Travel Crates

Photo Credit – Courtesy of United Airlines.

  • The kennel must be constructed of rigid plastic, wood or metal. The roof must be solid with no doors or ventilation openings.
  • The kennel needs to have ventilation on three sides for travel within the 50 United States and Puerto Rico. The kennel must have ventilation on four sides for travel to and from all other destinations and for short nosed breeds traveling to any destination.
  • The kennel must be large enough for your pet to freely sit and stand with its head erect, turn around and lie down in a normal position.
  • Your pet’s head or ear tips, whichever is higher, cannot touch the top of the crate. If your pet’s kennel does not provide enough room for your pet to stand and sit, without the head touching the top of the container, you will need to purchase a larger kennel before your pet can fly. Approved kennels may be available for sale at some United Cargo locations, in addition to many pet supply stores.
  • United requires an additional three inches of height clearance when transporting your pet to and from any destination outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Short-nosed dogs require a kennel one size larger.
  • The kennel door must be made of metal. Plastic and Fiberglas™ doors, including side plastic latches, are prohibited because they are not strong enough to protect animals during normal handling.
  • All kennel hardware must be secure and in good working condition. A metal nut and bolt must be secured in each hole that is in place to connect the top and bottom of the kennel. Please note that it’s common for kennels to have nuts and bolts that are metal and covered with a plastic coating on the outside, and those are acceptable.
  • Snap-sided kennels or kennels with plastic side latches will not be accepted, unless you have drilled additional holes and added metal nuts and bolts to secure the kennel.
  • Kennels using twist locks to secure the top and bottom halves of the kennel will not be accepted.
  • Two dishes (one for food and one for water) must be attached to the inside of the kennel but also be accessible from the outside of the kennel so they can be filled from outside the kennel without opening the door.
  • The door must close securely. In accordance with federal regulations, animals must be accessible in the event of an emergency.
  • Regulations require that any wheels must be locked or otherwise rendered inoperable. Kennel wheels must be either removed or taped to prevent the kennel from rolling in transit.
  • The floor must be solid and leak-proof and contain absorbent material, such as shredded black-and-white printed newspaper.
  • Each kennel should contain no more than one adult dog or cat, or no more than two puppies or kittens younger than six months, of comparable size, and weighing less than 20 pounds (9 kg) each.
  • A single kennel cannot contain both dogs and cats (or puppies and kittens).

All kennels must be capable of loading upright in the aircraft bin as required by the Animal Welfare Act and the International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations.

In addition, USDA rules state that the kennel must:

  • be constructed of rigid plastic, wood, metal or material of comparable strength with solid roofs; no cardboard kennels
  • have wheels that can be removed or made inoperable (applicable to wheeled kennels only)
  • have ventilation openings on three sides, in addition to the door opening
  • have functional handles on the kennel’s exterior to prevent tilting and any direct contact with the animals
  • close securely, but not lock, to allow personnel to open it in case of emergency
  • display labels with the words “Live Animal” in 1-inch letters on the crate’s top and on at least one side
  • display upright arrow labels indicating kennel’s correct position; Delta Cargo can provide these labels
  • contain bedding, shredded paper or towels to absorb “accidents”
  • contain two dishes (one for food and one for water) attached to the inside of the kennel door — they must be easily accessible to Delta agents without opening the kennel door
  • display feeding instructions and food, if applicable — these instructions should be affixed to the top of the kennel, along with shipper and consignee information

Kennel sizing chart for dogs and cats
A = Length of animal from nose to root of tail

B = Height from ground to elbow joint

C = Width across shoulders

D = Height of animal in a natural standing position from the top of the head or the ear tip, whichever is higher. Note: your pet’s head or ear tips, whichever is higher, must not touch the top of the crate.

How to determine kennel size
For travel within the 50 United States and Puerto Rico:

Length = A + ½B
Width = C x 2
Height = D

For travel to and from all other destinations and for short-nosed dogs:

Length = A + B
Width = C + 1″ (3 cm) x 2
Height = D + 3″ (7 cm)


Required labeling

Label the top of your pet’s kennel with your pet’s name as well as the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the customers who will be dropping off and picking up the animal. Federal regulations require that each kennel is labeled to safeguard your pet. When you drop off your pet, many airlines will provide the required labels to adhere to the kennel. The labels include: The words “LIVE ANIMAL” will be adhered to the top and at least one side of the kennel in 1-inch (2.5-cm) letters. Orientation labels that indicate the top of the kennel with arrows or “This End Up” markings will be adhered to at least two sides of the kennel.

Federal regulations require that each kennel be properly labeled with the words “LIVE ANIMAL” on the top and at least one side of the kennel in 1-inch (2.5 cm) letters. The kennel must also have orientation labels. Indicate the top with arrows or “This End Up” markings on at least two sides.

Certification and feeding instructions – Certification must be attached to the kennel stating that the animal has been offered food and water within four hours prior to drop-off (or tender) with airline. If food is necessary it must be attached to the outside of the kennel.

IMPORTANT: Do not feed your animal in the two hours prior to departure, as a full stomach can cause discomfort for a traveling pet.

Sample label that you can acquire from United Airlines or any other airline at the time you tender your animal:

Meets USDA and IATA requirements:
Animal sticker CS-345
Items prohibited in kennels:
  • Toys Medication, including over-the-counter or prescription (many airlines do not administer medications.)
  • Thick blankets, bedding or similar items
  • Straw, hay or wood shavings are prohibited for international travel
Prohibited kennels:
  • Kennels with door openings on top
  • Kennels made entirely of cardboard, mesh (welded or wire), wicker or collapsible materials
  • Snap-sided kennels, kennels with plastic side latches or kennels with twist locks that are not secured by metal nuts and bolts