Pet Travel: Pointers for keeping your pets safe in cargo

Travel with a Pet via cargoOne of the most common concerns pertaining to pet travel comes with transporting a pet via cargo. Contrary to popular belief, pets aren?t crammed with luggage in a deep dark hole in the bottom of the plane. Actually, pets are loaded into a temperature and pressurized compartment separate from luggage. They are also the last to be loaded onto the plane and the first to come off. Usually before you even get to the gate! It?s understandable that the thought of having your pet transported without your supervision can be stressful for both you and your pet. But before you deny the idea completely, do some proper research. Know that thousands of pets are transported via cargo every year and as long as you and your pet are properly prepared, you shouldn?t worry. has created a list of pointers below to consider before and during your transport to ensure your pet?s safety and well-being.

Before Travel:

  • Introduce your pet to the cargo crate as early as possible. The more comfortable your pet is inside the crate the better. Also, remember to never use it as a scolding tool. The goal is to curb your pet’s anxiety and anxiousness while inside the crate.
  • If you are considering transporting a puppy or kitten, please be cautious, especially in the summer or winter. It?s difficult for younger pets to fully acclimate to weather conditions. Consider transporting inside the cabin whenever possible.
  • Traveling in the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter create a whole new set of variables to consider. These times should be avoided whenever possible. If you can plan accordingly, do so.
  • Consider your pet?s age, health and temperament before travel and consult with your veterinarian. All 3 of these factors play a huge role in pet transport. If your pet has a history of being nervous, consider a sedative but NEVER a tranquilizer.
  • Water is extremely important. Be sure that your pet is hydrated. Consider beefing up the water a few days before the transport.
  • Replace any plastic fasteners with metal crate hardware. Although the plastic is sufficient, metal hardware will keep the crate locked and tight together. Some airlines even require the metal hardware.
  • Does your pet like to sleep on your clothes? That?s because your scent comforts them. Consider putting an article of used clothing (such as a t-shirt) inside the crate to help curb anxiety and stress.

During Travel:

  • It can never hurt to confirm your pet has been loaded on the plane. (We?ve actually heard of airline employees approaching pet owners on the plane letting them know their pet was loaded safely) This especially pertains when your pet is making stops in multiple airports.
  • If your pilot is available for a quick chat, let them know your best friend is loaded in the cargo hold. Your pilot will most likely be aware of this, but there?s nothing wrong with a reminder and it will give you re-assurance for your flight.
  • Consider dividing your itinerary into sections. If you?re on a long trip, pickup your pet and take them for a walk. Most major airports have a pet friendly section available on site or nearby. If you?re on an international trip, consider an overnight stay. Especially if the pet is not acclimated to traveling, easily stressed/nervous, or older in age. Just remember that if you plan to leave the airport, you will need to conform to the countries regulations on traveling pets.
  • Traveling with multiple pets? Consider transporting them both in the same crate. Some airlines will let pets of the same breed travel together as long as they meet the airlines requirements.

Traveling with a pet in cargo doesn?t have to be a stressful experience. In fact with a little preparation, your pet can be one of the thousand happy animals transported worldwide every year. Find out more about Pet Travel.


Pet Travel: Pointers for keeping your pets safe in cargo — 212 Comments

  1. Greg – Air France has been transporting pets in their aircraft for a long time and, properly prepared, your pups should be fine. First step is to assess their health. All dogs that endure the stress of traveling should be healthy and fit for travel. You also need to acclimate them to their crates. More on that here: Another thing is to be sure that they have sufficient water bowls attached to the door of the crate. Lots of good information on flying a pet in the cargo hold here:

  2. Hello
    We are moving to italy from los angeles with our 2 mini aussies (4yrs and 7yrs) and using air france flight to paris. The flight is 10 hours no layover and the dogs have to be in the cargo hold.
    Do you think they will be ok?

  3. Chris – you will need to contact your airline to see if they can hold your dog during the transit. Any layover time under 3 hours is a given; however, 6 hours is a long layover and you want to be sure your airlines has facilities and can care for your dog during that time. Of course, you will need to fly in and out of KUL on the same airline to avoid claiming and rechecking your dog.

  4. I am transiting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Airlines, with my dog- 5 hours to fly to KL, and then possibly 6 hours transit. Has any one had any experience with a Malaysian transit- My concern is caring for my pet while we are in transit?

  5. Donna – it is very risky to fly a snub-nosed puppy or kitten in the cargo department of an airline, and this is a very long trip. An agent will be needed to book the transport and it is expensive to fly as air cargo. Is there not a breeder in the United States that you can find where you can visit the breeder, claim the kitty and fly it back in the cabin with you?

  6. I live in NY and I am considering adopting a Persian cat from Egypt. I was concerned about the flight and now and more concerned because I read flat-nosed animals should not fly. Will the kitty be ok? I won’t go through with it if there’s a chance he won’t make it.

  7. Arlene – if your cat is flying with you and is going to fly in the cargo hold as checked baggage, then you will check it in at the check-in counter in the terminal. You will not remove your cat from the crate in this case.

  8. Arlene – if you are flying with your cat and your cat is flying as checked baggage in the cargo hold, you will check your cat in at the check-in desk in the terminal of the airport. You should not need to remove it from the carrier in this case.

  9. Richelle – you need to find an airline that flies your entire route and contact their cargo department. Avoid transiting in southern cities (Texas) during the summer as temperatures are too hot. Delta flies from Seattle to Jackson through ATL and the layover is early in the AM so that may be an option. It is not safe to fly your cat if temperatures exceed 85 degrees F anywhere along the route. Your cat will need to fly in an IATA-compliant pet crate like these: It should be acclimated to its crate before flying. It will need a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within 10 days of flying. You can find lots of great information on airline pet travel here:

  10. I moved with my boyfriend states away from where I was, Washington to Mississippi and had to leave him behind..
    I want to fly my cat here, I miss him so much… but I’ve never done this before, so I’m nervous and worried. My cat is a Lynx Point Siamese and 7 1/2 year’s old.
    Will he be okay!?
    Don’t want anything bad to happen to him!

  11. Aimee – get a good pet pad for your dog’s crate ( If your dog pees in the crate, the pad will wick the moisture away from it. Do not feed your dog within 4-6 hours of travel and start limiting the amount of food you give it 3-4 days before traveling; however make water available. Have a nice, long walk before going to the airport. More tips here:

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