Flying with a French Bulldog
There has been a lot of debate recently over whether brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced) such as the French Bulldog should be permitted to fly on airlines.
Properly preparing for the flight can reduce the risk of any possible complications.
Read on to…
- Ease your worries about flying with your Frenchie— it can be difficult & a bit stressful the first time, but with the right preparations, everything will be just fine
- Learn why flying with Frenchies is highly controversial— never let your Frenchie fly under the plane
- Learn how to choose an airline carrier for your Frenchie— the wrong carrier can make traveling a pain… we’ve picked out the best airline carriers that are Airline Approved
- Tips to prepare your Frenchie for flying— you can’t just buy a carrier & hop on a plane… flying with your Frenchie takes requires a trip to the vet, stocking up on some supplies, and getting the acclimated to their carrier
- Learn what to do during the flight— if you’ve properly prepared, this should be a relatively low-stress part of traveling… my Frenchie usually sleeps the whole time
- Learn what to do after you land— at this point, the worst is behind you… but it’s not over yet!
In a rush?
If you already know how to fly with your dog and are just looking for the best French Bulldog Airline Carrier, then look no further than the Sherpa on Wheels Pet Carrier.
It’s got wheels & a pull strap so you can pull them around like a suitcase and it’s got tons of ventilation to keep them nice & cool during the flight.
Not all Frenchies are the same…
Remember, not all Frenchies are built the same!
Just like airline carriers, our Frenchies come in all different shapes and sizes.
You’ll probably be fine with the carrier listed above, but be sure to check out our overview of the 5 Best French Bulldog Airline Carriers if you’re having any doubts!
Table of Contents
- Choosing an Airline — not all airlines allow Frenchies to fly in-cabin
- Before the Flight — everything you need to do and have to make flying a smooth process
- Choosing a Carrier — a solid airline carrier is arguably the most important part of flying with your Frenchie
- During the Flight — some tips for helping your Frenchie stay cool & calm during the flight
- After the Flight — it’s not over yet! Learn exactly what you need to do when you land & after getting off the flight
- FAQ — anything else not covered will be answered here
Should I Be Concerned About Traveling With My Frenchie?
Should you be worried about traveling with your Frenchie?
Not neccessarily, however, you should take the necessary precautions before you board that plane.
Just keep in mind that traveling with a French Bulldog requires special care and consideration.
Choosing an Airline
Airlines typically charge a pet fee ranging from $100-$200. This varies airline-to-airline.
Book your flight early
Airlines limit the number of pets allowed on a single flight so book your flight early to avoid any inconveniences.
The earlier you make your reservation, the more likely you are to secure a spot for your pet.
Verify with the Airline
Be sure you contact the airline to verify whether they have any restrictions on specific breeds such as French Bulldogs.
When booking your flight, tell the airline that you plan on traveling with your French Bulldog in the cabin.
Unfortunately, more airlines may start to ban French Bulldogs from flying on their airline in the future due to the recent number of tragic deaths of brachycephalic breeds on board.
Can French Bulldogs Fly on Planes in Cabin?
This answer is different for each airline, but typically yes, French Bulldogs can fly in the cabin of a plane.
The cabin area of the plane is where all the passengers sit, compared to the cargo area of the plane, which is where the luggage goes (and some dogs even fly down there in a climate-controlled, pressurized compartment!)
These 11 Airlines Accept Frenchies In-Cabin
The following 11 airlines are known to allow Frenchies to fly in-cabin under the seat in front of you…
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin America
The cabin is the only place I’d let my Frenchie fly!
NEVER let your Frenchie fly under the plane in the cargo area!
Just Say No To Cargo
While many airlines have banned French Bulldogs and other flat-faced dogs from transporting in the cargo area of the plane, there are a few that still allow it.
You should NEVER let your French Bulldog be transported in the cargo area of the plane.
Only Fly In-Cabin
You should ONLY fly with your Frenchie in the cabin with you.
Even if the airline has an option for your Frenchie to fly under in the cargo area, don’t do it!
There have been numerous cases of French Bulldogs dying when traveling in the cargo area.
Before the Flight
You’re going to need to fasten your seatbelts because preparing to fly with your Frenchie is a load of work!
Before you & your Frenchie hop on your flight, you’re going to need to do a few things.
6 Things You’ll Need To Do
- Book an ideal flight
- Obtain a Certificate of Good Health from your vet
- Notify the airline you are flying with your Frenchie
- Satisfy other requirements if flying internationally
- Stock up on the essential supplies
- Find an emergency vet clinic at your destination
Booking your flight
Picking the Ideal Time of Day
You definitely want to look for a flight either early in the morning or later in the evening.
