United Airlines Tragedy
In March of 2018, a black French Bulldog named Kokito was flying with United Airlines from Houston to New York. During the flight, a flight attendant asked Kokito’s owner to place his carrier in the overhead compartment.
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.
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.
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 had 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 to be learned from this story. You should never 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.
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 flying on airlines. This stems from the tragedies that have happened on flights, including the most recent United Airlines one.
Should you be worried about traveling with your Frenchie? Not exactly, 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 considerations. Preparing for the flight can reduce the risk of any possible complications.
What Airlines Accept French Bulldogs?
Be sure you contact the airline to see if they have any restrictions on specific breeds such as French Bulldogs. Unfortunately, we may see more airlines banning French Bulldogs from flying on the airlines in the near future due to the recent number of tragedies involving the deaths of brachycephalic breeds.
Airlines typically charge a pet fee ranging from $100-$200. When booking your flight, make sure you contact the airline and tell them that you are traveling with a French Bulldog in the cabin. The earlier you make your reservation, the more likely you are to secure a spot for your pet.
Can French Bulldogs Fly on Planes in Cabin?
While this is dependent on what airline you’re flying on, the answer is usually YES. You should NEVER let your French Bulldog fly anywhere except the cabin.
While many airlines have banned French Bulldogs and similar breeds for transporting in the cargo area of the plane, you should NEVER allow your French Bulldog to fly cargo even if the airline permits it. There have been numerous cases of French Bulldogs dying when traveling in the cargo area; don’t risk it.
These Breeds Have Been Banned by Many Airlines
These 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.
These breeds have been banned from flying in the cargo area of most major airlines as of 2018.
- American Bulldog
- Boston Terrier
- English or French Bulldog
- King Charles Spaniel
- Lhasa Apso
What Airlines Accept French Bulldogs in Cargo?
Despite the risks associated with brachycephalic breeds flying in the cargo area of the plane, there are still a few airlines that allow this. These include:
- Alaska Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
I highly discourage transporting your Frenchie in the cargo area of the plane. 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.
FrenchieWiki Pre-Flight Checklist
- Leash and harness
- Collar with up-to-date information
- Extra food and water
- Collapsible bowls
- Toys and things for them to chew to keep them distracted
- 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. These KONG toys can be filled up with peanut butter and keep your French Bulldog busy as your travel. It’s also a great snack!
- Health certificates
- Vaccination records
- A flashlight if you plan on traveling through the night and need to take your French Bulldog to potty where there aren’t designated areas. Some are outdoors though and
- Waste bags
- Dog wipes
- Necessary medications and supplements
- Potty pads
- Pet first aid kit
- This is a must-have for any French Bulldog owners that are outdoors a lot! It comes with the essentials to keep you prepared in case of an emergency!
How to choose a carrier for your French Bulldog
Most important of all, you’re going to need a pet carrier. When looking to purchase one, make sure it meets the following specifications.
Airlines require carriers to be leak-proof and ventilated on at least 2 sides. For our Frenchies, we prefer 3 or 4 ventilated sides. Sherpa makes a pet carrier 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! These ones are also ventilated on three of its panels which is more than enough for keeping your French Bulldog at a comfortable temperature. I recommend the large size for any adult Frenchies.
If you plan on traveling with your French Bulldog often, I recommend the Sherpa on Wheels Pet Carrier which is similar to the one above with the addition of wheels, a handle, and an additional ventilation panel. 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!
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. It’s already uncomfortable enough to be under the seat in a completely new environment. Don’t buy your carrier last minute; you want to give your Frenchie some time to get adjusted to the carrier at home.
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 lay on.
Crate training with your carrier is the best way to reduce anxiety and stress while traveling. We recommend purchasing your carrier at least a month before your flight.
Our French Bulldog Travel Bag Recommendations
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Check out our complete review of the Top 5 French Bulldog Airline Carriers!
Before the Flight
You’re going to need to fasten your seatbelts because preparing to fly with your Frenchie is a load of work! There are some things you must take into consideration when flying with your French Bulldog in order to make the process go much smoother.
When booking your flight, try to find a non-stop flight or one with the least flight changes. We recommend making your reservations well in advance to secure a spot for your pet. Airlines limit the number of pets allowed on a single flight so book your flight early to avoid any inconveniences.
If you live in a warmer area, try to book your flight for the early morning or late at night. In cold climates, choose a mid-day flight. 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!
Before flying with your French Bulldog, you’re going to need to make a trip to your vet. 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 have their 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 this 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 Clinic
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!
Should I Sedate my French Bulldog when Flying?
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.
Ask your veterinarian about other natural, non-medication options for helping your French Bulldog stay calm during travel.
The Importance of a Healthy Weight
French Bulldogs are already predisposed to many health conditions and obesity increases the risk of developing joint issues, heart problems, and makes breathing even harder for these little ones. If you ever plan on traveling with your Frenchie in the future, make sure you are keeping them at a healthy weight.
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 the day of your trip
On the day of the Flight
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. When I’m traveling, I like to have some time to hang out and let my Frenchie get comfortable with the environment. While I’m waiting for it to be time to board, I try to play with my Frenchie and 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. 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.
You should NEVER let your French Bulldog be transported in the cargo area of the plane. This is incredibly dangerous and many airlines have even banned brachycephalic breeds from traveling in the cargo. You should also know that you should NEVER put your Frenchie in the overhead compartment; unfortunately, this was the case in the recent United Airlines tragedy.
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.
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 to my Frenchie.
When you Land
Finally, the worst is over. 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. When exiting the plane I try to get out of the jetway as soon as possible because they’re usually not air-conditioned either.
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. 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. Most major airports should have a designated pet-relief area due to a federal regulation the requires airports that serve more than 10,000 passengers annually to have one in each terminal. 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.