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Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a Flight? – 10 Tips to Know

Last Updated on September 23, 2023 by Dogs Vets

Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a Flight?


Flying with your furry friend can be a heartwarming and memorable experience.

The idea of having your beloved dog accompany you on a flight can bring joy and comfort, both to you and your four-legged companion.

However, amid the excitement, it’s crucial to prioritize not only your pet’s well-being but also the safety and comfort of other passengers sharing the cabin with you.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the question: “Can my dog sit on my lap during a flight?” We’ll provide insights, tips, and advice to help you make informed decisions.


Understanding the Rules and Regulations

Before you even think about your dog’s place on your lap during a flight, it’s crucial to understand the airline’s rules and regulations regarding pet travel.

Airlines That Do Not Allow Lap Sitting

Each airline has its policies, so research and choose one that aligns with your preferences and your pet’s needs.

Safety First

Safety is paramount when traveling with your dog. Most airlines require pets to be secured in an approved pet carrier or crate during the flight. This is for your dog’s safety, as well as the safety of the flight crew and other passengers.

Consider Your Dog’s Size

The size of your dog plays a significant role in whether they can sit on your lap during a flight.

Small dogs may have the option to sit in an airline-approved carrier under the seat in front of you, but larger dogs will likely need to travel in the cargo hold. Always check with the airline for specific size restrictions.

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Comfort and Convenience

Even if your dog is small enough to sit on your lap, consider their comfort and well-being.

Flights can be stressful for pets, so ensure your dog is comfortable in their carrier or crate. Familiarize them with it before the flight to reduce anxiety.

Plan Ahead

Planning is key to a successful flight with your dog. Ensure your pet’s vaccinations and paperwork are up-to-date, and pack essentials like food, water, toys, and any necessary medications.

Remember to check with the airline for any additional requirements.


Can I Bring My Dog in the Cabin of an Airplane?

Flying with your furry friend can be a heartwarming experience, but it’s essential to understand the regulations set by airlines and aviation authorities to ensure a smooth journey for both you and your pet.


Understanding Airline Regulations

Before you plan to have your dog sit on your lap during a flight, it’s crucial to comprehend the rules set by airlines.

Most airlines allow small pets in the cabin under certain conditions, but these regulations can vary.

  1. Your Dog’s Health: Airlines often require an animal health certificate issued by an authorized veterinarian to ensure your dog is healthy and vaccinated against rabies. Microchipping may also be necessary in some cases.
  2. Size and Weight: Typically, airlines require that your dog and their carrier weigh less than 8-10kg combined. The carrier should fit comfortably under the passenger seats.
  3. Breed Restrictions: Some airlines may have restrictions on certain breeds, especially brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs, due to health concerns.
  4. Behavior: Well-behaved dogs are essential. Airlines expect dogs to obey commands, remain calm, and not disturb other passengers.

Airlines’ Lap Policies

Some airlines allow dogs to sit on their owners’ laps during flights, while others require them to stay in carriers.

Airlines That Do Not Allow Lap Sitting:

  • Air Canada: Dogs must remain in closed pet carriers under the seat.
  • American Airlines: Pets must stay in kennels under the seat for the entire flight.
  • Southwest: Pets must remain in carriers for the entire duration.
  • United: Dogs must stay in kennels and under the seat.
  • West Jet: Pets in the cabin must remain in carriers under the seat.

Airlines That Allow Lap Sitting:

  • Alaska: Allows dogs to sit on your lap after take-off and before landing.
  • Allegiant: Pets must remain in carriers except when handled by the traveler.
  • Delta: Pets must stay inside kennels but can be on your lap in-flight.
  • Frontier: Pets must remain in carriers for safety.
  • Hawaiian: Pets must stay in carriers inside the terminal and onboard.
  • JetBlue: Allows holding the carrier on your lap during the flight.
  • Lufthansa: Pets in soft-sided carriers must be secured but not on passenger seats.
  • Spirit: Animals must remain in carriers for the entire flight.
  • Vueling: Pets must stay in carriers during the flight.
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Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

ESAs may have different rules. Some airlines allow ESAs to sit on their owners’ laps during flights, but rules vary by airline and animal size.

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) play a crucial role in providing comfort and support to individuals dealing with emotional or psychological challenges.

These animals are prescribed by licensed mental health professionals, including therapists, psychologists, and doctors, to assist their human companions in managing their conditions.

When it comes to air travel, ESAs may be granted special privileges, but it’s important to note that the rules governing their presence in the cabin differ from one airline to another, and can also depend on the size of the animal.

For example, West Jet extends the courtesy of allowing ESAs to fly with their owners, permitting them to sit on their laps as long as they are no larger than a two-year-old child.

Air France has a similar policy for emotional support dogs weighing less than 3 kilos or 6.6 pounds, provided they are securely attached to the seat structure or seat belt, except during meal service.Latam Pet Policy

Similarly, Latam Airlines permits ESA dogs to travel at the owner’s feet, under the seat, or on their lap if they are smaller than a two-year-old child.

However, it is crucial to verify the specific regulations of the airline you plan to fly with, as these policies can change over time.

Additionally, flight attendants have the final authority, and if they instruct that the ESA must be stowed, it is imperative to comply for the safety and comfort of all passengers onboard.

Always ensure to carry the necessary documentation for your ESA, including a valid ESA letter from your mental health professional, as this will be required by airlines to grant the ESA privileges during the flight.

Alternative Travel Options

If your dog cannot sit on your lap, you may still travel with them in the cabin or choose cargo travel, depending on their size and the airline’s policies.

In conclusion, while having your dog sit on your lap during a flight may be possible, it’s vital to check your airline’s specific regulations and consider alternative options if necessary.

Prioritize your pet’s safety and comfort while complying with airline policies.


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Frequently Asked Questions



Can I let my dog roam the cabin during the flight?

  • No, for safety reasons, dogs must remain in their carriers or crates during the flight.

Are sedatives a good idea for my dog during the flight?

  • Consult your veterinarian before using sedatives, as they can affect your dog differently.

Can I feed my dog during the flight?

  • It’s best to avoid feeding your dog right before the flight to prevent motion sickness.

Are there any breed restrictions for in-cabin travel?

  • Airlines may have specific breed restrictions, so check with your chosen airline.

How can I help my dog stay calm during the flight?

  • Familiarity with the carrier, bringing their favorite toy, and providing reassurance can help.

Can my dog sit on my lap during takeoff and landing?

  • Most airlines require dogs to remain in their carriers during these critical phases of the flight.


Can I fly with my large dog in the cabin?

  • Most airlines only allow small dogs in the cabin. Larger dogs may need to travel in the cargo hold.

Can I fly with my puppy on a plane?

  • Airlines often require puppies to be at least 4 months old before flying.

Can I take my dog out of the carrier on the plane?

  • Generally, dogs must remain in carriers on the plane for the entire flight.

Can I take 2 dogs on a plane with me?

  • It depends on the airline’s regulations; some allow it, while others do not. Check with your airline.


What should I do if my dog becomes anxious or agitated during the flight?

  • Stay calm, offer comfort, and follow any advice provided by the flight crew.

In conclusion, while the idea of your dog sitting on your lap during a flight might sound appealing, it’s essential to prioritize their safety and comfort.

Familiarize yourself with the airline’s rules and regulations, choose the right carrier or crate, and plan ahead to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry companion.



  1. Federal Aviation Administration – Traveling with Pets
  2. American Veterinary Medical Association – Air Travel with Your Pet




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