Travelling by air

If you are planning to travel by air with your dog you must consider some specific requirements. In addition there may be things you must do to make sure he is safe and comfortable.

If you are considering travelling to another country, also check the pet passport section.


There are specific commercial companies that specialise in animal transportation, and these can be traced through the internet.


Guidelines when shipping your dog

The following guidelines are adapted from the “Traveler’s Pet Corner section of the International Air Transport Association website. They can assist you in making airline transportation arrangements for your dog.

Prior to purchasing your animal container

It is important you purchase the right sized container for your animal. Airlines follow published guidelines that ensure the animal has enough space to turn about normally while standing, can stand and sit erect, and is able to lie in a natural position.

Questions to answer before you start making reservations

•    Is your pet going to travel within your own country, or will he be travelling internationally?
•    When do you want your pet to travel?
•    What is your pet's size and weight?
•    How many animals will be travelling?
•    Is your pet to be accompanied?
•    Do you intend to break the journey, or stopover at an intermediate station?
•    What is the pet's final destination?
•    Do you have a suitable container for your pet?

Check out the IATA website for further information.

EU Regulations

The European Union makes a distinction between commercial and non-commercial pet imports. It furthermore distinguishes between movements within European countries or coming in from other countries (Third countries).



Dealing with the airline and preparing for the journey

  • It is important to familiarise your animal to its new crate or kennel – ideally over a few weeks or months before your planned departure. 
  • Should you decide to build your own wooden crate, first check with the airline that they accept custom built containers.
  • For certain dogs, airlines may insist on the use of containers of a different more sturdy design than those of Container Requirement 1 (CR1). It is equally important to ensure that all locking mechanisms function properly and that the animal cannot distort, gnaw at or damage the wire mesh or the pieces holding the mesh of the door. The mesh must be firmly attached to the door, not stapled.   
  • Most airlines require a health certificate for any animal they are transporting, whether in the cabin or as an unaccompanied shipment. This is usually signed by a veterinarian and is usually valid for a number of days prior to transport. 
  • Only small dogs and cats can go in the cabin. Some airlines may not even allow them in, and will transport them as special baggage in a heated and ventilated hold. It is considered that dogs actually travel better this way because it is quieter and they will rest in a darkened environment.
  • Contact the airline you have selected to confirm that they accept your pet on the day and flight that you prefer. Some airlines restrict the number of animals on a flight so the more advance notice you give them the better it is. Reconfirm at least 48 hours before departure.
  • Find out how soon before the flight you have to check in. Pets become stressed with the bustle at an airport, so keep it to a minimum.
  • If your pet is allowed in the cabin, check in as late as possible. If it is going in the hold, check in early so that it can go to the baggage area and be put somewhere quiet and dimly lit in order to relax.
  • To prepare your pet, reduce the quantity of food the day before but give it enough water; take your dog for a walk before leaving for the airport and again before check-in.
  • A light meal 2 hours before tendering the animal to the carrier will help to calm it and is a legal requirement in the United States. 
  • If you ship your pet as airfreight, check with the airline to ensure the airfreight facility is open so the consignee may claim your pet.
  • Note that it is preferable to ship your pet on weekdays as all staff are working and liaison is easier all along the route.
  • Transport of snub nose dogs, such as boxers, pugs, bulldogs and Pekinese, in hot season is not recommended. These animals have difficulty in maintaining a normal body temperature in hot weather.

Sedation & use of tranquilizers on pets

It has been a long standing practice of IATA and its constituent carriers to discourage the use of sedatives and tranquilizers in animals to be transported either as cargo or as cabin baggage due to the potential for adverse effects during transport.

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