flying with french bulldog

One of the questions we get the most is, how do I fly with my french bulldog?

French bulldogs are brachycephalic breeds–flat nosed dogs–and those breeds are banned from flying commercial airlines underneath the plane.

Airlines have banned bulldogs, pugs and other brachycephalic breeds from their planes due to health risks to the dogs. These include:

  • American Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • English or French Bulldog
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pug
  • Shar-Pei
  • Shih Tzu

What does that mean?

I think when most people read this, they automatically wonder “so, are french bulldogs allowed on the plane?” This ban only applies to dogs who are flying in the cargo and bottom of the plane. Some dogs travel by way of carrier underneath the plane but because of the temperature and issues of short-nosed breeds, it is no longer possible.

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.

The only catch…

Most airlines have a weight limit for pets–Virgin America and Jetblue, along with a few others, have a 20 pound limit, including the weight of the carrier. The carrier weighs about 1.5-2 lbs. Fira is 14 lbs so we never have a problem and she fits very comfortably inside the Sherpa Carrier. American Airlines and United have no weight limit, as long as your pup fits comfortably inside a carrier underneath the seat in front of you.

airport dog

What to bring…

About a week before you fly, plan to visit your vet and get a health certificate. This certificate declares that your pet has its current vaccinations and is healthy to travel. It’s just a quick check up and the vets usually charge $40-70 (however much the vet charges for an office visit).

Make sure to check your airline’s rules about the size of the dog carrier you need. Bring treats, disinfectant wipes and their favorite bone.

flying with my french bulldog

Pet relief areas

Most major airlines now have pet relief areas 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??

Taking your dog on a flight may seem anxiety inducing at first but once you do it that first time, it’s a cinch after. As long as you have your paperwork ready and your pup is comfortable with it, it’s a smooth process.

Happy flying!



Booking.com

43 thoughts on “Flying On Plane With My French Bulldog”

  1. Hi! Wondering how old your frenchie is and how long she can go without having to use the potty? Also have you had issues with her barking or getting sick while flying and how do the airlines handle that?

    1. Hi Kayla- Fira is 14 months right now. We’ve been lucky–she is so easy on flights. She sleeps right through it so we haven’t had any accidents, getting sick or barking. She also can hold her bladder for a long time! I would just make sure before you take your pup on a flight to get them tired out so take them for a run at the park before and withhold water for a few hours before the flight.

  2. Thank you for not promoting the dishonest practice of lying about your dog’s role– suddenly turning them into an ESA or worse, a service dog, simply out of convenience for travel. As someone with debilitating health issues who has been “prescribed” an ESA, I have given up on trying to avail myself of this resource because others have ruined the accommodation. I actually need it, but I have faced so much harassment and stress, it exacerbates my condition and it’s not worth fighting for…my formal documentation is dismissed as “something I bought off the internet”.

    Whenever my dog flies, we do exactly what you recommended. She always has her own ticket and she flies in the large Sherpa with zero issues. I wish people would stop being selfish and just follow the rules. Thank you for this post, I hope it inspires others to follow your lead.

      1. My frenchie is also in the large side he is 33 pounds right now .
        I want to travel but every time is the sadly reminder that I just can’t.

  3. thank you so much for this blog post!! Makes me so much more confident to take that first flight with our Frenchie Ava 🙂

  4. Thanks for the info. I didn’t know that some airlines do not have a weight restriction. My frenchie Lola is very muscular and weighs a bit over 20 pounds so I thought she could not fly with me.

  5. We will be flying to pick up a rescue. He is 23 pounds. Has anyone flown with their pup of this size and if so, was he/she comfortable under the seat in front of you?

    1. We travelled with my Frenchie who is about 24.5 pounds. He fit very snugly in the medium sherpa carrier. He didn’t necessarily fit the requirements of being about to stand up and turn around in it without touching the sides, but luckily the gate agent at Delta didn’t check or seem to care. I’m about to go on an American Airlines flight and am hoping this is the case..
      He was good for the whole flight (about 4.5 hours) but since my husband and I flew together we spread his carrier between both of our leg room and unzipped it towards the window seat so he could stretch out a bit. I’m traveling alone with him on this next one, though, and am worried about him having to stay fully in the carrier the whole time.

