September 22, 2019

Leaving On a Jet Plane – How to Ship Your Pets Internationally


Flickr Photo Credit: Ejhogbin

I’m lea-ea-ving, on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again . . . so kiss me and cry for me  . . . tell me that you’ll wait for me . . . hold me like you’ll never let me go. Cuz I’m leaving on a jet plane . . .

Air travel is extremely stressful for pets, and since we may have to be doing this VERY soon, I asked a traveling expat friend of ours and fellow blogger to write up her experiences, tips, and general knowledge of the subject.  

Below is her response, as well as a link back to her blog.

Preparing to travel overseas with pets can be a challenging and scary experience for any sensitive pet owner. Thankfully having done this several times I’ve figured out some tips to make the process a little easier on you and your favorite feline or treasured dog.

First consider your airline carefully. Some have rules that make the process more family/pet friendly. I had a wonderful ”pet friendly” experience with Lufthansa. This is a German carrier, with flights all over the world.

This particular experience started in Florida in 1999, in the heat of summer. Airlines were simply not allowing pets to fly out of Florida due to the intense heat and heat restrictions. Of course no one wants their  animal to get heat stroke waiting on the tarmac to be loaded. At first though disappointed I headed to my new job without my cats. Leaving them in my father’s care, with the understanding they would be on the first plane to Berlin as soon as the heat restriction was lifted. THIS WENT ON FOR WEEKS… and more weeks.

Eventually I became very upset that my animals and I were living on different continents. It was a very unhappy situation. So… I became creative and this is where my knowledge may help you. 

1. Find out which airlines have very early am flights (say five am… before the morning heat.) Then if you are in a situation as I was, you will be able to get around it if the flight is leaving when there is not intense heat. Another option would be a very late night flight. Lufthansa had a very early am flight which finally allowed my dad to get them on a flight BEFORE the intense morning heat. Of course this took weeks to discover. Sometimes international carriers have different rules and in this case that saved me.

2. Research your airlines and speak to a customer service agent to learn exactly what the airline in question’s restrictions are on animal transport. Some only allow animals to fly if you are flying with them, while others will allow them even if you are not on the flight.

3. If you are transporting two felines, as I was and the animals in question are very emotionally attached to each other it is nice for them to fly in the same kennel carrier. Stateside airlines do not allow this…to my knowledge. I have tried to find one that allows it. International carriers do, at least Lufthansa does. Thus I was able to ship my cats from Florida to Berlin on an early am flight in the same kennel, so that the cats would have the comfort of each other on a very long transatlantic journey.

4. Be aware of quarantine restrictions in layover or relocation destinations. When my cats were coming back from Guam they were placed in a special unit for animals at the Honolulu airport due to the fact that the Hawaiian Islands are rabies free. Now with the microchip situation this could be handled slightly differently. But chances are your pets will be in the animal holding area for the duration of your Hawaii layover. I was able to go and visit them before they were transported to  quarantine, as Hawaii was my final destination for my job. I know that quarantine time has been reduced to thirty days (from the previous four month hell we went through in 1996.) What a blessing that change is for every pet owner moving to Hawaii. I know England has restrictions as well. Be certain to do your homework on quarantine ahead of time.

5. Other little tips, put a towel in the bottom of the carrier as most pet water bottles leak when the carrier is jolted around. Put a small amount of food in the carrier with your pet and use packing tape to tape another zip loc bag of food to the top. This way airline employees can add treats or  food through the carrier grates.

6. Put your pet’s name on the top of the carrier in large letters, with a note of their final destination. That way anyone who comes in contact with the pets can call them by name. This will be a comfort to your pet. Also destination information keeps your pet carrier on track, and helps prevent any airline errors in destination. I also included my end destination phone number and address on the top of the kennel. We used a thick sharpie pen to write all the information and then we covered it completely with clear packing tape to protect the information from smearing or being damaged by rain when the carrier was transported from the plane to tarmac.

My feline friends have been from Guam to Hawaii, back to Florida and then on to Europe. They have flown nearly as many miles as I, and they have done so safely and as comfortably as I could manage. I hope these tips will allow your pets to do the same, safe journey!

If you would like you can check out my blog at LisaOverman.Com.