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Flying with assistance dogs

Most of our flights will welcome your assistance dog into the cabin of the aircraft.

Before you fly though, there’s some paperwork you’ll need to take care of. You'll also need to contact our Special Assistance department.

Avoiding quarantine

To avoid quarantine in the UK, all animals must meet the criteria of PETS – the Pet Travel Scheme set out by DEFRA. You’ll find full details of the scheme on the DEFRA website (opens in a new window).

Travelling in the cabin

To be allowed to stay with you in the cabin of the aircraft, your assistance dog should have formal identification from the UK Department of Health, and be qualified by one of the following organisations:

  • Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
  • Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
  • Support Dogs
  • Dogs for Good
  • Canine Partners

When entering the UK, assistance dogs from other nations should meet the full membership criteria of the established international assistance dog organisations.

Assistance dog-friendly routes

You can bring your assistance dog into the cabin on our flights to the following destinations:

  • JFK (New York)
  • Newark (New Jersey)
  • Washington DC
  • Boston
  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago
  • San Francisco
  • Las Vegas

  • Antigua
  • Barbados
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Tobago

If you’re planning an onward journey with your assistance dog, you’ll need to book your flight directly with the carrier concerned (checking their rules).

Preparing your assistance dog for its flight

1. Check all its documentation

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.

2. Contact the Animal Reception Centre

You’ll need to fax copies of all your assistance dog’s documents to the Animal Reception Centre at your airport.

Heathrow Airport

  • Tel +44 (0)208 745 7894
  • Fax +44 (0)208 759 3477

Gatwick Airport - Animal Aircare

Manchester Airport

3. Call our Special Assistance team

You’ll need to let our Special Assistance team know you plan to travel with an assistance dog, at least three working days before your flight. Please call 0844 412 4455 and be ready to provide them with:

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

4. On the day of the flight

When the time comes to fly, you’ll need to take account of the following:

At check in, you’ll need a copy of the Animal Reception Centre pre-approval letter (as such, you’ll need to check in at one of our staffed counters)

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 can offer advice on harnesses.

Pet Travel Scheme helpline

  • We also recommend you bring an absorbent mat for your assistance dog while they’re onboard.

If travel is required for an animal that does not fall within the category of ‘assistance dog’, please see our travelling with pets page.

Don’t forget pet insurance

Make sure your assistance dog is properly insured while he’s travelling with you.