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 PetTravelStore.com.)

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 should call the airline before you book 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. If your pet is traveling unaccompanied, then contact your airline’s cargo department.

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.


Comments

Airline Pet Travel — 150 Comments

  1. Hi Vanissar – You can review USDA regulations for importing a bird from Canada to the US. You can find them here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/bring-pet-into-the-united-states/pet-birds/pet-birds-from-canada. As your species of bird is not endangered or does not appear to be covered under CITES regulations (you should verify that), no permits should be required. As to FWS requirements, we suggest that you contact them at managementauthority@fws.gov or 1-800-358-2104 to make sure that there are no further requirements imposed by this agency. We would also suggest that you review information on this page, specifically the paragraph titled Leaving the United States with Your Pet Bird: Reminders and the table underneath it.

    As to the inspector, there is a list of land ports where veterinary inspection can be arranged on the USDA page (link above) under Step #2. No need for inspection if you are traveling by ground. There is also a form that you can complete if you are not entering the US at one of the designated land ports.
    Susan

  2. I want to bring my 50 gram parakeet with me from Oakland CA to Vancouver Canada for 2 months in October. It looks pretty straightforward going to Canada, but the info on entering the USA is confusing. It says I need to contact fish and wildlife, but the chart says I dont need permits for a bird under 100 g. It also says I must go to a usa airport with a veterinarian inspector, the closest one is LA! But it also says Toronto and Vancouver airports have USA approved veterinarian inspectors. I am so confused!

  3. Sarah – pet policies regarding animals flying in the cabin are administered solely by the airline. Certainly, both bunnies will need to be small enough to fit in an airline-compliant pet carrier, but you will need to contact Alitalia and confirm that they will allow this. If you cannot reach them by phone or email, you may want to consider going to the airport and speaking with a representative at the check-in counter. Bring your bunnies in their carrier. If you are still conflicted, ask for supervisors.

    They do not need to be microchipped, but accompanied with a health certificate. EU Pet Passports are issued only to cats, dogs and ferrets.
    Susan

  4. Hi there, I am taking my 2 rabbits in one carrier on 2 separate Alitalia flights next month; one from London Heathrow to Rome and the other from Rome to LAX the following day. Can they actually be in the same carrier as I’m getting conflicting information from the airline? They are bonded rabbits so would rather keep them together. Also do they need to be microchipped or have a pet passport? Thank you!!

  5. Ann – you should bring a picture ID with you to claim your husband’s Doberman Pinscher. You should be listed as the Consignee. A letter of authorization to claim your husband’s dog would be a good thing to have. You should be a legal US resident with an address in the US.
    Susan

  6. My fiance is sending me his doberman from Greece. He is sending him on luftansa. My fiance will arrive a couple days later. The dog has a microchip, a proper crate, the health certificate, all the vaccinations and a passport. I am wondering if there is any other paperwork I need to fill out or present in order to pick up the dog at the airport (ORD) in Chicago.

  7. Nadia – we hear that Austria has been x-raying pets traveling as checked baggage for years. Obviously, this practice is fairly alarming, but dogs and cats get x-rays at veterinarians when they have tumors or other problems. It may not be a good thing if your cat travels a lot, but officials claim that it is harmless for your pet. We read articles a few years back but have not heard anything recently.
    Susan

  8. hi. I had some traveling issues with my cat during the control check. even though I am traveling inside greece for the past 7 years with my cat at least 3-4 times a year, this time I was told that the rules changed and that now cats need to pass through x rays…..the same x rays that my handbag pass through(!).After a big fight I manage to pass her with me through the control that all passengers are controled. I was wondering what is the eu legislation concerning this issue? Is x-rays used for luggage’s save for a small 6 kilos cat? is there an actual research work proving that is save for them? Thank you for your answer……

  9. Tracey – the airlines do not interline pets, so yes, you would need to claim and recheck your dog on the next flight with Brussels Airlines. You can find your dog in baggage claim. They will generally be in the area where larger items like golf clubs will be. You will be entering the EU in Belgium, so you should have an EU health certificate for that country if you are entering from outside of the EU. (https://www.pettravel.com/immigration/belgium.cfm) and an EU Pet Passport if you are entering Belgium from another EU Member State.
    Susan

