South African Airways Pet Policy

South African Airways does not allow pets in the cabin. However, blind or deaf passengers can travel with a guide dog/service dog free of charge in the cabin. 

Pets like cats, dogs, and birds can travel as checked baggage only on some domestic flights within South Africa, and as manifest cargo on international flights. 

Major Highlights of South African Airways Pet Travel Policy


According to South African Airways pet travel policy:

  • On international flights, pets are only accepted as manifest cargo.
  • On domestic flights, only cats, dogs, and birds can travel as checked baggage on select aircraft.
  • You must submit the necessary paperwork to SAA at least 7 days before your flight. 
    • Call SAA (see phone numbers below) to learn about the latest procedures, permits, tests, microchip requirements, and vaccinations. 
    • Complete the necessary procedures and submit the paperwork to SAA. 
    • SAA will make the final travel arrangements for your pet and inform you. 
  • The pet must be at least 8 weeks old. 
  • Guide dogs are allowed to travel free of charge in the passenger cabin on all flights. 
  • The pet container must comply with the following requirements: 
    • It must be lockable. 
    • It must be spacious enough for the pet to turn around when standing.
    • It must have ventilation holes. 
    • No part of the pet’s body (paws, nose, etc.) must stick out of the ventilation holes. 

Domestic Pet Travel within South Africa

South African Airways pet policy for pet travel within South Africa is as follows:

  • Pets Allowed. Only dogs, cats, and birds are allowed. Snakes will not be accepted.
  • Pet Carrier Requirements
    The cage size and weight must not exceed:
    • Max. size 1m x 1m
    • Max. weight 50lb/23kg (pet + cage)

Cages exceeding the above-mentioned specifications will be transported as cargo. 

  • Pet Forms. You must present your pet’s original rabies and vaccination certificate when checking in your pet. 
  • Pet Fee. You will be charged a pet fee of ZAR 300, regardless of your travel class.
  • Pet reservations can be made by calling (+27) 11-978-1111 or 0861-359-722.
  • Guide dogs are allowed to travel free of charge in the passenger cabin. Passengers travelling with seeing-eye dogs will generally be given bulkhead seats to give the dog adequate space.
  • Service dog trainers are permitted to transport their dog in the cabin if as part of the training and orientation process.
  • The pet and cage are not included in the free baggage allowance—excess baggage rates will be charged.

International Pet Travel to/from South Africa

South African Airways pet travel policy between South Africa and other international destinations is as follows:

  • Pets are not allowed to go through the security checkpoint. They will be transported through an Air Waybill as manifest cargo, including during trans-shipment.
  • The pet owner must ensure that: 
    • The pet is allowed entry into the destination country. 
    • The pet’s health documents are in order. 
  • An exception will be made for: 
    • Blind and deaf passengers who can travel with a guide dog/service dog in the cabin, free of charge.
    • Passengers traveling to/from the United States with a service, emotional, or psychiatric support animal.
  • Pet dogs and cats entering South Africa must be microchipped. If your pet’s microchip is not ISO compliant, you can bring your own microchip scanner.
  • Pet Charges

The pet charges on international travel will depend on: 

  • The weight and size of the cage
  • The weight and size of your pet 
  • The distance traveled 
  • Additional handling fees
  • Local government/customs clearance charges 
  • Pet reservations can be made by contacting the Cargo Team at (+27) 11-978-3366. You can also call this number for additional information and assistance. 

Traveling with Guide Dogs on South African Airways

Guide dogs can travel in the cabin free of charge

A guide dog is a dog that has been trained to help people with physical disabilities so that they can act with greater independence. Guide dogs include hearing, guide, and service dogs. South African Airways allows guide dogs to travel for free in the aircraft cabin with their owner. 

If your dog has not received formal training to provide the services mentioned above, it must travel as checked or cargo baggage, and not as a guide dog in the cabin.

Other Requirements for Guide Dogs

  • On the day of travel
    • Reach the airport a little before the regular check-in time. 
    • Bring original copies of the required documentation because you will need to present them when you check in and when you arrive at your destination. 
    • Your dog must be properly harnessed or leashed throughout the journey. 
  • During the flight 
    • Smaller dogs can sit on your lap but must remain properly harnessed or leashed at all times. 
    • Larger dogs must remain properly harnessed or leashed at all times and must be seated by your feet. 
    • You must comply with the health and sanitation requirements of the flight, especially if your dog needs to relieve itself.
    • Your dog must not obstruct the aisle section or any other area.

Frequently Asked Questions on South African Airways Pet Policy

South African Airways allows pets like cats, dogs, and birds to travel as checked baggage on domestic flights within South Africa and as manifest cargo on international flights. Pets are not allowed to travel in the aircraft cabin. However, trained guide dogs are allowed to travel for free in the passenger cabin with blind or deaf passengers.

South African Airways does not allow pets in the aircraft cabin, other than guide dogs/service dogs that can travel free of charge with their owners.

South African Airways only accepts cats, dogs, and birds as checked baggage on select domestic flights within South Africa, depending on the aircraft. The weight of the pet carrier must not exceed 50lb/23kg and its size must not exceed 1m x 1m. Larger or heavier pets, and pets travelling on international flights, must travel as manifest cargo.

You will be charged ZAR 300 (incl. VAT) to transport your dog within South Africa, regardless of your class of travel. Your dog must travel as checked baggage in the cargo hold section of the aircraft, where the temperature and pressure are the same as that in the passenger cabin. Also, the size of your pet carrier must not exceed 1m x 1m and the total weight (incl. the weight of your pet) must not exceed 50lb/23kg. If your pet is heavier or requires a larger carrier, it must be transported as manifest cargo. 

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