Why Pet Air Cargo Transportation Is So Uncertain: Explaining Airline Heat Embargos

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated April 19, 2024

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Airplane on tarmac during sunset with ground crew loading cargo, symbolizing an article on airline cargo heat embargoes affecting pet transportation.

When you’d like to transport a pet, the first option many people think about is air travel. After all, it’s the fastest way to travel long distances. And if you have a small enough dog or a cat, they can fly in a carrier underneath the seat.

But what about large dogs? Unfortunately you’ll have no choice but put it in the cargo hold. Some airlines allow this — most don’t. However, there is an important caveat to flying dogs in the cargo hold that adds a great deal of uncertainty — the airline heat embargo.

What Are Airline Heat Embargos?

Airline heat embargos restriction that airlines place on pet travel due to the ambient temperature both at the departure and arrival airport.

  • While we’re calling it a heat embargo, pet flight can also be restricted if the weather is too cold.
  • If temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, airlines have the responsibility and the duty to restrict travel.
  • In cooler months, if the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit then pets are barred from the cargo area.

Why? Extreme temperatures can make pets’ existing health issues even worse — and even healthy pets can experience issues when too hot or cold.

What Airlines Enforce Heat Embargos for Pets?

There are a few domestic airlines that allow pets to be in the cargo hold. Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines. All three airlines enforce heat embargos.

  • Both Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines will accept pets in cargo if the temperatures are between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Delta Airlines won’t allow pets in the cargo area if the temperature is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is between 20 degrees and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need a Certificate of Acclimation.
  • American Airlines has a strict policy that they will not accept pets in the cargo hold if the weather is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why is Pet Ground Transport Safer, More Reliable and More Humane than Air Cargo Travel?

Pet ground transport is safer, more reliable, and more humane than air cargo travel. Why? Let’s take a look at the reasons.

Why Ground Transport is Safer

  • There is always a transporter there with them at all times.
  • Transporters can address health issues and take care of your pet during travel.
  • CitizenShipper offers a variety of pet protection plans for added peace of mind.

Why Ground Transport is More Reliable

  • There are no heat embargos for ground transportation.
  • Flights can get canceled at any time.
  • Ground transportation logistics are easier and can offer door-to-door delivery.

Why Ground Transport is More Humane

  • Flying can stress a pet, whereas transporters can comfort your pet if they are stressed.
  • Transporters are animal lovers that will treat your pet like their own.
  • You wouldn’t put your children in the cargo area of plane — don’t do this with your pets!

CitizenShipper is the #1 Marketplace for Finding Pet Ground Transportation

CitizenShipper is the most humane, safest way to transport your pet. Why? Because transporters using the platform have years of experience relocating pets around the country. They’re animal lovers, which means they’ll take the time to ensure you and your pet are comfortable during the journey.

Plus, it’s extremely easy to use CitizenShipper. Simply fill out a listing for pet transportation and you’ll receive quotes within minutes.