What to do if airlines won’t allow flying with pets

What to do if airlines won’t allow flying with pets

Dog preparing to fly

Dog preparing to fly

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A 14-year-old beagle is searching for a new home after it was surrendered at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Saturday.

The dog, Baby Girl, was left at the airport because the crate would not fit under her seat, the former owner, who did not want to be identified, told WSOC.

Since she didn’t have the money to pay cargo-transport fees, Baby Girl’s then-owner left her with FurBabies Animal Rescue, a Matthews nonprofit that works to find homes for abandoned, stray and neglected dogs.

Many airlines do not allow large pets to travel as carry-ons, which means owners often have to choose between paying as much as $500 to transport them in cargo or leaving them at home, says Pet Travel, an online resource for advice about animal transportation

With CLT being one of the country’s largest airport hubs, many pet owners may choose to travel with certain airlines that will accommodate their four-legged friend.

Here’s what to know about pet travel policies.

Some pets can travel as carry-ons but with limitations

Pets that can travel as carry-ons are limited to cats and dogs that meet size, age and destination requirements, according to American Airlines, one airline that allows the practice.

Kennels can replace carry-on bags if you pay the carry-on pet fee and the kennel stays under your seat for the entire flight, the airline says.

These are the rules for pets traveling as carry-ons:

  • Pets must be able to stand up, turn around and fit comfortably inside their carriers.

  • Non-collapsible kennels can’t exceed under-seat dimensions of any aircraft included in your itinerary.

  • Soft-sided collapsible kennels can be slightly larger but still need to fit under your seat.

Here are the recommended kennel dimensions for American Airlines flights:

  • Mainline flights on American: 19 by 13 by 9 inches

  • Regional flight on American Eagle: 16 by 12 by 8 inches

  • Soft-side kennel: 18 by 11 by 11 inches

American Airlines can only accept seven kennels on American flights, and five kennels on American Eagle flights, so you should contact reservations at 800-433-7300 to plan for your pet in advance.

How pets can fly as ‘cargo’

Pets that are too large to fly in the cabin are required to travel as cargo, according to American Airlines.

Pets that are eligible to fly in cargo include:

If your pet is flying in cargo, you must make a reservation and drop off your pet at the American Airlines pet cargo facility for CLT, 4706 Yorkmont Rd.

Checked pets on American Airlines flights are only accepted for active-duty U.S. military and U.S. State Department Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders.

If you plan to travel with a checked pet, be sure to contact Reservations at least 48 hours prior to your flight and view the kennel guidelines for checked pets.

You can travel with pets to these domestic, international destinations

You can travel with a pet on most flights for up to 12 hours, or flights to and from certain locations, according to American Airlines:

Pets traveling within the U.S. must be at least eight weeks old, and all dogs must meet government requirements for vaccinations, according to American Airlines.

Traveling with pets can be costly

Here are the fees for traveling with pets on American Airlines flights:

  • Checked pets: $200 per kennel

  • Cargo pet: Varies, fees will be confirmed at the time of booking

  • Carry-on pet: $125 per kennel

  • Service animals: no charge

A service animal is defined as a dog that is trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities, including visual impairments, deafness and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the airline.

Service animals in training, emotional support animals and comfort animals can travel as pets, not as service animals.

Airline pet policies

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are the only other airlines that allow pets to travel in cargo.

The pet cargo facility in Charlotte for Delta is at 3628-A Yorkmont Rd., and the facility for United is at 4402 Yorkmont Rd. Here are the pet policies for each major airline:

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Evan Moore is a service journalism reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He grew up in Denver, North Carolina, where he previously worked as a reporter for the Denver Citizen, and is a UNC Charlotte graduate.