Airline Pet Travel

Airline pet travel, although it may seem traumatic to a caring pet owner, whether in-cabin or cargo, is oftentimes the best way (or the only way) to travel. Dogs, cats and all pets get to their destination quicker and as safely as possible. It should be noted that millions of animals travel safely aboard aircraft every year. Airline personnel make every effort to handle these animals with the care they deserve.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets and enforces regulations for the transportation of live animals. These regulations apply to the pet owner, the shipper, as well as to the airlines. If you decide to transport your dog or cat by air, there are some things to check for in order to be in compliance with applicable laws, and to assure the safest and most comfortable trip for your pet.

If you are traveling with a smaller dog or cat, generally under 13 pounds and 12″ from floor to front shoulder, you should be able to bring the pet into the cabin with you. Always check with the airlines to find out the dimensions under the seat in front of you. An airline compliant carrier is a must. It should have a waterproof bottom, secure fasteners, (zippers) and ventilation on all sides. (These carriers are available at

If you cannot accompany your pet, or they are too large to fly in the cabin, dogs and cats typically are transported as cargo or as checked baggage. Sometimes these terms create confusion, but both describe humane means of shipping animals. What is important to know is that you may only transport your pet as checked baggage if you are a passenger traveling on the same flight as your pet and the combined weight of your pet and its crate is under about 70 pounds. (This weight varies by airline.) If flying cargo, your pet may travel unaccompanied, either through the regular cargo channels or through an especially expedited delivery service that several airlines have developed. Many airline cargo departments have specialists in the movement of animals who can assist you with answers to your questions. They are trained to handle your pet with care and are experienced in doing so.

What is important for you to know is that pets traveling as cargo are transported in the same pressurized holds as those in the checked baggage system and this area is temperature and pressure regulated similar to the cabin.

Each airline has its own pet policy, but one thing remains the same. You MUST call the airline as early as possible and tell them that you are traveling with a pet. Most airlines will only allow a certain number of pets in the cabin. Additionally, there will be a cost to bring your pet in the cabin with you. Your pet’s ticket cannot be purchased online for any airline that we are aware of.

For more tips on traveling with a pet on an airline, visit airline travel tips.

For airline pet policies for every airline that we can find worldwide, visit airline pet policies.


Airline Pet Travel — 124 Comments

  1. Sherino – India requires all commercial airlines to import live animals as checked baggage or air cargo, so it is going to be tough to find an airline that will fly your cat out in the cabin. You can ask Egypt Air and they may accommodate you out of India but not in the other direction. You need to get an export NOC before leaving India if you intend to return with your cat.

  2. am staying in india i want to take my cat with me to egypt i need to know who airline allows pet in cabin and mush the cost

  3. We are trying to figure out how to get our small dog less than 6 months from Kingston, Jamaica to Toronto. The airlines, Air Canada and Caribbean Airlines are saying he cannot travel in the cabin under seat. Any tips, suggestions, shared experiences would be much appreciated! Looking to bring him to Troronyo in a May. Trip would be about 4 1/2 hrs. Thank you!

  4. Hi Linda – your Westie will need to conform to requirements to enter France here: The EU countries have their own health certificates, but you can use the one you enter France with to also enter the UK. Your Westie will need a tapeworm treatment administered by a licensed veterinarian and recorded on the health certificate between one and five days of entering the UK.

  5. Hello:
    We are a Canadian couple who would like to travel to the uk with our small dog (westie). I understand that we cannot fly to the UK directly with our dog in cabin. One option might be an overnight flight to France and then drive to the UK. wE have crossed borders with our dog to the USA and know we have to have proper documentation regarding rabies, microchipped, etc. I believe we would also need a recent vet certificate of health. Does this right? Can you make any recommendations?

  6. Rebecca – certainly you should advise the TSA agent that your dog has metal implants. The x-ray machine will not hurt your dog, but they may require a physical “pat down.” Best to ask the representative as you approach the security check point.

