Is it Safe for Puppies to Fly  in the Cargo Hold of a Plane?

Is it Safe for Puppies to Fly in the Cargo Hold of a Plane?

Posted by Kimberly Lee on Jan 1st 2022

Can a puppy fly air cargo?

Yes! A puppy can fly safely in the cargo hold of the plane. Here at Woodlot we often get asked by our buyers how their new puppy will get to their forever home- especially if that forever home is on the other side of the United States. Although there are a number of different ways to safely transport a puppy, we will discuss the myths, the fears, as well as the facts on flying puppies in the live animal cargo hold of an airplane.

What is a puppy transportation broker?

We have been flying puppies for years and employ the use of an excellent and reputable live animal transportation broker. Flying a puppy can be tough for obvious reasons, but having a qualified broker handling all of the details of flights, FAA regulations, as well as protocols for each airline is the best possible service we can provide our clients and their puppies.

Did you know that puppies are only able to fly on certain planes and have stringent standards for their transportation carrier and health clearances? A transportation broker manages all of the protocols for making sure the puppy is safe and clears all of the regulations prior to travel, as well as takes care of all of the paperwork, reservations, and flight restrictions that come due to weather changes. Trust us- it’s a LOT of detailed work managing all of the logistics!

Working with our puppy transportation broker not only gives us the peace of mind working through a daunting and detailed process, but his 15 successful years in business also reassures us that the puppies will arrive safely to their forever families.

Is flying a puppy in air cargo safe?

Although transportation of any animal poses its risks no matter what mode of transportation you prefer, we have found that flying our puppies has proven to be an excellent way to quickly get our dogs into your homes with less travel time and therefore less trauma during transport.

Over 2 million dogs fly every year with little to no reports of accidents or even death.

The FAA and USDA have set up regulations and procedures for transporting dogs. Both are extensive and also dovetail into the airline protocols for handling live animals. A vet check and health certification are required to transport dogs as well- so they must be professionally cleared that they are safe for travel.

What is the best airline for puppy transportation?

We personally don’t have a preference but we know our puppy broker usually flies with American Airlines. He will occasionally use United or Alaska airlines as needed, but so far has had the most success transporting our Woodlot Companion puppies through American. If you prefer to fly with your puppy in-cabin, American Airlines also has the youngest age of travel in cabin which is 8 weeks of age. For a complete guide on what traveling in-cabin looks like for you and your puppy, please see read here.

What happens to a puppy when it flies air cargo?

After a puppy has been vet checked and cleared for travel, it is picked up from our kennel. The puppy is then transported to the airport for check-in at the cargo counter which is in a different building that the main passenger check in. After safety checks of the travel carrier by a cargo agent and paperwork is completed, the puppy is loaded onto an airport luggage truck with draped sides to protect them from the elements but also help keep them calm as they travel across the tarmac to their plane.

Once at the plane, the cargo hold for live animals or specialty transport is in a different section of the aircraft than the rest of the main passenger luggage. Because the FAA has put in regulations for safe flying temperatures, the cargo hold is actually temperature controlled to ensure that your puppy is going to be flying at a comfortable temperature and is typically at the front of the plane under the first-class cabin.

There are specially trained agents that handle the live animals and work as a team to load and unload dogs safely on and off the conveyer belt. Unless your puppy is flying somewhere less populated, it is unlikely that he or she will be flying alone! Many of the smaller planes that fly into those rural areas do not have appropriately sized cargo holds anyway.

If a puppy has a layover and it’s in need of food and water, an airline agent will administer small amounts of food and water to get them safely to their destination.

Will my puppy be ok during a flight in air cargo?

During the actual flight, it is highly likely that your puppy is sleeping. When it’s bedtime here at the Woodlot Companions Kennel, it’s lights out! Because of or rural location the kennel is extra dark at night. Your puppy will experience the same thing on the flight in the cargo hold. The unlit cargo environment will trigger sleep and they will use their natural mental defense to curl up at the end of the crate and sleep their stresses away. A loud hum coming from the engines and aircraft systems create white noise that also helps the puppies sleep. The most stressful parts of their trip is the takeoff and landing, but for many of us the bumps, sounds, changes in inertia, and funky unfamiliar smells stress us humans out too!

Once your puppy has arrived at it’s final destination, it will be transported to the cargo counter of the airport. Some airports have a cargo pickup in the actual passenger terminal, while other airports will require you to travel to a separate terminal to get your new furry friend. Please check with your local airport as well as the airline to confirm the cargo counter’s location prior to pickup.

What do I do when I pick up my puppy from the airport?

We have heard owners report back that puppies were stressed, shy, or incredibly happy when they first met their forever family at the airport. There is no way for us to predict how your puppy will react, but keeping your own stress levels to a minimum or keeping your excitement at bay is the best interaction you can offer your dog. The ideal way to greet your new furry family member is to convey love and assurance but in a neutral, less overwhelming way.

The travel carrier they arrive in is yours to keep but we recommend bringing extra old towels to lay inside in case they have had an accident during travel while they take their final leg of their journey in your car to their forever home. Please find a place for your puppy to potty as soon as possible. For more information on the first 48 hours of bringing your puppy home, please see our guide here.