Flying with Your Dog on Delta Airlines

Published: 11/25/2020

Flying with a dog can be a confusing ordeal, with fees, vaccinations, and crate restrictions to consider. Each airline has different rules and regulations on flying, making it even more complicated for pet parents to know if they've done everything they need to. Here's everything you need to know about flying with your dog on Delta Airlines.

Domestic Travel

Domestic travel is the most common way dogs fly in the U.S. Due to most U.S. states having the same regulations and laws on transporting pets, it tends to be easier than traveling internationally. While domestic travel may be more straightforward, this doesn't mean it's a walk in the dog park, and there's still plenty to know before flying with your dog on Delta Airlines.

In-cabin travel

Crate Requirements

If your dog is small enough to fit under a plane seat, you may be able to take them in-cabin on your next domestic flight. Delta doesn't specify crate dimensions; however, your pooch must be able to move around comfortably without touching the sides of the crate. Specific crate dimensions do apply to some planes, so contact Delta before booking. 

The crate must fit under the seat in front of you and consist of waterproof material. It'll also need to be ventilated on at least three sides. The kennel counts as one carry-on bag, so you'll be permitted one extra piece of hand luggage. You're limited to one dog per kennel unless your dog has an unweaned litter over 10 weeks old.

Many seats are not suitable for stowing a pet. These seats include exit rows and areas designated "no stowage". Check with Delta to make sure your booked seat is suitable for traveling with a dog.

Health Requirements and Documentation

Dogs flying on Delta need to be at least 10 weeks old. While your dog should be happy and healthy before boarding a plane, it's unclear if Delta requires a health certificate. You'll need to contact Delta before your flight regardless to book your dog’s flight, so it's worth double-checking whether a health certificate is required.

Most health certificates need to be dated by your vet within 10 days of departure. If you’re unsure or worried about how your dog will handle flying, play it safe and take them to the vet for a check-up. If you want to check something quickly but don't think it's worth seeing your normal vet, contact a veterinarian through Wag!. 

You may be unable to fly if you have sedated your dog before departure. Sedation at high altitudes can cause serious illness in dogs and is prohibited without veterinary approval.

Booking Procedures and Pet Fees

Delta is relatively transparent about the fees you'll need to pay to fly with your dog. If you’re traveling with a pet to anywhere in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, it'll cost $125 per flight. Flights to the U.S. Virgin Islands are more expensive at $200 per flight. If you're looking to book your dog onto a flight, call Delta reservations.

While in the airport lounge, boarding area, and on the plane, your canine must remain securely inside their crate at all times. To get through security and board the flight without any issues, arrive at the airport a few hours early.

Exemptions and Other Considerations

Each flight is limited to a maximum of 4 kennels in the main cabin and 2 in first-class. Delta operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so contact the airline well in advance to book your dog onto your flight so you don't miss out. It's unclear if there are temperature restrictions on in-cabin domestic travel, so check this with Delta.

Despite being a part of the U.S., Hawaii has different regulations for traveling with a pet. Before flying, your dog must have a valid health certificate and proof of up-to-date rabies vaccinations. Also, you can only fly into Honolulu as it's the only Hawaiian city with quarantine facilities. 

Upon arrival, your dog may be quarantined for either 30 or 120 days, depending on whether certain criteria are met. Passengers flying with their dog on Delta to Hawaii should contact the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture

Delta Cargo

If your pooch is too large to travel in-cabin, they may be required to travel in the hold as cargo. Delta Cargo operates a shipping service similar to many airlines, which tends to be slightly more complicated and involved than transporting a dog as hand luggage. 

Crate Requirements

When transporting your dog with Delta Cargo, the kennel must meet United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations. The IATA publishes minimum standards, which can be found on their website. You can buy an approved kennel from most pet retailers. The door to the crate should be made of sturdy metal with a nut-and-bolt locking system.

