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How to Juggle Weather Embargoes During Summer Travel with Your Pet

Published on: June 26, 2017  |  Author: Starwood Animal Transport


Stranded by the weather. Who knew that heat you’ve been craving all winter could throw such a spanner into your summer travel plans? All you wanted was to transport yourself and your four-legged best friend to a sunnier clime for some R&R. And what happened? Your pet’s travel was a last minute no-go. How could this have happened?

On the day of your eagerly-awaited departure, your airline determined it would be too hot for your pooch to make the flight. It’s not that your airline is picking on you. And it’s not only this airline. Every air carrier that transports animals as cargo has the same rule: if it’s too hot or too cold, pets are grounded. Generally speaking, the cut-off temperature is in the mid-80s.

The problem is, you cannot always predict when weather embargoes are going into effect. It is literally a day-by-day decision airlines make. To further complicate matters, if and how weather restrictions are imposed can vary from one airline to another. For example, Southwest Airlines allows pets only in the cabin, so weather is never an issue. On the other hand, your pet could easily be too big to fly SWA under any conditions.

And it affects your pet’s entire itinerary – the original departure location, your destination, and any ground stops in between.

Weather embargoes can be supremely frustrating, but they protect your pet

The most pet-friendly airlines do everything they can to keep animals comfortable during their journey. That said, some do not have air-conditioned cargo terminals or vehicles that transport crated pets to and from the plane. The tarmac gets very hot, which can increase temperatures inside the cargo hold and stress pets waiting to load or be unloaded. 

Snub-nosed dogs and cats are at even greater risk, since it’s more difficult for them to breathe even when conditions are ideal. In fact, airlines often reduce the hot weather cut-off to 75o for these pets.

And, though your current concern may be summer travel, you should know that airlines have winter weather embargoes, too, for locations that get extremely cold.

What to do?

Plan ahead. If you’re planning a holiday and wouldn’t dream of leaving your pet behind, pick a time of year (or destination) where weather isn’t likely to interfere with your plans. For example, consider Europe instead. There are plenty of great places to vacation with your pet where it is not terribly hot. 

Change your plans. If hot weather is a problem where you live and you have your heart set on summer, consider driving to a departure location where it is cooler. Or, choose an arrival airport where it is cooler. Another option is to choose flights that depart and land at night or during cooler times of day. Do everything you can to book a non-stop flight.

If you’re moving, your travel date and destination cannot be changed. You’ll have to tough it out. You could very well wind up traveling on a different flight or day than your pet. It’s virtually impossible to accomplish this scenario on your own, because you cannot be in two places at once. You’ll have two options:

  • You can remain home until you pet is allowed to fly. Send her on her way, then arrange your own travel to match (assuming you can get on the same flight) or follow as soon as possible. You’ll need someone at the other end to meet and collect her – and escort her through customs, arrange interim boarding, etc.
  • You can go on ahead as planned, leaving your pet behind in the hands of someone who can care for her until the weather allows her to travel to you. That person will have to get your pet into her travel crate and deliver her and all her travel documents to the airline according to their requirements.

The best way to handle potential weather embargoes is to get professional help. There is more involved than simply being “the person on the other end.” Any time you’re traveling with your pet, unless the trip is short and simple you’re better off teaming up with a pet travel expert like our team here at Starwood.

We know the rules. We know the airlines. We know how to work around frustrating (and worrisome) details such as weather embargoes. And we have your back. Not to mention your pet’s back. That’s a tail-wagging proposition if ever there was one. Read about how one British couple was able to move their five dogs to the UAE in the middle of summer, thanks to Starwood UK.


Flying with your pet