Hello, our labrador mix will be moving with us from Eastern Europe to the States this summer. Problem is that our move date is right smack in the middle of the hot season when many airlines have embargos. We are trying to figure out the best, safest option. We are leaning toward one direct flight (we'll need to drive quite a distance on both ends but think this is much better than laying over somewhere).
In your experience, which is the best?:
1. The Continental Pet Safe program (this is cargo, but Continental makes clear that the dog would be transported in a climate controlled vehicle from the tarmac to the terminal--therefore Continental doesn't have summer embargos)
2. The United "checked baggage" program: this seems like a good option since we could travel on the same flight...
3. The Delta Cargo program: problem with this option is that if the temperature is above 86 degrees, we'll be denied. This is good because they are looking after the safety of our dog, but bad for planning purposes...
At first glance, the Continental program seems to be the most comprehensive and humane. Do I have this right?
The other option is to take the Queen Mary 2 ship from Germany to New York. But, this would be 8 days of our dog in a kennel---walked twice a day by the doggie butler. I'm not sure this is the more humane option, as it only prolonges the discomfort.
Mar 25, 10, 10:01 pm
I'm in a similar situation. I'll be moving back to the US from Japan in mid-June this year. I'll be moving my 22 lb. corgi with me, and I'm not sure what the best way to travel with him will be.
I was also considering the Pet Safe program, but couldn't find information about drop-off sites, and I still haven't gotten around to calling to get the international rates. Do you know about how much that program charges?
Does anyone know how typical it is for people moving transpacific-ly to travel with their pets or use a pet cargo program and send them ahead?
Any words of wisdom on this question would be greatly appreciated! Don't let me down FTers!
Mar 26, 10, 1:03 am
FT dog lovers, I'm #3 in this situation...also moving back to the states from Japan this summer with a 25lb dog. I've been told that UA will ignore the 85 degree restriction on a case-by-case basis, but that doesn't offer a lot of comfort to us.
Somebody's gotta know something!
Mar 26, 10, 5:27 am
I've done a bit more research, and am feeling somewhat more comfortable with the whole thing (I said somewhat!!).
First japandogflyer, there is an organization out there (petrelocation.com) that will ship your dog for you, if you want to do it this way. I contacted this them for some information, since I had no idea where to start.
Turns out, and this agrees with what I found out through my own research, the two airlines that are best with pet shipment is Continental and Lufthansa. Generally, you can ship your dog two ways: as excess baggage (so on the same flight as you) or as cargo (so on a separate flight).
I personally prefer the excess baggage option, since that means we are on the same flight, and I can tell the cabin crew that a member of our family is down below (I guess they have to flip on a switch to let air flow down there). I've read that you should tell everyone that you possibly can that your dog is down there, and they can provide you with updates, etc.
Based on what I've read, we will also make sure there are no layovers. We'll drive several hours to catch a direct flight. If you do have to layover, I would suggest maybe laying over a couple of days to give your dog a break. On the other hand, it seems like Continental and Lufthansa have the capacity to handle this ok.
Apr 3, 10, 7:34 pm
Thanks, tstone! This was helpful.
I'm about my ticket in the next few days, and I'll let you all know how I end up making things work.
Apr 4, 10, 3:13 am
The cheapest (safe) deal I've been able to find is on UA: $415 one way to travel as checked baggage on a flight on June 16. For flights out of Japan with pets, you have to call UA directly to book your ticket.
Shipping him in a cargo program looks like it will be substantially more expensive, but much more doable than I was expecting. IPATA (http://www.ipata.com/page.php?rp=17)is a pet transportation organization that certifies pet shipping companies in the US and abroad. They have a really great search engine that is searchable by country or airport. In most cases, it looks like once you've found a pet shipper, you have to contact them directly with your travel information and secure a quote from them.
boxedlunch, it looks like our shipping options in Japan are three: JTB, TOMY Int'l, and WorldCare Pet Transport. I'm waiting for a quote from WorldCare, I can't find TOMY online, and you have to call JTB to get a quote. My issue now is that I'd like to send him from Kansai (or even Nagoya), but these three only seem to ship out of Narita.
I'll keep you updated on what I end up doing.
Jun 24, 10, 12:33 am
Turns out, and this agrees with what I found out through my own research, the two airlines that are best with pet shipment is Continental and Lufthansa.
I am an American Soldier and have been assigned to Germany for the last 6 years.
Word on the street in my community is that Lufthansa is the way to go for summer transfers with dogs headed back to the States.
In fact that is what I am doing in a couple of weeks with my Lakeland Terrier.
Jun 25, 10, 2:05 pm
IMHO the biggest issue this time of the year is the temperature factor. Even if an airline says that would put a pet in their cargo hold I would be worried about how warm it could get inside!!! @:-)
Jul 6, 10, 12:46 pm
The other option is to take the Queen Mary 2 ship from Germany to New York. But, this would be 8 days of our dog in a kennel---walked twice a day by the doggie butler. I'm not sure this is the more humane option.
