Does the idea of your dog experiencing airline cargo travel make you nervous? This Quick Guide from Petmate is here to help owners and their pets have a positive experience when traveling as checked pets or being shipped as cargo. Before stocking up on dog travel gear, it's important to familiarize yourself with what is and isn't allowed for airline travel.
This guide is not applicable for pets flying in the cabin with their owner, nor is it applicable to international pet travel. This guide is intended for those with larger dogs who will not fit in a carrier below the seat in front of you. If you are flying with a cat or smaller dog (generally 20 pounds or less), we recommend bringing them into the cabin with you in an approved carrier.
There are regulatory mandates for pets traveling on a plane, both from USDA and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA). In addition to these regulations, each airline also has their own internal pet travel requirements, over and above what the USDA and IATA mandate. Each Airline’s Pet Travel Requirements differ so it is important to do your homework IN ADVANCE of traveling!
Please note that this Quick Air Travel Guide does not replace advice or direction from your Airline
Beyond the mandated USDA and IATA Regulations, each Airline has its own unique Pet Travel Requirements based on aircraft sizes, internal policies, and procedures. Knowing the details of your Airlines Pet Travel Requirements is critical for a smooth travel experience for you and your pet.
It's incredibly important to note that not all airlines will allow dogs to fly cargo due to liability concerns. Some of these major airlines include Southwest, JetBlue, and Frontier. Rules and regulations may change from time to time, so be sure to check in with an airline even if your dog has flown cargo with them before.
Additionally, some airlines have breed restrictions on Brachycephalic, or short-nosed dogs, such as Pugs and Boston Terriers. The unique anatomy of these short-nosed dogs makes them more vulnerable to changes in air quality and temperature.
Once you've confirmed that your airline will allow your dog to travel as a checked pet, keep in mind:
Please contact your airline for their carrier sizing requirements. Below is a general guideline, but your airline may have different specifications on the size of crate required for your size pet. Click here for more information on how to choose a kennel.
The height of the interior of the crate must be 3-4” taller than the pet, including the head and ears. Your dog should not have to crouch down when inside the kennel and should have just enough room and stand and sit.
The length of the crate must be equal to the length of the pet plus the length of the front legs. This means that your dog should have just enough room to walk inside the kennel, turn around, and lay down comfortably. If your dog has extra room, they may end up using the restroom in the extra space.
The kennel bottom must be lined with absorbent materials like:
Overly fluffy blankets are not allowed inside the kennel but that doesn't mean you can't bring your dog's favorite blanket inside your checked baggage. Just be sure to check with the airline before travel to be sure it's allowed.
Items prohibited inside or on kennels during travel:
Most airlines provide the necessary labels needed for transport. Contact your airline prior to travel to confirm exactly what markings are needed and what labels you may have to provide or make yourself. We carry standardized live animal documentation and other necessary dog travel accessories, but it's important to check directly with the airline to make sure your labels are compliant.
Some examples of labeling that may be required by the airline include:
To learn more about plastic kennels for travel please visit Petmate plastic kennels.
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