Moving to STX with big dogs
We're planning our move with our three greyhounds. Unfortunately, the smallest one is too big for the "giant" ATA-approved pet carrier. She exceeds both the size of the carrier and the total weight allowed, and she's the small one!
Has anyone moved by air with large dogs? How did you handle it?
the airlines sure have changed.....when i moved here in 1990 i moved with two big dogs (over 100 pounds) a small dog and a cat all on american airlines. when did they change policy? thats to bad. is the weight the safety of the dogs? cant you pay an extra fee if over the 100 pounds weight limit?
I think it must have changed, DixieChick, because I remember it being easier too. It probably has to do with the same reason that we have to pay for all our checked baggage now. Remember when you could fly with two suitcases per person!
It's not the weight of the dogs but the size of the carriers. Greyhounds are tall and long. The size carrier they need literally will not fit through the cargo doorway of an American Airlines plane. And that's a wide body 757 that would fly Miami to STT and I'd have to get them from STT to STX. They wouldn't discuss putting them on a smaller plane that flies into STX.
When I talked to American on the phone today, they were very helpful, but they said if the carrier was bigger than their 500 series, they couldn't take them. My biggest dog needs a 700 series.
A helpful person on the Greyhound board told me she moved from the UK with her 95lb greyhound and they just put him in a 500 series crate. The problem is that the people at the check-in counter can decide on the spot that your dog is too big. And if they do that, you're standing at the airport with tickets in hand and one of your dogs can't get on the plane. And I really REALLY want to avoid that.
We brought our three rotties here via Continental airlines. Our dogs all weighed over 150lbs and we used 700 series crates for them. We flew them to Houston where they overnigted at an on site kennel at the Houston airport. The next morning they were flown to San Juan PR. We then hired Mike Foster who owns Costal Air. He and my husband flew to San Juan and picked them up. Mike helped walk the dogs and then loaded them on his aircraft. Their crates were taken apart and stacked. The dogs were allowed to roam the plane. Our biggest expense was chartering Mikes aircraft. I believe it was $1,200. Continental was a little over $200 a piece I think. It was 7 years ago so I am not sure of the exact cost. Call continental, pet cargo. Their animal holds are temperature controlled. Our dogs arrived in wonderful shape.
Hope this helps.
It's okay. They were bought by United in 2010 but they just shut down operations completely in March 2012. If you don't fly a lot, you wouldn't know.
I am really grateful for your info anyway. It would have been the perfect solution. I'm going to call around and see if I can get another airline to do that. American was very nice on the phone, but stopped dead at the crate being too big. So no dice.
I'd love for my dogs to be able to roam the airplane. 😀
I believe United did adopt Continental's petsafe flying program:
They will transport 700 series kennels too.
Unfortunately, the search didn't turn up any information about about dogs too big for the approved carriers.
When I manage to solve this problem, I will come back and post here so that future people with big dogs can have this information.
This site's built-in search is very particular. If you search for "moving large dogs" with the right settings, you will get some results. However, I find Google search to be far better.
Here is a Google search for "move large dog" that shows lots of results, only for this site:
Also see these threads, if they're not shown above:
https://www.vimovingcenter.com/talk/read.php?4,144021 "Relocation with my dog?"
https://www.vimovingcenter.com/talk/read.php?4,99254 "moving a beloved dog"
This is a frequent subject, so you can find lots of info.
I, too, will be moving back to STX in the Fall with an eleven year old Standard Poodle and in checking out things, it does seem the regs have changed than when I moved there in the 90's with a Labrador. I have nightmares about standing at the airport, flying out of Miami and not being able to get him on the plane. Please keep this thread informed as to your solution. We will drive to Miami from Arkansas in order to ship our vehicles. Thank you!!
Thank you, Tammy. I'm seriously considering chartering a flight from Miami to STX since we're driving the vehicle to Miami anyway.
Rosesisland, I don't think you're going to have a problem. I had a standard poodle and she easily would have fit into a 500-series or even a 400-series crate. And she won't exceed the combined crate-and-dog weight limit of 100 lbs, so she will be able to fly in checked baggage on your flight. Here are the specs for what size dog will fit in which type of crate: http://pettravelstore.com/categories/Pet-Crates-%26-Accessories/Pet-Crates/
You see, my dogs plus their carriers exceed the 100-lb weight limit, so they have to fly cargo. And the planes that fly cargo to STX don't have loading doors big enough for the large crates. You are not going to have this problem, so don't worry! 😎
Also, this is a wonderful website: http://www.pettravel.com/airline_rules.cfm
I will definitely update this thread when I find a solution and also to report how things went on the actual move.