During these times, the airplanes won’t be excruciatingly hot (especially in the summertime — here’s how to keep your Frenchie cool during the summer).
In Warmer Climates
If you live in a warmer area, try to book your flight for the early morning or late at night so the cabin isn’t too hot.
In Colder Climates
In cold climates, choose a mid-day flight or pack a blanket for your Frenchie.
Picking the Ideal Seat
We also recommend that you choose a seat as close to the front of the plane as possible so you can get off as soon as you land.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the back of the plane when it lands and they turn off the air conditioning… it gets so hot!
Notify the Airline
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to contact the airline to verify whether or not they have any restrictions on specific breeds such as French Bulldogs.
Rules are always changing, and the last thing you want to do is be rejected at the gate.
Book In Advance
We recommend you make your reservations well in advance to secure a spot for your pet.
Pet spots are limited
Airlines limit the number of pets allowed on a single flight so book your flight early to avoid any inconveniences.
Don’t spend all day traveling (if possible)
When booking your flight, if possible, try to book a non-stop flight or one with the least flight changes. One flight is probably more than enough for our Frenchies, let alone three!
Try to keep the whole duration of your traveling as short as possible.
Before your Frenchie flies, they’re going to need to visit the vet to get a certificate of good health.
Not only does your vet need to check if your Frenchie is healthy and all, but they’ll also need to make sure they have all the necessary vaccines depending on where you’re traveling to.
Certificate of Good Health
In order for your Frenchie to be allowed on the plane, they must receive a Certificate of Good Health from their veterinarian within ten days of traveling.
This document states that your pet is free of any infectious diseases and has its vaccinations up-to-date.
Traveling International with your French Bulldog
If you are traveling out of the United States to other countries, you may be required to have their document certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
You should also contact the respective Foreign Consulate or Regulatory Agency as there may be other health requirements to be met.
Locate an Emergency Vet Clinic Near You
You’re going to want to make sure you know where the 24-hour emergency clinics are in the area that you’re traveling to.
In an emergency, you do not want to be wasting precious time looking for the closest vet hospital; just a few minutes could mean the difference between life or death!
How to find an Emergency Vet near you
FrenchieWiki Pre-Flight Checklist
Don’t want to forget anything for your flight?
Download our Airplane Travel Checklist!
Choosing an Airline Carrier
Most important of all, you’re going to need a pet carrier. Here are our Top 5 French Bulldog Airline Carriers.
When looking to purchase one, make sure it meets the following specifications.
Airline Carrier Requirements
- Lots of ventilation (3-4 sides recommended)
- Comfy & roomy (must be able to turn around while standing)
- Compliant with airline requirements (Look for “Guaranteed On Board”)
My Favorite Airline Carriers
It can be difficult trying to find a carrier that is the right size for your Frenchie…
Here are some of the best French Bulldog Airliner Carriers on the market…
Lots of Ventilation
The carriers listed above are also ventilated on three or more of its panels which is more than enough for keeping your French Bulldog at a comfortable temperature.
Airlines require carriers to be leak-proof and ventilated on at least 2 sides, however, I recommend having 3-4 sides ventilated.
Must be Comfy
The carrier must be large enough for your Frenchie to stand, sit, and lay down naturally.
They should not be crammed in the carrier and must have enough space to turn around while standing.
Clear the Runway
Avoid adding any extra, bulky items such as heavy blankets or towels in the carrier when flying.
Items such as these can increase the risk of breathing problems and also can make your Frenchie hotter. If you must, use a thin blanket for them to lie on.
3 Tips on Reducing Carrier Anxiety
- Purchase your carrier early — you want them to get used to the carrier; this will help them have less carrier-anxiety.
- Put treats inside the carrier to get them comfortable with going inside it — they will begin to associate the carrier with treats!
- Use it as a bed while at home — if they learn the carrier is a place to sleep, the plane ride will be easier for both you & your Frenchie.
Get The Crate Early
Don’t buy your carrier last minute — you want to give your Frenchie some time to get adjusted to the carrier at home.
We recommend purchasing your carrier at least a month before your flight.
Crate training with your carrier is the best way to reduce anxiety and stress while traveling.
A Positive Association
It’s already uncomfortable enough to be under the seat in a completely new environment… by familiarizing them with the carrier, they’ll hopefully start to view it as a positive experience.
