Flying with French Bulldog Ultimate Guide [Updated 2020]

Flying with french bulldog

Going for a vacation without your lovely pet means that you always miss something. My French Bulldogs are part of my family, which is why I always try to take my Frenchies along as much as I possibly can when I’m traveling.

Flying with a French Bulldog might be a little different and require special preparations but it can still be surprisingly smoother than you think if you know what to do.

That’s where this guide would come in handy! In today’s article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the process of flying with French Bulldogs. This includes recommended airlines, health checks, and everything else that’s necessary, so you don’t miss a thing!

So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

Which Pet-Friendly Airlines Accept French Bulldogs?

The first thing to consider while preparing to fly with your French Bulldog is the airline itself. In fact, airlines are quite different about how they regard your dog. You will want to look for an airline that treats your dog as a part of your family and not just a commodity that they can keep in the cargo section. Luckily, there are many airlines that accept French Bulldogs on board. However, you should know that each of these airlines will have different policies when it comes to the weight limit, ticket fee, placement of the carrier, and the possibility of flying internationally. Here’s a brief list of pet-friendly airlines that will accept your Frenchie.
  • American Airlines: the maximum weight limit is 20 lbs including the carrier (must be 8 weeks or older) and placed in a carrier or a kennel under the seat.
  • Air Canada: the maximum weight limit is 22 lbs including the carrier (must be able to move around inside the kennel) and placed in a carrier or a kennel under the seat.
  • JetBlue: the maximum weight limit is 20 lbs including the carrier and the carrier must have specific dimensions
  • United Airlines: no limit on the weight but must fit comfortably within the carrier and older than 8 weeks.
  • Delta: no weight limit but must be 10 weeks or older for domestic and at least 16 weeks old for international
Keep in mind that there might be other airlines that will accept French Bulldogs, so you should always contact the airline you prefer and inquire about flying with brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds like French Bulldogs. The costs for a pet ticket will vary significantly from one airline to the other, ranging anywhere from $100 to $200.

Should French Bulldogs Flying on Planes Go in the Cabin or Cargo?

French Bulldogs belong to the brachycephalic breeds of dogs, which are known for having flat-faces with short noses, such as French Bulldogs, pugs, and boxers. These breeds, including French Bulldogs, suffer from breathing difficulties all their lives, which puts them at a huge risk while flying, let alone flying them in the cargo section of the plane. In fact, back in 2018, there was a huge tragedy following the death of a French Bulldog named “Kokito”, due to leaving the pet carrier in the overhead bin. This caused a huge backlash that made a lot of airlines ban brachycephalic breeds like Frenchies from transporting in the cargo section. However, there are still some airlines that allow it, such as:
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
For all the previously mentioned reasons, you should never let a French Bulldog fly in the cargo section, as you might put them in a huge risk of overheating and suffocation! Instead, make sure that you travel with the French Bulldog in the cabin with you and placed in a carrier under your seat.

Buy Your French Bulldog a Ticket and Let The Airline Know

Even if you’re sure that the airline accepts Frenchies in the cabin, you should make your reservations in advance by buying your Frenchie a ticket and letting the airline know that you’re bringing your dog along. This will save you from any unexpected surprises, as some airlines will have a limited number of pets allowed on a single flight. While picking the seats, try to choose one as close to the front as possible, as it allows you to easily board last and leave first. While choosing a flight, try to take the weather into consideration, especially during summer. Try to book a trip that’s either in the early morning or late evening when temperatures aren’t so hot. Also, try to make it a non-stop trip with the least amount of transient time possible to avoid overwhelming your dog for the entire day.

Checklist of Things to Prepare for the Flight Day

Now that you’ve made sure that the airline is expecting you to have your bulldog in the cabin with you, you have a few days to prepare everything for the flight day. Ideally, you should prepare a small checklist to get yourself through the things you need. This list should include objectives like:
  • Health checks and documentation for your dog
  • Essential items like food, water, pet carriers, leash, ID collars, harness, etc.
  • Additional items, such as the favorite toy, dog wipes, potty pads, and a small bag of treats.
By preparing everything beforehand, you’ll have enough time to make sure that you bring everything your dog will need for the duration of the flight and even a room for correcting errors and looking for ideal items to comply with weight limits and other regulations.

Get a TSA-Approved Pet Carrier

There are many pet carriers and kennels on the market. However, not all of them are approved by the TSA. Don’t be tempted to assess one by how cute and lovely some of it may seem. Instead, you should consider a pet carrier based on other strict qualities. Let’s have a quick look at those aspects.

