Sometimes when you’re flying with a dog, you’re required to use a pet transport company, usually on certain routes or with certain airlines, such as most flights to and from Australia. However, if it’s up to your decision, should you use a pet shipping company?
When flying my dog Schnitzel, there have been times that we’ve both used an pet transportation company and other times that we’ve done it ourselves. Here are the points you should consider to make you own decision, whether or not to use a pet transport company.
1. Help with Logistics
There are times when it’s logistically easier, or even necessary, to use a pet shipping company to fly your pet. For instance, if you’re moving country and have already sold your car, is it possible for you to still transport your dog to the airport, or perhaps a freight terminal? (Freight facilities are usually nowhere near public transport options!)
When we first flew our dog from Sydney to Madrid, we were in this situation, especially as we couldn’t take him on trains in Sydney. It was a lot easier to have an animal transport company pick him up from our door, especially as he needed a health check at the airport the day before the flight.
Upon arrival in Madrid, we could have picked up our rental car at the airport and then picked up our dog from the freight terminal when customs has reviewed his paperwork. But, on top of jet lag from our 30 hour journey, we could only speak a few Spanish phrases between us.
We decided it was better to have a local agent who spoke Spanish deal with customs, then deliver our pup to our hotel where we’d had time for a Spanish siesta. It also should be noted that it can take a few hours for pets to clear customs when flying cargo internationally.
Another scenario is if your dog needs to go into quarantine, and it’s not easy for you to pick your dog up at the end of their stay, perhaps because it’s in a different city. This occurred with us, when our dog had to stay in quarantine in Melbourne when we returned to Australia, 800km away from our home.
It was a lot simpler (and cheaper!) to organise a pet transport company to pick him up and put him on the flight to Sydney.
2. Familiarity with the Rules
If you’re transporting your pet internationally for the first time, it’s hard to familiarise yourself with the rules that apply, often both export and import rules. The rules for some countries are easier than others, but if you’re travelling to a country like Australia, there’s a lot of rules that you need to follow, making it tricky even for those experienced travelling with a pet.
If you use a pet transport company, you should expect that they’re across the necessary processes, and can guide you in the journey. (Ideally check that they’re familiar with exporting to your destination country, before making the final selection.)
When I first exported my dog from Australia to Spain, I had no idea of the rules that applied, even where to locate them. Using a dog transport company meant that they told me what I needed to do (or organised it for me). It’s actually quite simple to import a pet to Europe, but it’s even easier when you don’t need to organise any of it.
3. Less Stress
Anyone who’s travelled internationally with a pet, especially if it’s involved long or multiple flights, will tell you that it’s a lot of stress! If anything I think that it’s far more stressful for us owners than our pets, even if they need to travel in the hold.
When I flew my dog from Los Angeles back to Australia, organising everything myself, it was one of the most stressful things I’ve done! And if you’re feeling stressed, your dog will know it, and be more likely to feel stress just for that reason.
Using a pet transport company can greatly alleviate this stress, particularly if you’ve got a lot of other things on your plate, such as if you’re moving country. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the staff that you deal with, and happy they’ll care for your dog. Most staff members I’ve interacted with have been big animal lovers.
4. More Flexibility
I recently wrote about flying with pets during the summer months, and the possibility of needing to change the flight of your pet, if the forecast temperatures during your booked flight end up being too high. It might be advisable to change the flight to an earlier one, or even a different day.
If you’re flying your pet yourself, this can be quite tricky to do, especially if you’re also flying on the original flight. In this scenario, flying your pet with a pet transport company will make the change a lot easier, especially if your pet needs to stay in a kennel overnight. Ideally the company would reach out to you to recommend the change.
Other difficult scenarios, such as flight cancellations or issues with the health certificate meaning your pet’s flight needs to be delayed, are more easily handled by a pet transport service.
5. What About the Cost of a Pet Transport Service?
One of the main reasons that people do not use a pet transport company is due to the additional cost. International pet transport, especially in cargo, is usually quite expensive to start with, and you can save money by organising everything yourself, if that option is available.
However, it is worthwhile comparing that cost to the advantages that using an animal transport company can provide. A transport company can provide transport connections either side of the flight, hire or sell you an appropriate crate, or organise for your pet to see their own vets.
There’s also the time saved by not organising everything yourself, plus the stress saved – not easily measurable in dollars!
If things do go wrong with transporting your animal, such as missing a step or miscounting the days, the costs to sort it out (especially if you need to change your own flights) can be more expensive than using a pet transport company in the first place. Think of paying a pet transport company as a type of “insurance”.
So, how much more does a pet transport company cost?
