At Delta Cargo, we know pets aren't just freight – they're family. Through our industry-leading service, Delta Cargo provides safe transport of pets and other live animals throughout the world.
Our Variation Live program addresses the special needs of all warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals by providing:
- A comfortable traveling experience for your animal through temperature-controlled vans and holding areas in select stations to prevent exposure to extreme heat in summer months
- Professional kenneling services for overnight stays so your animal is properly fed and exercised
- An accommodating schedule and a vast network
- Easy online booking
- Unparalleled customer service from a dedicated team of professionals who will help coordinate your booking and ensure a seamless journey for your animals
- Specially trained ground handlers for personalized care on the go
International bookings for pets are only accepted from professional pet shippers who are members of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA). A list of IPATA members near you can be found at www.ipata.org.
Our Variation Live service is available for nearly all pets for transport on our passenger aircraft, except the Boeing 767 and the Airbus 330 (series 200). You can book your Variation Live shipment up to fourteen (14) days prior to the scheduled flight departure.
Transporting animals safely from point A to point B shouldn't feel like herding cats. Whether you're shipping an exotic species or a large quantity of live animals, we have a vast network of more than 545 destinations and a convenient schedule that's designed with your needs in mind.
Delta Cargo now offers GPS On-Demand service, providing real-time tracking and monitoring for your critical shipments. GPS tracking provides an extra layer of reliability throughout the shipment lifecycle with monitoring available on deltacargo.com. This is available on-demand at a cost of $25 per device (one-way lease) for domestic shipments that originate in ATL, CVG, DTW, LAX, LGA, MCI, MEM, MSP, SEA, SFO, SLC, STL and TPA.
Download a Shipping Tips Checklist
When shipping animals, the most important factor in easing the stress of travel for your pet is kennel choice. Make sure your kennel or container meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and IATA Live Animal Regulations (LAR) requirements and that you have the necessary provision for safe travel. Learn more about kennel types and aircraft compatibility here.
Kennel Sizing Requirements
- Purchase the kennel as far in advance as possible. Veterinarians recommend you leave the kennel open in the house with a toy or familiar object inside so your pet may spend time near the kennel and perhaps venture inside on its own.
- You must use a kennel that meets USDA and IATA LAR regulations. You may use your own kennel or purchase an approved kennel at most pet supply stores. If you are shipping an animal other than a dog or cat, please ask our representative to explain the container requirements needed to ship the animal by calling 1-800-DL-CARGO (1-800-352-2746).
- Please note that kennels with plastic doors and plastic side latches are not acceptable. In reference to the plastic side latch, the kennel can be accepted if the shipper chooses to drill holes and add metal nuts and bolts along the sides and rear where the plastic latching may exist. Kennels with plastic doors are strictly prohibited. Kennels must be large enough to allow animals to stand and sit erect without any part of its head, including ears, touching the top of the kennel. Animals must be able to turn around and to lie down in a natural position.
- The kennel must be of rigid construction with a solid top and ventilation openings on at least three sides. For international travel, regulations require the kennel to have ventilation openings on all four sides. Kennels with doors or ventilation openings on top are not permitted.
- The kennel door must be made of metal. Plastic or Fiberglas™ doors, including side plastic latches, are prohibited because they lack sufficient strength to protect animals during normal handling.
- All hardware (nuts, bolts, rivets, latches, clamps, locking mechanisms, etc.) must be secure and in good repair. A metal nut and bolt must be secured in each hole provided on kennels.
- If necessary, we will apply releasable cable ties to the kennel door to prevent escapes. Do not put a lock on the kennel door. In accordance with federal regulations, animals must be accessible in the event of an emergency.
- A spacer bar or rim, protruding at least ¾ in. (1.9 cm) must be provided on all sides with ventilation openings.
- Regulations require that wheels, if any, be locked or otherwise rendered inoperable. If your kennel has wheels they must either be removed or taped to prevent the kennel from rolling in transit.
- Regulations require the kennel to be large enough to permit your dog or cat to stand and sit erect, to turn around, and to lie in a natural position. Kennels that prohibit the animal from turning around are prohibited.
- Your dog or cat's head (including its ears) must not touch the top while it sits or stands inside the kennel. A good rule-of-thumb is to stand the animal next to the kennel's exterior. If its head or ears extend beyond the top of the kennel, then a larger kennel will be required.
- Kennels for animals other than dogs or cats must be large enough to allow the animal to stand and sit erect, to lie down, and to turn about freely.
- Kennels made entirely of welded mesh, wire mesh, wicker, cardboard, or collapsible materials are strictly prohibited, as they do not meet applicable regulations.
- Kennels with dual opening doors (e.g. one top and one side) are not permitted.
- Kennels with plastic front doors and/or plastic side latches securing the top and bottom halves together without metal hardware are prohibited.
- Knockdown or folding kennels are prohibited due to the risk of collapse during transport.
