A lot of pet owners treat their dogs as part of the family. So when they travel – both local and international – they want their pooches to be in. However, many dog parents, including me, had a hard time dealing with pet travel. As you know, some airlines won’t allow canines in the cabin for security reasons. And I know you’ll agree with me that putting them in the cargo area isn’t always a good idea. This is when I decided to look for a pet courier that will transport my dog with care and comfort.
Here’s a quick look at the pet transport cost of some airlines and dog couriers:
Airline in-cabin and cargo travel
|Airline Company||In-cabin |
|Cargo travel |
|United Airlines||$125||Contact airline|
Dog courier service
|Happy Tails Travel Inc||$300-$875 +fees||$1,500-$3,500 +fees|
|Airpets America||Starting at $800||Starting at $2,000|
|Air Animal Pet Movers||$895-$1,795||$1,595-$2,695|
There are so many little things to think about when you’re about to travel. It’s important that your pet shouldn’t be forgotten. On this post, I’ll discuss some airline policies, pet courier services, and pet transport cost to make your travel worthwhile with a pooch in tow.
By air vs. by land travel
There are two major modes of travel where you’re going to bring your dog: via air or land. Flying has different requirements than plainly transporting your pet via a ground vehicle. Remember to call the cab, train, or bus company before heading out. Each transportation company will have unique rules about traveling with four-legged pets.
When you’re traveling domestically using the New York Subway, you have to place your dog in a kennel or a soft tote with a body strap. Some dog owners use shoulder bags and backpacks enough to cover the entire body of their doggos.
If you’re traveling via Amtrak, it’s best to call them ahead if you have a big pooch to carry. But if you’re renting a car to go around, you might be asked to sign an agreement or pay an additional fee if you’re with a canine.
Air travel, on the other hand, is more technical. Cargo travel is the usual option for dog owners who want the easy and hassle-free way. However, if your dog has a bad case of separation anxiety, he might throw a fit of barking when left alone.
Pet passport requirements
Like humans, your dog also needs a passport to travel abroad. Basically, it proves that your doggo is healthy and suitable for travel.
The requirements for this differ based on the pet import rules of the country where you’re headed. The World Organization for Animal Health has a rabies classification for countries around the world. It can either be rabies-free, rabies-controlled, and rabies high-risk. There would be varying paperwork for each of these classifications.
The first step to get your dog passport is to research the requirements of your destination. You can visit the USDA website to check the necessities of pet travel per country.
Next set an appointment with your vet and have all the doggo vaccine updated if need be. Microchipping or tattooing for identification might be needed too. After that, you’ll probably need a certification from the USDA as many countries require it for animal import.
Don’t buy your pooch a one-way ticket. Check how you can go back home, say the USA for that matter. It’s the same as bringing a foreign pet into another country once again.
Airline regulations when it comes to pets
Airline regulations vary widely as well as the pet transport cost. But on this part, we’ll cover three of the most popular US airlines to give you an idea: United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines.
I know what you’re thinking the moment you read about United Airlines. They gathered ire for the death of a Frenchie that was forced to be stored in the overhead cabin. But here’s the thing:
Only United Airlines accept air cargo travel of flat-nosed dogs. So those who have Boxers, Bulldogs, and Pugs only have United as an option.
You have two choices with United: in-cabin or PetSafe (cargo travel). For in-cabin travel, they will charge for $125 each way and another $125 for each stopover that lasts for more than four hours. For PetSafe rates, you have to contact the airline first.
Delta Airlines, on the other hand, allow small doggos and other pets to travel in the cabin. However, they should be placed on a kennel that can fit on the seat in front of you. With this, your pet is classified as a carry-on luggage. A one-way ticket for both in-cabin and cargo travel costs around $75-$200. Make sure to check the travel exceptions as some destination countries don’t permit in-cabin travel even for small breeds.
For larger breeds that won’t fit in a small kennel, cargo travel is the only option. However, there’s no guarantee that your dog will be on the same flight as yours. Also, shipping and picking up your pooch will take place at the cargo location of the airline only.
Lastly, for American Airlines, you can choose between on-carry or checked pet travel. However, their service is destination-specific. They only allow pet travel on flights not longer than 12 hours. Still, it’s best to refer on the country destination on this page.
For in-cabin travel, your pet should be small enough to stand inside a kennel that can be stored on an under-seat space.
And for the cargo travel, you can check-in two doggos at the ticket counter. However, you can’t check them out at least four hours before your flight. You should also secure all USDA requirements for pet travel.
A pet transported in-cabin will cost you at least $125 while $200 for cargo travel. Always mind the destination restrictions that come with this.
