Pet Travel: Traveling by Air with Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Turtles and other Exotic Animals

rabbitPets are on the move. More than 2 million pets are transported each year in the United States according to US Department of Transportation. Although the majority of animals that are transported are dogs and cats, exotic animals can be transported as well. It’s important to realize that every airline sets their own regulations on what pets, breeds and types they are willing to transport. Below is a list of airlines you might want to consider next time you travel with an exotic animal.

Delta: Delta is a very pet-friendly airline with a variety of options for different animals. Delta welcomes passengers to carry small dogs, cats, and household birds in cabin. Also, between September 16th and May 14th they will transport dogs, cats, household birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and most reptiles, amphibians and fish via cargo as long as the temperatures along your route do not exceed 85 degrees.. Pets must be in an airline approved crate or carrier. As a bonus Delta will transport two pets of the same type in one kennel as long as they meet the requirements for acceptance. Delta no longer provides checked baggage service, however they do transport pets unaccompanied. Delta only accepts pets on flights shorter than 12 hours and they limit crate height to 24″.

Frontier: Frontier is known for their laid back regulations and relatively inexpensive transport fees. They allow dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters to travel in cabin (with the appropriate carrier) for $75 one way for flights within the United States. Only dogs and cats will be transported internationally.

United: United Air limits in-cabin travel to dogs and cats. They will only transport dogs in crates 30″ or under in their PetSafe Program.

WestJet: Westjet Airline is one of the most “exotic pet friendly” airlines in Canada. They will transport cats, dogs, rabbits, birds (not just household) in the cabin. Chinchillas, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs can be transported as checked baggage. The only downside to WestJet is their flight selection is somewhat limited, especially in the central US. They will fly snub-nosed breeds as long as temperatures are not excessive.

It’s important to remember that each airline makes its own rules for the import of birds and exotic pets. On top of the airlines, every country (beside the EU) makes their own rules regarding the various types of pets allowed to enter the country. For more information on traveling with your exotic pet, check out www.pettravel.com.


Comments

Pet Travel: Traveling by Air with Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Turtles and other Exotic Animals — 463 Comments

  1. Kiyonna – we do not know of any airline that will fly a hedgehog in the cabin. You can try Frontier if they fly your route as they allow hamsters and rabbits, but they do not include hedgehogs. Perhaps they will make an exception.
    Susan

  2. Does any airlines allow hedgehogs in cabin. I don’t trust cargo

  3. Ruth – Frontier will allow domestic cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small birds in their cabins. Unfortunately, rats are not permitted according to their regulations.
    Susan

  4. Eddy – most all airlines will allow a turtle to fly as air cargo, and this is the class of service your turtle must fly if you are not flying with it. In this case, you would contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the route nonstop (Delta or Alaska Airlines). You can also contact Alaska Airlines reservations and ask whether they will accept your turtle as checked baggage if you are flying with it. (Delta does not offer this class of service for live animals.)
    Susan

  5. I need to transport a box turtle from New York to San Francisco. Do any airlines allow turtles?

  6. Judes – a health certificate is required and we have not found information that an import permit is required. That said, an agent will need to book this transport and that agent should confirm requirements to import your turtle to Japan. You can search for an agent in California at IPATA.org.
    Susan

  7. Does anyone know or have experience in bringing a pet red slider turtle from california to okinawa, japan?

    Do I need a health certicate and import permit?

    Havent found much information about bringing pet turtles to japan.

  8. Jennifer – you are correct. Delta will only fly dogs and cats in the cabin. The Department of Transportation which issues the Airline Carrier Access Act issued a clarification last year that permits the airline to specify the species of animal that they will allow as an emotional support animal. As you may recall, passengers were bringing on all sorts of insects and animals as ESAs.
    Susan

  9. Just so everyone is aware. Delta DOES NOT allow rabbits at any time of the year. They claim it’s a public health hazzard. Even if it is an emotional support animal they will not transport it on their flights.

  10. Elaine – not sure of your route; however, Frontier Airlines will fly a guinea pig on a flight in the cabin.
    Susan

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