Fly with an assistance dog or guide dog
How to fulfil the requirements for flying with an assistance dog
This page helps you understand what you need to do in order to be allowed to fly with an assistance dog or guide dog. You'll find out how to prepare the correct paperwork, who to contact, and what you need for the flight.
If your dog is not a guide dog, or service animal, please refer to our Travelling with pets page.
A checklist to help you prepare
Follow this checklist carefully to make sure you fulfil all the requirements for flying with an assistance dog. You'll find further information on all of these preparation stages below:
- Check that your flight route accepts assistance dogs, and that your dog's breed and temperament are considered safe for flying.
- Make sure your dog has has all the necessary documentation, vaccinations, treatments and tests to enter or leave the UK or any other country.
- Contact the special assistance department to let them know you plan to travel with your assistance dog.
- Get insurance for your dog.
- Fax copies of all your assistance dog’s documents to the Animal Reception Centre at your departure airport.
- Double check that you have submitted all the documentation that you and your dog need before flying, and that you have copies with you.
- Prepare to fly by making sure you have a safety harness and an absorbent mat for your dog to use.
Important note about avoiding quarantine if you are bringing your assistance dog into the UK: please thoroughly read the requirements in the PETS (the Pet Travel Scheme) set out by the UK Government, and their advice on allowing Guide and Assistance Dogs into the UK.
You can bring your assistance dog into the cabin on our flights to the following destinations:
- London Heathrow
- London Gatwick
- JFK (New York)
- Newark (New Jersey)
- Washington DC
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Las Vegas
- Hong Kong
If you’re planning an onward journey with your assistance dog, you’ll need to book your flight directly with the carrier concerned, and comply with their rules as well.
We can’t accept snub or pug nose breeds like Pekingese or English Bulldogs, or any dog listed under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Please take a look at our conditions of carriage.
To be allowed to stay with you in the cabin of the aircraft, your assistance dog must have been trained to a standard that is determined as being acceptable for travel within an aircraft cabin. You should have documentary evidence confirming that your dog has been trained.
Unfortunately, if you cannot provide us with evidence of such training you will have to make alternative arrangements for the transport of your dog.
Make sure your dog has all the necessary documentation, vaccinations, treatments and tests to enter or leave the UK or any other country. Virgin Atlantic cannot be held responsible for any costs resulting from an assistance dog being refused entry into an aircraft or country.
If you are bringing your assistance dog into the UK: please thoroughly read the requirements in the PETS (the Pet Travel Scheme) set out by the UK Government, and their advice on allowing Guide and Assistance Dogs into the UK.
For further advice contact the UK government's Pet Travel Scheme Helpline:
Telephone: 0370 241 1710
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm (closed on bank holidays)
Make sure you have the correct kind of insurance to cover your dog while you travel. Keep the documents with you.
You need to let the Special Assistance team know that you are planning to travel with your assistance dog at least 3 days before your flight. They will need:
- A copy of the PETS passport or non-EU official veterinary certificate if your dog is starting its travel outside of Europe
- A copy of the dog’s identification card from the accredited recognised charity
- Details of the breed and weight of the dog in question
UK Special Assistance: +44 (0)344 481 4455 (Open Monday to Friday, 9am - 6pm and bank holidays)
UK Special Assistance, Minicom number for the hearing impaired: +44 (0)344 209 0747
You must bring a safety harness for use during take off, landing, turbulence or whenever the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign is illuminated. The Pet Travel Scheme helpline can offer advice on harnesses.
We also recommend you bring an absorbent mat for your assistance dog while they’re onboard.