Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant?

pet crate

Pet Travel is all about keeping your dog, cat or other pet safe. Although commercial airlines have stringent rules in place regarding live animals, pet owners should do all they can to provide a crate that withstand handling and offer every protection available for their pet. The first step is to get an airline cargo pet crate that is both airline and IATA compliant to keep their pet safe during their journey.

If you already have a crate for your pet, here are the requirements that your airline will be looking for when you check in your pet. If you do not have a crate, consider a Petmate Sky Kennel as this crate conforms to IATA Live Animal Regulations and is one of the best premanufactured kennels available today.

What is IATA and why are their regulations important?

Over 95% of commercial airlines operating today adhere to the Live Animal Regulations (LAR) of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). If your dog or cat will be flying in the cabin or cargo hold of a commercial airplane, then the pet crate it will travel in will be subject to these regulations for the movement of live animals. Your pet will also be subject to Animal Welfare regulations which vary depending on the country in which your airline is based.

For this article, we focus on crate requirements for cargo travel in an aircraft and premanufactured plastic crates as they are the most available to pet owners.

What are the IATA requirements for airline cargo pet crates?

Your pet’s crate must be a closed container made of fiberglass, metal, rigid plastic, solid wood or plywood. This article will address rigid, plastic pet crates only. The specs for wooden crates depend on the animal being transported.

Measure your pet

The first step to consider when getting a pet crate is to measure your pet. If you have a crate from a previous trip, make sure that your pet still fits in the crate and has not grown out of it. This is one of the first things that airline representatives will check for, and they will deny boarding if your pet’s crate is not appropriate for its size.

Note: If your pet is a snub-nosed breed, it will need one crate larger than normally required that will offer additional ventilation.

Your cat or dog must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably in the crate. Their ears (if erect) or the top of their head must not touch the top of the crate when they stand on their pet crate’s pad. The length of the crate must accommodate their body length when standing.

RELATED:  More details on measuring your pet for its crate.

Crate Structure is essential

Your pet crate must be well constructed and able to withstand freight activities. Your dog or cat is most at risk during travel if your crate is damaged allowing your pet to escape.

pet crate cornersAll hardware required to secure both halves of the crate must be present and installed. Most crates come with sturdy plastic hardware. Most airlines will require that your pet’s crate be secured with metal hardware.

Openings should be present on each corner of the crate allowing the door to be zip-tied closed. The door of the crate must also be zip-tied closed after the interior of your crate is inspected by airline representatives.

The interior of your dog or cat crate must have no sharp edges or protrusions that could cause injury to your pet. Do not put any toys, chews or other items in the crate with your pet.

The floor of the crate must be clean, leak-proof and solid. Absorbent bedding such as a pet pad or shredded newspaper must be provided. Pet owners should be aware of restrictions imposed on their destination country – straw, litter or wood chips should be avoided. Wheels must be disabled or removed prior to check-in.

Crate ventilation is crucial

The sides of your pet’s crate must be solid with adequate openings over the upper two thirds of the crate measuring a minimum of 1″ (2.5 cm) for ventilation. Openings must be 4″ (10 cm) apart (center to center). There must also be ventilation holes on the fourth (back) side if your dog or cat is traveling internationally.

pet crate forklift riser ridgeOn larger crates where the total weight exceeds 132 pounds (60 kg), then 2″ thick (5cm) forklift spacers running down the sides of the crate are required. Smaller crates should be equipped with handles or means for handlers to move the crate safely.

The roof of your pet crate must also be strong. Ventilation holes on the top of the crate should be avoided as they can compromise the strength of the roof.

Crate doors should be impossible for even the sneakiest of pets to open

Doors are the greatest vulnerability of any pet crate. Not only are they an external part of the crate, their mechanisms will be the most likely to fail should the crate be mishandled. For these reasons, IATA is very specific about crate door requirements.

pet crate door hingesOne end of the crate must be fully open for a door which can be sliding or hinged. Thick, welded metal mesh must have openings that are nose and paw proof. This will mean openings in the mesh of no more than 3/4″ (19mm) for cats and 1″ (25mm) for dogs. The door can also be made of plastic if the hinges and locking pins are metal and there is no way your dog or cat can compromise the strength of the crate door. The door hinge and locking pins must be seated in the container a minimum of 5/8″ (1.6 cm) above and below the door opening.

NOTE: If your pet is flying with British Airways, mesh must be secured to the door of the crate and attached over the ventilation holes to provide additional “paw and nose” protection. Your agent should be aware of this and can assist you in complying with this additional requirement.

Water/food bowls must be present and accessible to handlers to refill. Bowls that attach to the door of the crate are ideal for this purpose and work best on rigid, plastic pet crates.

Crates must be labeled with Live Animal Stickers as well as a Shipper’s Declaration sticker with feeding and watering instructions.

RELATED: Acclimating your pet to its crate

See more information on CR 82 crates for dangerous dog breeds.

Take a moment to consider how important your pet’s airline cargo crate is to the safety of your pet. This is not a part of your budget where you want to cut corners. When you are sitting in the cabin thinking about your pet flying in the cargo hold, you want to know that you have done everything you can to keep your pet safe. The airlines will do the rest.

All crates and accessories mentioned here can be found at


Airline Cargo Pet Crates: Is Your Dog or Cat Crate IATA Compliant? — 124 Comments

  1. Lamentablemente, actualmente las temperaturas son demasiado altas para sacar animales vivos de Texas en la bodega de carga. Avianca acaba de prohibir las razas de nariz chata, pero es posible que su Bull Terrier inglés vuele más adelante en el otoño.

