True PCS Your Pets Overseas Travel Stories Part 1

True Pet PCS Stories

Just to give you an idea of the problems that could exist when you transport your pets, I have listed a few true experiences from Service members I’ve spoken with or read about while writing this book.  Most of the experiences discuss travel from the United States to Italy because that was my last assignment before I retired, but I think the experiences can be applied to just about any location.

California to Vicenza, Italy; 1 large dog; commercial airlines

“I transported my German Shepard (about 120 pounds with crate) from California to Venice, Italy.  SATO made reservations for my family for a flight with United/ Lufthansa and then I had to make the Pet reservation, but every time I called the airlines they didn’t have room for my dog on the same plane that SATO had made reservations.  We had to change tickets with SATO about three times before we finally got a flight with available pet room.  Total cost for one large dog – $450.  We transferred in Frankfurt and were permitted to take our dog outside the airport, outside security, to walk and feed him.  I don’t think the airline fed our dog though because his the food was still taped to the top of his crate.  Our military sponsor was nice enough to pick us up at the Venice airport when we arrived so we could get to the hotel on the Ederle Base we had arranged for a pet friendly room at the military lodging called the Ederle Inn.  We wouldn’t have been allowed to use the free shuttle offered by the base because our dog was too big.”

Salt Lake City, UT to Vicenza, Italy and return; 2 medium dogs; pet transportation service

“I was transporting my two dogs (2 medium sized dogs 50 lbs and 80 lbs) from Salt Lake City, Utah to Vicenza, Italy; we hired a service from the www.UShip.com webpage, where shippers compete to ship your animals.  The total cost, door to door, was about $2000.  On the way back to the U.S., we had orders for Fort Drum, New York and hired another service off www.Uship.com for about the same price, but then our orders changed to Eglin AFB, FL two weeks before I left.  The shipper couldn’t change the pet tickets from New York since we had already paid for the tickets, so the pets were still shipped to New York, but the shipper arranged to drive them to Florida.  Total door to door cost: $4000.”

Kansas City, Kansas to Vicenza, Italy and return; DOD Civilian; medium dog; commercial airlines

“I traveled from Kansas City to Vicenza, Italy in 2016 and I found a direct flight into Milan, Italy which cost me $350 for my medium size dog in baggage.  My sponsor was nice enough to meet us at the airport in Milan (about a 3 hour drive) and take us to the base.  However, in 2019, returning to Kansas City, because of airline policies, we couldn’t return the same way.  The airline exceptions only applied to active duty military and not DOD civilians.  So we were forced to fly from Venice to Chicago and rent a car from there to Kansas City for a total of about $550.”

Dallas to Vicenza; Commercial airlines

“I paid $375 on Lufthansa to transport my Rhodesian Ridgeback (140 lbs. with crate) from Dallas, TX to Venice, Italy, and then had to pay for a rental car from the airport to Vicenza: 1 day rental $60.”

Fort Walton Beach, FL to Vicenza, Italy; 1 small and 1 medium dog; Patriot Express

“In 2016, I traveled to Italy unaccompanied 2 months prior before my family at no personal cost.  There, I purchased a second vehicle in Italy to use for work.  Two months later, my family drove 6 hours to the Atlanta, GA Vehicle Processing Center, turned in the vehicle for shipping and then took an Uber to the airport with the 2 dogs, one small and one medium.  The Military provided tickets on Delta airlines to Baltimore for my family, and I had to pay about $225 for the two dogs (one in the cabin and one in baggage).  At Baltimore, my family caught the Patriot Express to Aviano, Italy (through Ramstein, Germany) costing about $200 for both dogs (military transportation made the reservations 90 days prior to the flight).  I then met my family at Aviano in my POV and drove them to the dog friendly temporary housing that I had been using on Ederle base.”

Colombia, South America to Fort Walton Beach, FL; 1 small dog and 1 medium dog; commercial airlines

“In 2010, I paid $150 to transport my golden retriever with baggage and $100 to transport my Cocker Spaniel inside the cabin.  We got off the plane in Miami, paid for a pet friendly hotel overnight, and the next day bought a car and drove 8 hours to Eglin Air Force Base, FL.  I didn’t know I could have the Army pay me for mileage, so I didn’t submit for it.”

Washington DC to Vicenza, Italy; two medium dogs and 2 cats; Commercial Airlines

“In 2017, we bought pet tickets for our two cats in the cabin and our two medium size dogs in baggage on a direct flight from Dulles to Rome, Italy for about $450 total.  Then we rented a car from Rome and drove one way to Vicenza for about $200, checked into our pet room at the Ederle Inn on base.  The next day we turned the car at the airport in Venice and then took the free shuttle back to the base.  Driving was very crazy, and I wouldn’t recommend this for the faint of heart or anyone not used to traveling overseas.  However, we estimate it saved us upward of $800.  We initially had a problem checking into the hotel on base, because they have a policy that only allows 2 pets per room.  Fortunately, we are a duel military family, so we told them to either give us two rooms or let us put all four in our one room and they agreed to let us all stay in one room.”

Virginia to Guam; two large dogs; commercial airlines

According to a story in The Star and Stripes, Jan 2019, a military couple had to pay almost $11,600 to ship their two German Shepherds from Virginia to Guam.  United would not ship large dogs that required pet crates taller than 30”.  Delta airlines wouldn’t ship pets on flights lasting more than 12 hours, and their flight was 12 hours and 5 minutes.  In the end, the couple had to pay a pet transportation company to fly the dogs from Washington to Amsterdam where they would spend the night, and then to South Korea where they would spend the night, and finally to Guam.

Next post I’ll cover the ins and out of traveling with pets on military aircraft, specifically the Patriot Express.

For more info on how to PCS Your Pets Overseas on commercial and military aircraft, check out my book PCS Your Pets Overseas, available on Amazon Kindle.

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