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Why Delta Will No Longer Accept Pets as Checked Baggage

November 20, 2015

Members of the military with active transfer orders will still be allowed to transport a pet as checked baggage.
Members of the military with active transfer orders will still be allowed to transport a pet as checked baggage.

Delta passengers will no longer be able to transport pets as checked baggage in a new policy effective March 1, 2016, the airline announced in a statement on its website. Customers may also ship pets for travel within the United States as freight through Delta Cargo

According to a New York Post analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation data, Delta recorded the highest number of pet deaths between May 2005 and September 2015. 74 pets died on Delta flights during that period, accounting for approximately 25 percent of airline pet deaths in the U.S. Additionally, 14 pets have gone missing. In 2011, Delta banned snub-nosed dogs and cats from traveling in the cargo compartment after incidents involving breeds with respiratory problems. After March 1, American Airlines will be the only U.S.-based airline to allow pets to travel in the checked baggage compartment. 

Delta's new policy will have one exception: Members of the military with active transfer orders will be allowed to transport a pet as checked baggage. Additionally, Delta will continue to accept service and emotional support animals that comply with federal regulations, including proper documentation.

Delta has said it will contact customers with bookings after March 1 that are known to include pets as checked bags. Delta is also advising customers that choose to ship pets via Delta Cargo that:

  • A separate booking from their flight itinerary is required.  Additional fees and charges may apply.
  • A pet shipped domestically via Delta Cargo cannot be booked until 14 days prior to departure.
  • Pets are not guaranteed to be shipped on a customer’s same flight or flight schedule. 
  • Shipping a pet requires dropping it off at a Delta Cargo location at least three hours before departure time at a location separate from passenger check-in.
  • Picking up a pet will also occur at a Delta Cargo location.
  • Delta Cargo will only accept international pet shipments from International Pet and Animal Transportation Association members. International customers should visit to find an approved member to assist with their transportation requirements.

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


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