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01 December 2009

Pet Travel Issues and Related Online Resources

According the US Department of Transportation, over two million pets and other live animals are transported by air every year in the United States. Most airlines in the US allow pets to travel on aircraft, sometimes in the passenger cabin, but also in the cargo hold. Over the last few years, the US government has addressed traveler concerns about the extent of pet travel safety issues by providing regular updates concerning reports of the loss, injury, or death of animals in their Air Travel Consumer Report.'s pet travel resource page has basic advice about pet travel, pointing out that there are a number of considerations that passengers must consider, including what extra charges you may face, limitations on when pets can travel, and many other conditions of travel. If you plan to travel with pets, the most important thing to know that is that rules can be very different for different airlines. In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows each airline to set its policies on travel with pets, including whether they are allowed in the cabin, or for that matter whether they can be transported at all.

Pets and Security Screening
According to the TSA, you will need to present the animal to the security officers at the checkpoint. You may walk your animal through the metal detector with you. If this is not possible, your animal will have to undergo a secondary screening, including a visual and physical inspection by our Security Officers. Your animal will not be placed through an X-ray machine. However, you may be asked to remove your animal from its carrier so that the carrier can be placed on the X-Ray machine.

Pets in the Passenger Cabin
Not every airline allows pets in the passenger cabin. Those that do typically allow only small animals that must be kept in some kind of cage or kennel for the duration of the flight. Also, the pets must be able to fit in the area under the seat and can’t be in the overhead baggage compartments. An airline may also limit the maximum number of pets in the passenger cabin, as well is the number of pets in coach, business, or first class sections of the aircraft. It is also possible that an airline may allow pets in one class of service or section of the aircraft, but not another.

Pets in the Baggage Compartment
If pets are not in the passenger cabin, they are typically transported in pressurized, temperature-controlled aircraft compartments. Confirm with your airline that this is the case.

One of the most comprehensive sites providing useful pet travel information Featuring practical travel advice, details on pet travel policy by airline, and lists of pet travel incidents reported to the DOT, this site will address many common questions pet owners may have about animal air travel safety.

Traveling to Hawaii with Pets
Hawaii has special limitations on pet travel, including quarantines of animals traveling to the state, even for passengers flying from other parts of the US. Make sure that you review Hawaii’s requirements at, contact the airline, and possibly consult your pet’s veterinarian, prior to your travel to Hawaii. Otherwise, your pet could be quarantined for up to 120 days.

Service Animals
Service animals are not pets, but rather an animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. In the U.S., a disabled passenger can travel with his or her service animal in the passenger with relatively few limitations compared to the limitations on pets. While U.S. airlines are required to make accommodations for travelers with service animals, there may be situations where a service animal may not be allowed in the cabin. If you plan to travel with a service animal, it would be a good idea to contact the airline prior to your travel to see if there may be any difficulties.

Photo: shanan

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