Airline-Approved Dog Crates


Dog flying cargo

Introduction

Every dog owner would love to travel with the dog in cabin. Unfortunately, all Airlines have restrictions (not talking here about support dogs). The limits are pretty strict regarding the size and weight of our furry friend. In most cases, the dog must not weigh more than 8 or 9 kilos (including the bag/carrier) and must be so small that it can be put under the seat. Yes, you are reading correctly, under the front seat, and hopefully, your furry mate will not bark all the time or make a big business which may lead to some unrest with the other passengers. This kind of trouble with your dog and other passengers can be avoided with the Cargo option. 

As you have read, size, weight, and other criteria limit our options significantly. If we do not have any other choice and do not want to leave our furry family member behind, we have to fly him or her Cargo.

It sounds scary, but only because we don’t know how it is for them to be separated from us in the darkness of the cargo area. Well-tempered and pressurized, of course, but 10 hours in such a place? When you ask a vet about this, they are not coming back with a yes or no answer if this method of travel was good or bad for the dog. It depends on a couple of factors.

It depends on the dog in the first place. Is he cool or does he freak out when separated from you?

  • Is he used to the crate? Does he love the box?
  • Did he fly Cargo before?
  • Is he alone or traveling together with another dog in the same crate?
  • How professional are the airport and the airline in handling animals on flights? Some like Lufthansa are true experts who even operate a huge anima lounge at the hub in Frankfurt.

When you read about the experience of travelers with their pets on board, you hear everything from good to bad. 

I would consider that it might be even better for the dog to spend the flight in the quiet, less distracting, dark cargo area rather than in between hectic and loud passengers with all the smells and food served etc.

What do we need for a comfortable journey for our dog by plane?

Checklist for flying with a dog

country specific regulations for shipping pets

  • make sure the destination country allows you to import a dog and review the requirements of paperwork and vaccination carefully
  • Is your dog fit enough to fly?
  • When in doubt, ask a vet. They will tell you from their perspective if your dog is fit to fly. You may need to consult them anyways for the health certificate you need for most countries.
  • Some breeds should not fly, and some airlines do not allow stub-nosed breeds on their planes because of the risk that there is an issue for the dog with breathing.
  • Do I need to have my dog flying Cargo?

Usually there are 3 options to fly with a dog

  • 1st Option is Pet In the Cabin, called PETC

(only works for very small dogs or service dogs) a long list of regulations, the pet needs to travel the whole time in the box under the seat in front of you (some nice crews allow in individual cases and when asked nicely to take out the dog for a moment)

We are not covering the topic of Emotional support dogs and will write about it separately in the future. Unfortunately, this program has been abused so severely that most airlines have put it on hold.

  • 2nd Option Pet as Check-In Baggage

This is the most common option. Some restrictions apply here as well. Airline can refuse transport during extreme outside temperatures. They do not want to be responsible if the dog suffer heatstroke or freezes during the transport between drop-off and loading on/off the Airplane

In the Airplane, the dogs are stored in the front section of the cargo hold and separated from the other luggage

Please note that the pilots are informed about the precious live Cargo and will follow the instructions of the advised temperature for the dogs.

  • 3rd option. Pet traveling on Cargo only or Combi Aircraft

Some companies are specialized in transporting animals, especially large airlines.

In rare cases, Combi Aircraft has passenger seats in the front and an accessible Cargo Area in the back.

  • Check the route.
    • Preferably it shall be a nonstop flight. If a stopover can’t be avoided make sure the stop is done at an airport with animal-friendly facilities (like Frankfurt with the huge Animal lounge)
  • Read reviews of other travelers about the airline and how they handle pets
  • Check the airline Pet Policies

How to find the Airline Pet Policy?

  • How to find the airline policy that covers pet traveling by plane?
  • Just googling it may not lead to the best results. We suggest that you first got to the webpage of your airline for example, Delta
  • Delta.com
  • Then you search for “pet policy” in the search field on the right top corner of Deltas website.
  • The first result then should be “Pet Travel on Delta
  • On That page, Delta explains very well their specific conditions

Later, when have chosen your airline and are about to book the flight, we recommend doing this by phone rather than online. 

