Moving Your Pet by Air

Please note: The following information is current for March 2006. Airline requirements as regards pets seem to be fairly changeable, so make sure to check with your airline well ahead of your travel date.

So you’ve been relocated by your work to the other side of the continent. Or maybe you’ve decided to move closer to friends or family located thousands of kilometers away. Whatever the reason, now you have to try to figure out a way of getting your dog or cat from one side of the country to the other. If it is too far for you to travel by car, hopefully our page of advice about flying with your cat or dog will get you started off in the right direction. The following is our list of general tips and ideas for moving your pets by air.

Things to know before calling an airline about making a pet reservation:

Will the pet be traveling domestically or internationally?

Obviously, domestic pet travel will be easier than international, which generally involves a great number of international live animal regulations. For a listing of the Canadian importation regulations, click here. If you’re interested in importing your pet into America, click here.

What is the date that your pet will be traveling?

Many airlines currently have blackout periods during which they will not transport animals. It is very important you find this information out well in advance of your move.

What is your pet’s size and weight?

Some airlines allow smaller animals [usually under 10 kg] to be transported as carry-on luggage. This varies greatly between airlines and there seems to be little discernible pattern as to requirements. Again, you need to check well in advance with your particular airline to find out this information. Currently, Air Canada’s requirements for taking your pets as carry-on are that the pet kennel is part of the carry-on baggage allowance and must conform to the carry-on size limitations of LxWxH – 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm maximum or 21 1/2 in x 15 1/2 in x 9 in maximum; and a weight limit of 22lbs / 10 Kg same as carry on.

Do you have a suitable container for your pet?

Again, the requirements for suitability vary between airlines. Generally, your best bet is probably to get a hard sided plastic cage with a secure lockable door with numerous ventilation holes in the sides and rear. While some airlines allow wire mesh caging, many do not, since probably safe as to try and buy a hard sided plastic container. If you’re able to, try to check with the airline you’re flying with to see if they have any recommended brands.

What is the size and weight of the pet’s container?

Currently, Air Canada requires any pet loose combined body weights and cage weights exceed 32 kg to be shipped with Air Canada cargo service. This will be considerably more expensive than if they travel as a pet accompanying you on the flight.

How many animals will be traveling?

The International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations states that “a maximum of two adult animals (Dogs or cats) of comparable size up to 14 kg each, that are used to cohabitation, may be shipped in the same container. Animals over that weight must travel individually. Animals up to six months old from the same litter, up to a maximum quantity of three, may be shipped in the same container (providing there is enough room in the kennel as per the previous question).” Unfortunately, this only applies to animals which are not traveling either to or from the United States. If you’re headed into or out of the US with the animal the following rules apply:

“A maximum of 1 dog or cat over 6 months will be accepted per kennel or a maximum of 2 pets of comparable size and if between 8 weeks and 6 months old and weighing less than 20lb (or 9kg) each.”

Will you be traveling on the same flight as your pet?

If it is at all possible, you should try to arrange to fly on the same airplane as your pet. Not only will this be easier on your pet, it will also be less expensive. Essentially, there are two major streams for shipping your pet – they can go as cargo [which is more expensive], or they can travel as a companion on your flight. This method is considerably cheaper.

As of the first half of 2006, the current prices for the shipping of pet which you accompany via Air Canada are as follows:

From anywhere in North America to anywhere in North America the cost is $75 US or $105 Canadian.
From anywhere in North America to any overseas country is currently $175 US or $245 Canadian.

Remember that these prices are only if you accompany the animal on the same flight. Considering that these costs have almost tripled from just two years earlier, [when they were 40 Canadian dollars] we can probably expect further increases in the future. If you’re interested as to Air Canada’s current air travel requirements for pets, please read this link to Air Canada traveling with your pet web page.

If you do not intend to travel with your pet, you’ll then have to ship your pet through Air Canada’s cargo service in this will raise the cost considerably. For more information see the Air Canada cargo pet FAQ.

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