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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.
Table of Contents
Should I Be Concerned About Traveling With My Frenchie?
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 consideration.
Choosing an Airline
Airlines typically charge a pet fee ranging from $100-$200. This varies airline-to-airline.
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.
These 11 Airlines Accept Frenchies In-Cabin
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin America
The cabin is the only place I’d let my Frenchie fly!
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).
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!
FrenchieWiki Pre-Flight Checklist
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!
Choosing an Airline Carrier
Most important of all, you’re going to need a
pet carrier. When looking to purchase one, make sure it meets the
- 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.
These are my two favorite airline carriers that my Frenchie has personally had success with.
Airline Carrier Requirements
Make sure whatever carrier you get for your Frenchie meets these criteria.
- Lots of ventilation
- Must be super comfy
- Enough room for your Frenchie to turn around inside
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 lay on.
3 Tips on Reducing Carrier Anxiety
- Purchase your carrier early
- Put treats inside the carrier to get the comfortable with going inside it
- Use it as a bed while at home
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 original one, 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!
- Pet Passport
- Check your Destination Country’s Requirements
7 Other Essential Items
While these aren’t necessarily required to board your flight, they’re absolutely essential in my opinion.
- 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 and can keep them calm & busy during the flight!
- Dog wipes
- Potty pads
- Waste bags
- 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.
On The Day of the Flight
3 Simple Tips for Flying with your Frenchie
- Take pictures of your Frenchie in case they get lost
- Arrive at the airport early
- Be one of the last to board the plane
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
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.
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.
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 these Zesty Paws Hemp Elements.
They’re made from a mix of “flower essences” which are said to have calming properties.
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?
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 Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- King Charles Spaniel
- Lhasa Apso
2018 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 we all need to learn 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.