Your chosen kennel should be in good condition and be ventilated on three sides. There should be enough space in the kennel for your dog to:

  • sit down

  • lie down

  • turn around

  • stand up

While standing or sitting, no part of your dog (including their ears) should be touching the roof of the crate.

Inside the kennel, you'll need to secure separate bowls for food and water. The containers must also be accessible from outside the kennel without having to open the door. You shouldn't place any toys or bones loose within the kennel, as they may shift during transit. If feeding is required during the flight, leave food and instructions attached to the kennel. 

Delta Cargo also has a list of other criteria to ship a dog successfully. Please check the full list of requirements on the Delta Cargo website

Health Requirements and Documentation

When flying with a dog on Delta Cargo, you’ll need to provide several documents and follow a long list of rules. Your dog must have a health certificate from their vet within 10 days of departure. The certificate must include:

  • Your name and address 

  • Your dog's tag number

  • Vaccination records (if needed)

  • Statement of health

  • Date and signature from your veterinarian

There are no age restrictions for dogs flying with Delta, but you should discuss with your vet whether it's safe to travel with an elderly canine. Delta Cargo prohibits certain breeds, mainly brachycephalic dogs such as Bulldogs and Shih Tzus. A full list of prohibited breeds is available on Delta Cargo's website.

You'll also need to confirm with Delta Cargo that you've given your dog food and water within the last 4 hours. If your dog has been sedated, they will be unable to fly without written consent from your veterinarian. 

Booking Procedures and Pet Fees

To ship your dog, you'll need to contact Delta Cargo and book a separate flight. Your dog's booking cannot be made until 14 days before departure. Delta Cargo may ship your dog on the same flight or a separate one. 

At least 3 hours before your dog's flight, you'll need to drop them off at a Delta Cargo facility. You'll also need to pick your dog up the same way. Delta will notify you of the pick-up location. 

The price of shipping your dog with Delta Cargo varies depending on the size of the kennel, as well as your final destination. Contact Delta Cargo's customer service department for more details. 

Exemptions and Other Considerations

Before you leave for the airport, check the weather forecast across your itinerary. As is the case with most airlines, Delta will not permit your dog to fly if the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit during your trip. If you’re traveling to a destination with temperatures between 20 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll need a statement from your vet confirming your dog is acclimated to extreme temperatures. 

If you are military personnel and a U.S. State Department foreign service officer, you may be able to check your dog as baggage rather than as cargo. You will still have to bring the correct documentation, follow the rules and regulations for international and domestic travel, and pay the standard fees.

Service and Emotional Support Dogs

Service dogs can travel for free and are exempt from crate restrictions. They must stay by the passenger's feet or on their lap during the flight. Service dogs are limited to one per person. Unfortunately, Pit Bulls are not allowed on flights, even as service dogs. 

As service dogs aren't confined to a kennel, you're required to bring along a vet's health certificate from the late 10 days, as well as proof of vaccinations, including against rabies. 

If you have a psychiatric service dog or an emotional support animal, you're required to fill out several forms. These forms include information from your mental health professional and your dog's veterinarian. You'll need to complete these forms and return them to Delta at least 48 hours before flying. 

International Travel

Shipping a dog internationally is the most confusing and expensive method of flying with a dog through Delta, as each country has different laws. Delta no longer ships dogs on flights, international or domestic, that are longer than 12 hours.

Delta provides pricing guidelines for traveling with a dog internationally as a carry-on. For flights to Europe and Canada, the cost is around $200, while it's $75 to Brazil. However, there are restrictions on flying internationally in-cabin to a number of popular destinations, including the U.K., Australia, and the U.A.E. 

When shipping a pet abroad, Delta Cargo requires you to find an approved shipping company for transit. A list of shipping companies can be found through the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA).

Before booking, Delta recommends you contact the embassy of your destination and your vet to ensure you adhere to all regulations regarding international pet travel. You should also contact the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for information on exportation. For information on importing pets into the U.S., check the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) website.