Aly Walansky•August 21, 2020•4 min read
There’s been a good amount of changes among the airlines regarding every aspect of travel during the coronavirus pandemic, from beverage service to baggage, and where and how our pets can fly has been no exception.
So how exactly has COVID-19 affected pet airline travel? Can dogs still fly during Coronavirus? We broke down current rules and restrictions on pet travel during COVID-19.
Right now, many airlines are not allowing pet travel, or only allowing it in the case that the pet can come on the flight with you and not as cargo (as if pets are cargo anyway!). But the rules do vary depending on the airlines as well as your destination state or country.
Even if your airline allows pets, is it a good idea for your pets to be flying right now, in the time of coronavirus? Perhaps only if truly necessary. While very small numbers of pets have tested positive for coronavirus, there’s other issues to consider. Namely, the stress of travel during this uncertain time!
“Now is not the time to be flying with a pet unless absolutely necessary — a permanent relocation to a distant locale, for example,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pup Life Today.
If you’re concerned or have any questions about your pet’s safety in traveling during the pandemic, talk to a vet. They may also be able to provide some anti-anxiety solutions for your pet if they find travel stressful (which, I mean, who doesn’t?).
Airlines are changing and canceling flights frequently because of decreased demand. “It’s bad enough to be stuck in an airport or away from home on your own, but trying to find alternate arrangements while traveling with a pet can be a nightmare under the best of circumstances, and mid-pandemic is definitely not the best of circumstances,” says Dr. Coates.
Keep in mind that many states - and countries - have quarantine requirements when you arrive at this destination. This will apply to the humans traveling and could apply to the pets as well. Consider international travel carefully as countries may change travel restrictions in and out of the country in response to the pandemic.
These are the current airline policies regarding pet travel (as of August 21, 2020). We encourage you to check in with your airline and confirm details before making any decisions. Things are changing rapidly with the pandemic.
Small dogs and cats are allowed on the plane assuming they fly in the cabin and are small enough to fit in a carrier under your seat, according to JetBlue. There are necessary documentation requirements and fees.
United has canceled their PetSafe and military pet travel. According to United Airlines: “As travel demand and government restrictions continue to impact our schedule, we’ve suspended all PetSafe and military pet transportation until further notice.” Pets are still allowed in the cabin if they have all necessary travel documents, can fit under the seat in front of you, and meet age requirements. Service animals and emotional support animals are also allowed.
For international flights, pets must fly cargo. However, for domestic, they must be in-cabin and fit inside an airline-approved pet carrier. Reservations are required in advance and pets are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis with a maximum of six being allowed on flight. Pets must not be exhibiting destructive behavior (detailed on Southwest Airlines’ site) and there is a $95 pet fee each way.
While checked pets as baggage is not currently allowed, carry-on pets and service and emotional support animals are still allowed in the cabin. According to American Airlines: “Due to increased flight changes, we’ve stopped checking pets for now. We still allow carry-on pets, service and emotional support animals in the cabin if they meet the requirements.”
According to Delta Airlines: “Due to changing flight schedules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Delta Cargo will temporarily embargo all PET shipments effective April 1, 2020, until further notice.” While shipping a pet as cargo is currently not allowed, pets that can be accommodated in the main cabin (such as smaller pets and service animals) are still allowed.