  7. Hello! Do you have any advice on the TSA screening process when a pet has implants? I am flying on Sunday, and wasn’t concerned until it dawned on me that my dog’s knees are going to set off the metal detectors. I’ve got pictures of her x-rays (luxating patella surgeries on both sides), but is there anything else I can do to make this go smoothly?

  8. Mary – the key is to stay with the same airline company when departing from LAX, SFO or SEA. If you fly in and out of Japan or Korea on the same airline, then your dog will transit the country. If you change airline companies, it will need to clear customs and enter the layover country.

  9. I will be traveling with my service dog from Minneapolis to Taiwan in July. The first stop in the US will be either L.A, San Francisco, or Seattle. If there is a second stop, it would be either Japan or Korea. Would I have to go through inspections there?

    Please help. Thank you, Mary Fenger

  10. Aron – as a visitor, you should not need an export permit to leave Italy with your pet. The EU health certificate you used to enter the country will be fine to re-enter the US as long as you have not exceeded 30 days in Italy.

  11. I will be traveling to Italy to visit my daughter in December with my service dog. We will have the USDA/APHIS international health certificate/rabies documentation and microchip requirements. Where we are having difficulty is figuring out if that will be all we need to leave Italy to return to US. The airlines don’t need anything additional. Any information would be helpful.

  12. Are there any airlines that don’t manadate a booking agent to ship your dog from PHL to Australia? I’ve reviewed the import/export requirements and although they are lengthy, they are extremely detailed and manageable. I do understand the value of a professional, but my VET is experienced in the process, is USDA registered and the APHIS authority for the final health cert is only an hour away…additionally I was licensed as an IATA dangerous goods SHIPPER when I lived in Australia, so I am familiar with working with airlines and the accuracy of documentation.

  13. Gillian – because China is considered a high-rabies country by the EU, your relative’s dog will need to follow the process here in order before it can enter the UK: It will need to fly as air cargo into the UK and it is difficult to find an airline that will book the transport directly out of China (although it may be possible, we do not know of one). They all require that agents handle the booking. If you want to get a free quote from an agent in China, go to

  14. HI I am travelling from uk to China and bringing to the uk my relatives dog to stay with me for a year in the uk as my relative will be travelling the world and unable to accommodate the dog too.
    This is a medium size dog and she will have had all her injections etc.
    Im uncertain the process and we need advice as how this can be done.

    thank you in advance

  15. Marta – Lufthansa, Swiss Air and Air Canada all have confirmed that they will carry live animals out of the UK in the cabin. You may want to contact them to see if your specific route is included as the duration of the flight may matter.

  16. I am flying from the U.S. to the U.K. to pick up a puppy and bring the puppy back to the U.S. I know that I cannot fly INTO the UK with a pet in the cabin, but can I fly OUT of the UK with an in-cabin pet? The information I have found has been inconclusive or contradictory. If in-cabin travel out of Heathrow or Manchester is not allowed, I will start looking at travel via Paris.

  17. Debofa – according to the Animal Welfare Act, US-based airlines will not transport pets in the cabin on flights over 8-9 hours in length. Acceptance of live animals in the cabin or as checked baggage depends on the airline if choosing a foreign-based airline. However, if you split up your itinerary, then you will need to claim and recheck your pet and pass through customs in the layover country.

  18. There seems to be confusing information about bringing a cat on the plane with us from the Philippines to TX . Is there a 12 hour flight restriction now for pets period inside or as accompanied baggage? Can you do a short flight and a layover and then a 12 hour flight?

  19. I am returning to Australia from USA with 3 domestic cats. Can they travel with me on an International Flight and then do the quarantine period in Melbourne Facility.

  20. Hi.
    I am flying with my dog to new York from Copenhagen Denmark. What are the regulations and what papers do I need when I enter the United States. Where can I get a hold of this documents to start preparations.
    Would appreciate your help.
    Kindest regards/Jannica

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