Flying vs. Driving

car vs plane

A question that is frequently asked to those in our IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association) community is, “I love my pet(s) so much, and can’t bear the thought of my little one(s) in the belly of an airplane. Is having you relocate him/her/them via ground transport an option?”

For domestic US moves, the short and simple answer—a resounding, “YES!”. But wait just a cotton-picking-V8-turbo-cruise-control minute…before running to the store to get your furry, feathered, or scaly friend’s favorite treats and traveling CD’s, you may want to put more thought into which mode of travel is really best for your pet.

One of the biggest driving (no pun intended) factors for most of our clients is, you guessed it, money. With either the air or ground transport options, you won’t be paying United States Postal Service rates. Pets are not packages. They are living, breathing, loving animals that we pet professionals, as well as those who we choose to do business with, treat as the special beings that they are. In the majority of relocations, flying is the lower cost option, especially for longer distances.

But is flying feasible for your pet? Sometimes a pet is too large to fit into an available airplane’s cargo hold or is not accepted during certain times of the year because of its breed or may be so nervous after even three straight weeks of daily kennel training (as covered in last month’s Tip of the Month) that it chews through the hard plastic of a travel kennel. There are other considerations as well. For instance, because of the unavailability of larger aircraft from Phoenix to Los Angeles, most pets have to fly from Phoenix on a connecting flight via either Houston, San Francisco, Denver, or Seattle before flying to Los Angeles, so we at will often offer ground transport instead. Our reasoning is simple: if it takes the same amount of overall time, is what you, our client, would still consider cost effective, and we, the shipper, can give personal supervision to your loved one, why not? If you do choose to have your pet driven to their new home, make sure that the driver is experienced in driving pets, handling pets, and also sincerely cares about your pet and its welfare.
The overwhelming majority of relocations involving all four United States offices, however, happen via air transport (which is why we are petsfly, not petsdrive). Besides being more cost effective, air relocations are by and large more efficient, faster, safer, and in the case of international transport, are often the only way to relocate an animal.

As always, we advise you to A) start your pet’s travel preparation early, B) do research on any company that you are working with (How long have they been in business? Do they have references/website/social media page?), and most importantly, C) ask questions and take notes. Good luck on your mission.