It’s commonly known that pet dogs cannot fly to the UK in the cabin or as checked baggage, only as cargo. However, the same rule doesn’t apply in reverse. While many airlines don’t fly pet dogs in either direction, there are some airlines that fly pet dogs (and cats) out of the UK in the cabin or as checked baggage.
Read on to find out more about which European and international airlines offer the option of flying out of the UK with a dog, plus extra tips for flying to the USA with a dog and rules for selected airports.
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European Airlines That Fly Dogs Out of the UK
As far as I’m aware, the following European airlines currently fly pet dogs out of the UK either in the cabin or as checked baggage. While this is clearly listed on the website of some airlines, other airlines don’t detail this, but I’ve usually heard of other pet owners who have flown with these airlines.
Aegean Airlines (Greece): The Greek flag-carrier Aegean Airlines states on its website that pets can only fly to the UK as cargo, but makes no such mention on flights departing the UK. I have heard of people flying out of Dublin with this airline, so I recommend checking directly with the airline. View their pet policy.
Air France (France): While the French airline makes no mention of whether it flies pets in the cabin on flights departing the United Kingdom, I have heard from multiple travellers that this is possible. Air France has a standard weight limit of 8kg including their carrier. View their full pet policy.
Air Malta (Malta): Air Malta clearly states it allows cats and dogs to fly in the cabin and as excess luggage on flights out of the UK. A weight limit of 10kg applies, although the carrier size is still small. For pets in the hold, this only applies on flights out of Heathrow. Be aware of the requirements to have your pet checked on arrival in Malta. View their full pet policy.
Iberia (Spain): I’ve recently heard reports of Spanish airline Iberia allowing pets to fly in the cabin on flights from the UK to Spain. On their website, they clearly state that pets can’t fly in the cabin on flights to the UK, plus in the hold as checked baggage on flights to or from the UK, but don’t rule out flying pets out of the UK. A standard weight limit of 8kg applies, with bookings in advance required via the call centre required. View their pet policy.
ITA Airways (Italy): I’ve recently heard reports that ITA Airways, the new state-owned flag-carrier of Italy, allows pets to fly in the cabin on its flights departing the UK, including London City Airport. A standard weight restriction of 8kg applies, with a maximum height of 28cm for soft or semi-rigid carriers. Click here for more details, with bookings over the phone required.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Netherlands): Like Air France, KLM doesn’t mention on their website whether they fly pets out of the UK, but they have been recommended by multiple fellow travellers. KLM has a maximum weight limit of 8kg including the carrier bag for pets in the cabin. View their pet policy.
LOT Polish Airlines (Poland): The Polish flag-carrier permits pets to fly in the cabin on its flights departing the UK, just not flights to the UK where their website states they need to fly as cargo. A maximum weight of 8kg applies, with a maximum height of 20cm for the carrier. For flights within Europe the fee charged is only €60.
Lufthansa (Germany): Another airline that frequently is listed as flying pets out of the UK despite not mentioning this on their website is the German flag-carrier Lufthansa. Pets in the cabin must weigh no more than 8kg, including their carrier. Make sure you follow their long and comprehensive rules, plus complete their check-in form. View their full pet policy.
TAP Air Portugal (Portugal): TAP Air Portugal states that it allows pets to fly both in the cabin and as excess baggage on flights departing the United Kingdom, except for on flights departing Gatwick Airport due to airport restrictions. For pets in the cabin, a maximum weight of 8kg including their carrier applies. Note that you need to notify the Veterinary Directorate-General in advance for the arrival of pets in Portugal from outside the EU, including from the UK. View their pet policy.
There may also be some other airlines that offer this option. If an airline doesn’t specifically rule out this option in their pet policy, it is worthwhile enquiring with them, well in advance of making your plans and a booking.
Please let me know if you are aware of any other airlines that fly dogs out of the UK, or if you have any issues with flying out of the UK with any of these airlines! Plus please see the note below about restrictions on some UK airports.
Note that if you are flying out of the UK with a European airline with a transit in Europe, generally you require a European pet health certificate, as well as the paperwork for your destination. Enforcement of this varies, but I have heard Germany in particular requires this – check with your airline. In any case, it would be useful if there is a flight cancellation and you want to leave the airport.
International Airlines That Fly Dogs Out of the UK
In addition to the above European airlines, I’m aware of three other airlines that fly pets in the cabin or as excess baggage on flights departing from the United Kingdom.