No matter what airline or mode you’re transporting your dog with; never give the pooch any sedative. If you happen to administer it, make sure that you declare it to the airline authorities
Dog courier service
With the pet fatalities recorded in the past year that involves air cargo travel, you’d likely seek an alternative. When I was planning to travel with my dog, I stumbled upon a pet courier site. Unlike the usual cargo travel, pet courier services won’t let your dog travel alone. They would have vets and trained personnel to accompany your pooch on his way to the destination country or city.
Each dog might have an attendant from check-in up to the final destination. However, if your country destination only allows animal importation via cargo, you can’t avail this service.
But before you sign up to the first dog courier service you’ll see, remember that there are many scams online. Always look for trustworthy companies that are bonafide members of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA).
Here, we’ll discuss three of the leading companies in the pet travel industry as certified by IPATA:
⏩Happy Tails Travel Inc.
What to expect:
Happy Tails won’t be recommended by IPATA for naught. They can handle just about any pet-travel related matter, be it for moving, relocating, traveling, or adopting. They’ve been in the pet travel industry for 20 years now and they offer both ground and air transportation.
Happy Tails offer a door-to-door service with a climate-controlled vehicle which is important for many breeds like flat-nosed dogs. They also have individual attendants for every dog which is excellent if your pet has a bad case of separation anxiety.
Most of all, I love the fact that Happy Tails will handle the documentation including permits and compliance with quarantine laws of any country. All of these will be included on their “Vet Packet” with a pre-paid FedEx mailing and a USDA money order endorsement.
Aside from that, you’ll get a “Pet Travel Packet” consisting of crate tags, stickers, travel documents of your dogs, and a special gift for your pet (a bone plushy!)
For ground travel, they will provide a free quote once you send the details of your trip through their website. But for air transportation, here’s their pet transport cost:
These prices are based on the pick-up or drop off point which is usually an hour away from the airport. There will also be a one-time $75 handling fee per city since they will arrange boarding, vet visit, customs clearance, and more.
What to expect:
If you’re moving to another place, the Airpets America is the best pet courier service. They are experts in pet relocation for more than 30 years now.
Airpets will handle the documentation for both airline and ground travel. They will track and manage the trip of your pet with a timeline handed to you. I guess their edge here is the one-on-one vet visit as well as the doggie daycare and grooming services along the way. They will also deal with the quarantine arrangement for both long-term and short-term relocation.
However, they don’t have individual attendants to the pets. It’s not really a deal breaker, but personally, I want someone to be there for my dog during long flights. Still, the consolation here is the on-site vet and the well-trained personnel. They also make sure your doggo gets enough exercise.
At the end of the service, you’ll have your dog’s transit papers, clearance, and other documentation.
The rates are a bit steep but like what I said, this service is for pet owners moving with their pet. This means more paperwork than the usual travels. Besides, they got everything from airline-certified crates up to the delivery service.
⏩Air Animal Pet Movers
What to expect:
Nothing beats a dog courier service owned by a veterinarian. The Air Animal Pet Movers will give peace of mind to owners who are planning to move, relocate, or embark on a long vacation with their pets. They specialize in both domestic and international travel. The best part is their concierge service that will act on your behalf in the cargo facility.
Air Animal offers a VIP and Express service. VIP is when your dog will be picked up on your residence while the Express service has the airport as the originating point.
What I like about Air Animal is their Air Animal App where you can upload all the details of your dog’s trip. You can also store the vaccination records and certification of your pet here. It will serve as the tracking map of your pooch during the flight and a reference for the flight’s information.
Like what they claim, they offer stress-free service and a safe transit for your doggo.
Air Animal has flexible options for pet transport. Check their pet transport cost and see how you can save more bucks with their offers:
Dealing with dog jet lag
Once your dog has safely (and bravely) arrived from his travel, the two of you would have to deal with one thing: jet lag. Yes, dogs and other pets also experience this. Some breeds have the excellent adaptability to their environment but expect that your furry buddy will be flustered at first. The dog’s circadian rhythm and eating habits should be adjusted to help them deal with the change.
A few hours upon arrival, you’re not the only one who will zonk out. The last time my dog and I had a long trip, I can’t even contain my laughter upon seeing him splayed at the arm of the chair. As if my doggo had a sudden attack of narcolepsy he didn’t have the chance to get a nice spot. But after a few days of alternating between bouts of sleepiness and mild wakefulness, he’s up and bustling around the hotel room.
After our vacation is over, I realized that going back home will be another process. My doggo would be sleepy again until he’s pulled back to our normal routines.
For a hassle-free trip, trust only the best pet courier service. Never take a chance on cheap but shady companies that can’t guarantee the safety of your dog. This will ensure that your travel, relocation, and moving will be seamless, at least on the part of transporting your pooch.