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International airlines each have their own specific policies for carrying pets to international destinations, and travellers should learn those policies as well as the destination country's regulations concerning animals entering the country. Many major airlines, such as those detailed here, allow you to bring a small pet into the cabin and try to make the hold as comfortable as possible for pets that have to travel as cargo.
Continental permits small pets to travel with you in the cabin in lieu of a carry-on bag. Your pet's carrier must be able to fit completely underneath your seat, and an additional service charge applies. Service animals are welcome within the cabin or as checked baggage. Continental customers transporting their pet but not travelling with it can track the flight's progress on Continental's website, and OnePass members earn one mile for every dollar they spend transporting their pet.
Delta requires pet owners to present their pet's Veterinary Certificate for travel to EU countries before the pet may board. Parts one through four of the certificate must be completed before the flight, and the process takes about 30 days to complete. Delta permits passengers on EU flights to bring small pets on board as carry-on luggage, but pets travelling to South Africa or Australia must travel in the hold. Delta charges pet owners any additional fees assessed for clearance of customs, handling the animal or for temporary kennel boarding.
El Al permits small pets weighing less than eight kg. to travel in the cabin as carry-on luggage for most flights. The pet's carrier must fit under the seat, and passengers may not hold the carrier on their lap during take-off and landing. El Al requires that pets travel in the cargo hold on flights to London, Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa. All pets must have valid health and vaccination documentation and an entry permit from the destination country.
Pets on all Virgin flights must travel in the cargo hold, which flight personnel maintain to keep the temperature and pressurisation as comfortable as possible for their animal travellers. Virgin doesn't allow sedated pets on flights due to the health risk posed to the animal. Pets must be checked in four hours before departure for document processing and approval, and their owners are responsible for fees incurred from transport to the destination airport's Animal Reception Center, customs clearance and ground handling.
- United States Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: Animal Welfare
- Continental Airlines: Traveling With Animals
- Delta: U.S. Domestic & International Pet Travel
- El Al: Flying Pets With El Al
- Virgin Atlantic: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Pet Travel From the USA
- Pet Friendly Travel: Pet Air Travel & Airline Pet Travel Policies
- Bernhard Lang/Photodisc/Getty Images