We moved a very large dog (about 125 pounds) to STX about 3 years ago and had the same problems but finally solved them rather nicely. I'll outline what we did.
American would not fly our dog to STX due to the fact that he was considered freight because of his size and weight. In addition, American did not have a "freight department" located here on STX. Had he and his crate been smaller, he could have come as checked baggage, of course.
Instead, American suggested that since St. Thomas does have a freight department at the airport, that we fly him from Miami to STT which is what we did. Next, we chartered a small plane with a friend pilot who flew us all to St. Croix. I still laugh when I think of that small plane managing two adults, the pilot, a huge dog, luggage, and the big disassembled crate. It's amazing that the plane could take off but we arrived safe and sound.
There was an equal challenge getting the dog to Miami to get on the St. Thomas flight, but that is a story for another day. If you have any questions about all this, feel free to PM me on here. Take heart, it can be done but its a bit expensive and nerve-wracking!
Okay, my friends. I just got some information I'd like to share with you.
First of all, American Airlines Cargo (hi Jennifer) are very helpful. Here is their pet policy website: https://www.aacargo.com/shipping/animals.jhtml To summarize, If the weight of your pet and its carrier exceed 100 lbs, you have to fly cargo. They handle the transfer of your dogs to the cargo plane and try to coordinate to arrive as close to the time of your commercial flight as possible. American flies 757s to STT that will carry the 500 series crates. United flies to SJU. Same thing. But that doesn't get you to STX.
As Stxer1 and Tammy both advised, one of the ways to solve the problem is to charter a plane from STT or SJU to STX. You can also charter a plane from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) or even from your home airport.
My new best friend Lauren Granger from http://www.airpropel.com/ gave me some estimated prices. Please note that these are only estimates and may change depending upon when you fly, from where, and how flexible you can be:
1. Fly commercially to San Juan, PR then private to STX. The private will be about $1,000
2. Fly commercially to St Thomas then private to STX. The private flight will be about $500.
3. Drive to Ft Lauderdale then fly private to STX. My best guess at this time is that the cost will be less than $7,500 for everyone.
4. Fly private from PHL to STX. The cost will be about $20,000 for everyone.
On the private flights, the dogs are loose in the cabin with you, so pet carriers are not needed at all. If you have a carrier from your commercial leg, the flight crew will disassemble it and store it for you.
Best part -- no TSA! If you fly private, you don't have to go through the annoying airport lines or get fondled by a security guard. I think I might buy myself some new sunglasses and pretend I'm a rockstar! 😎
If your dog plus the carrier weight less than 100lbs, you shouldn't have these issues. Here are the weights and sizes of the various crates: http://pettravelstore.com/categories/Pet-Crates-%26-Accessories/Pet-Crates/
When we make our journey (probably in November), I will report back and let you know how it went.
Thanks everyone for your help! I hope this post helps others too.
Seaborne will take big dogs and their big crates over 100lbs fro STX to San Juan.
I know, because that is how we got our big puppy to SJ earlier this year.
They will ask you to hold the dog while they disassemble/reassemble the crate inside the cargo hold.
Did not cost anywhere near $1000.
Call and ask if they offer this service FROM SJ.
For Getting to Miami you could also try Pet Airways. They fly pets exclusively.
Also, does AA cargo have temperature restrictions? Make sure to ask about that. United doesn't have temp restrictions except for snub nose breeds so you can fly them to San Juan with no problems in the summer.
And yes, Seaborne is still flying from Juan and are super pet friendly. They do fly out of isla Grande airport though, which is only a short taxi ride from SJU airport.
Does Delta still fly in a couple of times per week from Atlanta? If so, look into them as they have the reputation for the best pet service (they have dedicated climate controlled facilities and dedicated pet handlers) and it's independent of whether you're on the plane or not.
We went through a nightmare last year with our two dogs (only one of which is large.) In total, it took us about 2.5 days to get to the West Coast from STX because of the nightmare that started when we went to check-in the large pet at AA STX ticket counter and the surly ticket agent refused. I'll skip all the details of us running around, meeting Captain Bolke, watching one agent in Miami argue with another and convince their manager that our 500 series crate was too small, etc. and tell anybody trying to get off island that your best bet is to go to the AA counter ahead of time and ask for the manager (she's nice AND competent.) Confirm your pet reservation with her and ask if she's on duty the day you're scheduled to check-in so you can work with her directly instead of a possible incompetent unhappy staffer.