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:

  1. Check that your flight route accepts assistance dogs, and that your dog's breed and temperament are considered safe for flying. 
  2. Make sure your dog has has all the necessary documentation, vaccinations, treatments and tests to enter or leave the UK or any other country. 
  3. Contact the special assistance department to let them know you plan to travel with your assistance dog. 
  4. Get insurance for your dog. 
  5. Fax copies of all your assistance dog’s documents to the Animal Reception Centre at your departure airport. 
  6. Double check that you have submitted all the documentation that you and your dog need before flying, and that you have copies with you. 
  7. 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.

Please note at this time the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre are not currently accepting arrivals and departures over the weekends, this in in effect from 22:00 Friday evenings until 06:00 Monday mornings.

Check that your flight route accepts assistance dogs.

You can bring your assistance dog into the cabin on all of our Virgin Atlantic flights. Please do check your ticket carefully as if you are travelling with a partner airline they may have different acceptance criteria to ourselves.

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.

Travelling to or from the US

Customers travelling to or from the US must submit the U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Travel Form for validation prior to their flight attesting to the animal’s health, training and behaviour. In addition to this, for flights scheduled over 8 hours customers must also submit a DOT Relief Attestation Form attesting that the  dog will not relieve itself in the aircraft or can do so in a sanitary manner.

Is your dog's breed and temperament permitted for travel in the cabin?

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.

Find out which documentation, vaccinations, treatments and tests you need before flying.

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:
pettravel@apha.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: 0370 241 1710
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm (closed on bank holidays)

Get insurance for your dog.

Make sure you have the correct kind of insurance to cover your dog while you travel. Keep the documents with you.

At least three days before your flight, contact the Special Assistance team.

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

Special assistance numbers for other countries

*For entry regulations into the UK, the animal reception centre requires three days’ notice to approve an assistance dog for travel.

Fax copies of all your assistance dog’s documents to the Animal Reception Centre.

You will need to send copies of all of your assistance dog’s documents to the Animal Reception Centre

You’ll ned to email or fax copies of your assistance dogs documents to the Animal Reception Centre at your departure airport. UK Animal Reception Centres are listed below.

Heathrow Airport

Tel: +44 208 745 7894
Fax: +44 208 759 3477
EmailHarc@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Gatwick Airport - Animal Aircare

Tel: +44 (0)1293 555 580
Fax: +44 (0)1293 555 589
Email: animalcare@btconnect.com

Manchester Airport

Tel: +44 161 209 7670
Fax: +44 161 209 7672
Email: info@petsonjets.com

How to get prepared to fly with your assistance dog.

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.

Find out how to avoid quarantine when 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.