In-Cabin Cat Travel

Planning pet travel on your itinerary

We get a lot of questions about traveling with pets in-cabin. While PetRelocation can support these types of moves, it is important to note that we are limited in our services (more about that below).

In some cases, pet parents may strongly prefer making sure their cat can fly with them in the cabin of a plane instead of as manifest cargo. Below are some of the most common questions we get on this topic, along with some helpful information to navigate your pet's move if they cannot fly in-cabin with you!

I have an assistance animal. Can they accompany me on my flight?

Note: the Department of Transportation no longer recognizes emotional support animals as a type of service animal for aircraft carriers. Service dogs are now the only recognized animal protected by the Department of Transportation to travel in-cabin free of charge with their handler. 

Read below to understand the types of service animals so you and your pet have no surprises about in-cabin travel. 

Assistance animals defined

  • Emotional support animal (or "ESA"): The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) defines an emotional support animal as ​" animal of any species, the use of which is supported by a qualified physician, psychiatrist or other mental health professional based upon a disability-related need. An ESA must not be trained to perform any particular task." While ESAs were previously widely recognized by airlines as a type of service animal, a recent ruling by the Department of Transportation (effective January 11, 2021) has removed the requirement for air carriers to admit an ESA in-cabin based on their new status as a pet—not a service animal—under the new ruling
  • Therapy animal: an animal trained and registered by a therapy organization to be an integral part of a treatment process. These animals are not recognized as service animals.
  • Service animal: Any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Regardless of certification or training, cats do not meet these requirements for this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, [or] alerting individuals to the presence of allergens..."

your options if an airline declines to allow your pet in-cabin

If you were planning to travel with your cat in-cabin as an assistance animal, your plans might need to be altered. Not to worry! We can help. You can read more about your options and what role PetRelocation plays in providing the best service possible in each scenario.

Why can't PetRelocation fully manage my pet's in-cabin move?

Note: having your pet tied to a passenger ticket places much responsibility on the pet parent (or ticket holder). Since we are not tied to the pet's travel itinerary, we cannot manage this portion of the move. 

pet relocation specializes in transporting pets via manifest cargo

As a professional pet shipping company, this is the most reliable way to ensure a pet's move is monitored (by us) from start to finish. When a pet travels as manifest cargo, we can work with the airline directly and become the primary contact for all information related to that pet's travel. When the pet is tied to a passenger ticket, that person becomes the responsible party in the eyes of the airline, and we are not provided any information as a third party.

In-Cabin is no longer an option for my cat. How Can PetRelocation help with their move?

Note: Although we specialize in door-to-door manifest cargo moves, we know that each pet's move is unique and may require a different approach. Below are the ways PetRelocation can help you help your pet have the best journey possible!

Manifest cargo

If PetRelocation is managing your move, your relocation coordinator can book your pet’s flight, manage the check-in and customs clearance, and track your pet on their journey using their air waybill number. 

Excess baggage/ in-cabin

If your pet is traveling as excess baggage or in-cabin under the seat, PetRelocation can still provide support, but in a more limited capacity. Depending on your destination, we can help with vet consultations and obtain import permits or government endorsements. 

Ground Transportation

If you travel across the United States and your cat is a snub-nosed breed, such as a Persian cat, flying may not be an option. PetRelocation offers long-distance drives for pets not accepted to travel by air.

What if my cat is small enough to fly in-cabin?

Note: While in most cases, cats are small enough to travel in-cabin in a pet crate, regulations vary by airline. Check with your airline of choice to ensure your cat meets the requirements for in-cabin pet travel!

Most airlines that accept in-cabin pets require a cat to fit comfortably under the seat in front of you; in a carrier, if this is the case, then great! Your four-legged family member can join you on your ticket. We have requirements pages for many top destinations if you need guidance on import requirements! 

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