Air Canada Pet Policy

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air canada plane on runway in winter

Are you ready to go on an adventure and want to take your pet with you? Air Canada will happily accommodate you and get you to where you want to go. The only thing you need to do before buying that plane ticket is to make sure you check every box of the Air Canada pet policy!

Read on to learn more about the Air Canada pet policy and what it entails. We also cover the different requirements for traveling with emotional support animals (ESAs) and service animals.

Disclaimer: CertaPet has qualified therapists in British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario only at this time.

Air Canada Pets! What Animals Are Accepted for In-Cabin Flight?

So you have a pet goat? How wonderful for you! Please don’t be upset though when you arrive at the airport with Billy and the staff refuse to let the two of you board the plane together.

For the safety of all travelers, human and animals, most airlines have breed and species restrictions. Here is a list of the pets allowed in the cabin according to the Air Canada pet policy:

Air Canada Pets in Cabin

  • Cats
  • Small Dogs

When traveling with a pet on Air Canada flights, be aware that you are only allowed to fly with one pet. The animal has to stay in its transport carrier for the duration of the flight!

It is very important to know the difference between pets, emotional support animals and service animals. Air Canada does allow ESAs, psychiatric service animals and service dogs on their flights. This is in accordance with the Aircraft Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities.

This Act states that people with a disability (which includes mental illness) can fly with their ESA, psychiatric service animal or service animal free of charge.

However, airlines reserve the right to make their own rules and regulations. They are, after all, responsible for the safety and wellbeing of ALL passengers and staff on board.

The airline recommends that you arrive with your pet at least 30 minutes before the original check-in time. You cannot check-in online or at a check-in kiosk when traveling with a pet.

Service Animals

Service animals have rights that don’t apply to them as pets do. The airline cannot legally require someone with a service animal to show proof of their disability. Unlike with ESA owners, who have to provide an ESA letter, traveling with a service animal is based on an honor system.

Canadian law has harsh punishments in place for people who misrepresent a pet or emotional support dog as a service animal!

If you want to travel with your service dog, the airline requires you to contact them at least 48 hrs in advance. They also recommend that you arrive to check in an hour prior to the recommended check-in time!

Finally, they recommend that your dog wears a harness or is on a leash at all times! You have to call ahead of time to determine whether or not your service dog may sit on your lap! Your service dog does not legally have to wear a vest, but it does make it easier to identify them as a service animal for staff and fellow travelers.

Emotional Support Animals

The Air Canada pet policy does not apply entirely to that of an emotional support animal. As ESAs have legal protection, they are allowed to fly with their owner free of charge. There are very specific rules and regulations on flying with your ESA. If you do not check one of the boxes, your ESA can and will be denied access to the flight.

Air Canada only allows dogs as ESAs and psychiatric service animals! Do not even try to argue that your emotional support crocodiles or exotic birds have the right to fly with you!

Like with service animals, you have to phone the airline at least 48 hrs in advance and let them know you are bringing your ESA along!

You will also need to bring your ESA letter!

cute emotional support dog in pilot costume sitting on wing of small plane

Air Canada Cargo Pets Travel: The 4 Main Facts to Know When Checking in 

There are a few things to know before traveling with your pet on an Air Canada flight, whether they are traveling in the baggage compartment (aka cargo compartment) or as carry-on baggage in the aircraft cabin! Do your homework and research these things before you buy your ticket! If you don’t comply with the Air Canada pet policy, you can’t bring Fido or Mittens along!


Unlike service animals and ESAs, the Air Canada pet policy clearly states that you have to pay a fee to travel with a pet.

  • Fee for domestic flights within Canada and the US: $50 – $59 CAD (This excludes travel to Hawaii).
  • Fee for international flights: $100 – $118.

Breed Restrictions

The Air Canada pet policy clearly states that your dog or cat has to be at least 12 weeks old (16 weeks for travel into the US) and fully weaned. Brachycephalic breeds (aka snub-nosed breeds) are not allowed in the cargo hold on flights. This is because they often have breathing difficulties which makes air travel dangerous.

Weight and Height Restrictions of Carriers

Pet owners have a lot of boxes to check on the Air Canada pet policy in regards to the carrier pets travel in!

