International Pet Travel on U.S. Carriers

The travel policies of U.S. airlines with regard to shipping animals are subject to change at any time. These policies are much more restrictive than in past years. Some of the embargoes that were imposed for the summer of 2000 have been extended indefinitely. These are only general guidelines; it is crucial that you review all considerations with the airline you plan to use. We recommend that you request written confirmation of reservations you make for pet shipment.

There are three ways you can ship your pet via the airlines:

  1. Your pet can travel on the plane with you (either in-cabin or in the cargo). In either case, your pet will be considered excess baggage and charged accordingly. Some airlines no longer offer this option.
  2. You can book your pet on a separate flight. In this case, you will be charged the cargo rate, which is considerably more than excess baggage. Some airlines no longer offer this option.
  3. You can have your pet shipped through a licensed commercial shipper. You will be charged the cargo rate plus the shipper’s fee. Several airlines require this method unless your pet is small enough to fit in the cabin.

NOTE:  As a rule, animals 100 lbs. or larger will be charged as cargo even if they travel on the same plane as you do. It is important to check with the airline if your pet is close to that weight.

Please contact the following airlines for more information:

Reservations: 1 (800) 433-7300

Air Cargo Section: 1 (800) 227-4622

American Airlines allows no pets in-cabin on international flights. In addition, it has established an annual total embargo on shipping animals between May 15th and September 15th. From September 16th to May 14th, there will be animal flight restrictions when temperatures are above 85 and below 45 degrees. Temperature restrictions are even stricter for snub-nosed animals. In addition, if a pet is no heavier than 70 lbs. (including the crate weight), and in a kennel with any Side longer than 49″, the pet may be shipped after the embargo is lifted (as a priority parcel) with no temperature restrictions.

Reservations: 1 (800) 231-0856

Live Animal Desk: 1 (800) 575-3335

Continental now permanently requires pets to travel as cargo except those small enough to be allowed in-cabin. No pets are allowed in-cabin for all of Europe and Hawaii, but pets are allowed on some of their other international flights. You must call to find out the specific information regarding your country of destination. If allowed on the flight, there can be one in business and two in coach. Pet container must be no larger than 17″x12″x8″. Make reservations early.

In addition, Continental has a permanent pet embargo into the Caribbean, Central America, and South America (except Rio and Sao Paulo). Its Quick Pak Service for animals does not apply to international flights. If the temperature is above 85F from any point of origin or along any point to the destination, pet will not be allowed to travel as cargo. This airline will no longer ship pets requiring a size 700 crate.

Reservations: 1(800) 241-4141

Live Animal Desk: 1(888) 736-3738

From May 15th to September 15th, Delta requires passengers to use commercial shippers for their pets (except those allowed in-cabin.)

There is no temperature restriction on Delta if the pet is traveling in-cabin. Otherwise, the 85F restriction applies (snub-nosed animals will be refused if at any point of the flight the temperature is above 70F.) Allows 1 pet in 1st class, one in business, and two in coach. Animal must be able to stand and turn around in a soft or hard carrier. If traveling on a 777, MD11, or 767ER airplane, the maximum container size is 17″x12″x8″. For all other aircraft, the maximum size is 21″x13″x9″. (Hawaii, Korea, Republic of Ireland, and United Kingdom do not allow pets arriving in-cabin.)

Reservations: 1(800) 447-4747

Live Cargo: 1(800) 692-2746

Northwest is the only major U.S. carrier that currently does not have any type of pet embargo except for temperature restrictions. In cabin, Northwest allows one pet in business and one per coach compartment (some planes have three coach compartments). Carry-on kennels (17″ x 12″ x 8″) can be purchased from the airline. For pets that are to travel in the cargo section, there are some temperature restrictions. If the temperature is above 85 F at any connection or touchdown spot, or at destination, the animal will not be allowed to travel. For snub-nosed animals, the restriction is 75 F. No travel at all if temperature is below 10 F. Passengers may then choose to go on next available flight for pet (at no additional charge) or to select someone to take care of the pet and bring it back to the airport for the next available flight. The charge for the pet will still be as excess baggage and not cargo.

International Reservations: 1 (800) 538-2929

Live Cargo: 1 (800) 825-3788

United has lifted its embargo for pets traveling as accompanied baggage in the cargo section only for USG employees with official orders. The pet embargo is extended indefinitely for all other passengers. Pets traveling in-cabin or as cargo sent by known licensed shippers continue to be exempt from the embargo. Temperature restrictions above 85 F and below 45 F continue to apply at all times, unless the animal travels in-cabin.

United will allow pets in-cabin on many international flights, but you must call for specifics. Number of pets allowed in-cabin depends on type of aircraft. Pet container must be no larger than 22″ x14″ x9″. Pet carriers are available for $25 from the airline. Make reservations early.

“The embargo on live animals traveling as checked baggage was enacted because of extreme temperatures incurred during the summer and winter months, and the stress placed on the animals. This embargo is primarily for the safety, well-being and concern for live animals/pets we transport.”
(United Airlines statement)

Reservations: 1 (800) 428-4322

Air Cargo: (703) 419-2814

No pets allowed in cabin. Pets will not be allowed to travel as freight/cargo until further notice. They will only be allowed to travel as excess baggage in the cargo hold on the same flight as the passenger. The temperature restrictions (above 85 F and below 45 F) still apply. If the temperature prevents you from taking your pet on the flight with you, you must be prepared to reschedule your flight or have contingency plans for your pet to be shipped later as cargo on another carrier.