When I ship a puppy they need to be a minimum of 8 weeks old, that is the legal age that they can fly, so I usually plan their trip on or around the date they are old enough. I ship out of Appleton, Wisconsin, it is a little over an hour away from us, and I use Delta or United Airlines for my flights. When someone calls me about the cost of shipping a puppy I give them a standard price that includes the cost of the flight, crate, and health certificate. The crate that the puppy comes home with is a travel crate only, it is not to be used for training purposes. A health certificate is required to ship a puppy and I take care of that when the puppy is examined by my vet. Delta only allows a puppy's flight to be booked 13 days in advance, United does not have a time restriction, as soon as a puppy is adopted I can call and arrange a flight with them, so I usually look up a flight schedule with both airlines, discuss it with the adopting family, and when we have one picked out I will call as soon as I can to arrange the flight and then email the details over to the receiving family. I am very picky about how long a puppy is traveling so I always aim to get the shortest flight that I can. Unless you are receiving your puppy in Detroit, Minneapolis, or Atlanta they will have a flight with a layover, the only direct flights out of Appleton are in the cities I just mentioned. Unless your puppy is traveling late at night and there is a time/date change, your puppy will arrive the same day that they leave.
When arranging a flight I ask that the receiving family give me two International Airport options to choose from and I will try to book the flight for the airport that they prefer, but will ultimately choose the one with the shortest flight option. Some airports are too small and do not take pets so I always ask for larger airport options to ship to. I always try to get the shortest layover possible and Delta does offer what they call a 'DASH' service where, for an extra fee, you can get better flight options with shorter layovers. United is more expensive than Delta but one benefit to them is that they already have shorter layovers than Delta and do not charge extra fees based on the travel times. Some people are not willing to pay for the Delta 'dash' service or the extra cost to ship with United so I book the shortest option available no matter what service I am using and I do not book puppies on flights with double connections. Occasionally I will call to arrange a flight and find out that particular airports only offer the 'dash' service for pets so the cost is higher. If I become aware of a price change I will contact the family first to ask if they are okay with the change, and if they are not, we will then look for a different airport to ship their puppy to.
One downfall with using Delta is that I have found them to be ‘money hungry!’ Quite often I will call to book a flight and, surprise, they have created another policy on shipping that requires more money. This just recently happened to me, I called to book a 7am flight and was told that any flights up until 7am are now automatically priced as ‘dash’ because the airport is very busy in the morning. “Dash” is supposed to provide a shorter layover, hence the higher price, but this is not the case in the early morning flights, the flight I called to book had a 3 hour layover and I was still charged an extra $130 for the flight simply based on its time. I have not had these types of issues with United and I must admit that I prefer using them when possible.
Once the flight is booked I will email the receiving family the flight details, directions on where to pick up the puppy, and also a tracking # so that they can watch the flight status online. I ask that all families who are having their puppies shipped keep a free schedule for the day that they are receiving their puppy, be open to traveling to an airport a little farther away if necessary, and realize that their puppy may be arriving later at night or on a more expensive flight if I have to avoid warm temperatures or make travel changes.
Delta has a lot of rules for shipping a puppy, often times I've had families look up flight schedules online and question why I am not using one flight versus another and, trust me, it's not that simple! Not every flight you see posted online is 'pet friendly.' For their lowest priced flights Delta requires that the layover time be a minimum of two hours, so if you see a flight listed with a layover time of less than two hours they will charge you extra, what they call a 'dash' flight. If you see a layover time of less than one hour they do not allow you to book it for a puppy. Delta requires that pets be checked in 2 hours in advance for flights. When shipping I have to allow time to drive to the airport, wait in line, do the actual check in paperwork, and have everything done before that two hour mark. They now have it set up so that if you arrive late and don't have the puppy checked in by that 2 hour mark they will lock you out of the system and deny the flight! The Delta desk in Appleton does not open until 4:30 a.m. so with their 2 hour check in rule it limits the use of early morning flights that they may have available, for example I cannot book a puppy onto a 5:30am flight because the desk is not open 2 hour in advance for me to get them checked in on time. There is a lot more involved in the process so that's why I always tell people to let me handle the research on the flights.
On the day of the flight I have to arrive 2.5 to 3 hours early to the airport to check in the puppy, fill out the paperwork, and pay for their plane ticket. After the puppies are all checked in and the paperwork is done I then email the family to let them know their puppy is checked in and ready to go. If there is ever a delay or cancellation I keep in touch with the receiving family so everyone knows when to expect their puppy. Both airlines are really good about shipping puppies but occasionally there will be a flight change, delay, or cancellation and I just ask the family to stay in touch with me throughout the day and check their emails. Both airlines also have a really nice option on their websites where you can track the flights and check on status of your puppy the entire time that they are traveling.
