Traveling with pets – fly Continental

Among the thousand and one things we need to nail down before actually moving to California (estimated time of departure: 2 weeks away) is getting our dog out to California. When we moved to Chicago over six years ago, it was touch-and-go: American Airlines will not fly pets if either city in the trip will be below 40 degrees or above 85. That’s because the cargo compartments are not well insulated, and prolonged periods of time on the runway/tarmac can result in either very cold or very hot conditions.

One of the recommendations our relo service gave me was, a company that specializes in transporting pets. I called them to get a feel for what was involved (having already flown our dog once, I didn’t know if there was some aspect of this that I was missing, necessitating a service to cover our bases). If you don’t want to think about any of the details, PetRelocation is a good answer: they’ll pick your dog up, deliver him/her to the airport, coordinate travel, and then pick the dog up at the airport and deliver him/her to your door. That service doesn’t come cheap, though, so I opted to pass for the all-inclusive package.

But PetRelocation did tell me one interesting thing: they only fly Continental. Turns out, Continental is extraordinarily pet-friendly, and has the same air in the cabin that’s in the cargo… meaning that the pets are in a temperature-controlled environment for the duration of their trip. Continental doesn’t fly direct, so our dog will get a connection through Houston – where they will transport him in an air-conditioned van that’s specifically for transporting pets. He leaves Chicago a couple hours before us, and arrives an hour after us. (We’re flying direct… both for our own sanity as well as that of our fellow travelers. Nobody wants Becca on a connecting flight.)

The cost varies by weight, but our guy will be just over $300. For the peace of mind alone, that’s a very reasonable cost. Kudos to Continental for addressing this need so well; and thanks to PetRelocation for the recommendation.