No matter what type of pet you have or where you are headed for your overseas relocation, there are certain steps you’ll need to take in order to move your furry family member to another country. One of the first steps – and one of the most important -- will be finding a pet-friendly airline. With your beloved companion’s safety and comfort at stake, there’s more to “pet-friendly” than smiles and kind words.
These tips will help you choose the right airline to host your dear one’s journey:
Make sure they serve your departure city and destination
This seems obvious, but here’s the thing. If you live near a city with an international airport and your future home is also not far from one, lucky you. However, most people do not. So your pet’s itinerary could be a multi-flight affair, or even require ground transportation, courtesy of you or a pet transport company. If that’s the case, factors listed below (such as plane size) can become even more important.
Make sure they accept your type of petWe often talk about dogs and cats when we write about pet travel, but pets come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes with scales or feathers instead of fur. Every airline has its own rules about what pets are acceptable, and under what conditions.
If your pet is, in fact, a dog or cat, is he a flat-faced breed? Heightened concerns for the safety of these higher-risk pets have led to tightened rules. In some cases, airlines have simply “just said no” to brachycephalic dog and cat breeds. You have to ask. And don’t assume talking to one airline gives you a definitive across-the-board answer. Each one not only has its own rules, they have their own list of breeds they consider “brachycephalic.”
While you’re checking breed acceptance, be sure to note that some airlines and countries embargo various breeds of dogs considered dangerous.
Make sure that your pet will fit on the plane
That sounds silly, but aircraft come in different sizes and configurations. Big dogs and their even bigger travel crates don’t always fit in the holds of smaller planes often used for “feeder” routes. So it’s essential to verify that the planes on every leg of your pet’s itinerary can actually accommodate your big guy.
Check their reputation
This can be difficult with airlines, but do look for online reviews and ratings from pet owners. Not all airlines that accept pets are equally pet-friendly. That said, bear in mind that, although negative experiences can attract a monumental amount of attention, air travel for pets is overwhelmingly safe.
Compare their pet travel rules with those of your destination country
For example, the airline may allow little Fido to ride with you in-cabin to your destination, but that country may require all incoming pets to arrive as cargo.
Ask about seasonal rule changes that could affect your pet’s travel plans
All airlines adhere to basic weather-related embargo rules, which means they won’t accept pets when it’s overly warm or cold. However some carriers have additional requirements or limitations that relate to specific seasons (especially summer) or routes.
Confirm and then re-confirm every detail
Things change rapidly in the travel world, and there are lots of “moving parts” associated with pet-specific air travel. It’s possible you may get inconsistent information that could trip you up later. For example, what you read on an airline’s website may not be the same as the information you get when you call. Double-checking is a simple way to assure accuracy.
Make it easy on yourself
You can do extensive research to get a good idea which airlines might be best for your pet’s journey (assuming you have a choice). But until you go through the entire process you cannot know what it is really like. Hiring an experienced, top-notch professional pet transporter such as Starwood takes the guesswork out of planning and executing your precious companion’s move.
We know the airlines, because we work with them every day. And, with that, we can choose the right airline to transport your furry #1 to his new home. That leaves you with peace of mind and confidence to zero in on all the other aspects of moving your family overseas.