Roughly 13 million pets traveled with either owners or handlers in the United States last year, Phillip Grant, the executive vice president of the website PetTravel.com, said – up from 10 million just three years ago.
Here is a sampling of an owner’s options:
• On the road ($50 to $300 for a carrying crate) – Crates are recommended by many pet travel websites for the animal’s safety.
• On the plane ($75 to $2,000) – Most major airlines offer three options for pet transport: in the cabin, checked as luggage or shipped as cargo.
Where a pet will go is determined by its size, weight, the air temperature along the route and, for dogs, the breed. Many airlines have banned snub-nosed breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs, because high altitudes can affect their breathing.
Animals must be contained in a crate that meets the International Air Transport Association’s requirements, as well as the airline’s. The crates must be leakproof, have ventilation, be large enough for the animal to stand up and move around in and have metal locking mechanisms.
For international travel, pet regulations vary by country. Owners should research which, if any, customs regulations, pet passports and vaccinations are required.
• Under the seat ($75 to $150 one-way) – Pets 20 pounds or less (including crate weight) may travel in the cabin as long as the crate fits under the seat in front of the passenger (typically around 17 inches in length, 12 in width and eight in height). Contact airlines early to book space, as most allow only up to four animals in a cabin at one time.
• Baggage (around $200 a crate) – A preferable option for larger pets, traveling as checked baggage, unlike flying in cargo, affords temperature regulation. Owners can also drop off and pick up at the same place they would their luggage.
• Cargo ($300 to $2,000, depending on size and destination) – For most international travel, or for larger animals traveling domestically, cargo is the only option. Animals aren’t crowded in with luggage that can shift during the flight, but airlines can require check-in at cargo up to four hours before the flight.
• Advice and assistance (fees start at around $200, for domestic travel, and $400 for international) – Pet consultants advise on anything and everything, including customs forms, researching and booking airline tickets and pet-friendly accommodations at your destination.
• Courier services ($1,000 to $4,000 or more, including travel expenses for both the animal and handler) – Private courier services will take a pet door to door. The International Pet and Transportation Association offers a list of recommended handlers.