Travelling with pets? Know these airline rules before you go!

Will you keep watching dog videos on Instagram, or do you want your pooch to be that star online? Lazing on Goa’s sands, watching sunrises over the Kanchenjunga, long hikes through a forest—all of these experiences are infinitely better with a cuddly buddy by your side. Not to mention, the endless photo ops! But are dogs allowed on flight? 

The answer is YES! Travelling with a pet within India is easier than you’d imagine. We’ve already covered how you can take them along on train journeys, and this guide will tell you how to take them on domestic flights.

Book your flight using the code ‘SAVE’ and get flat ₹400 off per passenger up to ₹2000:

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UPDATE: When we first published this story, Air India and SpiceJet were the only domestic carriers that allowed you to transport live animals. Apart from dogs and cats, you could also carry birds, bovine animals, guinea pigs, reptiles and other domesticated animals.SpiceJet has now informed us that they have stopped this facility. This makes Air India the only option for taking pets on domestic flights as of June 2021. 

IndiGo, AirAsia and Vistara also have a spot on this guide,
but they do not transport pets. They only allow service animals on board, for passengers who need special assistance. 

Here’s a simple breakdown of these Indian airlines’ rules for carrying pets: 

Air India’s flight policy for pets

Woman pets green monk parakeet ready for travel

Pets having valid health and rabies vaccination certificates are allowed onto Air India’s domestic flights. They can be carried in the cabin in kennels not exceeding 18” x 18” x 12” in size, where the combined weight of the kennel and your pet is below 5 kgs. Larger or heavier pets have to travel in the cargo hold. Pet owners are advised to inform Air India Reservations in advance about the booking. 

Important points to note:

> The flight commander must approve the carriage of your pet. 

> Only two pets are allowed per flight, and their owner will be seated in the last row of their cabin. 

> Normal excess baggage charges will apply for carrying pets. This is calculated using the combined weight of the pet, their container, and any food supplies.

> The kennel will be labelled with the pet’s name, and it should have a moisture-absorbent mat inside. 

> The pet must be muzzled and leashed, and cannot occupy a passenger seat at any time. 

> Trained guide dogs can travel for free with visually or aurally impaired passengers who depend on them. These dogs must be muzzled and leashed as well, and have the same health certificates as mentioned earlier. 

Here’s a recent summary about their current pet policy:

SpiceJet’s pet policy: cargo only

UPDATE: SpiceJet has temporarily stopped offering this facility.

Earlier, it allowed all kinds of live animals to travel as cargo in its Boeing B-737-800 and B-737-900ER aircrafts. This service came under SpiceXpress, their cargo division. 

Here’s what the pet policy originally looked like:

> Pet owners had to provide IATA-approved containers for transport. Read up on that here

> The animals would need a certificate for good health and be marked as free from communicable diseases by a doctor.

> Complete documents for travelling with the pet had to be shared with SpiceJet at the booking stage.

Silhouette of cat looking out of aeroplane window into blue skies

>  All pets got to travel in pressurised, temperature-regulated environments. The temperature would be specially acclimatised on the Boeing planes for their comfort. 

> Trained personnel handled all the animals, and the service would be available for all airports with Boeing flights. 

> Certain areas would have restrictions on certain breeds of animals, and pet owners would have to check with the station in-charge before making their booking. 

Guide dogs for visually impaired passengers were the only animals allowed into the SpiceJet cabin earlier. Travellers who wanted to avail this benefit needed to contact SpiceJet Reservations in advance. The guide dog would have to be properly trained, restrained and muzzled. It could not occupy any seats, and the owner would have to bring a moisture-absorbent mat for them. They were not allowed aboard flights scheduled in Q-400 aircrafts. 

To know when the service may be reinstated, you can contact SpiceXpress at +91-9999570570 or at [email protected]

What about other domestic airlines?

IndiGo, Vistara and AirAsia do not allow the transport of any live animals on their flights, except for service animals.

IndiGo and Vistara allow only guide dogs, whereas AirAsia India allows other service animals on its i5 flights in India. All service animals must be trained, vaccinated and muzzled, and have a moisture-absorbent mat underneath. Make sure to contact these airlines on official helplines, or with an office visit, well before you make your booking! 

Any airlines with zero provisions for pets? Unfortunately, yes—it’s Go First and FlyBig. 

And that’s all you need to know to get started! 

P.S. If you want to make travelling with your pet a habit, we suggest doing a few rounds within India before you look abroad. Every country has varying rules for shipping and/or import of pets, and things can get tricky depending on your destination’s restrictions. Prohibited breeds, quarantine periods, tests beyond vaccination—it’s a lot of paperwork, but that’s a story for another day.

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