Traveling can be a stressful venture for anyone, but traveling with a pet adds a whole new twist.  Every airline has different rules and regulations regarding bring your favorite pet along with you on an aircraft.  Some airline companies simply do not allow any pets.  Others only allow pets with many restrictions and of course fees.  The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and DOT (Department of Transportation) have established general rules for travel with pets. In addition to the rules set forth by the FAA & DOT, each airline has its own set of rules.  Here are some very important things you should be aware of regardless of what airlines you choose:


  1. 1.Before traveling, acclimate your pet to the kennel/carrier in which it will be traveling.  Make sure that it closes securely.

  2. 2.Do not give your pet solid food in the six hours prior to the flight, although a moderate amount of water and a walk before and after the flight are advised.

  3. 3.Do not administer sedation to your pet without the approval of a veterinarian, and provide a test dose before the trip to gauge how the pet will react.

  4. 4.Try to schedule a non-stop flight; avoid connections and the heavy traffic of a holiday or weekend flights.

  5. 5.For overseas travel (including Hawaii), inquire about any special health requirements, such as quarantine.


In Cabin Travel

Your pet is required to be contained in a carrier small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, without blocking any person's path to the main aisle of the airplane.

  1. **REMEMBER - even if your carrier is ‘Airline Approved’, if you are traveling on a very small aircraft and the ‘Airline Approved’ carrier doesn’t fit under the seat in front of you - your pet will not be traveling in cabin with you. ***Be sure to contact the airline to discuss the absolute true measurement of the space under the seat on the specific aircraft your flight number will be flying.  Every plane is different.  If they change plane types, you could have a problem.  Every airline has general specifications, but remember, smaller plane, smaller space under the seat.

Your pet container must be stowed properly before the last passenger entry door to the airplane is closed in order for the airplane to leave the gate.

Your pet container must remain properly stowed the entire time the airplane is moving on the airport surface, and for take off and landing.

There is a limited list of the types of pets that you can bring into the cabin.

There is a limit on the number of pets in the cabin on most airlines - Arrive EARLY!

  1. You book your flight, you pay for your ticket, you reserve your space for your pet (Most airlines do not allow you to pay for your pet until day of departure).  Your plan is to go to the airport a few minutes early to pay for your pets “seat.”  You get there and find that someone else had also booked their pet, gotten to the airport before you and paid for their pet’s spot. There is no more room for pets in the cabin.  Most airlines allow several pets in cabin in separate rows.  Small cities (like Key West) usually only allow 1 pet in cabin per flight.  Here’s the trick - get there as early as possible (most won’t allow you to check the pet more than 4 hours in advance)  to pay for your pet’s seat, and sadly be prepared to put them in the cargo hold or leave them at home.  It is an extremely imperfect system.

There is a limit on the number of pets that may accompany you personally on the airplane.

Your pet be must be harmless, inoffensive and odorless.

Your pet must remain in the container for the entire flight.

You must be able to produce a recently issued health certificate for your pet.

Your pet needs be able to turn around and lay down in that carrier.


In Cargo Hold

Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and must have been weaned (usually for at least five days).

Be sure to reserve a space for your pet in advance, and inquire about time and location for drop-off and pick-up.

Cages and other shipping containers must meet the minimum standard for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation and design for safe handling. (Sky kennels furnished by the airlines meet these requirements.)

Dogs and cats must not be brought to the airline for shipping more than four hours before departure. (Six hours is permitted if shipping arrangements are made in advance.)

If puppies or kittens less than 16 weeks of age are in transit more than 12 hours, food and water must be provided. Older animals must have food at least every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours. Written instructions for food and water must accompany all animals shipped regardless of the scheduled time in transit.

Animals may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45*F unless they are accompanied by a certificate signed by a veterinarian stating that they are acclimated to lower temperatures.

Animals cannot be shipped COD unless the shipper guarantees the return freight should the animals be refused at destination.

When you board, try to tell a pilot and a flight attendant that there is a pet in the cargo hold. The airlines have a system for providing such notification, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it yourself.

Write your name, address and phone number on the kennel, and make sure your pet is wearing a tag with the same information. Consider purchasing a temporary tag showing your destination address and phone number. Bring a photo of your pet, in case it is lost.

With careful planning, your pet will arrive safely at its destination.


Service Animals

  1. FAA requires that all service animals be permitted on any and all commercial flights.

  2. Service Animal are NOT required be confined to a carrier.

Airline Travel for Dogs and Cats ~ ShopKeyWestDog.com


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