Airline Pet Travel: Delta Cargo Announces New Summer Live Animal Program

Airline pet travel in cargo during the summer was difficult until Delta announced their new Summer Live Animal Program

UPDATE: Note that, as of October 1, 2016, Delta Cargo will no longer accept snub-nosed pets of any kind (see list in step 6). Delta will also discontinue their Summer Live Animal Program and temperature restrictions (10 F/-12 C and 85F/29 C) will be imposed for all cities that Delta flies. Additionally, Delta will no longer accept pets traveling as cargo on flights with an average duration of over 12 hours.

Need to fly with your pet this summer to Phoenix or Miami? Is your pet too small to travel in the cabin of the aircraft? Up until now, you have been out of luck for pet cargo travel unless you want to fly a pets only airline or charter a private jet.

Delta Cargo has just announced the launch of the 2010 Summer Live Animal Program. The program, which is in effect from May 31 through October 3, 2010, allows for the shipment of live, warm blooded animals, in select cities, during the hotter months of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Delta Cargo is now accepting pets all year round; they have eliminated the Summer Heat Embargo restrictions! (NOTE: Snub-nosed breeds are exempt from this program and can only be transported at temperatures up to 75F/24C.)

As Delta advertises: “Delta Cargo has climate controlled van service for the transport of live, warm blooded animals during our normal operations. This service is handled by specially trained Delta Cargo agents who work closely with a variety of internal partners to ensure safe, seamless, and comfortable movement of your animals.

Drivers are responsible for pick up and delivery of all warm-blooded, animals to or from the aircraft, animal holding areas, and cargo facilities. Because safety is our number one priority, live warm-blooded animals shipped as cargo are loaded or unloaded following specific time requirements in all cities.”

There are a few restricted routes. Pet cargo travelers should contact Delta Cargo at Pet First Call Center – 1-888 SENDPET (1-888-736-3738). All applicable pet fees and rules apply. Terminal fees, veterinarian fees, or overnight fees may apply when applicable. Visit or call for additional details.

Because of long wait times in the loading area and on the tarmac, most United State based airlines will not ship pets in the cargo hold of the aircraft during the summer due to heat exposure to the pet. The absence of appropriate handling procedures has been a tremendous inconvenience to owners traveling with a pet to hot climates in the summertime. We are thrilled that Delta has taken the lead on providing the safety measures that will accommodate summertime pet cargo travel. Hopefully, other carriers will follow their lead.

NOTE: Here is the list of cities that are NOT participating in Delta’s Summer Live Animal Program: Ajuba, Acapulco, Albany (NY), Antigua, Barcelona, Beijing, Belize City, Boise, Bonaire, Bozeman, Bridgetown, Calgary, Charleston, Cozumel, Curacao, Dakar, Denver, Detroit, Duzzledorf, Edmonton, Fortaleza, Georgetown, Grand Bahama, Grenada, Guayaquil, houston (Intercontinental), Huntsville, Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo, Kansas City, Kingston, Lima, Madrid, Malaga, Managua, Mazatlan, Mexico City, Milan – Malpensa, Minneapolis/St Paul, Monterey, Munich, Nagoya, Newark, Nice, Osaka, Paris, Philadelphia, Pisa, Port au Prince, Port of Spain, Providenciales, Puerto Vallarta, Quito, Rio de Janerio, Roatan, Rochester (NY), Rome, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Jose Del Cabo (Cabo San Lucas), Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Shannon, St. Croix, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Syracuse, Tokyo, Toronto, Tucson, Valencia, Vancouver, Washington DC (National).


Airline Pet Travel: Delta Cargo Announces New Summer Live Animal Program — 332 Comments

  1. Allie – Delta no longer will transport pets in the cargo hold between mid May and mid September. They used to have a summer heat program but they discontinued it. Try United as they are the only airline left that can accommodate the summer heat. Another option would be to find an airline that flies early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are not as high.

  2. I’m flying from CHS through CLT to FRA in late May on american at 2PM. They informed me of the temp restriction (85 degrees). It’s too much of a gamble to show up at the airport wiht two small children and a large dog only to find out that the dog can’t fly with us to Germany because the forecast is 85 degrees in charleston or charlotte. That said, I’d be willing to change airlines to Delta but it appears Delta doesn’t offer this program in Charleston. Is that correct? Anyone know if this temperature restriction via the airlines is applicable to the pet shipment services too? I wasn’t sure if the companies also flew the animals on the same flights we are on. Thanks!

