Expats May Need to Leave their Pets Behind as Travel Costs Skyrocket

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic

Animal travel has always been expensive, but it’s about to become unaffordable for many pet lovers. Pet owners moving abroad may be forced to leave their pets behind after animal travel costs have gone up by as much as 400 percent!

IAG Cargo, a sister company to British Airways, Vueling, and Aer Lingus, has recently announced that it was raising travel prices along some routes beginning March 1. This unexpected move shocked pet owners with relocation plans, particularly those moving to and from Britain and the United States. 

To reflect the complexities of this bespoke service and the cost of providing the very best care for pets traveling as cargo, we have made some amendments to our prices,” a spokesperson for IAG Cargo said in a statement. 

This shipping company is mostly used by military personnel to move their pets abroad while deployed. 

After three years at their duty station in the UK, Sara and her family are moving back to the U.S. The family’s two dogs, Bentley and Ghost, are booked on a British Airways flight on 1 March.

Under the current policy, IAG Cargo only accepts a booking for a pet transfer up to six weeks before the flight. The company then confirms the space has been requested. Two weeks before the flight, once the planes have been scheduled on that route, the IAG Cargo confirms the booking, locking in the price.

Initially, Sara’s family was quoted $1,450 for a flight from London to Baltimore for both dogs. However, due to the recent price hike, the travel price for the dogs has jumped to $6,500! And that’s without the administration fees and the cost of the agency the family is using to arrange the cargo shipment. 

We are paying out of our own pocket for this, and we just bought a house in our new location,” said Sara to BBC. “Our dogs are like our children, we would do anything for them but that doesn’t mean it’s not devastating for our finances.”

The family’s shipping agent found another airline that could ship their dogs at a lower price. The catch - they would have to make a seven-hour round trip to collect the dogs from another airport. 

Sara explained that her dogs are small in size and that she believes people shipping large-size dogs could face shipping costs over $10,000.

I already know a number of people who did not bring their pets [to the UK] because of the costs to bring them one way… People are going to be shocked,” she added.

Details about the new pricing and affected routes are still unclear, but some companies that work with IAG Cargo are already seeing the effects. Kimberly Cirone, a director at Pets Abroad UK, a pet relocation company that assists pet owners with travel arrangements and works with airlines, said that the costs of pet transport between Britain and the United States have increased by 400 percent without warning, consideration, or explanation.

The unexpected price hike has left many military families in turmoil as they are unable to gather the necessary funds in time to have their pets shipped back home. 

It’s a huge amount to organize, and within days or weeks of arriving one of those family members may be sent on to areas of conflict. The dog or cat is hugely important, it is the family’s companion when one partner is away fighting and this will be hugely distressing for them.”

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Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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