Cost of Using a Pet Transport Company Domestically
When we used a pet transport company, Jetpets, to fly our dog from Melbourne to Sydney following his stay in quarantine, it cost $235 AUD compared to $115 AUD when we later flew that route ourselves.
Yes, it was more expensive, but they also booked the flight, picked him up from quarantine and drove him to the airport (about 25km). A lot cheaper than flying interstate myself, a return flight, and hiring a car to go to quarantine.
Cost of Using a Pet Transport Company Internationally
It was harder to compare the extra cost of using a pet transport company (again Jetpets) to fly our dog to Europe.
We weren’t allowed to book directly with an airline to fly our dog to Madrid. The closest comparable option was booking him to fly to London, which would have then involved a long (and not cheap) trip to Madrid via ferry and train.
I got a quote for flying him to London, but I had no idea how much the customs charge was for dogs flying cargo into London (it’s not cheap!) and I had no idea that we would need to pay for an export permit from Australia.
Often a quote from a pet transport company can include these additional items that you have no idea are required nor how much they cost.
I’ve both used a pet transport company to fly my dog or organised his flight myself, depending on the situation. I recommend considering both options if your dog is flying cargo.
If it’s your first time flying your dog internationally or if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the process, I recommend paying extra to use a pet transport company.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling confident or there’s not too many steps involved, feel free to transport your dog yourself, saving some money along the way, but keep in mind that it is a big responsibility.
Tips for Using a Pet Transport Company
If you do go ahead with using a pet transport company, these are my tips to have the best experience.
- Expect them to answer your initial query promptly. If you don’t get a reply in a reasonable amount of time, how can you be confident that they will communicate with you promptly at other times?
- If you have any questions, ask away! They’re the professionals and should know everything about your pet’s transport (or be able to find out the answer).
- Ask to be updated on the status of your pet along their journey. Most companies will send you email or SMS updates and even photos, although sometimes you need to request this. It’s so reassuring to know your pet is happy and healthy.
- Ask for recommendations from other pet owners who have flown their pet on a similar route. It’s great to know that the pet transport company you use is familiar with the route, and has a good track record.
A good place to start looking is the website of IPATA, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association, which lists pet shipping companies that are members.
You May Also Like
- Flying with a Dog: The Ultimate Guide
- Flying a Dog Overseas with Jetpets: Our Experience
- What Countries Require Pet Quarantine?
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26 thoughts on “Should You Use a Pet Transport Company?”
I like how you said to make sure that you ask the company questions! My husband and I are planning on moving to a new home in a couple of weeks, and we want to look into hiring a pet transportation company that can help us with transporting our dog safely to the new home since we need to fly there. We’ll make sure to keep these tips in mind as we search for a pet transportation service that can help us!
That’s great to hear Kate, hope it all goes smoothly!
I am so stressed! I am going back to the UK from NY with my dachshund Minnie! I am just so paranoid that they will steal her! I know this sounds crazy. I just don’t know how one can just put trust into a company. But I’m going to have to go for it because I am finding the paperwork a nightmare. I am going to go with Worldwide Pet transport.
How does one guarantee that the pet transport is safe and secure?
Make sure you use a reputable company, that other people recommend and has been around for awhile. Ask for recommendations, whether from others you know personally or in online groups. Expect that they will answer your queries promptly and thoroughly – go with your gut if they aren’t delivering good service in the initial stages or anything seems strange.
Be very careful and make sure you check your company there are scamming companies using legitimate names and you don’t know until they have your pet!!
Do you have any experiences you can share? This is quite alarming
Looking for advice on flying my 2 cats to Australia. Not sure who to go with and how much it will cost.
One Australian company I’ve previously used is Jetpets – I’ve written a review about my experience: http://www.travelnuity.com/jetpets-review/. Another Australian company I’ve heard good things about is Dogtainers. However, it’s probably also good to research pet transport companies in your local country, as most of the preparation takes place before flying.
This is great advice, thank you! One thing that has me most worried is, how do these companies handle long flights? We are planning to move to Malaysia from the U.S. (west coast) and it’s a 16 hour flight. Add the transfer times on either end and it would be minimum 22 hours that we have no idea what is happening with our dog. Do transport companies remedy this in some way? Wondering how your dog withstood 30 hours travel…?
Unfortunately, during the actual flight, there’s no way to get updates. However, when you board the flight (if you’re on the same flight), ask the cabin crew for confirmation that your dog is safely on board – the pilot as least will be aware of animals. Plus, if you have a stopover, ask to receive updates from the pet transport company. (I didn’t get this, but know of other people who have – always ask!)
