What airlines will get me from Phoenix to New York City with three adult cats?
September 20, 2008 12:44 PM   Subscribe

What airlines will get me from Phoenix to New York City with three adult cats? Failing that, can you recommend anyone who does live animal shipment?

I moved to New York and left my cats with sitters in Phoenix while I found an apartment. I have an apartment now and would like to retrieve my cats. My plan was to a) fly back to PHX and fly them back out to NYC with me or b) have them shipped out here via a live animal transport service.

I know, for instance, that Southwest doesn't allow pets at all. What airlines are the most pet-friendly?

With respect to shippers, I got an eye-popping $1500 estimate from Precious Pet Transport, which I will be happy to spend if there are no other options available. Do you know of better or less expensive pet transport companies?

Flying back and renting a car is out of the question due to time and cost constraints; my research indicates that it would be the most expensive option other than building them a rocketship out of gold.

I am open to any suggestions or advice you may have. Thank you!
posted by Optimus Chyme to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This site seems to be what you're looking for. It links you to the airlines and their pet traveling policies.

Another idea would be to contact someone (via Craigslist?) in Phoenix who is planning on a trip to NY and wouldn't mind bringing your cats with them (via auto or air) for a fee. That would save you the trip and expense of your ticket.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2008

Would the cost of renting a car for someone else to drive out there and get the kitties be too expensive? That, at least, would take care of your time constraint problem, and you could find someone you could trust to make sure they all made the trip safely.
posted by Liosliath at 2:40 PM on September 20, 2008

Best answer: Midwest Airlines is far and away my favorite airline and offer flights from Phoenix to NY. They have a few options depending on whether you fly with your cats or transport them by pet cargo. I'd call and ask for information about your specific situation and for quotes.

I've seen lots of people traveling very comfortably with pets on Midwest but I don't know much about the cargo service. As far as general service goes, it is excellent. I hope you don't have too much trouble getting your friends to your new home.
posted by melissa may at 3:44 PM on September 20, 2008

I've flown with my cats many times on American Airlines. I've also flown with my cat on Continental, United and (I think) Delta. I always take my cat with me in the cabin, but that will not be an option for you since only one pet carrier is allowed per person.

Is there anyone who can fly with you and take a cat?
posted by 26.2 at 3:59 PM on September 20, 2008

Best answer: I moved two cats with me from CA to PA this summer. There are two constraints that will make this especially difficult for you. First is that those airlines that do allow pets generally do not allow more than two in any class of the plane and some do not alow more than two on any plane. So you can't, as I gather you once could, pack all three into carriers and buy them a seat next to you or something. Policies vary by airline, but the most sane on this point for us seemed to be USAir.

The second big hurdle is that airlines generall will not allow a pet in the cabin unless there is someone uniquely assigned to it. So when I had to move east this summer, my brother flew out and flew back with me, each of us with a cat under the seat in front of us. IF any airline would let you have three cats on a flight, they would ONLY do so if they were carried by a group of at least three people. Airlines are much less likely to put an animal in the hold now, too, and will never do so if either your takeoff point has a forecast high of (IIRC)80 degrees or more (like Phoenix) or a low of 40 degrees or less (again, IIRC, and which NYC might, depending on when you did this).

Also, there are supplemental charges for each pet boarded on the plane, paid at the ticket counter. $100 seemed to be standard there. You also have to get certificates from a vet within a certain period before the flght. (That window varied from two weeks to four weeks when I called.) That ran me $60 per cat with my vet, but obviously that will vary from vet to vet.

So, when you figure that you'd be looking a 3 round-trip tickets from NYC to PHX, plus something on the order of $500 in supplemental charges and vet fees, the $1500 price might start to make a lot more sense. Unless you were in my situation - moving one-way permanently, brother and fellow cat-carrier buying his own ticket as a contribution to the cause - then you might actually save money having others ship them. That's assuming, of course the shippers are neither financially shady nor unreliable caretakers of your pets. Best of luck with this. I know how much trouble and/or expense this may end up being.
posted by el_lupino at 4:13 PM on September 20, 2008

Oh, and feel free to MeFiMail me if you have other question about this.
posted by el_lupino at 4:20 PM on September 20, 2008

Response by poster: Great answers, exactly what I was looking for, thanks. :)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:34 PM on September 20, 2008

One small thing I'd like to add is that if you are planning on bringing a pet you will actually need to CALL the airline to book your ticket. Because of the limitations on how many pets are allowed on the plane at a time ( I know American is 7 animals max on one plane) they need to know in advance that you are bringing the animal. You will pay when you check in though.

Another thing, when traveling with an animal you have to actually check in with a gate agent, not at the awesome time saving much shorter line kiosks so keep that in mind when planning how early to get to the airport. Last Christmas we arrived at the airport 2.5 hours early and we were still standing in line to check in when our flight took off because the line was so long. Obviously I don't recommend doing this around a holiday.
posted by magnetsphere at 11:25 AM on September 22, 2008

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