So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons of various transportation methods and you’ve decided that flying best meets your pet travel needs this summer. It may seem like your next steps are simply booking a ticket for you and Pugsy and jumping on a plane, but in reality it’s a bit more complicated than that. Flying with pets during the summer is more difficult than flying any other time of year, as many airlines have added restrictions in order to keep pets safe during warmer weather months. Here’s a quick rundown of what you should know before booking your flight.

Where It Matters Most

animal reception centre london

Some airports, such as Heathrow in London, have special climate-controlled animal reception centers.

Many pet owners are initially hesitant about flying their pets as cargo, as they might imagine that airplane cargo holds are cramped, noisy, and not climate controlled or pressurized. This image is generally not accurate, as most airlines have cargo holds that are pressurized and climate-controlled just like the plane’s cabin (where human passengers ride).

Because of this, it is not the plane ride itself, but the time spent sitting in the grounded plane which leaves pets most susceptible to high temperatures. Pet-friendly airlines (such as United, KLM, and Lufthansa) have precautions in place to make sure that pets are the last cargo items loaded onto the plane before takeoff and the first items taken off after landing. Most of these airlines also use climate-controlled vehicles to transport pets between the plane and airport, and specially-trained pet handlers who know how to work with pets and keep them safe and calm.

Airline Restrictions

In order to make sure that pets can travel safely in the summer, many airlines place breed or size restrictions or embargoes during the summer months. For example, United Airlines will not fly any adult pugs or pug-nosed breeds between May 15 and September 15. This is because these breeds, which are known as brachycephalic or snub-nosed breeds, have delicate respiratory systems which can easily lead to breathing difficulties in cases of high temperatures or stress.  Because of the way dogs regulate their body temperatures, difficulty breathing can lead to difficulty keeping cool in the summer heat, which in turn can lead to heat stroke.

goofy pug on grass

Adorable, yes. But not always so great at breathing.

If you have a breed of pet which falls into this category, flying her during the summer months is not the safest idea. However, if doing so is your only option, be sure to call your airline directly to ask about their summer pet policies.

City Restrictions

Though summer means warm weather most places, some parts of the world are downright HOT during the summer months. Some airlines will avoid flying pets to cities which experience extreme temperatures, or will only allow pets to fly in at certain times of day.

dubai forecast

Dubai forecast via Google/The Weather Channel

For example, Phoenix (PHX) airport will only accept pets being flown in before 9 am or after 9 pm. Palm Springs (PSP) airport won’t accept any pets during summer months, and Dubai (DXB) has year-round restrictions on brachycephalic breeds. If you are planning on flying to (or through) a city with especially hot temperatures, make sure that they will be accepting pets during the summer months.

Crate Space

If you do decide to fly with your pet this summer, one of the most important steps you can take as a pet owner is to make sure that your pet’s crate is the correct size. Pets keep cool by panting, so you want to make sure that your pet has plenty of room for proper ventilation in her crate.

petmate sky kennel

Sky Kennel via petmate.com

Check out PetRelocation’s guide to picking the right size crate to make sure that your furry friend has plenty of room in her crate. If you’re flying with a snub-nosed breed, you’ll need to use those measurements to determine her crate size, then get one size bigger to make sure that your pug-nosed pooch can get all the air she needs during travel.

frenchie in crate

Buford the Frenchie demonstrates a crate with plenty of room.

These are just a few of the summer pet travel precautions you should take when flying your pet. For more comprehensive pet air travel tips, be sure to read over our Air Travel Checklist.

Have any questions about summer pet air travel? Have any advice of your own? Submit a question or leave a comment below.


Pet Travel Debate: Road Trip or Flight?

Thursday, July 11, 2013 by

chocolate labs travel debate

Boys, let’s not fight.

There’s a lot of planning that goes into traveling with pets. Perhaps the first consideration to make (after deciding to take your pet with you) is how you will be traveling to your destination. Some trips necessitate a specific mode of travel—for example, if you will be traveling overseas you know that you will not be able to drive—but others, such as domestic trips within a country, can be taken by either plane or car.

Which mode of travel is right for you and your pet? We’ve made lists of pros and cons for each option to help you decide whether you will be flying or driving with your pet on your next trip.


Hit the Road

The Skinny:

Travel by car is the most popular mode of transportation in the United States. In fact, a recent survey by the US Department of Transportation shows that 9 out of 10 long-distance summer trips are taken in a car. Because of extensive highway systems in most developed nations, travel by car is an option even for trips that span thousands of miles. Depending on the pet owner and the size and preferences of the pet, pets who travel by car will ride in either the back (or front) seat of a car, or in a crate in the enclosed cargo area of a larger vehicle. Check out our tips on pet road travel if you decide a trip by car best meets your needs.

giant dog in car window

Dog in car via Wikimedia


  • Often cheaper than flying with a pet, especially when traveling shorter distances
  • Gives you more control over your pet’s care and safety, as you remain with your pet through the entire journey
  • No baggage limits—you can bring everything your pet (and you!) will need for your trip without worrying about any weight or size limits
  • Less regulations—flying with a pet requires adherence to airline rules and standards, whereas driving is much less regulated
  • Can be less stressful for pets with separation anxiety


  • Road trips often last much longer than plane rides, often several days if the distance being traveled is far
  • Requires planned stops, including booking overnight stays at pet-friendly hotels which might charge extra fees for bringing pets
  • You will need to respond to all of your pet’s needs on the road, including potty breaks, travel anxiety, and potential carsickness
  • Many pets only ever ride in cars for unpleasant reasons, such as traveling to the vet, and have built up negative associations with car rides which can lead to travel anxiety
  • If not properly restrained, pets can be a distraction or even a hazard in a moving vehicle


Book a Flight

The Skinny:

Travel by airplane is a popular mode of transportation for those traveling longer distances, especially trips over 1000 miles. While not all towns have their own airports, air travel can take you to most places you’d want to go. Due to size restrictions, the majority of pets traveling by plane will ride as cargo or excess baggage, with only the smallest of pets being allowed to ride in-cabin with their owners. Different airlines have different regulations regarding pet travel, and some are considered more pet-friendly than others. If you decide air travel is right for your needs, be sure to check out our air travel checklist.

cat on plane

Kitty, get down from there. That’s not how pets travel on planes.


  • Much quicker than a road trip—even the longest international plane rides last less than a day, and most domestic flights last only a few hours. This means that time spent traveling is minimized, which can be good for pets with travel anxiety
  • Statistically, air travel is safer than riding in a car
  • More convenient—it’s much less work to be a passenger than it is to be a driver
  • Might be the only option, if traveling overseas
  • Pets are handled by trained professionals in a controlled environment—you may love your pet, but that doesn’t mean you are necessarily the most qualified pet transporter


  • Often more expensive than traveling by car
  • Requires an airline-approved travel crate and a crate-trained pet
  • Lots of regulations and paperwork required (especially for international travel), so you will need to prepare in advance
  • Some pets (such as very young, very old, or sick pets) may not be capable of safely traveling by plane, and snub-nosed breeds are only able to fly during certain months of the year
  • Can be difficult for pets with separation anxiety or those who have not been crate-trained


What is your preferred method of traveling with your pet? Do you have any stories about driving or flying with your pet? Let us know in the comments below!