Flying with Cats on Delta

Delta plane taxiing outside terminal

Flying with cats on Delta might sound like a headache but armed with the right information and a little bit of planning, it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.

ALWAYS double-check Delta’s pet policy before you book and before you fly as information can change quickly.

We’ll add some helpful links at the bottom of the post.


Taking Your Cat on Delta



Can I Fly with a Cat on Delta?
Yes. Cats can fly in the cabin (not on all routes, however) or they can fly as cargo.

Can’t I just check my cat in as baggage?
No, not anymore. 

Can I fly Anywhere in the Delta Network with my Cat?
Delta no longer allows cats to travel on flights where the journey time is more than 12-hours.

Not all destinations allow cats to travel inside the cabin.  In these cases, the pet has to travel as cargo.

Some countries have very strict regulations on animals.  The UK, for example.  It’s recommended that you thoroughly research any health certifications, vaccinations and veterinary appointments before traveling.  Different countries have different entry requirements.

You can’t fly a cat into the US from Egypt at the moment.

There are temperature restrictions for traveling with pets as cargo. This might have an impact on how easy it is to travel to and from places with very high or very low temperatures.

People sitting in airport departure lounge

What’s the difference between carry-on, checked, and cargo?
Carry-on means you can take the cat inside the cabin with you.  The cat becomes your “carry-on” baggage.  Your pet will travel under the seat in front of you and must remain inside the carrier at all times.  You’ll have to pay an additional fee for bringing them on board and you pay this at check-in (although, you can’t just turn up with a cat. Delta has to approve your booking in advance). 

Cats can no longer travel as checked-baggage on Delta flights.  Other airlines do allow this.  It means that your pet flies on the same flight as you but in a temperature and pressure-controlled section of the aircraft’s hold.

Cargo means that the animal will be shipped in an aircraft’s hold as manifest cargo.  An owner won’t be on the flight with them.


How old does a cat have to be?
Flying domestically in the US, the cats must be a minimum of 10 weeks old.  It’s 15 weeks old for flying into the EU and 16 for flying into the US.

Are there any breed restrictions?
Snub-nosed breeds are not allowed to fly as cargo. 

There’s concern that the animals could have breathing difficulties during the flight.

The following cats cannot travel as cargo with Delta:

British Shorthair
Burmese
Exotic Shorthair
Himalayan
Persian
Scottish Fold

It says brachycephalic cats can’t fly in cargo but what does it mean?
See above. Brachycephalic cats are snub-nosed breeds and are prone to breathing difficulties and heatstroke.

How many cats does Delta allow in the cabin?

Domestic first-class – 2 cats

International first-class – 0 cats

Main cabin for either domestic of international – 4 cats

Cats are accommodated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Do I need a health certificate?
If your cat is flying with Delta as cargo, it needs a health certificate issued no more than 10 days before the flight in order to prove it’s fit to fly. Some countries have additional regulations where owners must prove the animal is healthy and isn’t carrying any diseases.  Check with the airline but also double-check with the embassy of the country you’re flying into.

What paperwork do I need?
Delta doesn’t require paperwork if your cat is flying in the cabin as a carry-on BUT the state you’re flying into might.

You’ll need a health certificate if your cat is flying in cargo.  Delta does accept digitally signed certificates from a number of trusted agencies (GlobalVetLINK, AgView, Vet Sentry, New Planet Technologies and Washington State) but otherwise, the certificate should be original and in English.  In the US, if the return journey is in fewer than 10 days then you can use the same certificate again.  Otherwise, you’ll need to complete a new one.

These requirements are liable for change so always double-check with the airline before you fly.

Airport departure checkin
Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

Where do I check my animal in?
If you’re flying with your cat on Delta, then you check-in as normal at the desk with your pet.  If you’re flying cargo, then you’ll need to take your cat to the cargo building at the airport.

Does Delta have a good reputation for flying cats?
4-animals died flying with Delta on flights in 2018.

Delta cut the number of pets dying on its flights by restricting travel to only inside the cabin and as cargo.  It’s always better to try and put the animal in the cabin.  Delta has invested in better staff training, introduced new restrictions and by banning snub-nose breeds reduced the number of feline fatalities.


Flying with Cats as Carry-on?

How much does it cost?
Domestically from the US including Puerto Rica and Canada – $125 each way.

Internationally or to/from US Virgin Islands is $200/ 200 euros.

