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Temperature restrictions for flying pets: Airline embargoes explained

International pet transport is a complex multi-step process, and every part of the planning process must to be carefully navigated to ensure a successful and stress-free journey for your pet. One of the most overlooked aspects of pet travel is checking for airline embargoes.

Airlines generally do not fly pets in extremely hot and cold weather conditions. These temperature restrictions are in place to protect your pets from extreme weather conditions. When you are planning your pet’s relocation, it is important to factor airline embargoes in your travel plan.

Why do temperatures matter in pet travel?

Temperature restrictions during hot and cold seasons are essential; they are in place to protect your pet against extreme temperatures. When your pet dog or cat travels to a different country, they are housed in a pressurised and temperature-controlled section of the cargo hold of the aeroplane. Extreme temperature concerns only arise whilst your pet is in the animal holding area or out on the tarmac during loading and unloading.

When your pet is moved from the terminal to the aircraft or from the aircraft to the terminal, he or she is exposed to temperatures that can be too hot or too cold. During the hot summer months, the temperature in several countries can go up to more than 40 degrees Celsius. In such conditions, waiting on the hot tarmac to be loaded into the aircraft can be very dangerous for your pet.

Many airlines do not always have temperature-controlled holding areas for pets. This, in turn, increases the risk of heat exposure. Unforeseen situations such as flight delays and technical problems could mean your pet spends prolonged periods of time waiting to board, putting him or her at more risk.

Similarly, during winter, when the temperatures dip to low levels, your pet is exposed to freezing temperatures for short periods before boarding and after disembarking. Some dog and cat breeds such as Huskies, Malamutes, Persian cats and Maine Coon cats can innately withstand cold temperatures. However, small and less hairy breeds such as Chihuahuas and Pugs are highly vulnerable to extreme cold.

Brachycephalic breeds

Brachycephalic or snub-nosed dog and cat breeds are especially vulnerable during the hot summer months, and many airlines refuse to board these breeds during summer. Extreme temperatures are known to cause severe respiratory distress in snub-nosed breeds such as Pugs, Shar Peis, Boxers, Burmese cats, Himalayan cats, etc. If you are planning to travel with a snub-nosed, flight embargoes should be an essential aspect of your travel schedule.

What are airline embargoes?

Simply put, airlines will not fly your pet when the outside temperature is above or below acceptable safety levels. These levels vary according to the policies of each airline. Hot weather embargoes generally occur when the ground temperature at the place of origin and the destination is higher than 29 °C. When the temperature falls below 7 °C in the arrival or the departure destinations, cold weather embargoes apply, and your pet will not be allowed to board the aircraft.

Some airlines allow breeds that are naturally immune to the cold to board the aircraft if an Acclimatisation Certificate endorsed by an authorised vet accompanies your pet. However, if the temperature is below -6 °C in the city of origin or the destination city, pets will not be allowed to board even with the Acclimatisation Certificate.

What is the alternative to airline embargoes?

An accredited pet relocation agency can help you with the best travel routes and airlines to fly with and help schedule your pet’s flight with care. Here are some alternatives when you are faced with temperature restrictions while travelling with your pet.

  • Choose a different season: If you have the option of choosing your travel date, it is a good idea to select a season that is neither too hot nor too cold. Not all cities are prone to extreme temperatures and if you know that you will be travelling to a city known for its hot or cold weather, try flying in the Spring or Autumn to avoid airline embargoes.
  • Use a pet-friendly airline: A pet-friendly airline is your best pet transport partner; they have processes in place to ensure the safety of your pet. They will ensure your pet is boarded and disembarked on priority and make it a point to limit the time your pet spends exposed to the elements. A pet-friendly airline is also most likely to have strictly-enforced temperature restrictions.
  • Schedule the best flights: If you cannot change your destination and the days of travel, your next best solution would be to travel during the mildest times of the day. Book your pet on early morning or late evening flights in the summer and midday flights in winter to avoid harsh weather. Before booking your pet’s flight, compare weather forecasts for days before the trip to get an understanding of the best time to schedule the flight. Schedule the shortest flight possible, with the least number of stops and layovers. If you are flying to a destination with no direct flights, make sure the airport that your pet is transiting through has temperature-controlled pet transit areas.
  • Get the right crate and crate-train your pet: Flying your pet in a correct-sized pet travel crate is very important at all times, but takes on special significance during extreme weather conditions, especially during warm weather. Your pet must be able to stand, turn around and lay down comfortably in the pet travel crate. Begin crate training your pet as early as possible so your pet is acclimatised to the crate. Make sure the crate is IATA compliant and is well ventilated. Ventilation holes on three sides of the carrier allow for better flow of air, keeping your pet happy and comfortable.
  • Get professional help: Since airline temperature restrictions are based on weather conditions, it is not easy to predict when weather embargoes go into effect. Different airlines have different weather restrictions, and even the best-laid plans can sometimes get derailed because of airline embargoes. An accredited pet transport agency can help when you face change in flight plans, last-minute rescheduling and cancellation.

Need assistance with international pet transport?

If you are planning to travel with your pet, it is recommended to take the help of an experienced pet travel agency. At Petraveller, we can help transport your favourite pet pal safely and compassionately from Australia to anywhere in the world. Reach out to us at Petraveller for a detailed pet travel itinerary and advice on international pet relocation.