Flying a dog cross country?
June 16, 2008 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Flying a dog cross country?

I need to get my dog from California to North Carolina in the beginning of July. I'm personally flying AirTran. It looks like they only allow dogs to be brought as carry-on items but I don't think that my dog (25 lbs) will fit under the seat.

Is it worth shipping him as cargo on a different airline? Times don't matter that much, I just want to get him safely there (and eventually safely back!)

Has anyone found a reasonably priced, safe way to ship a dog across the country like this?

I did see this but the carry-on isn't an option

Anonymous because I'm trying to surprise someone :-)
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There were these two links from a google search:
posted by skewedoracle at 2:26 PM on June 16, 2008

Some of these prior questions look quite relevant.
posted by Perplexity at 2:37 PM on June 16, 2008

I've flown my two cats** as cargo twice. I've flown them as checked luggage once. The difference is that they go into different compartments of the plane. Both, however, are pressurized and climate controlled. I didn't have any problems on any of those trips.

There are only a few airlines that still take pets as cargo. The short answer to your question is yes, it's fine to send him as cargo on another airline, provided that you have a person on either end who can take care of him.

Things you should know:

1) When you ship your guy as cargo, you'll have to get him to the airline's cargo area about 2 hours ahead of time. Cargo is generally a good distance from the terminal. This means that, up to an hour before the flight, your pet will be loaded onto a luggage cart and taken to the plane. He'll sit on the tarmac with the other cargo until it's time to start loading luggage on the plane. On one flight, already having been seated on the plane, I looked out the window and saw my cats peeking out of their carriers. They sat there for a while. I don't know how long they'd been there before I saw them.

2) Airlines have maximum temperature thresholds. If it's over 85 (I think), they won't accept live cargo. (Again, this is because they'll likely be on the tarmac for a while.) You could have a reservation for the dog all set to go, but if on the day of travel it's forecast to be over the maximum in your departure location OR the destination, your dog won't make it onto the plane. (And in both CA and NC, this will be your biggest obstacle.)

3) Because of #s 1 and 2, schedule the flight for as early in the day as possible. Actually, now that I think about it -- the last flight out might be the best bet, since NC is 3 hours later than CA. You couldn't really get your pet there before noon NC time, even if you put him on a 6AM flight.

4) They ask that you include food/water in the carrier. Get a leak-proof water bottle like they put in rodent cages. Otherwise, your dog will have a wet trip.

5) You'll have to get a travel certificate from your vet. I think you have to get it within 48 hours of the departure.

I've done it because I had to -- cross-country moves, no choice. I'm not sure I'd do it just for a vacation, because it does stress the furry ones a bit. Mine survived, though, and yours will too.

You should also consider how high-strung your dog is, and factor that into your decision.

**I know that cats aren't dogs.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:56 PM on June 16, 2008

Oh, last time I did this I paid under $100 per cat. (I think it was by weight.) It's definitely affordable. That was 8 years ago, though.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:02 PM on June 16, 2008

It looks like they only allow dogs to be brought as carry-on items but I don't think that my dog (25 lbs) will fit under the seat.

i've never known airlines to weigh a carry-on animal, so if your dog will fit in a Sherpa Bag—designed initially to carry lhasa apsos, the biggest of which are about 25 pounds—it should be fine to go under the seat if you have a pet ticket reserved and the vet paperwork. my friend went to california and back with his shiba inu a few weeks ago, she weighs more than the airplane says is the max weight for a carry-on but no one cared enough to check because she fit in the bag.

sorry, but you likely won't be able to take your dog as cargo in july, both california and north carolina will be too hot for them to let him sit on the tarmac. i wouldn't take a dog in cargo ever unless i was moving from one continent to another, it's not a great experience for the dog (and not necessarily safe—if they lose temperature control in the cargo, he'll freeze) and it's not a great one for you sitting in the cabin above worrying for hours.
posted by lia at 7:03 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

When I moved in with my husband, I had to send my cat Rosa to be fostered by my mother. I sent her via Delta Dash, the small cargo service of Delta Airlines.
posted by workerant at 9:48 AM on June 17, 2008

« Older Don't stop in Gary, Indiana.   |   Resources for those close to people with PTSD? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.