Your pet has to be able to sit, stand and stretch out in the carrier. Also, see to it that the carrier meets all the airline’s safety requirements. The carrier must, for example, be waterproof and well ventilated. Also, be aware that a pet carrier counts as your one carry-on item!

For travel on the Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200LR aircraft, the maximum dimensions of a pet carrier are:

  • Length: 43 cm (17 in)
  • Height: 21 cm (8.25 in)
  • Width: 38 cm (15 in)

For travel on planes with lie-flat beds, the airline only allows small and miniature breeds of cats and small dogs. The maximum dimensions are:

  • Length: 41 cm (16 in)
  • Height : 28 cm (11 in)
  • Width: 21 cm (8 in)

Air Canada is VERY strict on the rule that your dog must be able to stand up in the carrier (without its head touching the surface), turn around and stretch out. They also have specific kennel requirements for larger and stronger breeds traveling in the cargo hold!

Regarding Pet Safety

The purpose of the Air Canada pet policy is to ensure the safety of all people and animals traveling on their flights. If you adhere to the policy, you and your pet can rest assured that you will both have safe travels.

6 Top Tips As You Are Preparing to Travel with Your Pet or Assistance Animal

  • If you want to travel with your ESA, you have to present an ESA letter issued by a licensed mental health professional.
  • Your animal has to be potty trained. Find a designated airport relief area for Fido before the flight!
  • Pets, ESAs and service animals do not have the same rules when flying with Air Canada. Make sure you know the difference.
  • If you do not have the correct and up to date documentation, you can and will be denied access to the flight.
  • Your pet has to remain in its carrier for the duration of the flight. The airline does at times allow the odd small assistance dog to sit in someone’s lap, but this is determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that you have everything you need to meet the requirements of your intended destination’s pet or animal policy.

small emotional support animal in carrier wondering about air canada pet policy

Documentation: The 3 Forms You Will Need Before Arriving at the Airport for Emotional Support Animals

Without the correct documentation on hand, you and Fido are going nowhere!

An ESA Letter

You need an ESA letter issued by a licensed mental health professional (LMHP). The letter must be on an official letterhead with the license type and number of the LMHP, the issuing authority, as well as the issue date of the license. It also has to state the following:

  • That you have a diagnosed mental condition covered in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
  • You need your ESA or psychiatric service animal with you for support during travel and at your destination.
  • That the letter was issued by a LMHP.
  • That the LMHP who issued the letter is currently treating you.

For Canadian citizens traveling within Canada, the ESA letter must be issued by a Canadian LMHP. If anyone other than a LMHP issued the letter, legitimacy is assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Veterinary Health Certificate

The veterinary health certificate needs to be issued no more than 10 days prior to your departure. If you are traveling to the US, your pet has to have its rabies vaccination certificate.

There are certain times of the year when the temperatures are extremely high or low. In these cases, animals are not allowed to travel in the cargo hold unless a vet has specified that they can withstand the extreme temperatures.

Flying with Your ESA or Pet: Know the Special Requirements when Traveling with Air Canada Airlines 

  • Only dogs and cats are allowed to fly in-cabin.
  • A pet carrier counts as carry-on luggage but an assistance animal carrier does not.
  • People traveling with ESAs have to present a legitimate ESA letter issued by a LMHP.
  • Air Canada does not take responsibility for making sure you and your animal meet the animal entrance requirements at your destination.

cat in carrier at air canada check in

Where to Call or Visit for More Information on Air Canada Airline Pet Policy 

If you want to know more about traveling with live animals and the Air Canada pet policy, you can contact the airline on social media, via email or phone them at 1-888-247-2262.

Currently, we are only servicing British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario. We are invoking the Human Rights Code when we issue these letters. The Human Rights Code provides the broadest protections to service animal users, as it extends the right to be free from discrimination, harassment, and reprisal in all of the social areas covered by the Code, including services, goods and facilities, accommodation, contracts, employment, and vocational associations. We are also fully aware and understand that an ESA does not have to be honored and can be denied. We make sure to let our clients know this. There is no legal obligation for the other party to approve an ESA request, but they may be motivated to do so on compassionate grounds. Animals that have little training, are poorly behaved or have damaged property will be rejected.

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