Airline Travel

Are you thinking about traveling with your pet? Well before you make any plans you better check into the airline requirements for pets! The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals and the Humane Society of the United States suggest that you don’t fly your pet unless he/she is small enough to fit in a pet carrier that you can take into the cabin with you. Pets can face risks including excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation, scarcity of oxygen, and rough handling when flown in the "cargo" area of a plane. Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and can’t be left to fly alone. 

Most airlines will accept either hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers, which may be more comfortable for your pet, but only certain brands of soft-sided carriers are acceptable to certain airlines. The carrier must be small enough to fit easily under the seat in front of you and have a waterproof bottom. Each airline has its own weight limits. Some are as low as 22 pounds for both the dog and the carrier – the same as a carry-on. Airline’s have strict requirements about health and immunizations so remember to get your pet checked by a veterinarian a week to 10 days before your trip. You must also reserve the space for your pet on the plane. Airlines have limited spaces for animals both in the cabin and in the cargo hold. 

If your pet isn’t used to traveling in a carrier, it would be a good idea to get him/her accustomed to the pet carrier for at least one month prior to flying. You can leave the carrier open on the floor for your pet to have unlimited access to it. Put some treats or toys inside so they will see it as a friendly place. Take the pet for car rides in the carrier so it can adapt to traveling in a crate. Finally, don’t feed your dog for four to six hours before the flight and have water available for hydration before the flight. 

If your pet has to travel in the cargo hold, you may want to attach a temporary tag to the collar with the contact information for you during your travels. Use direct flights so there can be no mistakes in transfers and delays. If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flight times that will accommodate extremes in temperature. (Morning flights in summer and afternoon flights in winter.)

These are just some of the suggestions that we found to make your pet’s flight a safer one. The following are some of the more common airline requirements for pet carriers. For the most up to date information and guidelines on regulations on small dog carriers, please call your airline or visit their website.

Air Canada: Maximum hard case kennel dimensions are: 21.5" L x 15.5" W x 9" H and 21.5" L x 15.5" W x 10.5" H for soft sided kennels.

American: Maximum hard case kennel dimensions are: 19" L x 13" W x 9" H. Soft-sided pet carriers such as Sherpa bags may exceed these dimensions slightly because they are collapsible.

Continental: Maximum hard case kennel dimensions are: 17.5" L x 12" W x 7.5" H and 18" L x 11" W x 11" H for soft sided kennels.

Delta: Maximum carry-on kennel dimensions are determined by your flight. You must contact Delta  to determine the appropriate kennel size.

JetBlue: 17" L x 12.5" W x 8.5" H

Southwest Airlines: Window and Aisle Seats: 19" L x 14" W x 8.25" H; Middle Seat: 19" L x 19" W x 8.25" H

United: Maximum hard case kennel dimensions are: 17.5" L x 12" W x 7.5" H and 18" L x 11" W x 11" H for soft sided kennels.

U.S. Airways: Maximum hard case kennel dimensions are: 17" L x 16" W x 8" H and 17" L x 16" W x 10" H for soft sided kennels.

Virgin America: 18" L x 15" W x 8" H

WestJet: 16" L x 17.5" W x 8.5" H

In Most Cases: Advance arrangements must be made. The kennel must fit completely under the seat forward of the customer and remain there at all times aboard the aircraft. Pets must be at least eight (8) weeks old for travel. The pet carrier must have ample ventilation and be sturdy enough to carry the pet. If two animals are traveling in the same carrier, no older than six months old, they must be the same species and weigh less than 20 lbs.

Traveling Tips for your pet: The following are some shipping suggestions to ensure your pet's comfort and safety.

1. Familiarize your pet with the carrier/ kennel to ease the stress of travel.

2. Keep your pet as calm as possible prior to the flight. Take along a leash and collar for walking your pet prior to departure. Do not place the leash inside the kennel.

3. Include identification tags with your home address and telephone number, as well as the address and phone number of the person receiving the animal at destination.

4. Never send your pet with a muzzle or choke collar on. Both can be dangerous when an animal is alone.