  3. McCourt – it is difficult to respond to your question without knowing where your dog is flying from and to. From your post, it appears that your dog will be traveling unaccompanied. If this is the case, you will want to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route. Your dog will need an IATA-compliant pet crate like these: A health certificate issued within 10 days of travel will also be required.

  4. Hi we are looking all over for an airline that can fly are dog to California at the end of June and we are hoping we don’t have to get rid of her
    Can you help us?

  5. Melissa – try to find a carrier with a flight that arrives at night or early in the morning when temperatures are likely not to be as excessive as mid-day. Your options will increase and you have a greater chance to find a non-stop flight out of Madrid than Malaga. There are several to consider including Iberia, Finnair and American.

    No airline will allow your large dog in the cabin unless it is a service animal. The regulations for emotional support animals vary with each airline.

  6. Hello! I will be traveling from southern Spain (Malaga area) to Chicago the end of June, 2017 with our dog. Looking at the forecast, it looks like the weather will be around 82-84 degrees during that time of the year. What happens if I book the flight and then that day the temperature is too high? Is it easy enough to just reschedule the flight for the next day with good temperature?
    Would we be better off renting a car and flying out of Madrid?

    Also if a large dog is not a service dog, can they ride in the cabin?
    Thank you for your help!

  7. My daughter is shipping her two cats from San Diego to Atlanta next Tuesday, April 25. The flight is scheduled to arrive at 3:29 pm. Our names will be given as authorized to pick up and we will bring an emailed copy of the Airway bill and our photo ID’s. The person helping her coordinate is supposed to provide the details but I’m nervous about finding my way, parking, traffic, not having something needed, etc. Would you provide me with the pick up location address and phone? Plus any tips would be appreciated.

  8. Betsy – United and Lufthansa are both approved to import pets to Heathrow. You will need to contact their cargo department. They will need IATA-compliant pet crates like these As your pups will travel alone, they will need to conform to commercial regulations. You can find an explanation of the differences here under HEALTH CERTIFICATES. Presently, due to new regulations concerning VAT, the wait time for pick up at the Animal Reception Center is about 10 hours. Not sure how long that will last, but VAT will be imposed at both airports.

  9. I need to fly three unaccompanied dachshunds from Chicago to London in June. I will put them on the flight, and my spouse will pick them up. Which airlines will do that? Also, does Gatwick have shorter wait times than Heathrow for owner pickup? I’m trying to keep the duration of the trip as short as possible and wonder if the volume of pets to be processed at Gatwick is lower. Thanks for any help you may offer.

  10. Pauline – out of La Paz into JFK, your best bets are Aeromexico or Volaris. Delta will require that an agent book the transport. There is a layover at MEX. Be sure not to change airline companies there. Due to the weight of your pup, it may need to fly as air cargo, so you would need to contact the cargo department for the cost details in that case.

  11. We are planning to fly from Los Cabo San Lucas Mexico to New York. Our dog is 43kg, how much does it cost? Is direct flight or need to layover? How long for the flight?
    Thank you so much!!

  12. We will be traveling to Korea in August, we have 3 dogs Lab, Sheltie and Australian Cattle dog. Will they be able to travel?

  13. Hello Istvan – will you be traveling with your dogs? Are you looking for the assistance of an agent? You may want to search for an agent that serves Atlanta (we are located in Florida). Try You can search for an agent by airport.

    The requirements to import a dog to Liberia can be found here:

  14. I am trying to fly my pets, a 6 year old German Sheppard (122 lbs.) and my two cats fr om Salt Lake City, Ut. to San Jose del Cabo. I am relocating there and return back to Cabo on the 19th of March. I have contacted a local IPATA in SLC and they tell me they can only get my animals to Mexico City. Do you have anyone in SLC that can help me get my animals to San Jose del Cabo?

  15. Just starting to plan our move (end of May 2017) to Monrovia, Liberia from Atlanta, GA for a job overseas with CDC. We have a 40 and a 50 pound dog. I am curious, can we ship them through this service during this time period?
    Thank you for any information you might be able to share.

  16. Kevyn – you will need an IPATA agent to book the transport of the puppy on Delta (we can do that, but there will be a charge – send us an email at if you need assistance with that). Both Delta and United have routes with two stops. If you can get it to Chicago, Delta, United and Air Canada all have one-stop routes. Whatever you decide, keep the puppy on the same airline for the entire trip.

