Your Guide To Traveling With Pets

Your Guide To Traveling With Pets

When planning a trip, there are dozens of details to worry about. From purchasing a plane ticket to reserving a hotel room in a far away destination, planning a getaway can be stressful. When you add a dog or cat to the mix, it can start to complicate things even more.

If you’re planning to take a trip with Fido or Kitty in the near future, pre-travel preparation is key to a successful trip. A few things you can do with your pet before you hit the road include:


Call The Airline

Many airlines limit the total number of animals allowed within the cabin on each flight, so it’s always a good idea to call the airline you’re flying with ahead of time to check for regulations. American Airlines, for example, caps the number of pets to seven per flight: two in first class and five in business and coach seats.

Schedule a Pre-Trip Checkup With Your Vet

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises pet owners to let their vets know as soon as travel becomes a possibility for their pet. Your local veterinarian will be able to tell you whether your pet is fit to travel.

Immunizations, Certificates & Tests

Depending on the age of your pet, they may be due for a variety of immunizations and vaccines. Some countries require blood tests, rabies certificates, and specific vaccines as many as six months in advance before your trip. Failure to abide by these rules may result in separation from your pet. Since you never know when you’ll have to prove that your dog is up-to-date on his or her vaccines, talk to your vet about acquiring a hard copy of all of your pet’s vaccinations.

Book A Direct Flight

Whenever you know you’ll be traveling with your pet, it’s always wise to book a direct flight to your final destination. This will reduce the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by airport personnel during a layover.

Get To The Airport Early

To ensure that there are no unforeseen hiccups at the airport, make sure you arrive well before your flight is scheduled to takeoff. This will give you plenty of time to to check-in to your flight, check your bags, and give your furry friend a little TLC before stepping on the plane.

Keep Your Pet Hydrated And Fed, But Not Full

Your dog or cat does not need to have a large meal before flying. In fact, feeding them a big meal before traveling can result in some messy situations. Animals have a tendency to get nervous in new environments, so it’s important to make sure your pet is hydrated and fed, but not stuffed to the gills. Feed your pet roughly three to four hours before your flight. Also, be sure to give Fido a bathroom break before departure.

Take A Relaxing Walk Before Takeoff

Before you board your flight or load up the van, take your pet for a relaxing walk. This will help your pet expend excess energy, which will make for a more peaceful journey to your final destination. Play a game of fetch with your dog for an hour before you head to the airport, or take Fido on a lengthy walk before you hit the pavement for a road trip. If you’re lucky enough, your pet will be ready for a nap by the time you head to your destination.

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Dog Travel Crate Requirements

There are dog travel crate requirements as dictated by the International Air Travel Association (IATA). While domestic travel can sometimes allow for more relaxed requirements, we always recommend following the official international guidelines to be safe. Some important things worth keeping in mind are:

  • The Size Of The Crate – For international travel and most domestic flights, pet travel crates are required to be the pet’s length plus half their leg. This will allow for plenty of room in front and back of your pet. IATA requires that the dog’s ears cannot touch the top of the kennel while they are standing, and pets must be able to turn around and lie down without any hassle.
  • Metal Nuts & Bolts – The travel crate you bring on an airplane must have metal nuts and bolts. Some dog travel carriers have plastic nuts and bolts for assembly, so try to avoid these options when shopping for a crate.
  • Pet Food & Water – Airplane crates are required to have two separate food and water dishes attached to the crate door, rather than the sides. The dishes must be attached to the crate door so the airline can have access to the dishes without having to open or close the kennel door.
  • Pet Information & Feeding Instructions – Be sure to include pet information and feeding instructions on your dog’s travel crate. Make sure to include your dog’s name, any medications they may be taking, your phone number, address, final destination, flight number, and contact information.
  • Air Holes – If you’re traveling internationally, air holes are required on all four sides of the dog crate. Domestic flights only require two vent sides, but to ensure optimal airflow and pet safety, we recommend finding a crate with air holes on all sides.