Guaranteed on Board Program
Travel with peace of mind with the Guaranteed on Board Program.
If you are denied boarding due to your Frenchie’s carrier, you’ll be refunded the cost of the carrier.
Compliant with Most Airlines
Sherpa makes pet carriers in small, medium, and large that are all part of the Guaranteed on Board Program, which means they are compliant with most major airlines’ specifications and if you are denied boarding, they will refund the cost of the carrier!
I recommend the large size for any adult Frenchies.
If you plan on traveling with your French Bulldog often, I also recommend the Sherpa on Wheels Pet Carrier, which is similar to the original one, with the addition of wheels, a handle, and an additional ventilation panel.
Lugging your Frenchie around the airport is no fun— with the Sherpa on Wheels Pet Carrier, you can push/pull them around just like a suitcase!
It's part of the Guaranteed on Board program, meaning it's airline approved.
If you are denied boarding due to the carrier, Worldwise will refund you the entire cost of your flight.
Dimensions: 21" L x 12.25" W x 10.5" H
Weight: up to 22 pounds (10kg)
- 1-year warranty
- Airline approved
- Ventilated on all 4 sides
- Has wheels & padded pull strap
I can tell you from personal experience that carrying your dog around is exhausting especially after a long day of traveling.
This carrier is also part of the Guaranteed on Board Program and should be good to go for most airlines!
Essential Items for Flying
While these aren’t necessarily required to board your flight, they’re absolutely essential in my opinion.
- Treats — make sure you have your Frenchies favorite treats (don’t get something new that might upset their stomach!) My favorite are Zuke’s Mini Naturals as they’re less than 3 calories per treat.
- Dog wipes — if your Frenchie makes a mess with their
foodor anything, you’ll be glad you have these! I always recommend Pogi’s Grooming Wipes as they’re super gentle on their skin.
- Potty pads — especially useful during long days of traveling… while you’d ideally take them to a designated outdoor area, a potty pad is better than them just peeing on the airport floor (watch for signs of them having to pee like sniffing around in circles)
- Waste bags — while some Pet Relief Areas may have waste bags for you to use, it’s better to have your own on hand in case they aren’t available. I use this Waste Bag Carrier and attach it to my leash.
- A flashlight — if you plan on traveling through the night and need to take your French Bulldog to pee where there aren’t designated areas. Something like this Compact Flashlight is perfect for any travels.
1. A Leash & Harness
While you likely already have a leash & harness, it’s important to have one that fits snugly & comfortably so that your Frenchie has no chance of escaping its harness and running around the airport.
This is a No-Pull Harness
This harness is a No-Pull Harness which clips in the front to discourage pulling on the leash.
It also has a clip in the back if your Frenchie isn’t a puller.
A Shock-Absorbing Leash
Okay, even if your Frenchie isn’t a notorious leash-puller, they probably still get excited and occasionally charge bunnies or other animals that excite them outside.
That’s where a leash like this Tuff Mutt Bungee Leash comes in — it protects your Frenchies neck & spine by absorbing any leash-pulling impacts.
Treats are essential for traveling…
For when you can’t give them their entire meal or want to reward them for their good behavior, you’ll want to have some snacks handy.
These are my favorite treats that aren’t too high in calories but still make a super tasty snack.
Frenchies may be stubborn— but with a treat like this, they'll be doing whatever it takes to get another one...
With chicken as the #1 ingredient and only 3 calories per treat, this is one of my favorite Frenchie treats for both training & snacking.
- Made with chicken
- Less than 3 calories per treat
- Made with natural, whole ingredients
Keep in mind that some toys may not be allowed through some security checkpoints!
Bring a simple, no-frills toy that you don’t mind losing. I like the Kong Classic Dog Toy as it can be filled up with treats or peanut butter to give them a fun & tasty snack during your travels.
It’s a great toy/snack that can keep them calm & busy during the flight!
A classic toy that is a must-have for every Frenchie.
Fill it up with kibble, peanut butter, or any other snack you can find— or just keep it as-is.
Not to mention, it's also great for...
- Crate training
- Separation anxiety
- Teething & chewing
- Weight management
- Unpredictable bounciness for hours of entertainment
- Relieve separation anxiety, reduce boredom, and have fun
- Perfect for stuffing with treats, peanut butter, or KONG Stuff'N Easy Treat Paste
You’ll need some bowls while traveling — I like these Silicone Collapsible Travel Bowls that come in a pack of 2 because they can be flattened down & stored in your Frenchie’s carrier.
