Pet Travel: Pointers for keeping your pets safe in cargo

Travel with a Pet via cargoOne of the most common concerns pertaining to pet travel comes with transporting a pet via cargo. Contrary to popular belief, pets aren’t crammed with luggage in a deep dark hole in the bottom of the plane. Actually, pets are loaded into a temperature and pressurized compartment separate from luggage. They are also the last to be loaded onto the plane and the first to come off. Usually before you even get to the gate! It’s understandable that the thought of having your pet transported without your supervision can be stressful for both you and your pet. But before you deny the idea completely, do some proper research. Know that thousands of pets are transported via cargo every year and as long as you and your pet are properly prepared, you shouldn’t worry. has created a list of pointers below to consider before and during your transport to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being.

Before Travel:

  • Introduce your pet to the cargo crate as early as possible. The more comfortable your pet is inside the crate the better. Also, remember to never use it as a scolding tool. The goal is to curb your pet’s anxiety and anxiousness while inside the crate.
  • If you are considering transporting a puppy or kitten, please be cautious, especially in the summer or winter. It’s difficult for younger pets to fully acclimate to weather conditions. Consider transporting inside the cabin whenever possible.
  • Traveling in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter create a whole new set of variables to consider. These times should be avoided whenever possible. If you can plan accordingly, do so.
  • Consider your pet’s age, health and temperament before travel and consult with your veterinarian. All 3 of these factors play a huge role in pet transport. If your pet has a history of being nervous, consider a sedative but NEVER a tranquilizer.
  • Water is extremely important. Be sure that your pet is hydrated. Consider beefing up the water a few days before the transport.
  • Replace any plastic fasteners with metal crate hardware. Although the plastic is sufficient, metal hardware will keep the crate locked and tight together. Some airlines even require the metal hardware.
  • Does your pet like to sleep on your clothes? That’s because your scent comforts them. Consider putting an article of used clothing (such as a t-shirt) inside the crate to help curb anxiety and stress.

During Travel:

  • It can never hurt to confirm your pet has been loaded on the plane. (We’ve actually heard of airline employees approaching pet owners on the plane letting them know their pet was loaded safely) This especially pertains when your pet is making stops in multiple airports.
  • If your pilot is available for a quick chat, let them know your best friend is loaded in the cargo hold. Your pilot will most likely be aware of this, but there’s nothing wrong with a reminder and it will give you re-assurance for your flight.
  • Consider dividing your itinerary into sections. If you’re on a long trip, pickup your pet and take them for a walk. Most major airports have a pet friendly section available on site or nearby. If you’re on an international trip, consider an overnight stay. Especially if the pet is not acclimated to traveling, easily stressed/nervous, or older in age. Just remember that if you plan to leave the airport, you will need to conform to the countries regulations on traveling pets.
  • Traveling with multiple pets? Consider transporting them both in the same crate. Some airlines will let pets of the same breed travel together as long as they meet the airlines requirements.

Traveling with a pet in cargo doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. In fact with a little preparation, your pet can be one of the thousand happy animals transported worldwide every year. Find out more about Pet Travel.


Pet Travel: Pointers for keeping your pets safe in cargo — 106 Comments

  1. Dima – you must not change airline companies in London from TAP to British Airways. Your dogs will need to clear customs in London and that takes a long time and is expensive because an agent must handle the transit. Best to put them on another airline that flies your route directly or avoids the UK.

  2. Please I am travelling by tap Portugal airline and I will pass transit to uk so its tap to British airway.. I have to 2 pets dogs please I just i need to know are they acceptable on the plane atleast cargo they are acceptable from Bissau to lisbon by tap airway in cabin but I
    Am not sure if they are acceptable in cargo at least tap to British airway.. Transit.. They are small dogs.. Waiting ur reply please I need to know..

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  5. Vashka – what cities/countries are you traveling from and to? What airline are you flying? Many dogs and cats take long trips. Generally, if the layover is more than 3 hours, the airlines will walk, water and clean up your dog, but it depends on the facilities available to them in the layover airport. We would advise flying KLM through Amsterdam or Lufthansa through Frankfurt where great facilities are available and your dog can still transit the country. Not sure if these airlines fly your route.

  6. I have a 5 month old Siberian Husky. All his paperwork is set as far as passport for up to date shots and flying international but I’m worried as the travel we have planned is very long distance (28 hrs with one stop over / 18 hr then 6hr flight) is the shortest flight I could find 🙁

    My main concern is bathroom. He is kind of a clean freak puppy and I’m scared to have him be basically sleeping in his own feces or urine. I’ve tried to find other transport crates but they all look the same and I don’t know why the bathroom situation is something no one is asking.

    At the moment he is 14kg… is there a way I can just buy a seat for him instead? And if that’s a possibility is there dog diapers since I’m with him and can clean him? It’s just so new to me. Thanks in advance <3

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