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.
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.
All 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.
On 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.
One 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 PetTravelStore.com.