Different Airline Pet Policies

Delta Airlines Pet Policy


If you’re flying with Delta Airlines, you’ll be pleased to know that they offer several traveling options for your four-legged friend, including:

Carry On

Dogs, cats, and even household birds (birds are permitted to travel on domestic U.S. flights only) can travel with you in the cabin for a one-way fee from the following destinations:

  • U.S./Canada: $125 USD/CAD
  • Virgin Islands: $200 USD/CAD
  • Puerto Rico: $125 USD/CAD
  • Outside the U.S.: $200 USD/CAD/EUR
  • Brazil: $75 USD

It’s important to keep in mind the following restrictions when traveling with your pet as a carry-on bag:

  • Your furry friend must be small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel without touching or protruding from the sides of it.
  • The kennel must be able to fit under the seat directly in front of you.
  • Your pet must remain inside the kennel while waiting in the Delta boarding area before boarding and after deplaning.
  • Your pet must be at least 10 weeks old to travel domestically.
  • Your pet must be 16 weeks old if you are traveling to the U.S. from another country.
  • Since your pet counts as carry-on baggage, cabin fees still apply.

Delta Cargo

For larger pets, you have the option of shipping your four-legged friend via Delta Cargo. Delta Cargo provides safe, reliable, year-round transportation for your pet. Before you book your pet on Delta Cargo, be sure to review the information below.

  • All pets shipped domestically via Delta Cargo cannot be booked until 14 days prior to departure.
  • Your pet is not guaranteed to be shipped on the same flight or flight schedule as you.
  • In order to ship your pet with Delta Cargo, you are required to drop off your pet at least three hours before your plane’s departure time.

Frontier Airlines Pet Policy

Frontier Airlines also allows flyers to bring their furry friends on board. A few things to keep in mind when traveling with Frontier are:

  • The airline does not allow pets to be checked as baggage.
  • A one-way, directional charge of $75 will be applied for people who wish to travel with their pet. This can be paid in advance during booking.

When you fly with Frontier Airlines, you do have the option of traveling with your pet in the cabin. Keep in mind that only certain animals are allowed including domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and small household birds. Reptiles and arachnids are not allowed. Other things to keep in mind include:

  • Pets are not allowed in the cabin on all domestic flights and on international flights to or from the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
  • You are not permitted to sit in row one or an exit row when traveling with a pet.
  • Your pet must remain in their travel carrier at all times for safety reasons.
  • The airline asks that you do not provide food or water to your pet while traveling on an airplane.


Pet Traveling Containers

Your pet’s travel container must be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down in a natural position. The carrier must also be able to fit underneath the seat in front of you.

  • The maximum dimensions for a pet carrier are 18” in length, 14” in width, and 8” in height.
  • The airline recommends using a soft-sided pet container.
  • Your pet must stay in the carrier at all times.

The Health & Wellness of Your Pet

Frontier Airlines does not require that you provide a health certificate of your pet while traveling. It’s important to note that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the transport of pets within the United States. It’s critical to do your research, as a health certificate may be required by a specific state in which you are traveling to. For further clarification you should call your local veterinarian. When it comes to international travel, a health certificate of your pet is required.

Your pet’s health certificate must be dated by each country upon entry:

  • Puerto Rico – within 30 days of entry
  • United States – within 10 days of entry
  • Dominican Republic – within 15 days of entry
  • Costa Rica – within 14 days of entry
  • Mexico – within 5 days of entry

The health certificate should include the name and address of the pet owner, the type of animal species, the country of origin and destination, and any immunizations.

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

Southwest Airlines allows small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs to travel with in in-cabin under the seat in front of you for domestic flights. For international flights, pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin. All pets are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Six pets are allowed per flight with a limit of one pet carrier per flyer.


Pet Reservation Information

  • If you plan on flying with your pet, you will be subject to a $95 pet fare each way. Pet fares are non-refundable and cannot be applied toward future-date travel if unused. Pet fare is also subject to change at any time.
  • U.S. domestic flights, reservations must be made in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.