  10. Hi we are flying with 2 pets, cat in cabin and a dog as excess luggage in cargo, we are flying internationally all the way with Lufthansa then change to Brussels airlines in Brussels to Seville, we have a 3 hr layover in Brussels before our flight, do we have to recheck our dog in again? If so where would we pick her up from to recheck her in again

  11. Erica – we do not have offices in Russia and so are not familar with veterinary practices there. We do know that your dog will need an export health certificate within 5 days of travel. There are veterinary control stations in the airport and you can contact them for specific details on exporting your puppy. You can reach them at +7 (495) 578-96-52.
    Susan

  12. I bought a 5 months old (5pounds) dog in Russia. Will be traveling to US by Finair! Do dogs get tested for rabies in the airport by European airlines? I was told that in Russia they don’t vassinate until the dog is 6 mo old!

  13. I am looking for somebody departing from madrid (spain) between end of august and september who would be willing to accompany a dog.

  14. Vida – Non-vaccinated puppies, kittens and ferrets are not permitted to enter Poland from any country or EU Member State. Rabies vaccinations must not be administered prior to 12 weeks of age and there is a 21 day wait for puppies and kittens arriving from EU Member States, rabies-free countries or rabies-controlled countries. A rabies titer test measures the number of rabies antibodies in the puppy’s blood and, if not vaccinated, that test is not accepted. That said, if you are flying in and out of Poland on the same airline, the country may allow you to transit with an unvaccinated puppy. Is this the case?
    Jason

  15. Hello, I am traveling with an 8 week old puppy through Riga to Warsaw to Toronto with a 2.5 hour layover in Warsaw.
    Is this enough time to change flights? If I am staying in the airport in an EU country does Poland require my puppy to have a rabies vaccination?
    If so then I cannot make this trip. Is a rabies Titer Test from the breeder in Riga enough to transit through Poland?
    The airline tells me to check with the country, the country does not clearly state if puppies need vaccinations. The airline told meet call a vet?
    Is is possible to make this trip with an 8 week old puppy?
    I was told that Poland allows this.
    thank you for a reply.

  16. Cristina – no need to translate the titer test to English. The US does not require the test to enter (although it is never a bad thing to have).
    Susan

  17. If my blood titer test for rabies is in another language(romanian) do I need to have it translated to english for entering US?
    Thank you!

  18. Pete – you may want to contact Qantas Cargo for an estimate of the cost of flying your pups to Melbourne. United flies the route; however, due to their new PetSafe regulations, an IPATA agent will be required to book the transport. If Qantas will allow you to book the transport, it will be less expensive. If not, you can send an email to info@pettraveltransport.com for booking assistance.
    Susan

  19. We are travelling with our 2 dogs (46 lb’s each) from Los Angeles to Australia in October of this year and I am trying to get an idea of what the cost is going to be. We can not fly with them and they will be going to Melbourne for quarantine. We already have the other costs narrowed down just trying to guess the freight price.

    Thank you,

    Pete

  20. Christina – you really should register your cat. If, for any reason, it becomes separated from you, the first thing veterinary officials will do is to scan your cat. If your information is not registered, then they cannot contact you. We cannot say that all airlines have these stickers, but they are an IATA requirement for live animals flying in the cargo hold.
    Jason

  21. Do I have to print those “Live Animals” stickers for the crate or they will have to give me in the airport? Do I have to register online the microchip of my cat before traveling?