If you’re not picking your dog up directly after the flight, ask to receive updates as soon as the pet transport company pick them up. My hardest experience was checking in my dog at LA airport, to fly to Melbourne, Australia, but directly into quarantine. They took forever to send an update confirming my dog was checked into quarantine, but it’s hard to get updates when it’s a government department.
I’ve been dealing with this nightmare for a year trying to make it work. My dog is a pug so that makes it harder. I had companies flat out turn me down. He’s young and healthy. My vet even approved him from flight. I’m anxious to do it but he’s too tall to fit under a seat.
Jasmine, that’s so upsetting to hear. The last year has been a particularly difficult time to travel with pets, as many airlines have reduced the options they offer, such as stopping transporting pets in the hold. I hope something works out.
Great read!!! Definately encourage hiring a transport company and if you do you can contact us Legit Breeders 7279027219. We have a lot of experience internationally and can go to places a lof of companies cant or wont due to covid restrictions. Ask about our Vip In Cabin Service and many references available. Check out wew.instagram.com/legitbreeders for more info or visit our yourube channel https://youtube.com/channel/UC_FhpRV_Dn21ZgFyzYa8Cog
I used Petravellers to get my chihuahua from Australia to UK. It cost me a fortune $A7500. It tooks 4 months to get a flight and eventually had a cargo flight from Emirates. She had to stay a full day before she went on to UK. She arrived UK for the next day but her favourite jacket and teddy was missing. Luckily she was so happy to see us ! She has a separation anxiety now but at least she is with us.
Wow, that’s an expensive flight! It’s so tough at the moment during Covid, with the limited flights. I hope her separation anxiety improves.
That’s normal prices. I’m shook you had to just pay a couple of hundreds of Australian Dollars.
I just looked into getting my pets to Europe from the US, I am going to organize the health certificates, I’m in contact with the destination airport, and with the pet cargo department of the Airline. I have the crates. All I was going to do is drop off the crates at the cargo hub of the airport, go to my flight, pick up the pets at the destination airport. It’s a direct flight. I inquired for just dropping them off and picking them up myself. Nothing fancy. I was quoted 6000 US dollars by two separate companies.
The couple of hundred dollars was for a small dog on a domestic flight within Australia, pre-Covid – although even the price for these domestic flights have shot up since.
Is the $6000 USD for one pet or multiple pets? Larger dogs in particular cost a lot more, due to the size of their crates.
Obviously availability of flights etc these days is quite different with Covid. It’s definitely a changing landscape. It’s worth at least considering a professional Pet Transport service, if for no other reason, than to reduce stress and time required to organise everything.
Depending on where you live, when you are looking for local or interstate Pet Transport, it’s worth considering road transport. Especially for flat faced Brachy Breeds. It’s less stressful and it’s much more personalised. I’ve used the Australian based Dog Transport company https://smooshdogtransport.com.au a few times previously, and it actually works out cheaper to use them than to drive yourself.
Thanks for sharing, and yes, the landscape is quite different at the moment due to Covid.
Do pet transport companies have their own planes or are animals transported on cargo planes or put into the hold of passenger planes? Are the animals taken care of during the flight? Are their spaces kept warm / cool and ventilated? How do we find these things out? I’ve never seen pictures. Thank you 🙂
Pets are usually transported in the hold of passenger planes, in a special area that is generally temperature controlled and inaccessible during flight. The exact set-up can vary from airline to airline and plane to plane. For an idea, see this Lufthansa video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS-scXNZJxs
Hi Shandos & Schnitzel,
Great info thank you! We are going through this nightmare at the moment getting our Kelpie & our our cattle dog x (big boy) back from Mexico via USA. We got the rabies & RNAT test done before we left so luckily don’t have to have the dogs board in USA for as long. Can I please ask which company you went through in the USA and from what aiport?
I actually skipped using a pet transport company when flying my dog back from the US, and did everything myself – quite stressful, and that was doing all the prep in the US, mainly with one vet! So, unfortunately, I don’t have US companies to recommend. We flew from LA. Schnitzel flew with Qantas directly to Melbourne while we took off about the same time to Sydney. LA is probably the most popular airport for animals flying to Australia, with plenty of flight options.
Best of luck all returning home!
Hi! We are looking to return to Australia from Canada with our dog and 2 cats. I wondered if you had any recommendations for pet travel organisations to help me out. Jetpets don’t do imports to Australia and nor do Pet traveller. I have contacted a couple of organisations here in Canada but it looks like they will take forever to get back to me. If you have any names I can look into I would really appreciate it. Thank you!
Sorry Heather, I don’t have any company names for Canada. Perhaps try asking in my FB group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/dogfriendlytravelrtw?
Thanks very much!