Traveling By Air With Dogs

You may be permitted to carry on a small animal in the passenger cabin as carryon luggage provided the pet is small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel that is placed under the seat. Advance reservations are required and are subject to a small charge. Be aware that cages and other shipping containers for traveling as cargo must meet the minimum standard for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation and design for safe handling. If your animal is traveling as excess baggage, check-in will usually be at the passenger terminal. If you are sending your pet through the cargo system, you will need to go to the air freight terminal.

Weather Conditions

Be aware that the Animal Welfare Act dictates that in certain extreme weather conditions animals are not allowed to travel by air. This is to prevent chilling and/or dehydration, and the upper temperature is often exceeded in the summer in many southern states.  

Top Air Travel Tips

  • Book a direct flight wherever possible
  • Use arrows to prominently indicate the upright position of the crate
  • Place a small frozen dish of water in the crate. This way, it can’t spill during loading, and will melt by the time he’s thirsty.

Check-In Times

Be sure to check for the acceptance cutoff time for your flight. USDA requires that your pet be offered food and water within 4 hours before check-in with an airline – but be sure not to overfeed your pet! If you are shipping your pet as cargo, 1-7 days notice should be given. This is important since each airplane can transport only a limited number of animals. Pug-nosed breeds such as Pekingese, Chows, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Persian and Himalayan cats often have difficulty breathing at high altitudes. Airlines generally advise against transporting these breeds by air.

On Arrival at Your Destination

On arrival, your pet can probably be collected at the oversized baggage area or the luggage claim service area. Determine this as soon as possible as possible if you have arrived late in the evening, as some cargo areas close at night and pickup will have to occur in the morning. Examine your animal immediately and express any concerns you have to airline officials. Remember that returning from overseas with your pet is regarded as an "importation". All importations are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, wildlife, and customs requirements and prohibitions. Pets taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time.

When Traveling Overseas

For overseas travel (including Hawaii), inquire about any special health requirements such as quarantine. If you plan to travel overseas with your pet, it’s a good idea to contact that country’s Embassy or Consulate location here in the U.S. to learn helpful information. Visit the Center for Disease Control for disease epidemic information in the U.S. and foreign countries.

Take your pet for a check up at your normal vet and obtain a health certificate and documentation of inoculations. This will be required when traveling to a foreign country. If your pet is on any medication, make sure you have enough for the entire duration of the trip.