  22. Cristina: see answers below:

    1. Except international passport, microchip, blood titer for rabies, rabies vaccination and health certificate do I need something else? YOUR CAT WILL NEED AN EU PET PASSPORT, ESPECIALLY IF YOU NEED TO CLAIM IT IN WARSAW. 8 HOURS IS A VERY LONG TIME TO SPEND IN A CRATE DURING A LAYOVER. LOT MAY NOT HOLD YOUR PET THAT LONG. CONTACT THEM TO SEE.
    2.In the international pet passport the vet from Romania wrote at details of ownership my address from Romania. Did he has to write the address from US? I know that I have to attach the papers on the crate in a zip lock bag. NOT NECESSARILY. HE RECORDED THE ADDRESS IN ROMANIA THAT HE HAD ON FILE FOR YOU. WHEN HE ISSUED THE CERTIFICATE, HE DID IT WHILE YOU WERE IN ROMANIA.
    2. My rabies vaccination is valid until may 20 and I leave on the may 11. Do I have to make her another rabies vaccination? YOU SHOULD HAVE YOUR PUP REVACCINATED BEFORE LEAVING ROMANIA AND HAVE YOUR VET RECORD THE VACCINATION IN AN EU PET PASSPORT. THIS WILL MAKE IT MUCH EASIER IN THE CASE YOU RETURN TO THE EU.
    3. If I have a stop in Warsaw of 8 h what will happen with the cat during my layover in the airport, the cat being transported in cargo? SEE RESPONSE #1
    4. I have to take the cat in Toronto and check it again for cargo in the airport for the next flight if I am flying with Air Canada? YOU WILL NEED TO CLAIM YOUR CAT AND CLEAR CUSTOMS IN TORONTO AS YOU ARE CHANGING AIRLINE COMPANIES FROM LOT TO AIR CANADA.
    5. Will the cat arrive in the same time as me in Memphis? IF YOUR CAT IS FLYING AS ACCOMPANIED CHECKED BAGGAGE IN THE HOLD, IT SHOULD ARRIVE THE SAME TIME AS YOU. THE AIRLINES WILL DO THEIR BEST TO KEEP YOUR CAT ON THE SAME AIRLINE AS YOU FOR THE ENTIRE ROUTE. IF FLYING AS AIR CARGO, THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL ARRIVE ON THE SAME FLIGHT.
    Susan

  23. Hello,
    I am traveling from Romania to US (Romania-Warsaw-Toronto-Memphis) next month with my persian cat. I booked reservation and paid to take the cat on cargo from Romania to Canada on LOT Polish Airlines . I called Air Canada Airlines and have the reservation for cargo for the flight from Toronto to Memphis and they told me I will pay in Toronto for that.
    I have some questions and I hope somebody can help me:
    1. Except international passport, microchip, blood titer for rabies, rabies vaccination and health certificate do I need something else?
    2.In the international pet passport the vet from Romania wrote at details of ownership my address from Romania. Did he has to write the address from US? I know that I have to attach the papers on the crate in a zip lock bag.
    2. My rabies vaccination is valid until may 20 and I leave on the may 11. Do I have to make her another rabies vaccination?
    3. If I have a stop in Warsaw of 8 h what will happen with the cat during my layover in the airport, the cat being transported in cargo?
    4. I have to take the cat in Toronto and check it again for cargo in the airport for the next flight if I am flying with Air Canada?
    5. Will the cat arrive in the same time as me in Memphis?

  24. Kathy – no quarantine for the cats when entering the US. We recommend rabies certificates and current health certificates. Before departure, you must take your pet to the quarantine office at the airport 48 hours before departure from Egypt where they will issue a new health certificate and permit to take the pet from the country. There is a nominal fee charged for this service.
    Phil

  25. MY STEPSONS ARE MOVING TO THE U.S. TO LIVE WITH THEIR FATHER AND THEY WANT TO TAKE THEIR TWO CATS WITH THEM FROM EGYPT. WILL THEY BE QUARENTINED WHEN THEY GET TO NY THEY USUALLY FLY EQYPT AIR BUT THAT IS FLEXIBLE. NEW TO ALL OF THIS
    THANKS
    KATHY

  26. 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.
    Jason

  27. 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

  28. 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!

  29. Hi Linda – your Westie will need to conform to requirements to enter France here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/France.cfm. 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.
    Phil

  30. 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?

  31. 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.
    Phil

  32. 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?

  33. 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.
    Susan

  34. 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

  35. 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.
    Susan

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/UnitedKingdom.cfm. 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 IPATA.org.
    Phil

  39. 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

  40. 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.
    Susan

  41. 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.

  42. 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.
    Phil

  43. 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?

  44. 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.

  45. 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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