  6. I think that some of the airline weight limitations are pertinent to some of their smaller carriers (Wisconsin Air, American Eagle, etc. for American). I am booking my Frenchie on his first flight and there IS a weight limit of 20 lbs. This is a smaller regional flight. Be cautious and do your research before booking!

  7. My Frenchie doesn’t usually have too many issues with breathing unless it is really hot or he over exerts himself. However, does anyone know what to do if your frenchie has an asthma attack? I’m always paranoid and on a plane I cannot control the temperature but it is usually cold enough for him. If the cabin pressure changes though could it be hard for him to breathe? I have an inhaler…could I try to give it to him in an emergency? No clue what to do…

    1. It really is not very comfortable for these animals to fly. Imagine a human with severe asthma on a plane. Do what you must but most of the time your brachycephalic pet would be more comfortable at home.

      1. Then don’t read this blog. Our frenchies are lucky that they don’t have such severe issues and fly comfortably.

  8. I have an emotional support dog and have absolutely never had an issue with travel both internationally and domestic. I also have a service dog who is only recognized in the USA and cannot go in restaurants internationally but can in. the states. I don’t have a letter from an internet site but from my USA doctor for my emotional support dog and from the Service Dogs of America for my service dog. To say folks abuse the ESA there are many conditions that warrant EMS dogs to. travel on board. These issues are not limited to psychiatric problems but in many cases can assist with basic well being of the owner. Some of the conditions that warrant ESA animals which are not only for dogs but for any animal within reason that aids in the daily quality of life for that individual. It is very personal as to the particular needs of an individual and the necessity of the pet that travels on board with that owner. I am sorry to hear that you have had issues with you ESA and they should only be used by those that need this support. Again it is difficult to know or to assume which individual needs this support and which individual does not. With a letter from your doctor there should never be an issue with bringing your ESA on board.

  9. I have an 8 years old French Bulldog. He don’t bark and he is a good dog. He always sleep in the trip..can i possibly have with me in the plane from Denmark to manila.. Thank you

  10. Even though United and American do not have weight limits there is still a restriction on the bag size. United is more generous, their maximum height is 11”. I have a normal French (not mini) who is on the small size and she’s 13” high. Fira looks to be exceptionally small or maybe a mini. Those of us with standard sized dogs are out of luck. Perhaps edit the article for bag size, not to get people’s hopes up.

  11. Hi there, Im looking at moving from the UK to New Zealand.
    I am aware about all of the vet treatment/ papers and injections he will need.
    I want my frenchie to fly in cabin with me (cargo is not an option – im not risking it). He’s around 22lbs but could do with losing a lb or two, He is s currently 9 months (also has 3 legs) so he may drop to just under 20. This will be a one off trip obviously but id like to be with him. Does anyone know of any airlines/ routes I can research into before considering this.
    Thank you 🙂

  12. I’ve been wanting to travel to Mexico or even isnide united states but my frenchie Benny he is way too big. Not fat not even overweight but definitely a bigger size than the regular.
    He is 32 to 35 pounds ( he is on a diet )
    And does perfect inside a kennel when we go to work, has no problems breathing either. He is a pretty amazing dog is frustrating I can’t travel and I also refuse to leave him :/

    IF ANYBODY has a peace of advise I’ll be thankful.

  13. Hello. I want to take my 24 pound Frenchie from Tokyo to LA. Has anyone done this? I want to bring him in-cabin with me, and I’m not sure there are flights that accommodate that from Japan. Looked into chartering a plane but that costs a fortune… Any advise would help!

    1. International is different. There are tons of posts specifically for dog travel domestic + international, passports etc on my travel blog wheresthefrenchie.com 🙂

      1. Hi,
        Great article, it’s informative and to the point. I’ve also written an article about traveling with brachycephalic breeds. In the article, I talk about traveling domestic and internationally with brachycephalic dogs. I feel what your audience would gain great value from your article and additional information from my article as well! Here’s the link https://www.travelingpetsafety.com/snub-nosed-dogs/ if interested in reading.
        Again, awesome article! I look forward to reading more of your post.

        Thanks,
        Wil

  14. Hi, I’m going to be taking my 11 week Frenchie home with me for the holidays. Ive only had him for a couple weeks, and although we’ve been working on kennel training him he’s SUPER clingy and often times whines any time we leave him anywhere by himself. We have his Sherpa and he will go lay down in it on his own occasionally, but I’m so nervous he will whine and cry and get me denied from boarding. Any advice? Or do you recommend any anti anxiety or calming pills? Thank you!

