TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH PETS
It is important to note that this information does NOT apply to assistance animals. For specific information regarding
the use of assistance animals on any flight, please contact your airline.
Over two million pets and other live animals are transported
by air every year in the United States. Federal and state governments impose restrictions on transporting live animals.
In addition, each airline establishes its own policy for the proper handling of the animals they transport. As a shipper or owner, you also have a responsibility to take the necessary precautions to ensure the well-being of the animal you ship.
The Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces the Federal Animal Welfare Act. Here are several of the
more important requirements.
- Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and must have been weaned for at least five days.
- Cages and other shipping containers must meet the minimum standard for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation, and design for safe handling. (Sky kennels available for purchase from the airlines meet these requirements.)
- Dogs and cats must not be brought to the airline for shipping more
than four hours before departure. (Six hours is permitted if shipping arrangements are made in advance.)
- If puppies or kittens
less than 16 weeks of age are in transit more than 12 hours, food and water must be provided. Older animals must
have food at least every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours. Written instructions for food and water must accompany all animals
shipped regardless of the scheduled time in transit.
- Animals may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45F unless they are accompanied by a
certificate signed by a veterinarian stating that they are acclimated to lower temperatures.
- Animals cannot be shipped COD
unless the shipper guarantees the return freight should the animals be refused at destination.
Because each airline establishes
its own policy, it is important to check with the air carrier you intend to use. However, the following are some provisions
you will likely encounter at most airlines.
Airlines generally require health certificates from all shippers. So it's a good idea to have a licensed veterinarian examine animals within ten
days prior to shipment and issue a certificate stating that the animal is in good health.
A pet may be transported as baggage if accompanied on the same flight to the same destination. Some air carriers may impose
a special fee or "excess
baggage" charge for this service. Pets may be shipped as cargo if unaccompanied, and many airline cargo departments employ specialists in
the movement of animals. Animals must always be shipped in pressurized holds. Some airlines allow the kennel to be carried
in the passenger cabin as carry-on luggage if it fits under the seat. Please be aware that all animals must remain in travel carriers at all times when in the passenger terminal building.
In addition to compliance with federal regulations and airline company policy, there are a number of precautions the owner/shipper can take to
ensure the welfare of a shipped pet.
- Before traveling, acclimate your pet to the kennel in which it will be shipped. Make sure that the door latches securely.
- Do not give your pet
solid food in the six hours prior to the flight, although a moderate amount of water and a walk before and after
the flight are advised.
- Do not administer sedation to your pet without the approval of a veterinarian and provide a test dose before the trip to gauge how the pet will react.
- Be sure to reserve a space for your pet in advance and inquire about time and location for drop-off and pick-up.
- Try to schedule a nonstop flight; avoid connections and the heavy traffic of a holiday or weekend flight.
- When you board, try to tell a pilot and a flight attendant that there is a pet in the cargo hold. The airlines have
a system for providing such notification, but it doesn't hurt to mention it yourself.
- For overseas travel (including Hawaii),
inquire about any special health requirements such as quarantine.
- Write your name, address and phone number on the kennel,
and make sure your pet is wearing a tag with the same information. Consider purchasing a temporary tag showing
your destination address and phone number. Bring a photo of your pet, in case it is lost.
With careful planning, your pet will arrive safely
at its destination.
Reports of animal mistreatment by airline personnel should be directed to:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal Care Staff, APHIS-REAC-AC
4700 River Road
Riverdale, MD 20737
This information provided by:
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
U.S. Department of Transportation