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travel from US to Germany with our dog in cargo hold planning & booking advice?

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  • travel from US to Germany with our dog in cargo hold planning & booking advice?

    My family is moving from the US to Germany in December. Our 65lbs. Lab mix is coming with us. She will have to travel in the cargo hold. I would love some advice in regards to planning and booking this process. It seems that regardless of the airline i have to book the pets itinerary through the airlines cargo divison, while the people travel reservations are made through the airlines regular website or phone. How do you make sure the itineraries match up? In other words, that my dog flies on the same plane that we are on?
    In most cases flying a pet in the cargo hold is only offered on routes with wide body plane, meaning on more popular longer distance flights. What if i have a connection flight from a smaller airport to a bigger hub from where i would be flying to Germany and the pet travel in the cargo hold is not offered on the connection flight? Am i forced to just fly straight out of the big airport, even if that means driving there by car for 5+ hours? Or are there other options?
    In addition the COVID-19 situation has added a whole other element of uncertainty?

    Has anyone been through this process and can share their experience?

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Ruben - there are 2 classes of service where pets fly in a cargo hold: accompanied checked baggage or for very large or unaccompanied pets: air cargo. Before the pandemic, pets whose weight including the weight of the crate was under a certain threshold (which varies per airline) can fly as checked baggage which is more convenient and less expensive than air cargo. Reservations for checked baggage are made through your airline's general reservation number. You should also know that the chances that your dog will fly on the same flight as you are better when flying as accompanied checked baggage. It is unfortunate that many airlines have suspended this class of service during the pandemic. It is difficult to predict when they will resume this service. Check with Lufthansa as their hub is Frankfurt and likely the best option. As to the size of the aircraft, service is presently being offered out of major US airports into Frankfurt and, from what we have heard, transits are allowed. That said, if the aircraft serving the second leg of your route is not large enough to accommodate your pet's crate or the cargo hold is not temperature and pressure controlled, you will need to consider alternate means of transportation to your final destination, maybe ground. What we would recommend is flying from a major airport in the US to FRA and driving from there if that makes sense.
    Susan

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