If you’re traveling with your pet this summer and plan to fly to your destination, make sure you familiarize yourself with the airline’s pet embargo policy before you book your flight. During the summer, many airlines don’t allow pets aboard flights-as checked baggage or as cargo-when temperatures are high. Airline pet embargoes are in the best interest of your pet and play a vital role in ensuring his safety.
Not only is air travel stressful for your pet, but it can also pose serious health risks. Being confined in his carrier for long periods of time during the hottest months of the year is potentially dangerous for your pet and may lead to dehydration and heatstroke. In addition, certain breeds, such as brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs and cats, are susceptible to pulmonary distress when temperatures are extreme.
According to the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), embargoes protect pets from exposure to extreme heat while they’re in the holding areas and terminal facilities, while moving them between terminals and aircraft, or while they’re on an aircraft awaiting departure.
“Heat embargoes are critical during the summer months,” says Sally Smith, past president of IPATA. “They protect our pets and keep them safe and comfortable while traveling.”
Since airlines impose embargoes to ensure your pet’s safety, there are no exceptions. However, if an embargo is in effect on the day of your flight, the airline will work with you to re-route your flight, if possible, or schedule your flight for another day.
Although each airline establishes its own policies for pet embargoes, the following are a few commercial airlines and some of their regulations.
Alaska Airlines – Although Alaska Airlines doesn’t have any embargoes scheduled this summer, if temperatures are too high for pets to travel safely, they may place an embargo. However, your pet may travel with you in the cabin if he fits in an approved carrier that can be placed under your seat.
American Airlines – To ensure your pet isn’t exposed to extreme heat, American Airlines imposes an embargo any time the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary. However, if your pet fits in an approved carrier that can be placed under your seat, he can travel with you in the cabin.
Delta Air Lines – To ensure the safety of your pet, Delta places an embargo on pets as checked baggage from May 15 through September 15. If at any point-origin, transit, destination-the temperature is forecast to be above 85 degrees Fahrenheit-or 75 degrees Fahrenheit for brachycephalic pets-your pet can’t travel. However, your pet may be able to fly as cargo via the Summer Live Animal Program. (Restrictions apply, particularly for brachycephalic pets.) Launched in 2011, the program, which is in effect from May 15 through October 15, lifts temperature restrictions and provides safe transportation of your pet in select cities. Delta Cargo uses climate-controlled vans to pick up and deliver your pet to or from the plane, holding areas, and cargo facilities. Your pet is also loaded or unloaded according to specific time frames. In addition, your pet may travel with you in the cabin if he fits in an approved carrier that can be placed under your seat.
Southwest Airlines – Since Southwest Airlines doesn’t allow pets to travel as checked baggage or in the cargo hold, they don’t impose pet embargoes. Your small cat or dog can travel with you in the cabin in an approved carrier that is small enough to fit under your seat.
Since each airline has a different summer pet embargo policy, visit TripsWithPets.com and review our Airline Pet Policies. And don’t forget to review our Pet Travel Tips for Flying and check out the airline-approved carriers at the TWP Store.
Your pet’s safety is your top priority. Choosing an airline that fits your needs can help ensure the flight is a positive experience for both you and your four-legged family member.