Air Travel With Pets

Air Travel With Pets | Editor: Florian Lieke

Are you travelling with your pet? In this article, we tell you how your four-legged friends can cope well with this special situation and what you need to bear in mind.


Preparation Is the Be-All and End-All When Flying With Pets

The regulations for transporting pets vary from airline to airline. Therefore, inform yourself in detail in advance and use our checklist, which you will find at the end of this article.

Cat sitting in transport container

Small Animals Are Allowed in the Cabin

You can take small dogs and cats directly into the aircraft cabin with you in a transport container. The container needs to be appropriate, soft and leak-proof, and the animal is not permitted to leave it at any point during the flight. The container also has to meet the following stipulations: it should not weigh more than 8 kg with your pet inside it, should not be any larger than 118 cm in circumference, and needs to be stowed beneath the seat in front of you.


Important: on trips to some countries, such as Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and South Africa, small animals also have to be transported as cargo.

Bigger Animals Travel in the Cargo Hold

Even if your pets are too big to be transported in the cabin with you, they can still travel with you. Depending on availability and loading options, they will find space to travel in the cargo hold. To ensure your four-legged friends are comfortable while travelling, they, like smaller animals, must be kept in a transport container. This container must be large enough for your pet to stand upright, and leave them sufficient space to move. It must have air holes on at least three sides, and be constructed in such a way that it is stable and escape-proof. To ensure your pet wants for nothing while travelling, you must also bring water and food for it. For more extensive information, including different rules for specific breeds, check out our info page

Dog at Vienna Airport

Important: if you want to take a bigger pet with you on your trip, please contact our Service Center for more details. Due to local conditions and restrictions, it may be possible that they cannot be transported in the hold to certain destinations.

Assistance Dogs Are Allowed in the Cabin

Guide dogs and signal dogs are allowed to travel in the cabin with you. The specially trained animals fly free of charge with you at Austrian Airlines, as long as all security regulations and preconditions are met.

Assistance dogs have to travel in the space beneath your seat, be secured on a lead, and wear a muzzle at all times. Please come to the Special Cases Desk in advance, or provide us with any relevant information when making your booking, so we can plan your journey appropriately. On flights in either direction between the USA and Austria, it’s even possible to take a therapy dog (for emotional support) with you, which will also be allowed to travel in the cabin with you.


Important: assistance dogs must have completed special training, and you will need to be able to provide evidence of this at Check-in. To take a therapy dog (emotional support animal) on board with you, you will need up-to-date evidence from a trained psychologist confirming you need the animal with you during the flight.

Cat sitting on white blanket

Checklist for Flying With Pets

To make travelling together as enjoyable as possible for both you and your pet, we've put together this highly practical checklist:

1. Let us know you're planning to travel with your four-legged friend when making your booking. Even if you don’t do so at that point, you are obliged to tell us by telephone; just call +43 5 1766 1000 in that case. This lets us check the transportation conditions and the space available for your pet, after which we'll get back to you and confirm.

2. To take your pet on an Austrian Airlines flight with you, you will need to comply with a range of regulations. For further details around this theme, including transportation costs, click here.

3. Make sure to get a transport container which is the right size to meet the transportation regulations.

4. Find out more in advance, and about the travel regulations that will apply to your pet before booking your flight. You can learn more about the import and export regulations in the departure, transit and arrival country in question by contacting the responsible consulates, for example.

5. Your vet will answer any questions you may have about animal protection regulations, and can help with the necessary travel documents for your four-legged friend.

Dog on the beach

Special Regulations for Short-Nosed Breeds of Cats and Dogs

Important: the safety and health of all our passengers - whether they have two legs or four - is always closest to our heart. For anatomical reasons, certain breeds of dogs and cats have narrower breathing passages, and suffer from respiratory distress as a result. The animals can suffer from stress due to travelling, and experience serious health damage due to this increased breathlessness. For that reason, a regulation restricting the transportation of short-nosed cat and dog breeds in the cargo hold came into force on 1 January 2020. Separate regulations, such as transportation in special cages, apply to the animals. For more details about such conditions in advance please refer to

4 Tips for Preparing Your Trip With Pets

Dog at Vienna Airport

1. Get the Pet Used to the Situation

Let your pet get used to its transport container by placing it in the closed box for a few hours several times before you travel. After each time, give your four-legged friend a few treats, so it associates the reward with the transport container.

2. Pack a Cuddle Blanket and Toys

To ensure your pet feels more at home in its transport container, kit it out with its cuddle blanket and its favourite toy.

3. Inform the Vet

Coordinate your travel plans with your vet and get information about special food or calming medication.

4. Take a Long Walk

Before your trip, if possible, you should go for an extensive walk, or play for a long time, with your four-legged friend. By doing that, you will tire the animal out, so it's easier for your friend to get to sleep while on board.

Discover the World With Austrian Airlines

Can't wait to conquer the world together with your four-legged friend? Then book your flights with Austrian Airlines right here:

Dog at Vienna Airport

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(up to 11 years)

(without seat up to 24 months)

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