Flying with a pet in cargo can be a stressful experience for the animal and the human. You’ll be relieved to know that animals in cargo are generally perfectly safe, but it is true that some animals are injured, lost, or killed on commercial flights every year. This is due to a few factors, like excessively cold or hot temperatures, rough handling, or poor ventilation.
The key is to do your research before you plan to travel to ensure your pet is prepared for the journey and to communicate with the airline before your trip since the requirements for pets flying in cargo vary among airlines. But let’s look at this in more detail, so you know exactly what to expect.
Is It Safe for Your Pet to Fly in Cargo?
In general, it is perfectly safe for your pet to fly in cargo, and even though there are incidents, thousands of animals travel across the globe annually in cargo areas and are perfectly fine. Most United States airlines have to report any incidents that involve companion animals in the cargo hold;1 this is an excellent resource for owners to look at before they pick an airline to fly with.
Tips to Follow if Your Pet Has to Fly in Cargo Hold
If possible, try to keep your pet in the cabin with you. Most airlines will allow you to bring a cat or small dog in the cabin for an additional fee, but you will have to call them in advance as there are weight limits and size limits for the carrier.
However, if your pet has to travel in cargo, there are ways to keep them safe. If you follow these tips, it will ensure the safety of your pet and also put your mind at ease:
Alternatives to Traveling
Sometimes flying isn’t an option for your pet; some airlines won’t transport short or snub-nosed breeds like Pugs, Boston Terriers, or Pit Bulls in the cabin or cargo hold because of their nasal structure, which can cause shortness of breath when they’re stressed.
If your dog falls into the category of one that can’t travel at all, or maybe you’re going on a short enough trip that you feel like you’d rather leave your pet at home, you have other options.
You could try pet-sitting, where someone comes to your house to take care of your pet, or in-home pet boarding, where they go to the pet sitter’s home. You can also take your pet to a dog kennel, cattery, or pet hotel. However, the ideal option for most pet parents is to have a friend or family member care for your pet.
We would all rather keep our pets with us at all times, and sometimes that’s possible. If you have a small dog or a cat, you can bring them into the plane cabin with you. However, sometimes your only option is the cargo hold if you want to take your pet along. There are instances when pets have been injured, lost, or killed on flights, but the occurrences are rare, and pets are relatively safe in the cargo hold.
Featured Image Credit: Wisniewska, Shutterstock