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Posted on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 10:12 a.m.

American Airlines no longer allowing snub-nosed pets to travel as cargo

By Lorrie Shaw


flickr photo courtesy of altemark

Airline travel has become an ever more popular mode of travel for a lot of us, and many travelers are taking along their pets. In many instances, small animals, like dogs, cats and small birds are allowed to travel inside the cabin of the plane as carry-on baggage. But for those that are too large, they must travel in the cargo area of the aircraft, and that can prove to be a daunting task to manage, especially where heat and extreme cold are concerned.

With flights traveling cross-country to warmer climes or in the summer months when much of the Northern Hemisphere at times experiences high temperatures, this poses a special challenge. Considering the number of flights where pets are traveling in the cargo area, the airlines do a pretty good job of keeping pets comfortable.

Reports of pet deaths this past summer brought a lot of public focus to the issue.

An article
 in the September issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association detailed findings from airline reports filed with of the Department of Transportation since 2005 regarding pets on incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of pets during transport as cargo. 

 dog breeds, such as Pugs, Japanese Chins, French and English Bulldogs were found to comprise about half of all dogs — 122 canines — that died on United States airlines.

The airlines additionally reported as the deaths of 22 other pets and 88 instances involving injuries to pets or loss of pets.

American Airlines announced that they will not accept snub-nosed pets, including Boxers, Pekingese, Boston Terriers as checked luggage. Brachycephalic cats (Himalayan, Persian, Burmese and Exotic Shorthair) are included. Read the policy here.

Other airlines currently have restrictions and policies in place to safeguard the well-being of pets traveling in the cargo area of an aircraft.

As always, you should always talk to your veterinarian about the prospect of air travel with your pets to ensure that they are healthy enough. For more tips, click here.

Lorrie Shaw is owner of Professional Pet Sitting, and a regular contributor to's pet section. She wrote the popular piece "The bucket list for pets: What does your dog want to do before he dies?" Reach her via email.


John Spieser

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

I will add that flying a dog can cause permanent emotional damage to the dog. I have known dogs who never recovered from the trauma of just one flight. There are preperatory measures that you can take to alleviate the "bizzare-ness" of flying for your dog. Anyone thinking about flying a dog (especially in a cargo hold) should plan ahead and take all precautions !

Lorrie Shaw

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

I concur, John. In some cases, flying might be the best option for some folks, especially for a cross-country move or something along those lines. Good dialogue with your vet is a good idea. There are pet-friendly airlines who fly pets in the cabin, with attendants checking in on them every few minutes.


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

seriously , i wonder what the rationale is for the restrictions ( its not clear from the actual text of the guidelines). i suspect it may be that short faced breeds of dogs and cats may evince more respiratory distress with cabin pressure changes ( although they'd have even more in a cargo hold!) and the airline wants to protect other passengers from listening to the snuffling ......(although alot of human passengers do alot worse!). out of sight out of mind?? ( and snuffle-hearing range??)


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

It's because snub-nosed dogs have a hard time in hot weather and humidity. Their lack of a proper snout shortens their respiratory system; there's not enough space for hot air to travel down the pipes to cool off before it gets to their lungs. Cargo holds get really, really hot, causing snub-nosed dogs to die of heat stroke.

Lorrie Shaw

Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 10:49 p.m.

Bedrog: There are resources for pet-friendly flights here: <a href=""></a>


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

this is outrageous discrimination !!! signed, muffin ( a2 chapter president of &quot;sndbc *liberation front&quot;) ( that's 'snub nose dog, brachycephalic cats ' to you 'breedists'. p.s anyone know where we can find a crew who'll carry signs in all weathers ?