Facts About Pet Transport Safety

henry with his travel crateLearn More About Cargo Pet Travel

Cargo or cabin? Ground transportation or excess baggage? One of the most common and emotionally charged questions we receive is about how pets travel.

Many people are surprised to find out that PetRelocation recommends cargo travel for pets, but in our experience the more you learn about how air cargo transportation works, the clearer it becomes that this really is the best option for your most precious passengers.

As you research the safest pet travel options, here's a look at the facts about pet air travel and the pros and cons of the various methods of transit available.

Facts About Pet Air Travel Via Cargo

  • Some airlines are more pet friendly than others, so do some research as you plan your pet's trip and check with a pet travel expert to see which carrier they recommend based on your origin and destination.

  • An airline that is “pet safe” signals that employees are specifically trained to handle animals and they follow a last on, first off policy. This means pets are given priority, they are transported in temperature controlled vehicles, and they are never left to sit on the tarmac.

  • Check-in occurs at the airlines' cargo facility and pets are tracked during each stage of their their journey.

  • The cargo area is pressure and temperature controlled.

  • Pets do not need to travel on the same flight as the pet owner and they're not attached to the ticket of their pet owner, which makes it easier for people to plan their own travel routes.

  • This method tends to be more expensive because of the higher standards of care involved. Also, the larger your pet is, the more the ticket will be because the freight prices is based on the combined weight of the pet and their kennel.

  • PetRelocation books all pets' travel via manifest cargo (barring very special circumstances).

wilson

Myths About Cargo Travel

Though you may have come across various news stories that make cargo travel sound remarkably unsafe for pets, when you examine the numbers, this simply isn't the case. According to the last Department of Transportation report released on this matter, about 2 million pets flew in 2014 and there was a negative incident rate of about .0022%.

Pet authorities like the Humane Society have said that pet air travel via cargo should be avoided at all costs, but this stance seems to be based on outdated or inaccurate information. Contrary to what many people believe, the cargo area where pets are placed is pressure and temperature controlled just like the cabin, and pet safe airlines are dedicated to making sure pets have a safe experience and aren't just treated as luggage. (See above and read more about flying pets safely here.)

Facts About Pet Air Travel Via Excess Baggage

  • Check-in occurs at the main terminal and pets must be accompanied by their owner and fly on the same flight.

  • Airline requirements vary, so check the carrier's website carefully or give them a call to find out exactly what to expect.

  • Airline employees will handle pets and haven't necessarily received special training about how to do so.

  • Pets may be moved with general cargo and may spend more time waiting on the tarmac.

  • This option is cheaper—usually about $100 - $200 in addition to the passenger's ticket.

  • Temperature restrictions usually apply (since there is no “pet safe” system in place, which includes having temperature controlled vehicles on hand, pets can't travel if it's too hot or too cold).

cat travel crate

Reasons Excess Baggage Travel Isn't Ideal for Pets

Many people think it's better to have a pet attached to their own ticket, but if a pet is bumped from the flight (which happens more than you might think), this creates serious complications that can be difficult to deal with on your own. International pet travel is stressful enough without adding in additional unknown variables—just ask Biko, the subject of a recent NPR story.

Also, this option simply isn't as safe because pets are not given the attention and priority they receive when traveling with a pet safe cargo operator. The airlines that do not offer excess baggage for pets are doing it for good reason, and they tend to be the carriers who are the most devoted to safe pet travel.

For example, in a step to be more pet friendly and transparent, Delta recently discontinued their pets-as-excess-baggage policy. Though the media sometimes paint this as a negative decision because it limits pet owners' options, we think it's a positive move that will ultimately lead to more pets having better experiences when they fly.

Gabo and Family

Pet Air Travel in the Cabin

To be accepted, pets must fit underneath the airline seat in an airline-approved travel kennel, so this option is only available for small pets. Also, not all routes allow cabin travel (no matter how small your pet is), including many international routes.

Many pet owners understandably think that keeping their pet in sight is always the best option, but the noise and chaos of the cabin can often be more stress-inducing to a pet than the more predictable cargo area.

A Note About Ground Transportation

We receive quite a few domestic travel inquiries from pet owners hoping to book ground transportation. We currently don't offer this as an option and consider it less than ideal for a few reasons:

  • Ground travel almost always takes much longer than air travel and can be more stressful for the pet.

  • Finding reputable agents available and willing to drive from your origin to your destination can be tricky (this is probably not a situation where you want to settle for a non-vetted driver discovered on Craigslist).

  • Ground travel tends to be very expensive because you're paying one or more people for several hours or days of their time, and you'll also need to factor in gas and possible hotel costs.

  • Sometimes ground transport is the only option (perhaps you have a snub-nosed breed that simply can't fly, for example). In this case, we recommend using IPATA.org to locate a trustworthy ground transportation agent.

bob the cat in his travel crate

PetRelocation's Recommendation

For our clients and for pets in general who are flying, we recommend cargo travel on a pet safe airline. This method provides the safest and least stressful experience for pets, which is our number one priority (and probably yours, too).

We have flown thousands of pets safely via cargo during the last 10+ years—read some of their stories here and find out more about U.S. DOT reporting statistics here.

Still have questions? Contact us to discuss how to help your pet move safely!

