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.
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:
As with most airlines, Continental allows small pets to travel in the cabin. For those pets traveling alone, Continental has brought in a new program called PetSafe QuickPak Cargo. Under their program, you reserve space for your pet well in advance and reconfirm those reservations 24 hours before flight time. Pets should be checked in as cargo from a special QuickPak Desk near the ticketing counter, one hour prior to flight time. The 24-hour help-desk will create an itinerary for your pet (depending on origin and destination temperatures). If your pet doesn't fly as reserved, you get your money back.
Continental has no specific pet embargo dates. If the temperature of the destination or arrival airport is over 85 degrees or less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet will not be allowed to fly cargo that day. For pets over 7 years of age, Continental strongly recommends a heart examination and bloodwork to make sure there is no underlying liver or kidney damage prior to flying.
If your pet is small enough to fly as carry-on, the charge is $75 each way ($150 round trip).
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.
As with other airlines, pets are allowed as carry-on anytime during the year but there are size and number of pets limitations. If your pet travels as carry-on with you, the charge is $75 each way. Pets can also be shipped as cargo. United has no specific pet embargo dates. If the temperature of the destination or arrival airport is over 85 degrees or less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet will not be allowed to fly cargo that day.
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. As of Septembeer 2002, the following pets are no longer accepted on flights:
Exceptions will be made for service animals and official bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs (with documentation).
US Airways also has no specific embargo dates. Pet travel is prohibited when the outside temperature is over 85 degrees or under 10 degrees Fahrenheit. US Airways does not allow pets to travel in the cargo hold anymore because of extreme temperatures in Phoenix and Las Vegas, where we have two large hubs. The exception is shuttle routes between New York LaGuardia, Boston, and Washington National Airport. They do not allow pets to travel to Hawaii due to state agricultural rules. Pets traveling as carry-on cost $75 each way. For pets flying cargo, costs are based on weight and destination. Complete details are at usairways.com.
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.
Southwest does not allow pets to fly at any time.
Five tips on traveling with your pet by plane:
Note: animals must be at least 8 weeks old to travel by plane.
Flying Cabin Class
If your pet is flying in the cabin with you, remember:
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.