Air France welcomes almost all dogs and cats to travel in the passenger cabin, in the hold (what you might call “checked baggage”), or as freight (cargo), depending on their size, breed, and destination. You can research the airline’s pet policies and rates in full detail on their website, but we have pulled together all the key information for you below.
We say “almost all” pets because there are a handful of dog breeds which Air France does not allow under any circumstances. And there are special rules for some breeds of dogs and cats. (See section on Breed Restrictions below.)
Cats and small dogs may travel in-cabin
If your pet and their carrier don’t weigh more than 8 kg (17 lb), they may join you in the passenger cabin. You’ll need prior permission from customer service. That said, pets are not allowed in Business Class on intercontinental flights. So if you are seated there, your pet will have to ride in the hold.
You may bring only one pet with you in-cabin.
For incoming flights, pets must be at least 10 weeks old and must have required vaccinations. Within France, and from France to some out-of-country destinations, the minimum age is just 8 weeks (or 15 weeks if your destination is French Guiana).
Pets must travel in an enclosed carrier that offers adequate ventilation and enough room for them to stand and lie down. The carrier must fit under the seat in front of you – no larger than 46 x 28 x 24 cm (18 x 11 x 9 in). Air France does not permit hard-sided pet carriers in the cabin, so you must use a soft-sided bag style. You will be charged an “additional baggage” fee for your pet and his carrier.
Most larger pets travel in the hold
Small pets that met the criteria for in-cabin travel may also ride in the hold, but all pets who weigh between 8 kg/17 lb 75 kg/165.3 lb (kennel included) are required to travel in the hold. The same age criteria apply as for in-cabin travel.
Air France allows you to reserve up to three pet spaces in the hold, but it’s important to note that not all flights or destinations can accommodate all size pets, so advance reservations are a must. Check the airline’s website for information about check-in times and allowances you’ll need to make if you and your pet have a connecting flight.
For your pet’s safety and comfort, riding in the hold or as freight, requires a kennel that meets International Air Transport Association guidelines. Air France allows only containers that are fiberglass or hard plastic, fastened with bolts.
You must present a signed copy of the “Conditions for transporting a dog or cat in the hold” document when you check in. This is critical, because failure to follow the rules means your pet will not fly.
Pets may also travel as freight
If your dog and his crate outweigh the limit for riding in the hold, he will have to travel as freight. Note that some destination countries require all incoming pets to arrive as cargo – that supersedes airline policies. Some even require you to use an international pet transport company.
French law defines “attack dogs” in two categories. Air France entirely bans Category 1 dogs (pit bulls, mastiffs and tosas) entirely. Category 2 dogs may travel as freight only. Do not guess. “If your dog is likely to be mistaken, even by simple resemblance, for a Category 1 or 2 dog, you must provide a veterinary certificate stating that your dog does not belong to one of these 2 categories.” The “Conditions” document mentioned above has further details.
Also, snub-nosed breeds as listed below are not allowed to fly in the hold, although they may travel in the cabin or as freight:
Dogs - Affenpinscher, Boston Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Cane Corso, Chow Chow, Lhasa Apso, Petit Brabançon, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and all breeds of Boxer, Bulldog, Dogo, Mastiff (including Bullmastiff and Neapolitan Mastiff), Pekinese, Pug, and Spaniel
Cats - Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, and Persian
Whether you’re flying Air France to France itself or some other destination, it is vital to learn what official document, tests, and vaccinations your pet will need to fly and to enter your destination country. This should be a first step in planning your journey, because it can take weeks (even months) to collect all the required health certificates, etc. If you currently live in the United States, the Department of Agriculture has information that can help you.