Pet Carrier Requirements

  • Southwest Airlines only allows one pet carrier per ticketed passenger.
  • Your pet carrier may contain two cats or dogs. You must have the same species in your carrier.
  • Your pet must be completely inside the pet carrier and able to stand up, move around, and lay down with ease.
  • Your pet must be secured in their pet carrier at all times while in the gate area, during boarding and deplaning, and they must remain in the carrier for the duration of the flight.

Pet Travel Restrictions You Should Know

  • On the day of travel, you must bring your pet to the airport in an approved pet carrier. Proceed to the ticket counter to check your pet in before heading to your departure gate.
  • Pets are not permitted to travel with unaccompanied minors.
  • Cats and dogs must be at least eight weeks old to travel.
  • All pets must be odorless, harmless, and non-disruptive.
  • Southwest Airlines cannot be held responsible if a passenger misses a flight due to the need to take their cat or dog outside to a relief area.

United Airlines Pet Policy

United Airlines allows domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits, and household birds (excluding cockatoos) to travel in the aircraft cabin on most flights within the United States. If you plan on traveling with your pet in-cabin in addition to a carry-on bag, you will be subject to a $125 service charge each way.

The Pet Crate

The pet crate you bring to the airport must be constructed of rigid plastic, wood or metal, and must be properly ventilated. To prevent the accidental injury of your pet, no part of the animal’s body can protrude through any openings in the crate.

  • The crate must have two dishes, one for food and one for water, firmly attached to the inside of the crate.
  • Toys and medications of any kind are not permitted in or attached to the crate.
  • Items that can be attached to the crate include up to one pound of dry food, one leash, and one flat-style collar.
  • Absorbent material like towels, blankets, or crate pads should be added to the bottom of the crate.
  • Label the top of your pet’s crate with your pet’s name along with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the owners.

Things To Know Before You Book

  • If you plan on traveling with a pet, you’ll need to make advance reservations for in-cabin pet travel. All reservations can be booked through the United website.
  • Pets are not permitted on flights to, from, or through Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii, among other locations.
  • Puppies and kittens that are traveling within the United States and Puerto Rico must be at least two months old to travel.
  • Puppies and kittens that are traveling internationally must be at least four month old.
  • Pets cannot travel with unaccompanied minors.
  • Pets must travel on the same flight as their owner.

Travel Reminders When Flying

  • If you have questions about traveling with a pet on United, reach out to the United Customer Contact Center at 1-800-UNITED-1.
  • When you arrive at the airport, you will be prompted to see an agent at check-in to receive your pet tag.
  • Your pet is expected to remain in their kennel or carrying case while in the airport and when boarding the aircraft.
  • You must place your pet carrier in the floor space below your seat. Your pet must remain in the kennel with the door secured at all times.


PetSafe is United’s specially designed program for transporting cats and dogs that are not eligible to travel in the aircraft cabin. This unique program offers airport travel for cats and dogs traveling to approximately 300 destinations. The PetSafe program has the following features:

  • Pets will travel within United aircraft compartments that are pressurized as well as climate-controlled.
  • Each pet reservation must be confirmed at least five days prior to travel.
  • You will have the ability to track your pet’s transport from its original to the final destination online.
  • To ensure the comfort of your pet in any weather condition, your pet will be last cargo loaded and the first cargo unloaded from the plane.
  • The PetSafe Performance Guarantee provides a 100% refund of shipping charges when animals do not travel as booked.

ParkDIA: Closest, Fastest, Least Expensive Off-site DIA Parking Spaces

If you plan on flying out of Denver with your furry friend, make sure to park your car with ParkDIA. We have 7,500 parking spaces available at our parking lot, so there is always one waiting for you when you need it. When you download our mobile app for iOS and Android smartphones, you can reserve your parking space, text for pick-up, and track shuttles.

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