It would be great if everything always went according to plan. It would be great if everything went according to plan when arranging a move across the country or world for your pets. However, that’s not always the case. 

Sometimes events and barriers arise that you, or those assisting you, cannot control. All of this is true in the world of pet transportation too. That’s why it’s always important to be flexible and open-minded to changes as plans develop. Here are a few events that could affect your relocation and why staying flexible is key in pet travel.

Policy or Routing Changes 

Even the most thorough pet travel plan can be derailed by an abrupt change in policy, whether by an airline or government entity. In many cases, our team has had to rework plans because of a new breed embargo or other changes that directly impact the availability of flights for our furry clients. Most recently, the major obstacle has been eliminating some pet programs and flight global routes.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a current example of this, as it's affected nearly every aspect of daily life, including the travel plans of most of our clients. In response, many airlines that PetRelocation books with have suspended their pet programs. On top of airline closures, we are keeping an eye on country shutdowns and new regulations regarding the transport of pets. 

If you find yourself in a situation like this, understand that many variables will be out of the control of yourself and your relocation coordinator. Rest assured that we educate ourselves daily on the available options, but creativity may be required. Some airlines are gradually lifting restrictions, but only out of certain ports. This means that your relocation coordinator may suggest a new route and a new timeline. Unfortunately, this can result in additional costs, which we try to avoid. But our ultimate goal is to reunite your pets with you as soon as possible! 

Unexpected Costs that May Arise:

  • Airline Costs: Your pet may need to change airlines if their original flight plan is no longer viable. Due to limited routing and capacity, many airlines have raised their prices during this time to stay in business. Be prepared for airfreight increases. 
  • Longer Transportation Times: Some airlines have lifted restrictions but only allow pets to depart or arrive from a major airport, like Atlanta, Los Angeles, or Newark. If your original flight plan did not depart out of a major city, your pet might need to be driven to that airport by one of our IPATA-approved agents. If you can make the long drive to bring your pets on your own, that will save you additional expenses. If not, additional transport fees will apply. 
  • Boarding Costs: Many of our clients had to continue their move ahead of their pets. While some could find friends or family to care for their animals until flight options became available, many required us to make pet care and boarding arrangements on their behalf. This results in extra costs to ensure your pet is well cared for. 
Marley Moved during the COVID-19 pandemic

Marley’s flight was canceled due to COVID-19

Weather Embargoes

The most common weather embargo we see is the summer heat embargo. Most airlines will reject pet flight bookings every year if the weather at takeoff or arrival is over a certain temperature, usually 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 celsius). Airlines will decide when to begin restricting pets on flights based on the previous year’s temperature patterns. 

However, the weather can be unpredictable and does not always follow the previous year's patterns. For example, in the summer of 2018, Europe saw record-breaking heat not seen in the last century. This caused long delays for many of our clients as coordinators and pet parents waited patiently for relief from the scorching temperatures. If you can move your pet’s travel date to autumn or spring, you are less likely to encounter these disruptions. If that is not possible and there is a spike in temperature, please be cognizant that your pet’s travel may need to be delayed, or their plan may change. Keep in mind that any changes may incur extra fees. 

Unexpected Costs That May Arise: 

  • After-hours fee: Some airlines will offer spots to pets on their cargo-only flights in the summer. These flights depart well after the sun has gone down and arrive in non-peak hours to avoid the temperature restrictions. While this can be a great option for your pet, most of our agents will charge a fee for services provided (pick-up, check-in, customs clearance, and delivery) outside of normal office hours. 
  • Veterinary work: If your pet travels by air, they will be required to travel with a health certificate that is only valid for a limited number of days (depending on the destination). If we encounter an unexpected spike in the heat on your day of travel, this paperwork may need to be re-issued while reworking your plan. Your veterinarian’s fees, along with endorsement fees, will apply. 
ralph and riley moved to the UK during the summer

Ralph and Riley’s move plan was affected by heat embargoes. 

Disruption in Your Own Travel Plan

Perhaps you were moving to a new country to start a new job, but your start date was postponed. Maybe your visa is taking longer than expected or your house didn’t sell as planned. Whatever hurdle you need to clear, your coordinator at PetRelocation is here to help you re-work your pet’s plan. 

However, when creating a move plan, complications often arise that take time to work out. A new timeline must be created; new flights must be booked; new veterinary consultations may be in order, and more!  If the change in plans happens less than 30 days from your original move date, you will need to be aware that your pet may not be able to travel on the exact date you desire. Vendors may have other families assisting, and flights may already be overbooked for pet travel. Of course, your relocation coordinator will do everything possible to accommodate your needs, but be mindful of the many moving pieces and additional costs that may arise. 

Unexpected Costs That May Arise: 

  • Import permits: Many countries require you to obtain an import permit that is only valid for a certain amount of time, usually 14-30 days. However, Japan requires you to arrive on the exact date listed on your permit. If your import permit needs to be re-issued, there may be additional fees. 
  • Additional airfreight: Some airlines will charge a re-booking fee, especially if changes are made within 14 days of the original date of travel. Also, airlines can change their quotes based on the date. If you are changing your travel date, be prepared for changes in airline charges. 
Cleo large black dog moved to India with PetRelocationFrisco the cat moved with her family to India with PetRelocation

Cleo and Frisco’s plan was reworked when their owner’s visa was delayed. 


There are so many unexpected scenarios that could play out when planning a move with your pet. The good news is, we’ve pretty much-seen everything! We’re here to help guide you and make sure your pet can stay with its family. 

Have you run into an unexpected roadblock with your relocation and need help? Schedule your consultation today.


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines, Ask the Experts, News



Back to top