Air Canada (Canada): Air Canada flies pets out of the UK from multiple airports, not just Heathrow, including Edinburgh. For pets flying in the cabin, Air Canada doesn’t have a maximum weight but the maximum size of the carrier is generally limited to 55 x 40 x 27cm (21.5 x 15.5 x 10.5 inches) for soft-sided carriers. View their full pet policy.
Air Transat (Canada): Air Transat permits pets to fly in the cabin and in the checked baggage hold on flights departing from Manchester and Glasgow. Note though this doesn’t apply to their flights departing London, as flights depart from Gatwick Airport that doesn’t allow this. A weight limit of 10kg applies for pets in the cabin. View their pet policy.
El Al Airlines (Israel): Finally, the Israeli airline El Al also permits pets to fly out of the UK in the cabin or as excess baggage. This is not clearly specified on their website, but I have heard reports from other travellers. A weight limit of 9kg applies in the cabin. Make sure you receive the appropriate permits in advance. View their full pet policy.
Can You Fly a Dog Directly from the UK to the USA in the Cabin?
Unfortunately, there are no airlines that fly directly from the UK to the USA that allow pets in the cabin on this route, or as excess baggage.
For starters, there are no UK airlines that allow pets in the cabin, with only one UK airline allowing pets as excess baggage on selected domestic routes.
Secondly, while there are plenty of US airlines that allow pets to fly in the cabin, none of them permit this on flights out of the UK. Both Delta and United state on their website that they don’t allow pets in the cabin (or as excess baggage) on flights to or from the UK, while American Airlines doesn’t allow pets in the cabin on Trans-Atlantic flights.
Occasionally, people are informed by staff members of Delta that the airline permits pets in the cabin on flights departing the UK. However, generally once people go to book this option, they are not allowed or their pet request is eventually rejected.
I have recently heard from someone that they have twice flown their pet in the cabin out of Heathrow Airport on a United flight. However, I know of other travellers being denied this option, so I’m waiting to hear whether anyone else has done this. Perhaps try and make a booking, but you don’t want to then be turned away at the airport.
Another potential gotcha to be aware of is the listing of codeshare direct flights between the UK and USA. While some of the above European airlines that fly pets out of the UK may appear to list direct flights to the USA, these are operated by other airlines that don’t offer this option. The rules for the operating airline apply.
Instead, your safest bet is to consider one of these three alternatives:
Fly via Canada: As I listed above, two Canadian airlines allow pets to fly in the cabin and as excess baggage on flights departing the UK, Air Canada and Air Transat. Fly with one of these airlines to Canada, then continue with the same airline or another airline on to the USA. Make sure you pet fulfils the requirements to fly to Canada, if you leave the airport.
Fly via Continental Europe: Alternatively, there are plenty of European airlines that will fly pets out of the United Kingdom, many of them that also fly to the United States. You can book a flight with a stopover in Europe. When booking this, double check the transit times, particularly if flying with a dog in the hold. Also be aware that your dog will required an EU pet health certificate or EU pet passport if you plan to leave the transit airport.
Travel to Continental Europe or Ireland: The final alternative is to travel to either Continental Europe or Ireland, on either a pet-friendly ferry or using a pet taxi through the Eurotunnel, then fly with your pet to the USA on a single direct flight. In this case, you’ll definitely require an EU pet health certificate or EU pet passport for your pet. Find out details on flying from Europe to the USA and flying out of Ireland with a dog for possible airlines.
A Note on Airports in the UK
While there is no prohibition on pets flying out of the United Kingdom in the cabin or as excess baggage, there are some airports in the United Kingdom that don’t allow pets inside them, even in a carrier or crate.
The main airport that I’ve heard that prohibits pets is Gatwick Airport, one of the London airports. I’ve been contacted by someone who booked a pet on a flight departing from Gatwick, then was turned away at the airport – what a horrible experience!
TAP Air Portugal makes it clear on their website that pets are not permitted on their flights departing from Gatwick. Air Transat also states on their website that pets are not allowed on their flights departing London, as they use Gatwick.
Airports in the United Kingdom that definitely do not have any such prohibition on pets include Heathrow (London), Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Double check with your airline that pets are definitely allowed at your selected airport, or speak directly to the airport in advance, if you have any doubts.
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- Taking a Dog to the USA from the UK
- How to Fly a Dog to Spain from the UK
About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.