Food and Water Dishes
- Your kennel must have two empty dishes (one for food and one for water) securely fastened to the inside of the kennel, yet accessible from the outside without opening the door. A one-piece dish is permitted, provided it is divided into two separate compartments.
- Water bottles are permitted provided they are firmly secured to the outside of the kennel and are refillable without opening the door. In the instance of a water bottle being utilized, regulations still require separate dishes for food and water as described above.
- Delta complies with federal regulations, which state we must offer food and water to dogs/cats less than 16 weeks of age every 12 hours. Dogs/cats over 16 weeks of age must be offered water every 12 hours and food every 24 hours. Water receptacles are filled at stopover locations, and the event of unforeseen delays, a licensed veterinarian or local kennel will dispense food supplied by the shipper to the animal.
- The kennel must contain absorbent material or bedding. Towels, blankets, and shredded black and white newspaper are good choices.
- Organic materials like straw, hay or wood shavings are prohibited outside of the contiguous 48 United States and Alaska.
- We recommend non-color newspaper, as the ink used in color printed paper may be toxic to animals.
Required Labels and Markings
- U.S. and international regulations require kennels or containers holding live animals be labeled or marked in English and in block letters as follows:
- The words 'LIVE ANIMAL' at least one inch (2.5 cm) high on the tops and on at least one side.
- Indicate the top with arrows or the words 'THIS END UP' on at least two sides.
- If the animal can inflict poisonous bites or stings, the word 'POISONOUS' in block letters at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) high, must appear on the top of the container.
- If feeding is required during transit, indicate feeding instructions on top of the kennel. It will be necessary to securely attach the food on the outside of the kennel or container. A signed statement from a veterinarian is required if no food is to be given.
- You must certify, in writing, that warm-blooded animals tendered for transportation have been offered food and water within four hours prior to check-in with Delta. We suggest that you do not feed your pet less than four hours prior to check-in.
- If the animal has been sedated, tranquilized, or otherwise medicated federal regulations require you indicate on top of the kennel or container the generic name of the drug used, the weight of each animal, the dosage, how the drug was administered (oral, injection, etc.), and the time the animal was medicated.
Your shipment may be dropped off and picked up at the local cargo facility, or some warm- or cold-blooded species may be accepted or retrieved at the local Baggage Service Office. Find out how to prepare for your shipment here.
Before Leaving For The Airport
- The number of animals that can be accommodated on any given flight is limited. Please confirm travel plans with Delta Cargo as early as possible.
- Check the restrictions for shipping live animals.
- Check to make sure you have the proper kennel.
- Routine sedation or tranquilization of most animals is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED as the drug's effects at high altitudes are unpredictable and may cause serious illness. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
- On the day before departure, fill one of the dishes with water and freeze it overnight. During travel the ice will slowly melt ensuring a supply of water for your animal.
- Traveling on a full stomach can be uncomfortable for most animals. Offer your animal only a light meal and a small amount of water no less than four hours prior to check-in.
- Don't forget to bring along documents including health certificates, import licenses, etc. that may be required by the government authorities at your final destination. When shipping pets, take along a leash to exercise your pet immediately before check-in and upon arrival. Do not place the leash inside the kennel.
- Check the weather immediately before departing for the airport
- To validate temperatures for domestic shipments wholly within the 50 United States, enter the origin city or origin ZIP code in the space provided on weather.gov. For international shipments outside the 50 United States, use weather.com.
- At the time the animal(s) are accepted for transport, verify the temperatures for all cities in the routing are acceptable and will meet Delta's temperature guidelines.
- Repeat the process by ensuring that the flight arrival and departure time for each city within the animal's itinerary is at an acceptable temperature range.
- If the forecast temperature in one or more cities is not within the Delta guidelines, contact us for assistance in rebooking your shipment.
- Your shipments may be dropped off and picked up at the local cargo facility. Small warm or cold-blooded species traveling to, from or within our Delta Connection markets may be accepted or retrieved at the local Baggage Service Office. Contact 1-800-352-2746 for the hours of operation.
- Domestic shipments will be available for pick-up two hours after flight arrival. International shipments will be available for pick-up four hours after flight arrival.
At The Airport
- We recommend you arrive at least 60 minutes for domestic and 120 minutes for international prior to the cutoff time to allow sufficient time to complete all inspections and acceptance procedures, live animals shipped as cargo must be entered into the Delta booking system by the time limits shown below:
||DASH Cutoff Time
- When you check in you will be asked to complete a live animal checklist label. When you sign this label, you are confirming that the animal has been offered food and water within four hours of check-in. You must also give food and water instructions for a 24-hour period and provide full information on any medications you have administered, when applicable. If in-transit feeding is necessary, you must provide food.
- While Delta will strive to minimize exposure to the weather, your pet may experience temperatures between 10°F (-12°C) and 85°F (29°C) for up to 45 minutes while on the ground at the airport. This period is within U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. If your animal's age, size, or health condition cause you to have concern about acclimation to these temperatures, please consult with your veterinarian.
Delta Cargo provides convenient pricing options. Learn more about our rates here.