  17. I am trying to transport a 8 week old puppy from South Bend Indiana to Edmonton Alberta. Does Delta fly this route? Is it possible with Delta Cargo? It would be around April 12, 2017.

  18. HI Carolyn – as long as the puppy is old enough, it can fly unaccompanied in the cargo hold. This is not the preferred way to travel (in-cabin is better), but the cargo hold is temperature controlled and pressurized. The risk to the puppy is not in the air but on the ground (holding and loading). If the ground temperatures anywhere along the route fall below 45 degrees F, the airlines will not transport the puppy. Try to keep the flight direct if at all possible.

  19. I haven’t seen nothing about winter months and if the airplane cargo area is heated and air conditioning. I have had bad experiences with ground transport and looking into flying my puppies. But I need to assure my puppy buyers.

  20. Midori – you will need to check your pet a certain number of hours ahead of departure (varies by airline) and, while it is waiting to be loaded, it will be in an area where the temperature is not strictly controlled as luggage and cargo bound for different destinations is moving in and out. Once at the plane, live animals are the last things to be loaded onto the aircraft and the first things that are off-loaded, so will spend some time on the tarmac or on the luggage truck. It is at this time where they are exposed to the risks of either low or high temperatures. Also, long waits on the runway is also a concern.

  21. Hello,

    I am trying to assess the risk Level for transporting my 2 cats from Frankfurt to Narita, Japan during the hote/cold seasons..

    I am not understanding the comments from Phil

    “The cargo hold is temperature and pressure controlled. Other than holding and loading, the amount of time spent on the taxiways is a concern for live animals in the hold. Once in the air, the risk is not as great because the aircraft’s air handling is efficient.”

    Could you plase tell me the Definition of “Holding and loading”.. Loading.. I understand.. I suppose the cats must wait on the ground in order to be on the aircraft… and also getting out of the plane, as well? Also “Holding”.. what does it mean.. where do the cats being Held? on the ground?

    I very much appreciate your Feedback..


  22. Hi Clair – we are not aware of an airline that publish regulations to fly guinea pigs in the cabin, but they may allow it if you contact them and ask. As for the dogs, they will likely fly in the hold if you are traveling alone. Be careful about the temperatures in Atlanta in July. You may want to start with Delta as Atlanta is their hub and they have facilities to deal with the summer heat.

  23. I’m wanting to take two terrier dogs and two Guinea pigs from Manchester UK to Atlanta in June 2017. Would the dogs go in the hold and could the pigs come n the cabin?

  24. Caymannmom – we don’t blame you for being confused. Delta no longer offers pet owners the option to fly their pets as checked baggage. If you travel with Delta, your pet must travel either in the cabin or as air cargo and you must have your travel arranged by a member of IPATA, which is a worldwide association of pet transporters of which we are a member. As for United, they offer cargo services through their PetSafe Program which is not the same as checked baggage. It is more of an air cargo program. Pets can still travel in the cabin on some international flights.

    To answer your question, if the destination country does not require pets to arrive as air cargo, it is up to the airline which class of service they will provide on a given route. That said, if your dogs are too big to travel in the cabin, you should contact either Delta Cargo or PetSafe.

  25. I want to fly with my two dogs from Georgetown, Grand Cayman to Atlanta, GA on Nov 1, 2016. Delta said that they would accept the pets as baggage on that flight. United will not. Is it up to the individual airlines to make these rules? I just wonder if I got the correct information from Delta since United said their reason was “due to federal regulations”. I would think that “federal regulations” would be the same with Delta as with United. I am confused!

  26. Rita – Delta will not transport your puppy out of San Antonio if the temperature exceeds 85 degrees. You are correct that they do not serve the airport in their Summer Live Animal Program. Your options are to fly out of DFW on Delta (which is included in their program) or United out of Austin (maybe) or Houston.

    The cargo hold is temperature and pressure controlled. Other than holding and loading, the amount of time spent on the taxiways is a concern for live animals in the hold. Once in the air, the risk is not as great because the aircraft’s air handling is efficient.

  27. I keep hearing about these “holding” areas and vans that are air conditioned, but what about the actual cargo part of the plane? Is it AC? I want to ship a 8-10 week puppy from Austin to Ontario, Canada, but do not want to put a pup on an un-airconditioned flight out of Texas. Delta is the only direct flight out of San Antonio, but I see they are not on the list of airports that do this special summer program. Thanks for your help.

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