Pro’s of using Delta: Their standard flights are cheaper than United, but do have longer layovers- a minimum of two hours.
Delta ships to more locations.
They do offer a “Dash” service that is more expensive but has a shorter layover, less than two hours, minimum of one hour.
The Con’s of using Delta: Per Delta's restrictions it has to be a minimum of 10 degrees and maximum of 85 degrees outside, at all stops, to ship a puppy. If it is too hot or too cold in any place that the puppy is traveling to I may need to reschedule the flight either for a later time, different day, on a different flight, or with a different airline to avoid temperature issues. Some airports participate in what they call the "Summer Pet Program" where they do not have high temperature restrictions, so for families living in really hot climates, or if the layover cities are too hot, I aim for shipping through the airports that do not have the temperature restrictions. Detroit and Minneapolis are two of the layover cities that Delta uses and they do not participate in the Summer Cooling program which can really limit our options during Summer. Detroit and Minneapolis also get quite cold in Winter which can also really limit the flight options because if either city is going to be less than 10 degrees on the day of shipping the flight will be cancelled. In Winter if I have to use Delta I look for flights that have a layover in Atlanta to avoid having problems with temperatures but if the layover is less than 2 hours they will of course charge you more for the 'dash' flight.
Changing flights sometimes results in having to use what Delta calls their 'dash' flights and this results in a higher cost for shipping your puppy because Delta charges more for the flights with shorter layovers, if this happens I will always ask the receiving family first to make sure they are ok with spending the extra money. If they are not okay with spending the extra money then I may need to explore other airport options.
Delta’s policies change on a regular basis and that generally means that they are going to find one more way to charge you extra money. I have found in recent years that they are shortening their layover times so that you are either limited on what flights you can put puppies on otherwise you will be forced to pay their ‘dash prices.’
I cannot book a flight with them until 13 days in advance which gives us all less time to plan.
Pro’s of using United: United does not have the temperature restrictions that Delta has because all of the airports they ship to, except Salt Lake City, participate in the Summer Cooling Program so during the Summer months this is very beneficial if it is hot and I am having issues shipping with Delta. They also do not have temperature restrictions in Winter (unless the weather is really bad) so I prefer to use them for shipping puppies in the colder months.
Their layovers are shorter than Delta’s, and even with them being a bit more expensive than Delta, they are still cheaper than Delta’s Dash service. Most flights that I have booked with them have layovers of less than two hours where Delta's are a minimum of two hours.
I can book flights way farther in advance with them than I can with Delta and that gives everyone way more time to plan things out.
Con’s of using United: They are a little more expensive than Delta, but to me, this really isn’t a true ‘con’ because they have better layover times and I personally don’t want my puppies sitting in an airport for long amounts of time.
They don’t ship to as many places as Delta.
Because of all of the above I ask that everyone keep a free schedule on the day they are receiving their puppy just in case there are temperature issues or changes in flights. I realize it may not be the most convenient to pick up a puppy late at night or to have to pay a higher fee but sometimes I don't have a choice if it is too hot or too cold- the weather and flight changes are the two major things I cannot control in this process. Just to clarify: the temperature restrictions are set up because the airline does not want to expose your pet to extreme hot or cold while they are being transported from the plane to the airport. While traveling inside the plane they are always in an area where it is either heated or cooled depending on the season.
For families living in Canada the airlines no longer offer shipping puppies to Canadian Airports. I realize this is inconvenient, but we have found a solution, and that requires anyone living in Canada to pick their puppy up at the nearest U.S. airport and drive them across the border. It is totally legal, we do it all the time, and the only additional requirement is an International Health Certificate which you will need when crossing the border. So, if you live in Canada and are willing to drive a bit, please do not hesitate to contact me about getting a puppy.
Quite often I have families ask me if it is traumatic or dangerous to ship a puppy. Honestly, it can be a long day, but I do not think that it is dangerous or something to get really nervous about. I am picky about the flights I choose, I will not ship in dangerous weather, and I will not ship a puppy if I do not feel they are ready for it. Over and over again I have had families who have had their puppies shipped contact me and tell me that they were way more nervous about it than they should have been and that the entire process was much easier than they had thought it would be.
If you live far away from us and are nervous about shipping a puppy you may want to consider flying here to pick up your puppy. We have had several families fly to Wisconsin, pick up their puppy, and fly home with them. When traveling with a puppy they are allowed to ride in the passenger area of the plane with you but must be placed in a crate below the seat in front of you. I personally have done both, I have had purchased puppies shipped to me and I have also flown out of state to pick up and take back a puppy home with me, either way works out fine but I personally prefer to have them shipped to me.
I hope this helps better explain things and if you have any additional questions about shipping a puppy please contact me.