They’re also nice to have when on long walks or traveling — they come with a convenient clip so they can be hooked to nearly anything.
Collapsible & convenient— a must-have for traveling, long walks, and long days out of the house.
- BPA-free & dishwasher safe
- Folds flat for efficient storage and travel
- Climbing buckle to attach to nearly anything
- Make mealtime easy and quick anywhere, indoors or outdoors
5. Dog wipes
When it comes to grooming wipes, I love & always recommend Pogi’s Grooming Wipes.
They’re perfect for little moments when your Frenchie gets dirty (either walking outside or getting
Sure, Frenchies don't need to be groomed every week, but they still get messy.
These grooming wipes are perfect for keeping your Frenchie fresh in between grooming.
Use to wipe away any odors, dirt, and dander from your Frenchie's coat.
- All-natural— free of any hard ingredients
- Hypoallergenic— won't irritate sensitive skin
- Easily removes odors
6. Potty Pads
Sometimes accidents happen — and when they do, you’ll be glad you had some Potty Pads to make cleaning up a lot easier.
Depending on where you are in the airport, you might not be able to make it to the Pet Relief Area in time — and when you’re in the terminal, running outside for a second isn’t an option.
You never know when your Frenchie will have to go potty...
- In the airport
- In a hotel on the 47th floor
- Somewhere it's inconvenient to go outside
- Hesitant to go outside in a dark & unknown area
You'll be glad you have these in your travel bag!
- Leakproof lining
- Easy to cleanup
- Highly absorbent
7. Waste bags
If you don’t already have Waste Bags for when you walk your Frenchie (what are you doing?!), you might want to get one for when you travel. It’s the easiest & most convenient way to have waste bags on hand.
Clips onto your leash & holds used bags
This waste bag holder clips onto any leash and has a hook on it to hold the used bags.
Who likes walking around with plastic bags & carrying them home after your Frenchie's done their business?
Let this waste bag holder do the dirty work for you— not only does it conveniently hold a roll of waste bags, but it also has a hook for the used bag as well!
- Fits any size & style of leash
- Comes with 15 unscented bags
- Hook on back to hold used bags
8. A flashlight
Sure, our phones have flashlights — but even two or three iPhones won’t be able to match the brightness & distance of a flashlight like this…
Besides, who wants to waste their precious phone battery when traveling (not me!)
Flashlights are perfect for…
- Taking your Frenchie outside in a new & dark area
- Spotting anthills or any other hazards when walking your Frenchie
- Giving your Frenchie lots of visibility to find the perfect place to pee
- Nighttime visibility so that cars on the road can see you from far away
9. Pet First Aid Kit
If you have enough room for a first-aid kit, I’d highly recommend keeping one on you — this one is small enough to be convenient to travel with, but it has everything you’d need in case of an emergency.
- Includes pet first aid manual
- Compact size that's easy to travel with
- Pet Passport
- Check your Destination Country’s Requirements
On The Day of the Flight
3 Simple Tips for Flying with your Frenchie
- Arrive at the airport early — this reduces stress for both you & your Frenchie
- Be one of the last to board the plane — lots of airlines don’t turn on their air conditioning until the plane is ready to depart
- Take pictures of your Frenchie in case they get lost — I’m sure you have tons of pics of your Frenchie, but it’s nice to have ones of them on the day of traveling showing their harness, collar, and anything else that could help one recognize them
In the event that your Frenchie got lost, you’d want to have recent photos to help others in locating them.
We recommend taking photos prior to traveling, preferably on the day of your trip.
Make sure you arrive at the airport early; you don’t want to miss your flight because you had to take your pup out for a potty break.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m traveling, I like to have some time to hang out and let my Frenchie get comfortable with her new surroundings.
Tucker Them Out!
While I’m waiting for it to be time to board, I also will play with my Frenchie to tire her out as much as possible– I don’t want her to even have the energy to be anxious on the flight.
When it comes time to board, I’m usually one of the last to get on the plane.
It Gets Hot!
You don’t want to be one of the first to board and have to sit on the plane for 10-30 minutes without air conditioning.
The cabin of the airplane can get as high as 86° F. when waiting on the runway.
Being the last one on the plane also means you can avoid dealing with other people cramming in the aisle while you stand there lugging around your Frenchie.
During the Flight
During the flight, I sometimes will let my Frenchie stick her head out of her carrier.
I’m sure that this goes against the airline’s rules, but I’ve found that most flight attendants could care less as long as you are respectful about it.
Keep It Cool!
