Delta Imposes New Restrictions for Flying with Dogs
Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

We all know pets are a part of our family. We let them live inside, they share our beds, we share our food with them, and now taking trips with them just got a little safer and easier, too.

Depending on which airline you choose to fly with, your pet may or may not have to ride in the cargo hold. This is no longer the case with Delta Airlines.

In the past decade, many pets have either disappeared or died while in transit with certain airlines. Delta was one of those airlines. According to MarketWatch, Delta is responsible for about 25 percent of all airline-related pet deaths. But now Delta is coming up with and offering safer services for pets.

RELATED: How to Ship a Dog by Plane

In 2011, Delta changed its policy to no longer allow brachycephalic dogs (squished-faced dogs like pugs and bulldogs) in the cargo bays due to their difficulty breathing in temperature and air pressure fluctuations.

Now Delta is taking it to a whole new level to ensure the safety of our pets, no matter if it is a squished-faced breed or not.

However, if you have a large breed dog, your pet cannot travel in the cabin but instead will be transported as cargo. According to Delta spokesperson, shipping your pet as cargo is much safer than travelling as ‘checked luggage’.

“Pets that are transported via Delta Cargo are monitored closely by customer service teams during their travel.  While at airports, pets are handled in temperature-controlled holding area and vans.  Also, Delta Cargo enlists professional kenneling services if overnight stays are required.”

Talk about a nice improvement! I say good for Delta. Now, why didn’t they do this sooner?  Who knows, but at least they are doing it now.

RELATED: Costs of Shipping Dogs by Air

America is becoming an increasingly dog-friendly place. Back in the day, dogs lived only outside; allowing them in the house was unthinkable. But today, dogs are a part of everyday life for many pet parents in the USA.

Dogs flying in cargo of the plane

This isn’t only more fun for us since we now get to take our dogs with us everywhere but just think of all the fun they will have going with you and checking out all the new sights and smells.

Each airline follows its own rules and regulations according to each specific state’s requirements. Delta requires your dog to be kept in its kennel at all times before and during the flight. Your dog counts as your carry-on and must fit under the seat in front of you.

There are different rules depending on where you are flying with your dog, and these rules can be found on the airline's website. There is of course a one way fee, but knowing your pet is safe with you is worth the extra cost.

RELATED: Airline-Approved Dog Crates and Carriers

Keep in mind that there are also downsides to shipping your dog as cargo. Unfortunately, there is always room for error. We've heard of pets accidentally escaping due to a kennel door popping open. Dogs can get a heat stroke, become destructive due to anxiety and other potential problems when flying in cargo.

If you do need to fly with your canine, talk to your veterinarian about medications for sedation and anxiety relief to keep your pet calm in addition to making sure they are fit for travel.

Opting for a direct flight also helps. This allows for the shortest time possible and can greatly reduce your dog’s anxiety during the flight time.

Try not to pick flights in the summer due to the heat, or if you have to, choose flights at night. The complete opposite is true for extremely cold weather.

RELATED: Dog Travel Tips and How to Vacay With Your Pet

The best thing you can do for your pet is to let airline the stewardess know you have a pet travelling with you and that you would like the cargo hold oxygen levels monitored. However, this is often taken care of as many pet parents are traveling by air with their dogs in 2015.

With dog owners and Delta Airlines working together, our pets will have a better flight experience, allowing us to relax and enjoy the flight. Thanks, Delta!

Kelly works as a veterinary technician in Austin, TX as well as regular animal rescue volunteer. She's been an animal lover and dog owner since childhood, and has worked in different dog related fields over the last twenty years. Currently she lives with three dogs and a cat.