Too hot to fly: Summer airline pet repossessions

If you travel with your pet this summer and plan to fly to your destination, be sure to familiarize yourself with the airline's pet embargo policy before booking your flight. During the summer, many airlines do not allow pets on board flights, such as checked baggage or as cargo, when temperatures are high. Pet embargoes on airlines are in the best interest of your pet and play a vital role in ensuring their safety.

Air travel is not only stressful for your pet, but it can also present serious health risks. Being locked in its carrier for long periods of time during the hottest months of the year is particularly dangerous for your pet and can cause dehydration and heat stroke. In addition, certain breeds, such as brachycephalic (flat-nosed) dogs and cats, are susceptible to pulmonary insufficiency when temperatures are extreme.

According to the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), embargoes protect pets from exposure to extreme heat while they are in the waiting areas and terminal facilities, while moving them between terminals and the planes, or while they are in a plane waiting for departure.

"Heat embargoes are critical during the summer months," says Sally Smith, former president of IPATA. "They protect our pets and keep them safe and comfortable while traveling."

Since airlines impose embargoes to ensure the safety of your pet, there are no exceptions. However, if an embargo is in effect on the day of your flight, the airline will work with you to re-route your flight, if possible, or schedule your flight for another day.

Although each airline sets its own policies for pet embargoes, the following are some commercial airlines and some of its regulations.

Alaska Airlines – Although Alaska Airlines does not have embargoes scheduled for this summer, if temperatures are too high for pets to travel safely, they can impose an embargo. However, your pet can travel with you in the cabin if it fits in an approved carrier that can be placed under your seat.

american airlines – To ensure that your pet is not exposed to extreme heat, American Airlines imposes an embargo each time the current or expected temperature exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit anywhere on the itinerary. However, if your pet fits in an approved carrier that can be placed under your seat, you can travel with you in the cabin.

Delta Airlines – To ensure the safety of your pet, Delta imposes an embargo on pets as checked baggage from May 15 to September 15. If at any point of origin, transit or destination, the temperature is forecast to be greater than 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 75 degrees Fahrenheit for brachycephalic pets: your pet cannot travel. However, your pet can fly as cargo through the Summer Live Animal program. (Restrictions apply, particularly for brachycephalic pets). Launched in 2011, the program, which is in effect from May 15 to October 15, lifts temperature restrictions and provides safe transportation of your pet in selected cities. Delta Cargo uses climate controlled vans to pick up and deliver your pet to or from the plane, waiting areas and cargo facilities. Your pet is also loaded or unloaded according to specific deadlines. In addition, your pet can travel with you in the cabin if it fits in an approved carrier that can be placed under your seat.

Southwest Airlines – Since Southwest Airlines does not allow pets to travel as checked baggage or in the cargo hold, they do not impose pet embargoes. Your little cat or dog can travel with you in the cabin on an approved carrier that is small enough to fit under your seat.

Since each airline has a different summer pet embargo policy, visit and review our Airline Pet Policies. And don't forget to check our Pet Travel Tips for flying and see the carriers approved by the airline in the TWP Store.

The safety of your pet is your top priority. Choosing an airline that suits your needs can help ensure that the flight is a positive experience for both you and your four-legged family member.