I saw that option too!.. leaving from South Hampton. It would be 6 days in a kennel. :)
I would think it would be akin to leaving them in a kennels pet care when you are away on vacation.
I also am relocating back to the States and would like to bring my faithful calico cat.
I have about eliminated the checked baggage solution after researching online and reading pet travel forums. :eek:
I am now considering bringing my cat as hand baggage in the cabin, flying Delta Airlines out of Madrid.
Has anybody had experience with Delta airlines, or travelling transatlantic with pets aboard?
Sep 3, 10, 11:22 am
Hi pet lovers,
I just wanted to report back our experiences. We had two very good experiences with two different airlines.
We flew Austrian Air from Vienna to Washington Dulles. The fee was EUR300 (or thereabouts). This was overall an excellent experience. We stayed overnight at the hotel literally ON the airport grounds, so we were able to amply exercise our dog before the long flight. Also, Austrian Air let us check in the night before the flight, so all we had left to deal with in the morning was the dog and our carry ons. The hotel and the early check in were major bonuses. The Austrian Air ground crew was extremely helpful and seemed to empathize with nervous parents about to send their dog in the cargo hold. I can't say the same for the flight crew (the flight attendant was annoyed that I asked twice for her to confirm our dog was on board as the aircraft was begining to taxi!). Thankfully, our dog arrived healthy, happy, and calm. Overall, I would give Austrian Airlines an "A" because of the early check in and the ground crew.
We also flew Continental Airlines from Houston to San Jose, Costa Rica with our dog, who has now become a world traveler. The fee was $460 for our 80lb dog and his gigantic crate. This trip was a bit more complicated because Costa Rica's importation guidelines are different for checked baggage vs. cargo, and there are different guidelines depending on your resource (we went by the Costa Rican Embassy's guidelines). Again, we stayed at a hotel close to the Houston airport (Residence Inn--it's surrounded by wooded area which is another bonus), which was only a couple miles from the cargo facility where we leave the dog. Again, the Continental staff was empathetic with our situation (which helps, for what it's worth!). The Continental flight crew (unlike the Austrian Airlines flight crew) was totally on top of letting us know when the dog was boarded safely. The dog arrived just fine (including going through customs).
Based on our 2 international trips, I have the following recommendations:
1. Stick with the airlines who have good reputations for flying pets. Lufthansa, Austrian Air and Continental are about it. I've heard horror stories about Delta.
2. Don't be shy about telling ground and flight crew that your pet is onboard the flight and you would like to be notified when the pet is boarded and that you would like confirmation that the pilot knows there is a pet onboard. Apparently the pilot has to flip a switch to get the air flow going in the cargo area. The air flow is very important since it regulates the temperature! On our Continental flight, we even made a little note from our dog to the pilot, letting him know he was on board and asking him to notify his parents as such. Ring the flight attendant bell if you haven't received confirmation before the flight pushes off from the gate.
3. Label the crate with all the pertinent information. Your name (and seat if you have it), emergency contact information, flight number, the fact that you (the owner) is also onboard, your final destination, whether the dog has been fed. For our own peace of mind, we also included a note that he likes to run, so the crate should only be opened in case of emergency. Also include a picture of the dog on the crate in case he/she escapes. We also taped on a leash and food, just in case there was a long delay. Finally, we froze water in the biggest crate bowls we could find. We also had a crate fan going for him.
4. In terms of regulations, try to resource as many sources as you can. We learned from one source, for example, that for importation into Costa Rica, the health certificate needed to be stamped by the USDA.
5. Before you fly, make sure to know exactly where to take your pet once you arrive so he/she can relieve him/herself. At Dulles, for example, there is a pet relief area exiting the doors by baggage claim and to the left. You will be happy to have this information once you arrive. Also have water and a travel water bowl ready for your thirsty and relieved traveler.
6. Find the hotel as close to the airport (or cargo drop off site) as possible. This means more time with your dog and less stress for you. If there isn't a green area nearby, look for the closest park where the dog can be exercised a few hours before the flight.
7. Visit the airport/cargo facility the night before and take care of anything that you can early. This could be as little as paying the fee, or as much as checking in your baggage. It will also familiarize you (and the dog, if you bring him/her) with the place so things will be less harried in the morning. By visiting early, we learned a wealth of information both times. The people who actually handle the pet transport are the most knowledgeable, but it is impossible to reach them through the airline.
8. Pay attention to flight times. Don't leave or land at the hottest part of the day. Don't arrive after customs offices have closed, for example, if your pet needs to go through customs. Allow yourself ample business hours to take care of any potential snags.
9. Whenever possible, avoid layovers. We drove from Budapest to Vienna for a direct flight and from Los Angeles to Houston (!!) for a direct flight. In the end it means less times your pet is handled by airline crew, less chance of your pet going missing, less air travel time, etc. By driving, you can make sure your pet is watered, fed, exercised, rested, etc.
I hope this information is helpful to anyone. We were very stressed about all this travel for our dog, but he did just fine. He seemed to care a lot less than we did, but we were happy to have been as prepared as we were to lessen the anxiety for everyone involved. Good luck!