Cat Travel: Cabin vs. Cargo

Name: Pierre
Number of Pets: 3
Pet Type: Cats
From: Switzerland

Hello PetRelocation, We will be moving from Switzerland to the US in three or four months with our three cats. I was told that there were two options for move the cats: one with us in the plane cabin and the other one being in the cargo hold. What do you recommend? -Pierre

Hello Pierre,

Great question. Regarding traveling with your cat, there are two main options: cabin travel and cargo travel. Each option has its pros and cons, so it's important to weigh them carefully before making a decision

Cabin Travel for Cats

Cabin travel is the most popular option for cat owners. It allows your cat to travel with you in the cabin of the plane, which can be less stressful for both of you. Here are some of the pros and cons of cabin travel:


  • Your cat can stay close to you, making them feel more secure.
  • You can keep an eye on your cat throughout the flight.
  • This is typically less expensive than cargo travel.


  • Some airlines may charge a fee for cabin travel.
  • Cabin space is limited, so getting a seat that will accommodate your cat's carrier may be difficult.
  • Cats may be exposed to more noise and activity in the cabin than in cargo.
  • If your cat is not used to traveling, they may be more stressed in the cabin than in cargo.

Cargo Travel for Cats

Cargo travel is a less popular option for cat owners, but it may be a better choice if your cat is not used to traveling. When traveling in cargo, your cat will be placed in a climate-controlled area of the plane. Here are some of the pros and cons of cargo travel:


  • Cargo space is more plentiful than cabin space, so getting a seat that will accommodate your cat's carrier is easier.
  • Cats may be less stressed in cargo than in the cabin, as they will be away from the noise and activity of the plane.
  • Cargo is typically cooler and quieter than the cabin, which can benefit cats sensitive to heat or noise.
  • Large or multiple pets often have to travel in cargo due to size and space limitations.
  • The cargo hold is pressurized, just like the cabin, and the air circulated is the same.


  • Cargo travel can be discontinued or restricted in certain situations, such as extreme temperatures or on certain flights.
  • Some airlines may charge a higher fee for cargo travel than cabin travel.
  • There might be limitations on transferring pets in cargo to other airlines

It is important to do your research and compare the pros and cons of cabin and cargo travel before deciding. You should also check with your airline to see if they have any specific requirements for traveling with cats.

In addition to the above, here are some additional tips for traveling with your cat:

  • Start early. Give yourself plenty of time to get your cat used to traveling. Start by taking them on short car rides and gradually increasing the trip length.
  • Crate Training: Train your cat to enjoy their travel crate and leave it out in the house for them several weeks to months prior.
  • Pack a comfortable carrier. Ensure the carrier is big enough for your cat to stand up and turn around. It should also have plenty of ventilation and a soft bed.
  • Bring along your cat's food and water. Feed your cat their usual food and water before and after the flight. You may also want to bring along a small bowl of water in case your cat gets thirsty during the flight.
  • Keep your cat calm. Talk to your cat soothingly and pet them gently during the flight. You may also want to bring along a calming spray or diffuser.
  • Be patient. Traveling can be stressful for both you and your cat. Be patient and understanding, and give your cat ample time to adjust to the new environment.

I hope this information helps you plan your next trip with your cat!

Spend some time thinking about these factors and review the Pet Import Requirements to the US.

Finally, don't hesitate to call us if you have further questions or want to speak to a Pet Relocation Specialist about arranging your move.

Good luck with everything, Pierre!


PetRelocation Team





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