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!



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29 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?

  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 🙂

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