If you are researching the logistics of moving your pet, it's natural to feel overwhelmed. One of the most common and emotionally charged questions we receive is how pets travel, particularly if they will be flying as cargo. At PetRelocation, we've been helping pets move for 19 years and found that manifest cargo is the safest option for flying animals with commercial airlines.  

But how do you know what's best for you and your furry family? Let's explore the similarities and differences between the two primary pet air travel options: relocating your pets as excess baggage and manifest cargo.

What are the similarities between excess baggage and manifest cargo?

  • Pets fly in the temperature and pressure-controlled cargo hold beneath the plane.

  • Pets must always travel in airline-approved travel crates.

  • Airlines will require a health certificate issued by a vet before travel (usually within 10 days of departure).
  • Tickets must be booked in advance (often at least 24-48 hours, depending on the airline).

Differences between Excess Baggage and Manifest Cargo:


If your pet travels as excess baggage, they must be linked to your flight booking. However, this may not be the best flight for your pet. If you're taking your pet as excess baggage, PetRelocation cannot arrange the booking or provide assistance on the day of travel. Contact your airline to ensure you know the check-in time and procedures.

When a pet travels as manifest cargo, they are booked on their ticket (an air waybill). This means that your pets can arrive before or after you. Many pet owners enjoy this option as it allows them time to set up their new home so their pet can be welcomed into a happy and calm environment (and not into a chaotic moving day). When your pet travels as manifest cargo, PetRelocation can arrange flight booking and all details related to check-in on your behalf. 


Many airlines only allow two pets to be booked as excess baggage. If you have more than two pets, manifest cargo isn't just the safest option, it's often the only option. In most cases, larger families can travel together as manifest cargo!


Large number of pets traveling as manifest cargo
In most cases, large families can travel together as manifest cargo!


If you're flying your pets as excess baggage, a layover could be an extra challenge to your travel plans. Most airlines will require the pet owner to ensure they are checked into their connecting flight for all kinds of live animals. This could add unnecessary headaches to your journey, especially if your layover is shorter. 

If you are flying your pets as manifest cargo, the airline has strict regulations on handling pets during their layover. Lufthansa’s Animal Lounge in Frankfurt is a great example! When a pet is traveling as manifest cargo and has a stop at the Frankfurt Animal Lounge, the pet is fed and looked after by trained animal handlers before being checked into their connecting flight.

Large dog travels as manifest cargo
Drake, who traveled as manifest cargo,
enjoyed his stay at the Frankfurt animal lounge.


Lastly, some countries require pets to arrive as manifest cargo. Australia, for example, will not allow pets to arrive in-cabin or as excess baggage. So, if your family is planning a move down under, there is only one acceptable transportation means, Manifest Cargo.

Why manifest cargo is our preference

Every year, we relocate more than 2,000 pets, most of which fly as manifest cargo with no issues!

We prefer manifest cargo because:

  • This method allows our clients the freedom to make the travel arrangements that work best for them.
  • Manifest cargo routes allow larger pet families to travel together.
  • Airlines are trained to handle pets on their layovers.
  • All countries accept pets arriving as manifest cargo.

Excess Baggage and How We Can Still Help

If traveling as excess baggage is the right move for your pet, PetRelocation can still help. Our team of experts can assist you in choosing the right travel crate, providing crate acclimation tips, guiding veterinary consultations, managing import permits (if applicable), and government endorsements.

Consider Pet-Friendly Airlines for Your Snub-Nosed Dog's Journey

When choosing an airline for your snub-nosed pet's travel, it's essential to select carriers that prioritize pet safety and have established pet programs. Pet-friendly airlines have procedures to ensure your furry companion's well-being throughout the journey. Here are a few airlines known for their pet-friendly policies:

  • Delta Air Lines: Delta's "Delta Cargo" program offers temperature-controlled live animal holding areas and specially trained staff to ensure your pet's safety. Delta has specific guidelines for brachycephalic breeds and may impose seasonal restrictions for snub-nosed pets.

  • Lufthansa: Lufthansa's "Animal Lounge" at Frankfurt Airport provides a safe and comfortable environment for traveling pets. The airline accepts snub-nosed breeds with certain precautions and has well-trained staff to handle pets during transit.

  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines: KLM's "Live Animals" service includes provisions for the safe transport of snub-nosed dogs. The airline has guidelines for transporting brachycephalic breeds and offers well-equipped facilities for pet handling.

Before booking your pet's flight, we recommend contacting the airline to verify their policies and procedures for snub-nosed breeds. Additionally, consider discussing your travel plans with a PetRelocation Specialist to ensure a seamless and safe journey for your beloved pet.

Regardless of your chosen method of travel, PetRelocation wants to help. Check out our pricing and pet relocation process for more information!


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines, Ask the Experts, How-To Guides


Cats, Dogs, Snub-Nosed Breeds


United States, UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Italy
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