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Airline Rules for Travel with Your Dog

Getting a plane ticket for yourself is easy but getting one for your pet takes a little more planning. Airlines have always restricted flight during extremely high or low temperatures, but a new federal rule, as well as some pet air travel tragedies, have resulted in more drastic changes within the airline industry. These new guidelines and restrictions may cause you some headaches and frustration but keep in mind that they have been put in place for your pet’s safety.

Airline Rules

Each airline has separate rules. Some have pet embargo rules, which result in times during the year that pet travel is not allowed. Some airlines no longer accept pets and rely on special pet carrier or animal transport companies. Make sure you check with the airline well in advance regarding their pet travel rules, as they can change without notice. The following are some of the rules of individual airlines:

Delta has instituted a pet embargo from May 15 to Sept. 15. This means that no pets are allowed to fly cargo during these dates. Pets are still allowed as carry-on anytime throughout the year, but the kennel must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. If your pet is transported as carry-on or is traveling with you as cargo, the cost is $75 each way. If your pet travels by plane alone, there is a substantial cost difference. You will be able to pre-book a maximum of 7 days in advance and a minimum of 1 day of the desired flight. Upon arrival in the destination city, pets will be delivered to the Delta cargo facility within 60 minutes.

American also has a pet embargo from May 15 to September 15. As with other airlines, small pets can accompany you as carry-on. If traveling with an owner, the cost is $80 each way. Prices vary if your pet is traveling alone. Exceptions will be made for service animals and official bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs (with documentation).

There are temperature restructions. Accordding to, “Pets can not be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary (75 degrees Fahrenheit for snub-nosed dogs and snub-nosed cats). Pets can not be accepted when the ground temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary unless the pet has a veterinarian’s statement of low temperature acclimation (see When temperatures fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, pets may not be checked even with a statement of low temperature acclimation.”

Northwest has no specific embargo dates and determines if pet travel is allowed by daily temperature. Pet travel is prohibited when the outside temperature is over 85 degrees or under 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Pets traveling as carry-on cost $80 each way. For pets flying cargo, costs are based on weight and destination.

Five tips on traveling with your pet by plane:

Flying Cabin Class

If your pet is flying in the cabin with you, remember:

International Travel

If you plan to travel internationally with your pet, make sure to check with either the country’s embassy or consulate well in advance. Some countries do not allow pets into their country and others require long quarantines. Import licenses and international health certificates may be required. Contact the country of your destination at least 4 weeks prior to travel. Don’t arrive in the country unprepared. You may end up leaving your pet at the airport or returning home.

For More Information

Regulations vary from airline to airline, so ask your carrier which procedures they follow. Some have brochures available by mail or check the websites below for specific information.