How to Transport Your Pet on Commercial Flights

How to Transport Your Pet on Commercial Flights

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Flying with your pet doesn’t have to be stressful if you do a little advance planning. First, you have to know the basics: Your pet must be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned to travel by air. Depending on your destination, you may need to visit a veterinarian within ten days of traveling to obtain health and vaccination paperwork. For more information on required documentation, visit one of the following sites:

U.S. State and Territory Animal Import Regulations

Hawaii Regulations

International Regulations

There are two ways to bring your pet onboard with you in a kennel: as a carry-on item, or as checked luggage. Every airline has its own policies. We’ve summarized regulations for some of the major airlines below.

United Airlines

Accepts dogs, cats, and birds as checked or carry-on luggage
Carry-on fee for domestic travel is $100 each way
Checked-luggage fee for domestic travel is $100 each way for small-to-medium-sized kennels and $200 each way for medium-to-extra-large-sized kennels
Fees vary by destination for international flights
Call 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331) to make a reservation

American Airlines

Only accepts cats and dogs as checked or carry-on luggage
Limits carry-on pets to two in First Class and five in Coach
Carry-on fee is $100 each way; reservation is required
Carry-on kennels can be no larger than 23” long x 13” wide x 9” high
Checked-luggage fee is $150 each way; you don’t need to make a reservation
Checked pets can weigh no more than 100 pounds, including the kennel
English-speaking callers can book a reservation at 1-800-433-7300
Visit the reservations page for additional numbers

Delta Airlines

Allows carry-on and checked pets
Limits carry-on pets to one in First Class, one in Business Elite, and one in the Main Cabin
All kennels must be capable of loading upright with wheels, functional handles, a secure closure (not locked), and padding for accidents
Carry-on fee is $100 each way
Checked-pet fee is $200 each way
You cannot check pets between May 15th and September 15th.
Call 1-800-221-1212 for travel within the US and 1-800-241-4141 for international travel

Continental Airlines

Does not accept checked animals
Allows cats, dogs, pet rabbits, and household birds as carry-on items on most US flights
Limits carry-on pets to one in the front cabin and four in the Economy cabin
In-cabin kennels must fit completely under the seat in front of you, with maximum dimension of 22” long x 14” wide x 9” high
The fee is $95 each way
Pets can be booked online or by contacting reservations (for international flights, call 800-525-0280)

US Airways

Does not allow checked animals, except for nonstop shuttle flights in the Boston, DC, and New York markets
Allows you to carry one small dog, cat or bird
Carry-on pets are not allowed on transatlantic flights
You must use a hard-sided carrier up to 17” long x 16” wide x 8” tall, or a soft-sided carrier up to 17” long x 16” wide x 10” tall
The fee is $100 each way
Call 800-428-4322 to make arrangements

Northwest Airlines

Allows small dogs, cats, and birds as carry-on items and a large variety of pets as checked luggage
The maximum kennel size for carry-on pets is 17” long x 12” wide x 8” tall
Limits carry-on pets to two kennels in First Class and two in WorldBusiness Class
Fee is $80 each way
Checked pets prices vary based on the animal’s size, ranging from $139–359 each way
You can make your arrangements online by visiting Manage My Reservations
For international travel, call 1-800-225-2525

Southwest Airlines

Only allows fully-trained assistance animals accompanying a person with a disability
Allows cats, dogs, and ferrets in the cargo area only
Pets can only travel on flights between the following cities: Barbados, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JKF, New York-Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, and Washington
Offers a Pet Rewards Program for frequent-flying pets

Although we’ve summarized the basics, you should visit your airline’s website for full details.

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