Pet Cargo Crates & Pet Carriers
Airline Pet Container Requirements
The rules regarding approved types of containers for cats, dogs, ferrets and birds flying in cabin and as cargo were created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and, for the most part, have been accepted by the world's airlines.
PETS TRAVELING IN CABIN
Airline rules for pet traveling in-cabin vary, however, many airlines will allow small cats or dogs to be taken with the passenger in the cabin (except travel to the UK, Japan, South Africa, and Hong Kong). Generally, the airline will only allow one pet per passenger and a maximum of two to three pets per cabin. Your pet's carrier must fit under the seat in front of you and must have a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation and be secure (zippers, not snaps). The Sherpa, Bergan, and SturdiBag pet carriers are all airline compliant for cats and dogs as long as the carrier is the proper size for your pet. We suggest that you travel with a soft sided carrier as they will compress into smaller spaces than rigid carriers. Here are examples of airline compliant pet carriers.
To view the requirements for individual airlines, visit our airline pet policies page.
Whether your pet is flying as checked baggage or cargo, it will travel in a temperature controlled and pressurized compartment right under the cabin. Most airlines flying larger aircraft (not commuter planes) accept live animals as cargo and have made special provisions for their handling. Exceptions to this are Southwest, AirTran, JetBlue, Frontier, Virgin America and those airlines that do not accept pets at all.
PET CARGO CRATE REQUIREMENTS
Your pet must be in an IATA compliant pet crate and meet certain other requirements depending on the airline. It is considered best to have only one animal per container, but the IATA rules state that two animals can share the same container if the animals are under 14kg (30lbs) and are of the same species. It is up to the airline to set their own rules and most of them do.
We recommend these pet crates made by PetMate as they meet all of the standards for pets traveling as air cargo or checked baggage.
- The container must be large enough for your pet(s) to stand, turn around, and lie down.
- The kennel must be made of fiberglass, metal, rigid plastics, weld metal mesh, solid wood or plywood.
- The container door must have a secure, spring loaded, all around locking system with the pins extending beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door.
- The kennel should not be collapsible.
- Although this is not an IATA requirement, many airlines are now requiring steel crate hardware instead of plastic fasteners. We would recommend that you use this hardware on your pet's crate to be sure there will be no problems.
- Both water and food bowls must be attached to the inside of the front door and be refillable from the outside of the container without opening the door.
- The container must have ventilation on all sides for international travel and three sides minimum for domestic travel.
- The container must have LIVE ANIMAL STICKERS on the top and sides in letters at least one inch tall as well as directional stickers. Also, there must be a sticker adhered to the top of the crate called a Shipper's Declaration stating when your pet was last watered and fed. These stickers can be found in our Accessory Kits.
- NO WHEELS. If the container has wheels, they should be removed or taped securely so that the kennel cannot roll.
- The container must be identified with you pet's name and owner's contact information. The best way to do this is to attach your pet's information to the outside of the crate with duct tape or other sturdy tape.
- Find more information on pet cargo crates.
Here are examples of IATA compliant pet cargo crates.
Sizing Your Crate: Measure your pet according to the chart below Compare your findings with the interior measurements of the crate.
A= length of animal from nose to root of tail
B = height from ground to elbow joint
C = width across musters
D = height of animal in standing position
The length of the kennel must be equal to A + 1/2 B.
The width of the kennel must be equal to C x 2.
The height of the kennel (top flat or arched) must be equal to D.
Many airlines also require a pet crate pad or other absorbent material be present in the bottom of the crate. Soft toys are sometimes accepted, but do not put hard dog bones or any other toys in your pet's crate.
If traveling with your pet internationally, then you should attach an extra copy of your pet's health certificate as well as the original travel documents to the container. The best way to do this is to put them in a plastic sleeve, mark as "Original Documents - DO NOT REMOVE" and apply to the top of the crate with duct tape.
Snakes require a crate at least two thirds as long as the snake and at least 50% of the snake's length in the crate width. Container preferences will vary by airline.
Rabbits & Hampsters
All small rodents as well as hampsters will travel in the cargo area in a cargo container as described above. A few airlines will allow rabbits in the cabin. Do not put objects in the cage as the airlines frown upon non attached items in the crate. A pet pad and old t-shirt is fine.
Turtles traveling in the cabin (call the airline to ask if they will allow it.) will need a sturdy container with absorbent material (shredded newspaper) and a place for your turtle to hide. Traveling in the cargo hold may require protection from the cold. Container must be a sturdy material (not cardboard) such as heavy plastic or wood and be of a minimum size set by the airlines.
Containers for birds can vary by airline, so we would suggest that you contact the reservations desk (in-cabin and checked baggage travel) and cargo department (manifest cargo travel) of the airline you are using for details. Adequate clearance must be allowed for the bird's tail and crown, and a perch must be attached to the crate. It is advised that the ventilation holes be covered with loosely woven material to allow for ventilation while providing privacy for your bird. There must be water available to your bird in a bowl attached to the door. Keep any unattached items to a minimum.