Have Concerns About Flying Pets In Cargo?

Common Pet Travel Questions About Cabin Travel Vs. Cargo Travel

Today we received an email from a very anxious pet owner who has many common concerns about international pet transport. We wanted to post her email and our answer to her so others could see that they're certainly not alone!


Dear PetRelocation:

Here's our situation: my sister is a physician here in Dallas and just got a job offer to move to Dubai, UAE and needs to be there by max November 1st. We have a tea cup yorkie that needs to be relocated with us :) He's 4 pounds, real small, and I have done extremely extensive research into the whole relocation process for him to Dubai as we do NOT wish to transport him in cargo no matter what it takes. I'm aware that the rules for Dubai are to only get him in there in cargo, however was wondering if you could help me out -- I'm not sure if you specialize with these matters or only cargo, but if you can't then if you can at least put me in touch with someone that would help us with the process that would be great.

He has a slight medical condition where he needs to take some medication in the mornings, etc.... nothing major but this is the case we have. :) We are even willing to take him to Oman, which is a neighbouring and bordering country to the UAE, as I read their regulations and they don't seem to be as strict. I've read in several places that they do allow small dogs on the aircraft cabin and then maybe we can transfer him from there to Dubai by land, we can drive from there which is probably around 5 a hour drive or something. 

I also researched what airlines would allow dogs in cabin and that would be Lufthansa through Germany. As you can see I'm trying to look for whatever options we have and your help with this would be greatly appreciated. If you can let us know the costs, etc. for all this that would be great too.

In addition, I contacted the Dubai kennel and cattery and they asked me to deal with a relocation agent from the website IPATA.com and I came across your website as we currently live in Dallas. They told me that they're not experts at that and how to go about it but that you would be able to. Any option you provide would be very helpful.

I look forward to hearing good news from you! Thank you and have a great day!

R. G.

Thanks for the question, R.G.! Here's the answer from our team:


Hi R.G.,

To begin, there are many rumors and myths associated with flying animals as cargo. Many pet owners hear horror stories of animals being flown as cargo and treated as such. Being that this is what we do for a living we are very picky as to which airlines we fly animals with. In fact, we only fly animals with airlines whom we've had a hand in developing their live animal protocol. Many airlines, such as Lufthansa and KLM, are way ahead of their time when it comes to handling of live animals. Both airlines have boarding facilities at their hubs for live animals with veterinarians on staff.

For a relocation such as yours, the safest and most direct route possible is to transport your dog  as cargo. While it makes you and your wife as pet owners feel better that your dog is traveling with you in the cabin, it is not the best option for the dog.

For animals traveling in an airplane cabin, they must be in a kennel no taller than 8 inches and must remain in the seat in front of you. The dog is considered your carry on baggage. This environment for a 15+ hour plane ride for an animal is highly unsuitable. There will be strange noises, smells of food, human noises, and other variables which will add to the stress of the dog over the course of the entire relocation.

The cargo environment in which animals remain during a flight is well lit, climate controlled and pressurized. In addition, your dog is flown in a kennel with ample space for mobility and airflow.

As a bit of insight, I've recently relocated a pair of diabetic ferrets from the US to Cairo Egypt as cargo. Both of these ferrets required medication to be administered every 8 hours. While it was logistically challenging, the ferrets arrived in Cairo in better shape than when they left! We had three different vets put into place during the relocation to ensure that medication was administered and to monitor the ferrets during the relocation.

You are correct in that animals entering the UAE via air must do so as "manifested freight" or cargo. The only way around this rule is to charter a private plane or, as you list below, ground transport. The only catch with ground transporting from Oman is that we now must meet the import requirements for animals coming from Oman into the UAE. This entails a Rabies Serum Neutralization test which can takes up to three weeks to receive the results. Once these test results are in is when the import permit application process can begin. This entire process would take roughly 6 weeks to complete and must be done from Oman.


The PetRelocation Team


Find out the differences between pet cabin travel vs. cargo travel here, and contact PetRelocation if you'd like to hire assistance with your upcoming pet relocation.


Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2009 and has been updated with new information.


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel



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