Taking Flight: New Airline Rules for Pets

Taking Flight: New Airline Rules for Pets

If you’ve traveled with your pets – whether by plane or by car, you know how important it is to be prepared and to travel safely. We routinely provide health certificates and counsel our clients on airplane and car travel for pets.

But recently, a series of pet deaths while flying has prompted United Airlines to make some changes to their policies for pet airline travel, which is why we are taking this opportunity to revisit pet travel safety as well as the new airline rules for pets.

First Things First

Airline travel for pets can be inherently dangerous. If you have plans to travel by plane with your pet, please come in for an exam well in advance so that we can talk about how to prepare.

Some things you need to consider:

  • Each airline has their own regulations for pet airline travel, so call them for details
  • If your pet can fit under the seat in the cabin, plan to do that
  • If your pet is too large to fit under the seat, buy a USDA approved crate
  • The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably in
  • Your pet should be crate trained before flying in order to avoid anxiety
  • Purchase a non stop ticket to avoid layovers in hot or cold weather, when your pet may be exposed to the elements
  • Talk to us about eating and drinking for your pet
  • Make sure the flight attendants know your pet is traveling with you, so they can assist if need be

This list is not all inclusive, so again please talk to us if you have airline travel plans coming up.

New Airline Rules for Pets

The new airline rules for pets are the result of United Airlines working with pet experts to make their practices safer. There were 24 pet deaths on airlines in 2017, 18 of which occured on United’s flights.

The new rules took effect for travel beginning on July 9, 2018, and only apply to pets traveling as cargo – not to those in the cabin. They include:

  • An extensive list of breeds (21 of them) are not eligible to fly as cargo, including pugs, mastiffs, bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds
  • Four cat breeds are no longer eligible for cargo hold – Himalayan, Persian, Burmese, and American Shorthair – due to their known breathing problems
  • Between May 1 – September 30th, no pets will be allowed to fly in the cargo hold to 4 US cities (Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, CA) due to extreme temperatures
  • United will not fly pets to India or Australia
  • Carriers will no longer be sold at the airport for United and must be 30 inches or shorter to be allowed in the cargo hold.

In addition, as of March 2018, emotional support and psychiatric service animals traveling in the cabin must now have the following documentation:

  • Health and vaccination documentation
  • A letter from a licensed medical professional
  • A statement from the veterinarian that the animal has had proper training to ensure they are well behaved in a public setting.

The new airline rules for pets are designed to keep pets safe, of course. If you have other options for traveling with your pets, be sure to explore those. Talk to us about boarding your pet or hiring a pet sitter to come to your home as an alternative. And again, if you can’t avoid airline travel with your pet, call us for ideas and help. Schertz Animal Hospital is here for you and your pet!