Things to Consider While Choosing a Carrier

When picking a carrier for air travel, you have to make sure that it’s large enough to accommodate your dog comfortably. This means that your dog is able to stand up, turn around, and lay down naturally inside the carrier. The bag should also be empty of extra blankets and accessories that might cause breathing difficulties in such a long journey. One thing you should know is that your dog shouldn’t try the carrier for the first time on the plane. You need to give your dog enough time to get used to it before boarding inside it. The carrier should also offer enough ventilation on at least 2 to 3 sides. However, you should go for as much ventilation as possible for Frenchies.

Top 5 TSA Approved Pet Carriers for a French Bulldog

If you’re in a hurry, I’ve compiled a list of the best TSA-approved carriers that would work great for French Bulldogs. These pet carriers offer space, ventilation, and comfort necessary for delicate breeds like French Bulldogs:
  1. Sherpa on Wheels Pet Carrier – The best overall choice
  2. Pet Smart Cart Rolling Carrier with wheels – Best carrier with wheels
  3. MASKEYON Airline Approved Pet Carrier – Best expandable option
  4. Henkelion TSA-Approved Dog Carrier – Ideal pick for buyers on a budget
  5. Katziela Pet Carrier with Removable Wheels – Comes with a Telescopic Handle

Health Checks Before The Flight

While inquiring about the status of your Frenchie with the airline, they might inform you that they need specific health documents before letting the dog on the flight. Whether they do or not, these health checks won’t only save you inconveniences on the trip day but it’ll also ensure that your Frenchie is able to travel on a plane safely. For internal flights, you’ll need a vet all-round check. The vet will perform an all-round health check to ensure your pet’s health and also make sure that your pet has all the vaccines needed for the area you’re visiting. Additionally, the vet will provide you with a necessary document known as the Certificate of Good Health. This one states that your dog is in good health and won’t infect others with diseases. Airlines will require this certificate that’s issued within 10 days before travel. If you’re traveling internationally, you need to certify your documents by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Also, you should check with the consulate of the country you’re visiting and inquire about any health documents or requirements that need to be presented upon arrival.

Should You Sedate Your Frenchie When Flying?

Even if your Frenchie won’t be in the cargo area of the plane, traveling by air might still be a stressful experience for your dog. A lot of pet owners consider sedating their pets while traveling by air to reduce their anxiety and keep them calm during the journey. However, according to a lot of sources, including the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), you shouldn’t give them tranquilizers or sedatives prior to flying. They warn against using them because they might cause some serious cardiovascular and respiratory problems when they’re used at such a high altitude pressure. These effects are more observed in brachycephalic breeds, such as French Bulldogs, which is why almost half of dog deaths reported on planes in the past 5 years were from short-snouted breeds. Also, the sedating effect itself will affect the dog’s ability to react and balance itself, so it won’t be able to control their bodies or behave adequately to avoid any kind of injuries, which puts your dog in even more risk. However, there are some nice alternatives to consider if your dog is notorious for being anxious and distressed easily. The best possible option to go for here is natural essential oils that help in relieving stress. These options pack decent calming properties without having any dangerous side effects on the dog’s respiratory or cardiovascular systems, such as Rescue Remedy Natural Homeopathic Stress Relief Drops. These drops will your dog through the flight and reduce their tendency to bark loudly. All you have to do is administer 4 drops in your dog’s mouth prior to flying.

Tips for the Day of Travel

Now that you have a better idea about what you need to prepare for the flight, here are some valuable tips that made a lot of my travels with my Frenchies a lot easier!

Give Your Frenchie Plenty of Exercise

By giving your doggie plenty of exercise prior to the flight, your dog will be tired and prefer to snooze a little during the flight. You don’t want your little gremlin to awake and full of energy while being overly-stressed. It’s a recipe for a lot of barking, howling, and destructive behavior.

Allow Your Doggie to Use Potty Before Boarding

To avoid gastrointestinal complications and keep your dog happy, make sure that they empty their bowel before boarding. This also reduces the chances of them soiling themselves and makes the flight unpleasant for them and everyone else.

Arrive Early But Board Late

Make sure you arrive early that day to get your dog accustomed to the carrier. Also, it’ll help you present all the necessary documents in time to avoid inconveniences. Despite arriving early, you should board the plane last. This way, you’ll avoid sitting in the plane with no air conditioning for 10 to 30 minutes during the boarding time. Additionally, you’ll avoid being stuck in a long line in the aisle waiting for passengers to load their bags in the overhead bin.

Use a Cooling Bandana for a Hot Day

In summer, planes can get quite hot. Also, some plane models don’t have air conditioning vents on the floor. In that case, you can use an Instant Cooling Bandana to keep your dog cooled off and avoid overheating.

Wrap Up

That’s all you need to know before flying with a French Bulldog. As you can see, short-snouted breeds like Frenchies are at great risk of suffocation and overheating in the cargo area, so you should always keep them in the cabin with you. That’s why you need to contact the airlines regarding all the requirements as well as the allowed carriers to avoid any unwanted surprises while boarding.
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