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Pet Transportation FAQs

We know you have questions, and we have answers!

We know how important your furry family member is to you and we want to make sure you have all the information you need to ensure they travel safely.

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How does it work?

We provide door to door transportation for cats and dogs who are traveling as cargo. We work with you and your vet to obtain all the details we need to coordinate all the logistics for your pet's big adventure. Read more here.

Is pet travel safe?

Yes, airlines ship thousands of pets every year without issue.  You can read more about pet travel safety here.

Should I sedate my pet?

NO. It is not recommended to sedate or tranquilize any pet that is flying on an airplane. This can negatively affect their breathing and respiration when they are up in the air at high altitudes. This can be even more dangerous for pets with pre-existing conditions or snub-nosed (aka brachycephalic) pets. Starwood will NOT transport any pet that has been sedated or tranquilized. Additionally, if the airline believes that your pet has been sedated, then they can refuse your pet for travel. You can learn more about sedation and air travel on our blog post.

Where do pets travel on the plane?

Starwood only transports pets who are traveling as manifest cargo.  This means that they travel underneath the plane in a space that is temperature controlled, pressurized, and oxygenated.  Live animals travel beneath the pilot and the pilot must sign off on a manifest so they are aware of any pets onboard.  Your pet’s travel kennel will be held into place by a thin netting that acts like a seatbelt to keep them safe and secure during takeoff and landing.  

Will my pet eat or drink?

You should definitely ensure your pet is provided plenty of water prior to and on the day of their big adventure.  Our team will also make sure that their water bowls are topped off once we check them in for the flight.  Once pets are in the care of the airline after check-in, the airline staff will be sure to top off water as well.  However, it is NOT recommended for pets to eat right before takeoff or during the flight.  This can cause an upset stomach, which we of course want to avoid.  Our team will not provide food for the flight and we do not recommend feeding them less than 4 hours prior to flight departure.  If your pet has a layover, they will be provided more water and some food (depending on the length of the layover).  Water will also be provided once they have landed as they are clearing through customs.  If your pet will be boarding or spending time in quarantine throughout their trip, they will be provided food and water regularly.  You can read more about whether you should feed pets who are flying in our blog.    

How will my pet go to the bathroom?

If you have a dog that is traveling, our team will provide them with a nice walk and potty break prior to check-in at the airport.  Once your pet is checked in, they must remain inside their travel kennel until they arrive at the destination.  We do not let cats out of the travel kennel after we pick them up since you know they can be sneaky escape artists.  Upon arrival to the destination, dogs will be provided with a walk and potty break before they head home to you.  Again, cats will need to remain inside their travel kennels unless there is a safe and secure room to let them out.  Litter boxes are not permitted to be inside the travel kennel so please be aware that sometimes your pet may go to the bathroom inside the kennel.  As they say, if you gotta go, you gotta go.  If your pet has soiled their travel kennel and there is a safe place to let them out of the kennel then we do try our best to clean the kennel when possible prior to delivery.     

Is anyone on the plane with my pet?

No, there is no one traveling underneath the plane with pets.  However, we typically book pets on passenger flights that do have humans up above in the main cabin.

What can travel with my pet?

Airlines have strict rules on what items are permitted to travel with pets.  The only items we can send with your pet are the following:

  • Original documents for travel
  • IATA-compliant travel kennel
  • Crate pad that is no more than 3 inches thick
  • Thin blanket, t-shirt, or towel that smells like home
  • Pee-pee pad (optional)
  • 2 Food/water cups that latch onto the inside of the kennel door
  • Zip lock baggie with 2-3 servings of food

**We cannot ship your pet with any other personal belongings so you will be responsible for shipping these items to your new home.  We cannot be held liable for any non-approved items that are misplaced while your pet is in transit.

What vaccinations does my pet need?

Each country has its own set of vaccination requirements for pets entering the country. 

In general, we strongly recommend that you keep your pet up to date with the following:

Dog Vaccinations:

  • Rabies
  • DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus)
  • Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
  • Leptospirosis
  • CIV (Canine Influenza Virus) - required for some boarding facilities

Cat Vaccinations:

  • FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia)
  • FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) - required for some boarding facilities

The vet must follow the vaccine manufacturer's guidelines regarding revaccination. In general, a booster vaccine is required 2-4 weeks after the first to be considered fully vaccinated. Following the first booster, the vaccinations are then valid for 1-3 years (depending on the vaccine).

Take a look at our Country Pet Travel Guides for country-specific vaccination information.

Can I pick up or drop off my pet?

We can provide you with a quote for a meet & greet near the airport and in some cases you can pick up your pet from the destination airport yourself after they have cleared customs.  However, you cannot physically check your pet in yourself, especially if you are working with Starwood.  Most airlines require a designated pet shipper to be the one to check pets in for their flight.  Additionally, if Starwood is booking your pet’s flight, then the person checking them in must be STA certified - so we will only use our team of experts.

Will there be other animals on the plane?

It is possible that there may be other pets on the same flight as yours.  However, Starwood is not provided with that information by the airline.  All pets must be in their own travel kennel so they will not be mingling with each other.  Each airline and aircraft has limitations on the number of pets that can be accommodated on the plane and this will in part depend on the size of the travel kennels.   

Can my pets travel together?

When possible, depending on how many pets you have, we always try to book them on the same flight so they will be together throughout their journey.  In some cases, pets in the same family need to be separated if the aircraft can only accommodate a certain number of animals on that plane.  Most airlines require each individual pet to be in their own travel kennel unless they are puppies or kittens.  You can read more about the airline specific regulations here.   

Can I be on the same plane as my pet?

In some cases it is possible to be on the same plane as your pet but this is not required or necessary.  Due to the differences in how pet cargo reservations work compared to human flight reservations, it can actually be quite difficult to make sure your flights lineup.  You do not need to travel on the same plane as your pet and we can always pick them up or drop them off from a friend, family member or boarding facility if you need to travel ahead of or behind your pet.

Can I get a ride with my pet?

No, Starwood cannot provide transportation for human passengers - only pets.  While we can arrange ground and air transportation for your pet, you will be responsible for making your own travel plans (even if you’re going to the same place).  

What could delay my pet's travels?

Just like us, our furry companions can face unexpected hiccups when traveling. Beyond the usual flight cancellations and weather setbacks, pet travel is subject to a unique set of challenges. Here are some factors that could potentially delay your pet's journey - some within our control, and others, unfortunately, not. Read more.

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We are only transporting cats and dogs at this time.