When talking to a airline representative, you can already address that you want to fly with a dog and they can manage together with you the right booking process.

Before you book, please also examine the country-specific rules for importing a dog. Yes, importing is the correct term for this, and most countries are superstrict concerning the necessary paperwork and vaccination of our dogs. Make sure you are “happy” and compliant with these rules as well.

What are the IATA Standards for airline-approved dog crates?

Container Requirements 1 in English 

For a dog crate to be approved for air travel, it must comply with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). These rules are widely followed across different airlines. However, some airlines may go a step further in what is to be expected of a dog crate so you should check with the airline you wish to use before purchasing a dog crate.

Suppose your dog flies as Cargo or checked baggage. In that case, it will be kept in a pressurized, temperature-controlled compartment under the cabin. Most large aircraft have provisions made for animals traveling as Cargo. However, some airlines may not have such requirements so you must check on this as you decide on a dog crate.

Practical Tips in Preparing your Dog for the flight in Cargo

  • Train the dog on the crate and the blanket you will be using for the flight.
  • Have two clear sleeves that you stick on top of the crate. One is for the dogs paperwork, health certificate, passport, etc). The second is to add a note to the handling crew with the name and a photo of the dog. Your name should be on this information as well, your contact details, flight numbers, destination, advice on how to approach, how to feed, and maybe a nice note with a thank you for the crew. 
  • You can also attach on top a bag with food and another bag with the collar and leash. The dog should not wear anything while in the crate to avoid any incidents and accidents.
  • The towel or blanket should be of a material that cannot be eaten
  • Use puppy pads as a ground layer for the crate so that spilled water and pee can be soaked up and the dog does not sit in a wet crate. Fix these pads in the box with two-sided duck tape

What should I know about the best dog crate for flying?

Fastening

Airlines now request that steel crate hardware, rather than plastic fasteners, be used to secure dog crates. Even though this is not an IATA requirement, you should keep it in mind while you shop for a box because you never know when you might find yourself in a situation where it is necessary. In addition, many airlines prefer using cable ties to fasten the corners instead of plastic clips, which are also discouraged.

Feeding

Water and food bowls ought to be affixed to the interior of the accessible door, and they ought to be refilled from the outside. This increases security because it eliminates the need to open the door when the handlers want to feed your dog. A funnel will be fastened to the feeding bowls in the crate from the outside using cable ties.

Forklift Spacers

You must bring forklift spacers if your dog weighs over 60 kg when flying with you.

Airlines may make additional recommendations in addition to the IATA’s stated requirements, including the following: attaching a leash and collar to the outside of the crate, putting a pet pad or shredded newspaper inside, putting a piece of clothing with your scent inside, having your dog’s original health certificate with you, and avoiding using hard toys inside.

Handles

The handles on your dog box are necessary to secure it to the cabin. Make sure the dog cage you purchase has handles on the long sides. As a result, it is simple for those managing the dog crates to load them aboard the aircraft. It gives them the ability to safely connect the box to the cabin so that it won’t move about during the trip.

Identification

The name of your pet and your contact details must be written on the box. You can accomplish this by using duct tape or another type of strong tape to secure the information to the crate.

Leakage

Your dog will undoubtedly produce a mess inside the crate during the flight. As a result, the dog cage you use must be sturdy and leak-proof in accordance with IATA specifications. This will prevent any canine messes from making their way to the cabin floor and keep the plane tidy.

Materials

The crate’s construction material should be taken into account. Materials like fiberglass, metal, weld metal mesh or stiff polymers should be used to make the crate.

You should be aware that some airlines do not allow wooden dog kennels. Utilizing such materials in a dog crate is important because they are strong and can resist collisions without endangering your dog. Please check upfront with your airline of choice.

Aluminium Kennels

When to Use Aluminum Airline Approved Dog Crates 

While some dogs may be able to travel in a soft dog cage without biting its way out due to their distinct temperaments, some dogs are more destructive and need to be crated in more solid kennels.

Security

The crate’s door must be spring-loaded and secure. In addition, it should feature an all-encompassing locking mechanism with pins that stick out at least 1 point 6 centimeters above and below the door.

