Four-legged friends flying: doing air travel right with animals

Reisen mit Hund und Katze.jpg

Travelling with the family pet is currently super-hot! This week, we’ll be revealing how we can best help our four-legged friends cope with a journey by air, the regulations in place for taking them on board the aircraft with you, and what to watch out for when travelling with cats and dogs.



The regulations governing transportation of animals often differ from one airline to another. To find out all the details in advance, therefore, just use our checklist – which you’ll find at the end of this article – to help you.



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


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 large 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 Travelling with Animals Info Page.

Important: if you do want to take a large animal with you on your trip, please contact our Service Center for more details. Due to local conditions and restrictions, these cannot be transported in the hold to certain destinations.

Pets AUstrian Airlines


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.

For more information on the subject of barrier-free travel please read our Info Pages.

Pets Austrian Airlines


To make travelling together as enjoyable an experience 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. Be 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.

Pets Austrian Airlines

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 comes 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

Pets Austrian Airlines

How to ensure your pet remains calm while travelling


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.


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


Agree you travel plans with your vet, and get hold of information relating to special food or calming medication.


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 finds it easier to get to sleep while on board.

Want to show your pet the world? To find the flights that are right for both of you, click here:

Pets Austrian Airlines

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