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Pets Traveling Together? How to Make Them Comfortable

Published on: April 8, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel



We love our pets. So much so, that many families have more than one. Often, more than two. So what happens when your family – including all those four-legged members ­– is facing a move? Whether you’re heading from one coast of the US to the other, or from one country to another, air transport makes the most sense. But can your pets travel together? Would that make them more comfortable? 

When it comes to flying and pets, “traveling together” can take on more than one meaning. There is the question of multiple pets literally riding in the same carrier during their trip. And then there is the question of multiple pets even being on the same flight together. There is no simple answer to either question. 

There are rules you have to follow 

It starts with the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), which sets basic rules for animal transportation worldwide. IATA and the USDA say airlines may transport two puppies or two kittens in one carrier, if they are between 8 weeks and 6 months old and weigh no more than 20 lbs (9kg) each. All animals must be in an IATA-approved travel kennel. 

But then it depends on which airline you use, because every airline has its own set of policies and requirements that may be different from the IATA rules. Airline rules dictate:

  • The number of pets that can ride in a single carrier
  • Where pets can ride (in-cabin or cargo hold)
  • How many pets are allowed per flight (per person and overall) 

Due to their physical characteristics, certain specific aircraft cannot accommodate all kennel sizes. So your cat and yorkie might make the cut, but your golden retriever may not.  

Ultimately, it comes down to your destination. Every country has its own set of pet import regulations, and you must comply with all of them in order to rest assured your dogs and/or cats will be welcomed. Country requirements trump policies set by airlines or IATA. For example, an airline may allow small pets to travel with you in-cabin, but the country only allows pets to arrive as cargo. 

Some countries, such as Hong Kong and Australia, require that pets arrive as manifest cargo. So no matter how many pets you have, how big they are, or if they are dogs or cats, you cannot “DIY” it. You’ll need the services of a professional pet transport company.  

Going pro makes more sense anyway

No matter how many pets you have, it takes just one call to iron out all these travel planning wrinkles. You could try to make a chart of which airline allows what, but it would be extremely time-consuming. And it can be surprisingly difficult to find up-to-date information. Why put yourself through all that when experienced, professional expertise is just a phone call away? 

Aside from knowing your pets’ travel arrangements will be efficient and comfortable, you can get help obtaining and organizing all the travel documents your pets will need. That’s another big job that can be confusing and time-consuming. There are two keys to success: starting early and getting help. 

Making pets comfortable is the same for any number of pets

Familiarity with their travel kennel in advance is the best way for dogs and cats to feel as “at home” as possible during their journey. Give them as much time as you can to get used to their carrier, so it looks and smells familiar. For travel, you’ll need to put something soft and absorbent on the kennel floor – for comfort and in case of an “accident.” Using one of your pet’s small blankets or one of your old T-shirts will add to the homey atmosphere, further reducing their stress. 

Getting their crates early also enables you to use the kennels as a “safe haven” for each pet during the more chaotic aspects of your moving preparations. Don’t make them spend too much time there, though. It’s vital that pets get plenty of extra, personalized attention and regular routine prior to their move. Both of these details can significantly improve the confidence of any dog or cat. They can see things are changing, but you’re still their #1, and you’re still there for them. 

It may boost your peace of mind to know that airlines make every effort to place your pets’ kennels next to one another. So even though they aren’t literally traveling in the same carrier, they can see, smell, and “chat” with one another. This is ideal, as everyone has their own comfortable space without feeling isolated or abandoned.

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