It’s one thing to put your dog or cat in the car and head across the country. It’s very much another thing to put your four-footed friend on an airplane. It’s so different the Humane Society of the United States recommends against it if at all possible. It will be very stressful for your pet, and that is even if you can carry him or her in the cabin with you. Putting your dog or cat on a plane in the cargo hold could also be dangerous and would undoubtedly be something your pet would not enjoy.

General Regulations

The U.S. Dept of Agriculture has a list of rules governing the transportation of pets. They define a pet, and there are different rules for different animals. This is especially true if you are going to another country. Some animals are not allowed in other countries and vice versa. There is also a checklist to make sure you have everything you need before heading out.

For any flight, you are required to have a certificate from a veterinarian showing the animal to be in good health. Flying is difficult for animals, and any health issue could get worse.

Airline Restrictions

Once you have the paperwork that showed your pet in good health, and you are sure the country you are going to will accept your pet, you can start dealing with the airlines.

Most airlines allow dogs and cats, and not much else. Of course, service dogs are not part of these restrictions. Some allow animals in the cabin, and some require they be put in the cargo hold. Especially if they are in the cargo area, try to avoid connecting flights as this has been known to cause accidents. Some animals have died as a result of a mistake when changing the baggage at a connecting flight.

Some airlines and some governments have banned short-nosed dogs like bulldogs. They are known to have breathing issues, and flying can complicate breathing or at least make it more difficult. In 2010 the Dept of Transportation said such dogs are more likely to die during a flight than regular nosed dogs.

Costs for Flying a Pet on an Airplane

Airlines charge a fee for having an animal on board whether it is in the cargo area or the cabin. This is usually at least $100 one way. You will have to be able to keep the animal in a crate and under the seat during takeoff and landing. There are weight restrictions as well. Some allow 20 pounds, including the crate.
Some airlines also restrict the number of animals that can be on a given flight, and it is first to come first served. If you must travel with your pet, it is even more important to make reservations well in advance.

Risks of Having a Pet on a Plane

Some animals are injured because they get scared and try to escape their crate. Some have been known to bite the crate and get hurt. It is not common, but some die. From 2014 through 2016 a total of 26 dogs or cats died during a flight. Nine of those were on United Airlines, according to a report by ABC News.

AirEvac International recommends research of all travel restrictions for each airline being used and the country being visited, in advanced.