It's summertime and some of you are about to relocate - goodbye sunny (and HOT) UAE. Your pet is coming with you but is she flying as accompanied baggage or manifest cargo? Don't know the difference? Welcome to our last Pet Corner column until September - yes, we get a summer break too.
First and foremost, it's important to know that both accompanied baggage and cargo result in your pet travelling in an airline approved travel box in the cargo hold of the plane. Accompanied baggage does not mean that your pet will travel in the passenger cabin with you at your seat. In fact, animals are generally not allowed into the passenger cabins of aircraft, with only a few notable exception airlines and routes.
So what's the difference? Well, cost and bureaucracy, and a little bit of logistics. Accompanied baggage is significantly cheaper - the weight of your pet in her travel box determines the price of her flight, as opposed to cargo which charges based on the size (i.e. volume) of the travel box, and volume charges are almost always higher than charges on weight. Accompanied baggage is also easier. Unfortunately, many countries, though not all, require cargo arrivals for all pets (including the UAE), and this is the more expensive and procedurally complicated approach.
Travelling as cargo, your pet will need to be brought to the airport's cargo section 3-4 hours prior to departure and will go through all the security procedures associated with all types of cargo shipment. Although the bureaucracy of a cargo shipment is greater, the advantage to your pet is that it saves them from the unnecessary hustle and bustle of a noisy passenger terminal. Instead, your pet will spend those few preflight hours in a quiet, climate-controlled and secure area for animals. And contrary to what you might imagine, cargo terminals and their grounds crew always handle special shipments, such as your pet, with the utmost priority and care - a requirement of all reputable airports and airlines the world over.
On the other hand, if your pet is travelling as accompanied baggage, she will actually join you to the airport's passenger terminal and indeed right up to the check-in counter. She'll be weighed, you will be told the cost of the flight for her, and you will pay. An airport porter then takes her away, over to the cargo section of the airport and from there everything is the same as if you were shipping cargo! See? Very little difference, for your pet at least.
Relocating is never fun and rarely easy, as you know. Yet despite your worries, pet travel is safe, no matter which method you choose. Have a good summer and a good move.
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