  2. Puede viajar mi perro raza bull terrier inglés en el area de cargo de Dallas Tex a Durango mx?

  3. Maureen – some airlines will allow you to add your pet’s reservation online and others require that you contact them via telephone and provide payment for your pet’s transport. We will be adding the capability to book your pet’s transport on the website shortly. We will update this post when this capability is possible.

  4. Hello Shafiela – unfortunately, we do not know any commercial airline that will take a bird as large as a macaw under the seat of an aircraft. Very few airlines will allow birds in the cabin and, when they do, they allow small household birds. Your bird’s carrier must be long enough to accommodate the length of your bird including the tail and this will likely be too large for an airline compliant pet carrier. Susan

  5. Hi i want to travel with my macaw what airlines will let me take it in as under my seat

  6. Alex – when you change airline companies in layover countries, you must clear customs and enter the layover country. Your route is pretty complicated as far as country regulations are concerned. Is there not an airline that flies your route more directly without changing airline companies along the way? Susan

  7. Hello, I will be traveling with my cat on a 21.5L x 14.2W x 14.2D carrier. It will be during May, American Airlines domestically then Qatar Airways to Qatar and then to Kuwait via Qatar airways, all connecting flights. Will I be able to check my cat as baggage with American Airlines, then do the same with Qatar airways?

  8. Hello Nivia – all US-based commercial airlines will fly your dog in the cabin if it is small enough to fit in an airline compliant pet carrier. The general rule is maximum of 16-18 lbs and less than 19″ from tip of nose to base of tail. If your dog is larger than that, it must travel in the cargo hold as checked baggage. Currently, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are flying pets as checked baggage. You can contact their reservations department for details. Know that Texas is a restricted area during the summer months for live animal cargo travel due to temperatures. We can also transport your dog by ground from door to door within the lower 48 states. More information here:

  9. I want to travel with my dog from buffalo ny to San Antonio Texas and I need to know wish airlines can get my dog in the airlines

  10. Olá – A Air Canada não está transportando animais de estimação como bagagem despachada acompanhada no momento. Seus gatos precisarão voar como carga aérea e seu transporte deve ser reservado através de um agente IPATA. Não temos escritórios no Canadá, mas você pode procurar um agente neste país em Susan

  11. Moramos no Arizona e vamos nos mudar para o Brasil em setembro, temos 5 gatos e gostaríamos de levar todos eles, quero obter informações sobre como fazer isso, vamos comprar nossa passagem com a Air Canada

  12. Hi Petra – it would be expensive to ship these crates to you. Best if you can ask veterinarians or shelters on the island whether they have used crates, that would be first step.

  13. I am in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. I want to send three cats by KLM
    Airline cargo. I can’t find the correct pet carriers. They have to have openings/
    holes at the sides and the back maximum
    19 mm x 19 mm. If anybody has them for sale, I would love to buy them.
    Thank you.

  14. hi Sandra – if your puppy is too large to fly in the cabin, it will need to fly as accompanied air cargo. Alaska Airlines is the only US-based airline that is flying pets as accompanied checked baggage. American is flying pets as air cargo. Get an IATA compliant pet crate early and get your puppy acclimated to it. More info on acclimating your pet to its crate here. Your other option is to transport your puppy via ground transport. We offer door to door ground transport within the United States and you can get a free quote for that here: Susan

  15. Hi I will traveling with my 2 1/2 month puppy from Texas to New York. This is my first time and I so nervous about it because I’m afraid my Germán shepherd puppy is to big to fly in the cabin and about the paperwork to travel. Please help!!!

  16. HI Valerie – if your dog is traveling domestically within Canada, your airline’s pet policies will apply. If it is traveling unaccompanied, it will need a health certificate issued by your veterinarian within 10 days of travel. You can contact the cargo department of your airline for check in details. Susan

  17. I am looking to transport my dog from Ontario to Nova Scotia what are the rules please

  18. Lisa – American and Alaska Air are the only airlines that are currently flying pets at all and only as air cargo. Your dogs will need a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel. You can also consider ground transport but this may be more expensive than air cargo. hard to tell because AA has increased charges during the pandemic due to demand. If you are interested in ground travel, then you can go to and click on GET A QUOTE.

  19. I m at a treatment facility in California, I need my 2 dogs transported in cargo from Boston Ma. I need to know prices and crate information. I know they need papers to fly. If there is a cheaper way please share as I am no rockafella.but aam trying to get them here by the 25th of JUly.Any infoo would be greatly appreciated.

  20. Rebecca – we are not familiar with crates sold by Kmart and oftentimes, they have crates made for them by crate manufacturers. You will need to take them to your airline’s cargo department and confirm that they are IATA-compliant. Better than having an unpleasant surprise at check in.

  21. We would like to fly our two cats from Auckland to Queenstown as cargo as we will be in Queenstown already. I have bought 2 cat containers from Kmart and they appear to meet the right regulations. Please can you confirm that they are sufficient? I?m sure other travellers will have checked this as they are a lot cheaper.

  22. Sana – Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa are pet friendly airlines and will fly your pets out of Dubai as checked baggage (likely not in-cabin). Emirates flies non-stop to Sarajevo and should accept pets as checked baggage our of DXB.

  23. Deniz – firstly, you need to enter the United States with your dog prior to July 14 as on that date, a ban on all dogs entering from high-rabies countries (Turkey) will go in effect. More details here: Try to get your dog booked as checked baggage if you can else you will need the assistance of an agent to book the transports and agents are super busy currently. (you can search for an agent in Turkey at No way that we know of to fly with this breed in the cabin as the US Dept. of Transportation has removed protections for emotional support animals from the Airline Carrier Access Act. Contact the airline as soon as you can to make reservations for your Terrier. It will be extremely difficult to import it after the ban goes into effect.

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