Dog & Cat Flight Cage Specifications

Container requirements (domestic cats, dogs and caged birds)

Air New Zealand’s rules around cage requirements are there to further enhance the safe carriage of your pet throughout its journey.

Cages that do not meet the requirements below will not be accepted for travel as checked-in baggage.

Pets must travel in a portable animal container which should be made from fibreglass, metal, rigid plastic, wickerwork, wire mesh or wood with a strong framework. Open wire cages are not acceptable. The container must be clean, leak proof, well ventilated and free from any obvious defects. In accordance with IATA regulations, the container must be a suitable size to allow for the animal to lie down, sit up, stand up and turn around with ease. If a container has wheels, they must be removed or rendered inoperable.

Pet Container Dimensions

Guidance for Dimensions of Container

The data presented above gives a guideline for ascertaining the correct size for a container. They relate to an animal standing in a natural position.

The calculated dimensions are internal container dimensions.

A = length of animal from tip of nose to base/root of tail.

B = height from ground to elbow joint. A+1⁄2 B = length of container.

C = width across shoulders or widest point (whichever is the greater). Cx2 = width of container.

D = height of animal in natural standing position from top of the head or the ear tip to the floor

(whichever is higher) / height of the container (top flat or arched)

Minimum internal container dimensions:

A + ½ B = Length C x 2 + Width D = Height

Snub nosed breeds require 10% larger container

Cage latching mechanisms

The fasteners between the top and bottom halves of your rigid plastic cage must either be the bolt-tighten type or another variety that has a two-step method (such as a screw and dial) to ensure that the latching mechanism is secure. See examples below.

If your rigid plastic cage has latches between the top and bottom halves it will not be accepted, unless there are bolts/screws added in each corner with at least one down each side of the cage. If your cage is longer than 60cms there must be a minimum of two bolts down each side.

Restraint straps or strapping on a cage is not an acceptable means of securing the cage and will not be accepted by the airline.

Door locking mechanisms

For rigid plastic cages, the door hinge and locking pins must engage the container by at least 1.6cm (0.6″) beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door opening where the locking pins are fitted.

Within 3cm (1.2″) of the door, either a bolt/screw or cable tie must be applied to ensure the robustness of the door. See example below.

The cage doors are to be strengthened by attaching cable ties to all four corners of the door to the cage to prevent the door from being prised open by the animal. See example below.

Doors that have a ‘twist clip’ around the locking pins are not permitted for travel on Air New Zealand.

Cable ties

Applying cable ties through ventilation holes is not permitted under the IATA Live Animals Regulations as there must be no surface or edge at which your pet can gnaw or scratch.

Cable ties must not be cut short once applied. Cutting cable ties results in a sharp stub which could potentially injure you or your pet.

Additional requirements for small caged birds


Most members of this group rest by perching. For those birds that rest by perching, round perches must be provided per container, the diameter of the perch will depend on the species to be shipped but must be large enough for the birds to grip firmly and comfortably. If there are multiple birds, they must be able to perch comfortably at the same time. The perch must be placed so that droppings do not fall into the food and water troughs. The perches must be placed at such a height that the birds can leave the perch without their heads coming in contact with the roof nor the tail with the floor while perching, but the perches must not be placed too high within the container for the birds to become upset during transport.                    
For Parrots, (psittacine) that do not rest by perching, suitably sized smooth rails fixed to the floor must be provided so that the birds can feel secure.                     
There must be sufficient perch space for all birds to perch simultaneously. The numbers of birds will be restricted by the length of perch space within the container.

Pop-up hatches in cages

Cages with a pop-up hatch in the top of the cage will not be accepted for travel on Air New Zealand.

Cage sizes

The following dimensions are the maximum container sizes for pets to travel as domestic checked baggage. Please remember to check your aircraft type when booking your domestic journey with Air New Zealand:

  • A320: Height 97cm (38″) x width 79cm (31″) x length 131cm (52″)
  • ATR72: Dimensions to be confirmed by the airport origin (contact details)
  • Q300: Height 82cm (32″) x width 75cm (30″) x length 120cm (47″)

Please note that ATR72 and Q300 aircraft may be interchanged at short notice for operational reasons.

Cage examples

Acceptable latching mechanism - bolt tighten fastening.

Acceptable latching mechanism: Bolt tighten fasteningAcceptable latching mechanism - 2 stage locking mechanism.

Acceptable latching mechanism: 2 stage locking mechanism – screw on left must be loosened before the dial can turnCage accepted by airport staff.

Acceptable door reinforcement: Cable ties attached to all four corners of cage doorAcceptable door reinforcement.

Acceptable door reinforcement: Cable ties secured to the corners of the cageAcceptable door reinforcement within 3cm of cage door.

Acceptable door reinforcement: Door reinforcement within 3 centimetres of cage doorUnacceptable latching mechanism.

Unacceptable latching mechanism: This cage will not be accepted as it only has a twist clip around the locking pins and no way to secure both halves of the cage togetherUnacceptable door reinforcement

Unacceptable door reinforcement: This cage will not be accepted as it does not have bolts/screws to strengthen the two halves of the cage together, at the corners and along the sides of the cage

Top: Acceptable wooden cages for birds. Bottom: Plastic cages are also acceptable provided a perch is available and required.