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What makes a dog crate IATA airline compliant?

Can you picture yourself ready to check in at the airport with your dog and new crate and having everything go wrong. You thought you were prepared. You thought your big beautiful kennel was IATA approved because it was advertised as IATA approved. Then comes the shock when the airline refuses the crate because it doesn't meet requirements. This is a totally preventable scenario. East Coast Crates wants to help you be fully prepared when you fly with your dog. An educated consumer is a smart consumer. Read on to learn how to choose a dog crate that is truly airline compliant. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about dog crates and more!

At the push of a button we have internet access to a wealth of useful information and quality products but unfortunately there is also an abundance of misinformation and misrepresentation of products making false claims of airline approval. Everything covered in this article are direct quotes from the regulating bodies and can be fact checked. I encourage you to learn as much as you can before you buy and before you fly.

Airline travel is stressful at best and traveling with your pet only adds to the worry and anxiety encountered. Having accurate information will help make it easier to recognize a truly airline compliant kennel. You will be better prepared and ultimately have a safer and more pleasant travel experience with your dog.

It's important to know that airlines do not endorse, certify or "approve" dog crates. The agencies involved put forth a set of requirements that your crate needs to meet in order to be compliant. Advertising that a dog crate is airline approved or IATA approved is not only inaccurate but considered by the airlines to be a fraudulent claim. Therefore, I will only refer to crates as airline compliant vs airline approved if they comply with the regulations.

Just like you the airlines and regulatory bodies are very conscientious about your dogs safety and therefore have strict guidelines they must adhere to. For safety and security reasons we all understand the need for airlines to have rules and enforce them. This also applies to dog kennel requirements. The airlines will check your dog crate thoroughly to make sure it is acceptable and your dog is safe. If it doesn't meet their requirements they will not allow your dog to fly in it. These requirements are non negotiable and are strictly enforced even if you don't agree with them. Can you imagine the nightmare of being at the airport ready to fly only to learn that your crate does not fulfill their requirements and you will not be permitted to take your dog with you? This is an entirely preventable scenario if you do your research and purchase an appropriate crate that fulfills all requirements.

So now that you see how crucial it is to purchase the correct airline compliant dog crate lets get down to business and talk about the facts. There are several agencies involved in the process of flying and shipping live animals and it is important to understand which one is responsible for what.

IATA (International Air Transportation Association) is the agency responsible for determining and defining the minimal crate construction and specifications.

USDA/APHIS (US Department of Agriculture & Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service) Regulates health requirements, documentation and crate specifications.

TSA (Transportation Security Administration) Responsible for airport security for passengers and freight. TSA does not regulate crate specifications but may check for exposives and/or drugs

Each individual airline can and will add additional requirements and restrictions to the minimal IATA container requirements.

Now that you know who is making the rules lets talk about the rules. I have compiled a list of what is required for all airline compliant kennels. This information is also published on all the airline and agencies websites. The 4 categories are crate size, crate specifications, additional airline requirements and additional IATA-82 requirements for restricted breeds.

  • Crate size

  • ​stand, turn around and lie down comfortably

  • 2" clearance over top of head when standing in natural position for US domestic travel

  • 3" clearance over top of head when standing in natural position for international travel

  • measure dog height, length, and width to determine appropriate size

  • Crate specifications (IATA general crate requirements)

  • constructed out of rigid plastic, metal or wood

  • 2 preferably 3 secure door fasteners

  • metal nuts and bolts only (no plastic or twist locks)

  • inside of crate must have nothing sharp or projecting that could injure dog

  • ventilation the whole of one end (door) and upper portion sides and back of crate - minimal 16% surface area

  • 1' side rails/ spacer bars both sides and back to prevent blocking ventilation holes​

  • leakproof solid floor

  • solid roof

  • handles

  • 2 accessable bowls

  • absorbant bedding

  • live animal stickers and name of dog

  • Airline restrictions (in addition to above IATA requirements)

  • metal nuts and bolts only (no plastic or twist locks)

  • no wheels unless they are rendered inoperable

  • no wire or mesh crates

  • no toys, collars or leashes

  • no straw or hay

  • no folding or collapsable crates unless you drill additional holes and add metal nuts and bolts (no twist locks) to render the crate unfoldable. Please note that metal nuts and bolts require a wrench to tighten. Twist locks, butterfly locks, link locks, dzus fasteners, wing nuts and plastic attachments are not acceptable to secure the crate open.

  • IATA-82 regulation (kennel requirements for restricted breeds in addition to above minimal IATA and airline requirements)

  • solid side with required reinforcements

  • constructed entirely out of metal or wood

  • no plastic or plastic parts anywhere on the crate

  • mesh over door rod panel so nose and paws can not protrude

The list of breeds required to use IATA CR-82 crates are American Bully, American Staffordshire Terriers,Ca de Bou (or Perro de Presa Mallorquin), Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff), Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Perro de Presa Canario, Pit Bull Terriers, Tosa (or Tosa Ken), Malinois Also note that any mix of the above breeds also requires the reinforced kennel.

For over 40 years East Coast Crates has been proudly building handcrafted aluminum dog crates that exceed all airline requirements. Let our share our experience and expertise to help guide you and make your travel a positive experience. We are always happy to help. We sincerely hope you have found the information in this article useful and informative. Please visit our page on shipping dogs for even more helpful information.

Happy and safe travel to all from East Coast Crates!

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