Brazil is $75

What dimensions must the cat carrier be?
The carrier must be able to fit underneath the seat in front of you.  Carriers should be no larger than  21″ x 15″ x 16″ (53 cm x 38 cm x 40 cm).

Can you give me some examples?
Sure! You can find some great carry-on carriers on Amazon



Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe

Pet Magasin Luxury Soft-Sided Cat Carrier

Mr Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

PETS GO2 Pet Carrier for Dogs & Cats

Does it need to fit under the seat in front of me?
Yes.

Can I open the carrier and let the cat out?
No.

Do I need to tell people sitting around me that I have a cat with me in case they have an allergy?
Not really, but it might be a considerate thing to do if you suspect they might have an allergy. 

How do I book a plane ticket for my cat?
Give Delta a call on Call Delta in advance at 800-221-1212

 


Will Delta let me fly with my emotional support animal in the cabin?
Delta will let you fly with an emotional support animal but due to a number of incidents it has tightened up the regulations. 

You’ll have to make sure the animal is vaccinated against rabies. Keep a vaccination record with you, too, in case someone asks to see it.  The animal must be able to sit on your lap or under the seat in front and it cannot be bigger than the seats “footprint”.  You’ll need to prove evidence that you require the animal for emotional assistance, too. 

You can find more information about this on the Delta website:

What happens if my cat has to travel in the hold?
On Delta you may have to ship your cat by cargo.  This means it will be put in the hold of the aircraft for the duration of the flight. If you’re flying internationally, you’ll have to arrange all of this through an IPATA agent.

Domestically, you can only book your cat as cargo within 14 days of departure.

How Do I Find an IPATA agent?
You can find out more on the IPATA website.

Is traveling in the hold safe?
There’s always going to be a risk, so it’s definitely preferable, where possible, to keep your cat with you in the aircraft’s cabin.  Delta has introduced restrictions on the transport of warm blooded animals in order to reduce the number of fatalities.  For example, cats won’t be accepted on flights longer than 12 hours.  Cats won’t be able to fly if the forcasted weather either at the origin, transit or destination airport is less than 10 degrees (-12 degrees C) or above 80 degrees (2 degrees C).  This has helped and so has the ban on snub-nosed breeds traveling as cargo. As an owner, it’s important to be honest and certain that your cat is fit to fly. Some deaths have been attributed to owner negligence which is entirely avoidable.

According to the Smithsonian, in the US 2 million animals travel on commercial flights each year.  In 2012, 29 pets died with 26 being injured and 1 being lost. That’s no consolation for the poor owners of those animals but many others see it as a relatively small risk to take.

What cat carrier should I use for cargo?
It’ll need to be IATA compliant.

The cat should be able to stand up, lie down and turn around comfortably inside.

It has to be a hard carrier (made from metal, flexiglass etc)

The bottom should be leakproof

There should be a spring-loaded locking mechanism that’s secure.

Just be careful of manufactures that say “guaranteed to be accepted”. IATA compliancy is one thing but some airlines have different requirements to others.  The best thing to do is contact whoever your flying with and check.

Can you give me an example of a good carrier?
Sure. There are some great ones on Amazon


The Best Hard Carrier for the Hold: Petmate Sky Kennel

Do I check-in my cat at the ticket desk?
No, you’ll need to drop the cat off a minimum of three hours before the flight is due to leave at a Delta Cargo building.

What’s the phone number for delta pet cargo?
800-221-1212

How can I keep my cat calm on a plane ride?
The work starts before you board the plane with your cat.  Getting an animal used to its carrier is the key to traveling well with a pet.  Weeks before you travel start putting the carrier in a public area of the home.  Add comfortable bedding and toys or even snacks and let the cat explore.  You want them to add their smell to the box so that they recognise it as a safe space when its time to travel.  You can spray synthetic pheromone sprays like Feliway, too. This is good for calming cats down and is worth taking with you to the airport.  Avoid sedating your cat because it can be dangerous. Try to tire your cat out before it’s time to go: lots of playing, jumping around and exercise will hopefully encourage them to sleep on the journey.  Some people take their cats in a carrier on a bus or train to get them used to the sights and smells of an airport.

We hope you’ve found the information about flying with cats on Delta helpful.  Always double-check with the airline about restrictions and regulations.  These things can change quickly, and the information we have may not have been updated yet.

We’ll include links below to resources that you should find useful 😊

Delta’s Pet Policy

Delta: Shipping Your Pet

Delta International Flights & Connections

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