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Cathay Pacific Airways Pet Policies

Published on: July 19, 2019  |  Author: Starwood Animal Transport

cathay airways plane on runway

Cathay Pacific Airways is Hong Kong’s official airline, serving destinations around the world. Via their integrated partner Cathay Dragon, the airline also connects numerous cities in China with service to Hong Kong. You may not be familiar with this air carrier, but if you’re moving to Hong Kong, you may well find yourself aboard. So what does that mean for your pet?

Here’s what you need to know about pet travel on Cathay Pacific. You can get further details on the airline’s website, or by contacting our pet travel experts here at Starwood Animal Transport.

Breed restrictions

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon do not allow fighting dog breeds (for safety reasons) or brachycephalic dogs and cats (due to health concerns) under any circumstances. If your pet is listed below, you will have to choose a different airline for their travel.

Fighting dogs include:

  • American Pit Bull
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Dogo Argentina
  • Fila Brasiliera
  • Japanese Tosa

Brachycephalic (short-snout or flat-face) Dogs:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Chow Chow
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin (Japanese Spaniel)
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff (all breeds)
  • Pekingese
  • Pug (all breeds)
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Brachycephalic Cats:

  • British shorthair
  • Burmese
  • Exotic shorthair
  • Himalayan cat
  • Persian cat
  • Scottish Fold

No in-cabin travel allowed

The only animals Cathay Pacific allows in the passenger cabin are service dogs. The airline defines a guide/assistance dog as one “that has been trained to help people with physical disabilities to gain more personal independence. These include guide, hearing, and service dogs, and they are permitted to fly with their owner in the aircraft cabin.”

Guide/assistance dogs must be accredited by the Assistance Dogs International, Assistance Dogs Europe, or the International Guide Dog Federation. If any leg of your flight will be more than 8 hours, the airline requires you to notify their reservations office at least 48 hours in advance. Eight hours is a long time for an animal (humans, too!). Sometimes long flights are unavoidable, but here at Starwood we always work to identify the most pet-friendly itinerary, even if that means your dog or cat will travel separately from you.

Pets flying as checked baggage

If you are flying out of Hong Kong (and not on a Cathay Dragon flight), your pet may accompany you as check-in baggage. Check with your destination, though, because every country has different requirements for importing pets. Hong Kong itself is a good example. If you are flying into HK, your pet must arrive as cargo. You can check out the IATA Travel Centre to learn more about foreign destinations.

Also, Cathay Dragon requires all pets to travel as cargo. So if any leg of your journey includes a flight to or from mainland China, cargo is your pet’s only travel option. 

To confirm your pet can join you as check-in baggage, you make reservations at 48 hours in advance. We strongly recommend that you do this as soon as you know your pet will be flying, for two reasons. Gathering all the paperwork you’ll need to transport your pet can take weeks or even months. You’ll also need to get an IATA-spec travel crate and give your dog or cat time to get used to it.

When you contact Cathay Pacific, they will want to know:

  • The make, model, and dimensions of your pet’s carrier (see section below on approved crates)
  • Total combined weight of your pet and her crate
  • What health and other documentation is required by your destination country (or any country your pet will transit through)

You will need to check in for your flight 3 hours ahead of time and present original copies of your pet’s travel documents.

Pets flying as cargo

The same rules about advance reservations apply to pets traveling in cargo. Both of these compartments are temperature-controlled and pressurized like the passenger cabin. Cathay Pacific suggests you tell the plane’s captain that your pet is on board, so they can be sure to monitor the environment. The airline treats pets traveling in cargo as “special baggage” to expedite your reunion upon arrival.

Airline-approved travel crate

Any animal riding as baggage or cargo must travel in a crate that meets international airline standards. (The Cathay Pacific website has details about this.) These kennels are superior in strength and safety protections than everyday pet carriers. Nonetheless, Cathay Pacific encourages pet parents to add straps around the crate as a further safety precaution. The most important thing you can do to ensure your pet’s comfort in transit is to give her plenty of time to familiarize herself with the carrier.

Paperwork you will need

If your pet is traveling as manifest cargo, no matter the itinerary, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon require a health certificate signed by your vet within 10 days of departure. If you are headed to Hong Kong, you can consult the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department or our Starwood website to learn what vaccinations, health and/or import certificates your pet will need.

Weather restrictions

If the temperature on the runway is higher than 84o F (29o C), or colder than 45o F (7o C), Cathay Pacific will not allow pets to fly. However, if your dog or cat is used to cold weather, you may submit an Acclimation Certificate signed by your vet.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon promise to treat your pet as if it were their own when it comes to comfort and safety. That should be a comfort for you as well.

Flying with your pet