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Pet Cargo Airline Restrictions

Airline Cargo Temperature Restrictions for Pets
Keeping your pet safe while traveling in the cargo hold.

Did you know that the risks for your pet when flying in the cargo hold during periods of higher temperatures are not when actually flying? The your pet is exposed to risk when sitting in an unairconditioned cargo facility, on the baggage dock waiting to be boarded, on the tarmac waiting to be boarded (live animals are boarded last), taxiing to the departure runway and waiting for takeoff. As the cargo hold is low to the ground, it can heat up pretty fast. That is why temperatures matter when flying a pet in the cargo hold.

Temperature restrictions have been established by most airlines to ensure animals are not exposed to extreme heat or cold in the animal holding areas, terminal facilities, when moving the animals between terminal and aircraft or on an aircraft awaiting departure.

Airline Summer Heat Embargo

Pets flying in the cargo hold will not be accepted by most airlines when the current or forecasted temperature at the arrival, layover or departure airport is above 84°F (29°C) at any location on the itinerary (limit for snub-nosed dogs and snub-nosed cats is 75°F).

During the months of May through September, your airline may not allow you to transport your pet in the cargo department. The reason for this restriction is that the heat on the tarmac can heat up the cargo hold quickly. Additionally, many airlines do not have air-conditioned holding areas for pets. The risk to your pet is when it is on the ground, not when the aircraft is in the air.

Many airports in areas historically seeing high temperatures in the summer cuch as Texas and Arizona will be banned by many airlines for all summer months.


United has a Summer Heat Program and holds and handles pets in air-conditioned areas and vehicles. Not all cities are included in these programs.

Choose a flight that leaves after dark and arrives early in the morning before the runway begins to heat up. If you talk with the airline they will likely take your pet in cargo on such a flight although "technically" their embargo is in effect. Try more than one airline - some are more flexible with the rule than are others. Or use a different departure or arrival city where the weather may be cooler. You might have to drive 100 miles or more on departure or arrival to reach the airport, but this can be a solution when nothing else works.

Cold Restrictions

Pets cannot be accepted when the ground temperature is below 45°F at any location on the itinerary unless the pet has a veterinarian's statement of low temperature acclimation. Not all airlines accept acclimation certificates, but it is certainly worth asking. Long-haired or thick-coated pets accustomed to cold temperatures would be appropriate for the certificate should your veteranian approve.

The low temperature acclimation certificate form must include:

  • the name and address of the passenger
  • the name of the animal
  • name and signature of licensed veterinarian
  • the veterinarian's accreditation date and number
  • the temperature to which the animal is acclimated

When temperatures fall below 20°F, pets may not be checked, even with a statement of low temperature acclimation.

Find more information about why temperatures matter when flying your pet in the cargo hold.

Find IATA compliant pet crates for traveling with your pet.

Pet Cargo Airline Restrictions
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