  15. Has anyone had to buy a separate seat/ ticket for their frenchie? Our 9 month old. Is 22 pounds and we are moving from Korea to the states in July. Just trying to get all the info

  16. I’m moving from Europe to Canada and I have been looking at ways to bring my frenchie over with me. He is on the long side, and weighs about 30 pounds. I doubt he would be able to stand up and move comfortably in a travel bag. This is making me so nervous, I’ve heard mixed reviews and stories while traveling with AirCanada, so if anyone can shed some light on the experience I would be ever so grateful!

  17. I’m about to fly domestically with my 28lb frenchie. My one worry is that the pressure in the cabin will effect his breathing. Any issues with this breed suffocating or the pressure being too much for them to handle?

  18. I just want to share with your our great experiences frying with our 7 year old 14kg Frenchie in February 2019. We traveled from Cambodia to the U.K. without any problems whatsoever on Korean Air, they were amazing and very reassuring throughout the journey. He flew in cargo in a specially pressurized and heated area in the cargo area that is constantly monitored by the he pilots.
    We flew from Phnom Penh to Seoul and then had a 7 hr stopover until the next flight which was to Amsterdam. Because of British laws Air Korea can not fly pets directly into the U.K. but this was ok, we just hopped on the ferry from Rotterdam to Hull.
    Total air time was around 20 hrs and your frenchie WILL NOT GET FED. I would rather this though than have him poop all over himself and feel stressed throughout the journey ( he didn’t by the way and we did not feed him the day of the flight also which was in the evening). It was soooooo stressful trying to find an air carrier but all the Air Korean staff throughout the journey were fantastic. We also own a staffordshire bull terrier who also flew and she was listed as a banned breed by Air Korea. Again, don’t dispare , our vet wrote that she was a terrier mix and it went very smoothly.
    The days of worrying about not being able to fly your French Bulldog are not so dark thanks to Air Korea. Please do check runway heat restrictions for the hot summer months though. We had to change our plans from July to February because it would of been too hot.
    I hope that this helps you guys out!!
    Andrew

    1. After reading this I decided to fly my frenchie also with Korean Air from Asia to Holland and then take the Rotterdam to Hull ferry. She arrived safely and all the staff at both ends and throughout the journey were super. 100% recommend this carrier.

  19. Hi everyone!
    I have been doing research on flying a dog to the UK from the USA. My French bulldog is a little on the larger side, (just tall and long, not overweight) and weighs on average of 27lbs. He has a much longer face than most frenchies and has never had an issue with heat or exercise (we live in a very hot area of California and I have taken him on very long hikes 8~ or so). I feel it would be unethical to leave him in the USA in pursuit of my goals and career, but after doing research it seems like this is not an option for me because of his weight and breed. Can anyone offer me any more information or advice? Thank you!

  20. Has anyone recently travel from Seattle to Chicago, trying to find an airline that I can travel with my frenchie. Thanks

  21. I have traveled for years with my frenchie, since she was 6 months, back and forth between US and France because I moved and lived in both places. I would always fly delta, as my frenchie is taller, longer, and about 13kg (more than the european airlines will allow – max 8kg). I used to have her in a sherpa bag (med or large I think) and most of the time I wouldn’t have a problem- but I did have some problems with the airline saying I couldn’t take her because she was too big for the bag, or the bag was too big, but I stood my ground and would NOT put her in the cargo – way too risky! Honestly I think it depends on the people at the airport and how nice or strict they feel like being with you. Once on the plane it’s fine, I usually keep the bag between my legs do there is more room and open up the top so she gets air and can stretch. I recommend not feeding before the flight due to poop, but water yes and treats. I have never given sedation, natural or otherwise- I wouldn’t want to risk it. Also there was that horror story of a poor frenchie dying because an idiot flight attendant told the girl to put it in the overhead bin – I mean what!? never. Sometimes people will tell you stupid things but with Frenchies you must stand your ground and tell them what you need to do for your pets safety and comfort. I must say it’s super stressful flying with a larger frenchie because you never know who will say something at the airport (like not allow you to fly or something). Now my frenchie is older and I need to make a trip back (after 5 yrs of her not traveling) and I’m very stressed about it. If anyone has advice please let me know.

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