Do any airlines allow pets to fly in the cabin outside of cages/kennels, or at least allow the pet to come out if they remain in the adjoining seat? I've searched far and wide and can't find good info about this.

I ask because I saw a girl Tweet a pic of her dog on a plane sitting on a seat next to her (don't know if the plane was moving yet or not), and was wondering if this is allowed/disallowed or not in some airlines. I know plenty of airlines allow pets in cabins, but they almost always seem to make it clear that they must be locked/confined and cannot be free, and do not seem to allow them such luxury as in the seat next to you or even able to be released and held by a leash/on your lap/etc.

Basically, they expect the pets to be nothing more than carry-on baggage and offer no privilege.

Are any airlines more lenient about this, such as letting the dogs/cats be free of cages after landing or prior to departing? Just wondering how lenient they are and if any airlines really allow this or if some people just stretch the rules a bit by doing what they're ... not technically supposed to.

  • There are stories about pets roaming around planes in the past, like a cat having free access to all of the cabin and even the front of the concorde. But that does not mean it was true and 'legal' back then and even less now.
    – Willeke
    Jan 17, 2016 at 20:06
  • Picture you are referring to maybe of a private jet. Jan 18, 2016 at 6:17

3 Answers 3


Animals are treated the same as carry on baggage. They must be in their carriers (except for service dogs which travel under their own power) for take off and landing. Then once in flight they can be taken out of their carriers.

But roaming freely through the cabin would likely be frowned upon by most airlines and by most cabin attendants and most importantly by your fellow passengers. Pets are like children, their "parent" needs to supervise them and they should not be allowed to wander freely through the cabin. There may well be people amongst your fellow passengers that are allergic to animal dander, have a fear of dogs or just plain don't like dogs or cats.

As for after landing or before take off, that would be based on the policy of the airport as to whether pets can wander around out of their carriers. But if you are asking about the few moments after landing while on the airplane, letting you pet out in the airplane while people are disembarking is asking for injury to the animal by being stepped on or by someone dropping their too heavy carry on on the dog as they get it out of the bin.

  • Could someone provide sources for "Then once in flight they can be taken out of their carriers."? Dec 17, 2020 at 19:12

Some of the American carriers allow "emotional support animals" to roam freely around the cabin. I have only ever seen this on domestic flights within the United States.

It seems the criteria to meet to be an emotional support animal are not stringent and a sceptical man might guess that many people have success in illicitly registering their dogs as emotional support animals.

  • 1
    Dogs, cats, pigs, prize turkeys, turtles, snakes etc! Very good article in the New Yorker for anyone interested in what you can and can't get away with in the states, plus what the rules actually are...
    – Gagravarr
    Jan 18, 2016 at 5:53

Air Canada allows this -- I've seen toy-sized dogs outside of cages temporarily, but they're usually still considered "as baggage" and highly doubt they'll be okay with them loose and away from the owner. I'm pretty sure you are still required to bring a cage/kennel and keep the pet inside the cage through most of the trip, but it could be possible that the cage/kennel could rest aside the adjoining seat and maybe the pet can be taken out of the cage for short periods of time, but they can't be "loose."

Note that I'm not sure of the policy -- just sharing my experience on an Air Canada flight last year.

Also, to add, lots of people go above and beyond and bend the rules anyways. It's beyond possible that someone in a stricter airline can take their dog/cat out of the cage and pet them/play with them for a few minutes and put them back without anyone noticing or caring -- it probably happens often too.

Also, if you pay for two seats this would probably be much easier to get away with if frowned upon.

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