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Pets Travel Scheme

Flying with pets

At Virgin Atlantic we know how important your furry friends are to you; they are important to us too.

Whether you travel with dogs or cats, we’re happy to fly both around the globe safely and securely in the hold. The hold is heated and air-conditioned just like the cabin.

Don't forget our Flying Paws scheme - this means your furry friends can now earn Flying Club miles. Please see below for our Flying Paws section. 

Before you book your tickets

Please make sure your pet is allowed onboard (you’ll find details below). You’ll also need to make sure there’s enough space on your flight, so you should have a word with our Shipping department before you book your tickets:

(Flights available for the movement of pets is subject to cancellation due to change in type of aircraft operating the route.)

Contact Details

Bookings from the UK: Tel: +44 (0)344 873 8000

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday: 10am - 6pm

Bookings from the USA: Tel: +1 800 828 6822 ext. 4

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday: 10am - 6pm (UK Time)

For departures from South Africa:

All bookings out of South Africa must be made by an IPATA pet agent (opens in a new window).

For departures from Dubai:

All bookings out of Dubai must be made by an IPATA pet agent (opens in a new window).

For departures from Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia:

Please call: +1 246 420 7734

Email: (opens in a new window)

General guidance on our pet travel scheme

Accepted breeds

We can only accept cats and dogs on our flights. However, we can’t accept snub or pug nose breeds like Pekingese or Persians, or any dog listed under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Please take a look at our conditions of carriage (PDF 401KB). (opens in a new window)


All pet bookings need to be made a minimum of 7 days prior to departure. Please note that for pets travelling from South Africa and Dubai we only accept bookings from appointed IPATA agents. For a list of agents, please visit the IPATA website at (opens in a new window).

Checking in

You or your IPATA agent should check your pet in with Virgin Atlantic Cargo four hours before your departure time.

Pets flying alone

You don’t have to be on the flight with your pet.


Virgin Atlantic Airways will not be able to accept any pets that are under sedation.

Food before the flight

It’s best not to feed your pet up to five hours before check in, although you should make sure it has plenty of water. We provide water prior to take off and on arrival at destination.

Where and when your pet can travel

We can fly your pet to and from the following destinations, however please check what flight is available before booking your own ticket.

Atlanta, Antigua, Barbados, Boston, Chicago, Cape Town, Detroit, Dubai, Hong Kong, JFK, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, St Lucia, and Washington.

  • Please check with the shipping department for days of operation as we do not accept pets daily on these flights
  • We do not accept bookings for pets landing or leaving the UK on a Saturday and Sunday
  • We do not accept pets travelling to the USA over the weekend
  • We do not accept pets leaving Orlando and Miami from 1 June through to and including 30 September
  • We do not take direct bookings for pets travelling from South Africa and Dubai. Please contact an IPATA pet agent who will be able to help you
  • We do not accept pets travelling to the UK from Hong Kong

Pets and paperwork

There is a lot of paperwork to consider when flying with your four legged friend.

Flying into the UK

Your pet should have passed the UK’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Please visit the DEFRA website (opens in a new window) (opens in a new window) or call the Pets Travel Scheme helpline on + 44 (0) 870241 1710 (open Monday to Friday between the hours of 8am and 6pm, UK time).

Here’s more on the paperwork you’ll need, according to your destination:

Flights to the USA

An Export Health Certificate must be obtained from your vet within 10 days prior to departure. Your day of travel must be included as a day. This is basically a ‘fit to fly’ letter and must be on the vet’s letter headed paper. Alternatively, if you have a pet passport you can get it stamped by the vet and use this as the Export Health Certificate.
Some states may ask you for proof of your dog’s rabies inoculations. If you do not have this information available you may be asked to do this on arrival.

Flights to Johannesburg

An Import Permit from Pretoria
An Export Health Certificate from DEFRA (6256 EHC for dogs and 6257 EHC for cats)

Flights to Barbados

An Import Permit from the Ministry of Agriculture in Barbados
An Export Health Certificate from DEFRA (3890 EHC)

Flights to Dubai

An Import Permit from the Ministry of Environment and Water in Dubai
An Export Health Certificate from DEFRA (3926 EHC)
All rabies inoculation certificates (or a pet passport containing rabies inoculation details)
Your pet must also be micro-chipped or tattooed

Flights to Hong Kong

An Import Permit from the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
An Export Health Certificate from DEFRA (3472 EHC)
A signed statement from the shipper, stating the animal has been a resident in the UK since birth or for the last six months

Flights to Antigua

An import permit from the Veterinary and livestock division in Antigua ( is required, along with an Export Health certificate from DEFRA (6592 EHC

Flights to St Lucia

An import permit from the local Veterinary and livestock division in St Lucia is required, along with an Export Health Certificate from DEFRA (3100 EHC)

What does it cost?

The cost of taking your dog or cat on one of our flights depends on a combination of the size of its travel box, destination and time of year. Give us a call with the length, height and width of the box and we’ll be able to give you an exact quote.

Your pet's travel box

It is the owner's responsibility, based on the regulations below to determine the correct sized travelling cage. As all dogs and cats are different sizes, we cannot advise you on what cage to obtain. If the cage is judged to be too small for your pet to safely travel on-board our flight, they will be refused travel.

  • All cages must have a central locking mechanism
  • The minimum size cage VAA will accept for travel is 53 x 40 x 38 centimeters (21 x 16 x 15 inches)
  • Be made of wood or hard plastic
  • Be rigid on all sides (non-collapsible) and not have a roof with a grill that opens
  • Have an appropriate sized water dish attached to the inside of the cage door
  • Must be ventilated around all four sides - however the sides must not be ventilated at the top and the bottom as this will weaken the integrity of the container
  • Have a leak-proof base
  • Have absorbent material in the bottom – for the comfort of your pet
  • Have a door forming one side of the box – either hinged or sliding
  • Be big enough to allow your pet to lie down, turn around and stand up – leaving at least 5cm (2”) between the top of your pet’s head and the roof of the box.

Welcome to Flying Paws

To show our commitment to safe and comfortable pet travel, we have a scheme to reward our furry traveller's human companion – our way of saying thank you for flying Virgin.

If you are a Flying Club member and you fly your pet with Virgin, you will be rewarded with bonus miles as detailed below:

  • Pets flying to
    • Atlanta,
    • Orlando, 
    • Miami,
    • Detroit,
    • Washington, 
    • Chicago, 
    • Newark, 
    • New York, 
    • Dubai,
    • Barbados, 
    • Boston,
    • Antigua,
    • St Lucia

        will receive 1000 Flying Club miles

  • Pets flying to 
    • San Francisco, 
    • Los Angeles, 
    • Johannesburg, 
    • Hong Kong 

        will receive 2000 miles

Just remember to ask for more information when booking your pets travel.

If you are not a member, Join Flying Club Now