When purchasing a new puppy or traveling long distance with a large dog, it may be necessary to ship your pet as cargo. While not all major airlines provide this service, American, Continental, Delta and United each offer cargo transport services for dogs, as long as airline safety requirements are met.
American Airlines accepts most dogs for cargo shipment, excluding those that are stub-nosed, such as boxers, mastiffs and pugs, as well as pets that have been sedated before the flight. Dogs must be accompanied by a health certificate dated within 10 days of travel, a current rabies vaccination record, and shipped in a USDA or International Air Transport Association-approved kennel. Dogs should also travel with a collar and leash with an I.D. tag. Cargo flights can be arranged through the American Airlines website and must not be more than 12 hours long. Dogs may not be shipped to certain international locations, including China and the United Kingdom. Dogs are only accepted as cargo when the temperature is expected to remain between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Continental Airlines accepts dogs as cargo as part of its PetSafe program. Dogs shipped as cargo must travel in USDA or IATA-approved cargo and have a current (dated within the past 10 days) health certificate. Pets that have been sedated before travel will not be accepted for a flight. Owners are able to track the dog's flight path and may contact Continental's Live Animal Desk at any time of day. In addition, pets receive frequent flyer miles when flying as cargo through the PetPass program.
Delta accepts dogs as cargo through its Pets First program. All dogs flying must be in a USDA-approved kennel and may only travel when temperatures during travel are forecasted to remain between 10 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Stub-nosed dogs may only fly as cargo when the temperature is expected to remain below 75 degrees. Dogs may be sedated in advance of the flight, as long as you have written consent from your veterinarian. Before travel, you must complete Delta's pet-travel checklist to ensure your pet is ready for its flight.
United Airlines ships dogs though its EXP cargo service. While most dogs may travel as cargo year round, the United website notes that stub-nosed breeds may not fly as cargo between June and September. All dogs flying as cargo in United must be placed in a USDA or IATA-approved crate and with a current health certificate. Cargo bookings must be confirmed within 24 hours of your pet's flight as poor weather conditions may alter the flight plan.