Author:

PetRelocation Team

Topic:

Air Travel, Airlines, Airports, News

Pet:

Cats, Dogs

Country:

United States, UK, Australia, EU, South America

Comments

Add a Comment

By Kyle Doctor on October 30, 2018 at 10:49 am

Hi,I am likely relocating to Australia from the US for 3 years as an Expat for my company. I have an 11 year old Puggle that I would not want to leave behind. What has been your company’s experience with Puggles traveling on flights? I know sometimes Breed can make a difference. Are there any specific concerns or prohibiting factors regarding Puggles? Thank you
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 30, 2018 at 11:10 am

Hi Kyle! There are safe ways to move snub nosed breeds, but there is always a bit of a risk. In order to relocate your pup internationally, we recommend waiting until it is cooler than 80 degrees at all points of the journey. Although currently, Qantas does not have restrictions on puggles traveling internationally. We've safely moved hundreds of snubbies internationally so if you'd like to talk to a PetRelocation consultant on our Australia team, please fill out our Arrange A Move form, and someone will be in touch shortly. Looking forward to speaking with you!
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By Kevin Rossiter on October 29, 2018 at 11:46 pm

The obvious questions: What do your services *cost* and what services do you provide for that price? This should be stated clearly on your website, but I find it nowhere.
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 30, 2018 at 10:44 am

Hi Kevin! We specialize in door-to-door relocations and each of our moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients & their pets. There are number of variables that go into every move (size of pet, destination/origin points, travel date, etc.) Our moves start at approximately $1500 USD for a small pet traveling within the US. If you'd like to see a more tailored plan for your specific move, please fill out our Arrange a Move form and a PetRelocation consultant will be in touch soon. Thanks again!
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By Fabiola on October 25, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Hi i want to know if is possible to send a puppy from mexico to the airport in miami florida without passenger and how much is it
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 29, 2018 at 9:52 am

Hi Fabiola! Yes, we can definitely send a puppy from Mexico to the US on your behalf. Here is our blog post about how much our service costs. If you'd like to speak with a PetRelocation consultant more about our services, please fill out our Arrange a Move form. Thanks!
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By Kyle on October 18, 2018 at 8:58 pm

Hi,I am likely relocating to Australia from the US for 3 years as an Expat for my company. I have an 11 year old Puggle that I would not want to leave behind. What has been your company’s experience with Puggles traveling on flights? I know sometimes Breed can make a difference. Are there any specific concerns or prohibiting factors regarding Puggles? Thank you
Reply

By Kyle Doctor on October 29, 2018 at 10:38 am

Do you have any information regarding my request above?
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on October 30, 2018 at 11:08 am

Hi Kyle! There are safe ways to move snub nosed breeds, but there is always a bit of a risk. In order to relocate your pup internationally, we recommend waiting until it is cooler than 80 degrees at all points of the journey. Although currently, Qantas does not have restrictions on puggles traveling internationally. If you'd like to talk to a PetRelocation consultant on our Australia team, please fill out our Arrange A Move form, and someone will be in touch shortly. Looking forward to speaking with you!
Reply

By Jay Clark on September 24, 2018 at 1:41 pm

We may buy a 16-week-old Golden Retriever puppy today in Boise, ID and want to transfer him to our home in the Palm Springs (La Quinta) area in CA., Unless there's a direct flight, we assume he should fly to San Diego, where we will meet him on arrival. Alternatively, what is the additional charge for your service to meet the flight and transport him to La Quinta? Thank you.
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 28, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Hi Jay! We specialize in the complete door-to-door service with tracking, paperwork & updates along the way. You will have a dedicated consultant that can assist with every step of your move. This, in addition to facilitating the actual transportation, ensures that your pet’s relocation is professionally complete with their welfare as the primary concern. We do book the pet's flight and fly pets unaccompanied, so they travel on their own ticket, which makes them easily traceable during their trip. This is extremely safe as long as your pet is healthy. They fly in climate controlled and pressurized conditions and we have the utmost concern for your pet’s safety, treating them as we would our own. Each of our moves are customized to fit the needs of our clients & their pets. If you'd like a quote for our door-to-door services, please fill out our arrange a move form here. Looking forward to speaking with you soon!
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By Konstandina on September 23, 2018 at 2:43 am

Hi.. I need to fly from Johannesburg to Greece with my Jack Russell 16 months old and I measured her 55x42x28 her weight is 6 ... Is it possible to travel with her in cabin cause I would like to see her all the time . Thank you
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 26, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Hi Konstandina! It is up to the airline's discretion which pets are allowed to travel in-cabin. Here is our booking guide with rules & requirements for some pet safe airlines. Hope this helps get you started!
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By Konstandina on November 14, 2018 at 3:58 am

Hi. I please need to know if my dog can travel with the same aeroplane (not necessarily in cabin ) With me from Johannesburg to Greece or must be Jet Pet Carriers cause the flight may take longer than 17 hours? Thank you
Reply

By Konstandina on November 2, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Hi. Thank you so much for your help!
Reply

By Stella on September 17, 2018 at 4:43 am

Yes, I too agree with you regarding the fact that one must always approach the Pet Relocation Team so as to ensure safety for your Pet. The main benefit of me approaching the home movers team who was having the pt relocation service was that they had tied my Roo (Australian silky Terrier Breed Dog) with Micro ID chip to ensure the safety. Also Roo was tied in pet safe carrier and there was a small pouch where regular intervals of feeding was done for my Roo.Anyways thanks to my movers team(Sabamovers) for ensuring a safe move.
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 17, 2018 at 8:57 am

Hi Stella! Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad Roo is reunited with you!
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By Antonio on September 12, 2018 at 10:05 pm

Hello , i have a one and a half year old Pit Bull that i would like to take back to the States with me after my tríp here in Puerto Rico Is over, he has all His shots up to date,how would i be able to do that?
Reply

By Maegan at PetRelocation on September 17, 2018 at 8:56 am

Hi Antonio! Since there are so many commercial airline restrictions on pit bulls, the best option would be flying a cargo freighter to MIA. Routing would be determined once you have a move date, but if you'd like our assistance, please fill out our Arrange a Move form here. Hope this helps!
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