The bigger airplanes usually have air vents on the floor which helps them stay cool, but you’re going to want to keep a close eye on them and their breathing.
I always direct the upper air vents toward my Frenchie.
After the Flight
Once the wheels touch the ground, the worst is over. What a relief.
Get Some Fresh Air
As soon as it is safe to do so, I’ll let my Frenchie poke her head out from her carrier and give her a drink of water.
Get Off ASAP
When exiting the plane I try to get out of the jetway as soon as possible because they’re usually not air-conditioned either.
Take it Easy
When you arrive, you should take it slow as your Frenchie is probably overwhelmed by the new environment.
Go sit down and give them time to adjust while you wait for your bags.
Watch for Potty Signals
Place down a potty pad nearby especially if you notice signs that they have to potty such as sniffing the floor or turning in circles while sniffing.
You should also look for the closest place for your Frenchie to go potty.
They’re required in major airports
Most major airports should have a designated pet-relief area due to a federal regulation that requires airports that serve more than 10,000 passengers annually to have one in each terminal.
Where to find Pet-Relief Areas
PetFriendlyTravel.com has a great tool to find pet-relief areas in every airport in the United States!
If you’re too far from one of these areas or your airport does not have one, you should use a potty pad instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Sedate my French Bulldog when Flying?
Not the best idea
Sedatives and tranquilizers are not recommended when flying with pets, especially flat-faced breeds such as the French Bulldog.
The reason for this is that they can increase the risk of heart and breathing problems!
There are also all-natural options to help with their nerves such as this CBD from ElleVet Sciences.
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When In Doubt, Ask Your Vet
Be sure to ask your vet about other natural options when you take them in for their health certificate and vaccinations.
The Importance of a Healthy Weight
If you ever plan on traveling with your Frenchie in the future, make sure you are keeping them at a healthy weight.
What Airlines Accept French Bulldogs in Cargo?
Despite the significant risks associated with brachycephalic breeds flying in the cargo area of the plane, there are still a few airlines that allow this.
I highly discourage transporting your Frenchie in the cargo area of the plane. Just don’t do it.
Flying in cargo means your Frenchie will go under the plane where all the luggage is.
Whatever you do, NEVER ALLOW YOUR FRENCHIE TO FLY IN CARGO.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Alaska Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
Of the 122 deaths of dogs on airplanes in the past 5 years, about half were brachycephalic breed dogs.
You should always fly with your French Bulldog in the cabin area of the plane.
What Other Breeds are Banned by Airlines?
The following breeds, most of which are brachycephalic breeds, were recently banned by United Airlines.
What does brachycephalic mean?
Simply put, it means “flat-faced” or “shortened head”.
While we find these smooshed-faced pups absolutely adorable, they are notorious for breathing problems. For these breeds, it’s even more important that you keep them at a healthy weight to avoid worsening their airways.
Breeds Banned by Airlines
- American Bulldog
- Boston Terrier
- English Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- King Charles Spaniel
- Lhasa Apso
These breeds have been banned from flying in the cargo area of most major airlines as of 2018.
This doesn’t mean that these breeds are banned from flying in the cabin area of the plane though.
French Bulldog Plane Death
In March of 2018, a black French Bulldog named Kokito was flying with United Airlines from Houston to New York.
The flight attendant wanted the dog stored overhead
During the flight, a flight attendant asked Kokito’s owner to place his carrier in the overhead compartment.
The owner argued
Like the rest of us dog owners, Kokito’s owner was adamant about not putting her puppy in such a dangerous situation.
The flight attendant insisted, stating that the dog was a “hazard” because someone might trip on it.
The owner finally caved
After some more arguing, Kokito’s owner finally listened to the flight attendant and put him in the overhead compartment. According to witnesses, the owner was busy dealing with her infant, taking her attention off of her Frenchie.
The unimaginable happened
After a few hours of flying, the plane finally landed. Just as it is on any flight, the passengers were eager to get off the plane. As everybody was gathering their belongings, Kokito’s owner realized what had happened. Other passengers on the plane reported “sobbing and gasping” and saw her collapsed on the floor as she realized the dog had died.
While this is undoubtedly one of the saddest tragedies to happen recently on an airline, I feel there is a lesson we all need to learn from this story.
The takeaway from this story
Don’t let anybody tell you what to do with your dog, especially when traveling.
Don’t let someone tell you that your Frenchie must fly under in the cargo area or in the overhead compartment; even if you aren’t allowed on the plane— you must put your pet’s life first.