trip. The better you prepare, the more likely it is your Frenchie (and you) will have a safe, stress-free flight. 🙂
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about traveling with your Frenchie!