Airlines could also demand that cable ties be placed in each corner of the door to secure it further. The door must be made of solid material, such as heavy plastic, cast metal, or welded metal, and locking mechanisms. In order to prevent your dog from bending the fence and escaping, do this.

To safeguard your dog from harm if it tries to escape, the door should also be paw and nose-proof. Having a lockable door is essential because it will stop your dog from becoming lost while the plane is in the air, which may be quite deadly if a collision occurs. The IATA advises using metal for the door’s structure.

Size

Measuring your dog’s length, width, height, and weight is crucial before purchasing a dog cage. Your dog needs a crate that is large enough for it to stand up straight without colliding with the roof. Additionally, your dog should be able to turn around in the box without running into anything and should be able to stretch out fully without being pinched.

If your dog has a snub nose, you will need to purchase a cage one size larger than usual if you plan to ship it as Cargo. (many airlines do not permit the transport of snub-nosed dogs) These conditions enable your dog to stretch out and prevent the issues of sore muscles, allowing it to be comfortable during the flight. The crate you purchase must not be too large because doing so can tempt your dog to go potty there.

Stickers

You must attach stickers reading “LIVE ANIMAL” to the top and sides of your dog kennel. It would help if you also pasted directional stickers on the crate in addition to this. Additionally, a shipper’s declaration is needed since the handlers will use it to determine when your dog was last fed and given water, ensuring that it is well-cared for during the voyage. 

Sturdiness

The crate shouldn’t be foldable and the door should be built with a solid design. To avoid collapsing while your dog is inside, the roof must be sturdy.

As long as the ventilation does not jeopardize the roof’s stability, you can purchase a crate with ventilation on the roof. However, crates with doors at the top are not advised for usage, according to the IATA.

Ventilation

The amount of ventilation needed varies depending on the type of flight you want to take. On domestic flights, you must bring a dog crate with ventilation on at least two sides. On international flights, you must bring a dog crate with ventilation on at least four sides.

You can avoid the inconvenience of purchasing two dog crates for air travel by purchasing a dog crate with ventilation on at least four sides if you intend to board both domestic and foreign flights.

At least 16% of the total surface area of the dog crate must be taken up by the ventilation apertures. The holes must not be obstructed in any way. The crate won’t overheat and make your dog uncomfortable if it has enough airflow.

Wheels

It is recommended that you use a dog crate that does not have wheels to prevent the crate from moving during the flight and causing an accident. If your dog crate has wheels, ensure that they are either removed before the flight or have them taped securely to prevent the crate from rolling.

Finally some traveler experience 

(please note that this is a private opinion of a traveler who posted this in a forum)

1) Choose your airline wisely. I will only ship my dogs via Air France or Air Canada. No exceptions. Air Canada in particular, is now IATA certified for animal air transport. But Air France is just as good. I have found that on Air France I am more likely to speak with the Pilot themselves before take off (you will see why in the next point below). Also, no airline wants a pet death on their flights because this is later publicized and its a black mark on their record! So don’t fly with an airline with a bad record instead choose a good airline with a good record. 

2) Upon boarding, I insist on speaking with the Pilot to make sure he/she knows that my dog is on the plane and to confirm that the ECS (Environmental Control System) is working in my dog’s compartment. I refuse to take off until I get word from either the Pilot or the Head Steward that the compartment has been pressurized and heated. This way I know that the crew knows my dog is in the hold. 

3) Never show fear to your dog prior to the flight or at anytime during the process. If you consider it normal they will too. Sedate yourself if you must to make sure you don’t transfer your fear onto your dog but never sedate your dog. For your dog, try something called “Chillout Chews” you can buy them for your dog online. 

4) Crate train, crate train, crate train. When I am at the airport and I say “Crate!”, my 75 lb dog jumps into the crate and lies down. Of course, she doesn’t love the crate but she is not afraid of being in the crate and this reduces her overall stress.

5) Desensitize your dogs when they are young. Go places and do things that are noisy so that they can be your pal anywhere you go.

Recommended videos about how Dogs are flying on a plane and how to prepare them for a flight in Cargo

JRTWD

Travelled the world. Visited 17 countries together with the dog. Information research expert, others would say an investigator.

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