There are certain precautions every pet owner must take when your pet is traveling in the cargo area of a plane. You want to make sure your pet is acclimated to the crate, properly hydrated etc. so your pet travels as safe and as comfortable as possible. For the snub nosed pet owner, things can get a little trickier. Snub-nosed pets (Dogs: Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih-Tzu Cats: Persian and Himalayan for example) are some of the most popular breeds, but unfortunately can pose a risk during air travel. These short nosed (also called “brachycephalic”) pets have difficulty breathing and acclimating to certain weather conditions. Even though these pets are considered “at risk”, taking necessary precautions and using the proper flight itinerary on a pet-safe, pet friendly airline will help reduce the chances of an incident. Below is an airline chart to help pet owners who are considering traveling via cargo with their sub nose breed.
Most airlines require a health certificate within 10 days prior to your travel date. (International immigration requirements also apply if traveling outside country borders)
Weather restrictions: When extreme weather conditions exist the airlines restrict animals that will be accepted as checked baggage in certain cities. These restrictions are setup for the safety of your pet. The restrictions are as follows:
Summer Heat Embargo: May 15 through September 15
Winter Embargo: November 1st through March 31st
Delta: Delta is one of the least restrictive airlines when it comes to snub nosed pet travel. As long as the temperature does not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit or drop below 10 degrees, snub nosed breeds can be transported. Unfortunately, they will not accept any type of Bulldog (French, American, or English).
Continental: Continental acknowledges the weather restrictions due to the embargo but in certain cities they provide climate controlled vans to transport the pets to and from the airplane. With these vans and under certain circumstances they are able to transport pets during these embargoes. You will want to contact the airline directly for more information. Also, Boston Terriers, Pugs and Bulldogs will not be transported at all between May 15th and September 15th. Along with the health certificate, here are the Continental Airline requirements for snub nosed pet travel:
• Use 1 size larger kennel than is normally required
• Use a kennel with ventilation on 4 sides. (If the kennel does not have ventilation on 4 sides, modify the kennel by drilling 7 holes in the rear top and 7 holes in the rear bottom of the kennel using a 3/4 inch keyhole bit).
• Acclimate the animal to the kennel by letting the animal spend time in the kennel for several days before its departure
• Do not place food in the kennel during the flight, just water
• Provide plenty of water to the animal. Frozen water bottles with tiny holes punched in the sides make a great watering tool for several hours when placed in the kennel’s watering dish.
American Airlines: American Airlines has issued a permanent embargo on all breeds of snub-nosed dogs and cats, effective November 15, 2010.
Frontier and Alaskan Airlines: Both Frontier and Alaskan airlines don’t have special requirements or restrictions for snub nosed pets, however there are temperature restrictions. Also, during the months of June to September these airlines will not transport pets in certain cities. Call your local office for more information.
It is always wise to call your airlines when making your reservation and disclose the breed of your dog. Also, it is a good idea to let the Captain know that you are traveling with a pet. Preparing in advance is an important part of pet travel.
UPDATE: Delta announced this week that they will not longer allow any type of bulldog in the cargo hold. Almost all of the US based carriers have followed suit. Frontier is the only known US based carrier that will accommodate a bulldog as of this writing.