3 ways to fly internationally with your pets if you don’t want to put them in the cargo hold — and have a big budget
Traveling around the world can be challenging — and costly— let alone when you have three dogs in tow, including a massive Great Dane.
Over the course of approximately one year, Demi and her husband visited eight countries and eighteen cities with Cooper (a 14-year-old, 75-pound Golden Retriever), Brooklyn (a 12-pound Dachshund mix), and Lucas, their 150-pound Great Dane.
The couple started bringing their pets along on their travels after making a travel bucket list for their previous dog, who was diagnosed with cancer when he was five years old.
Now, Demi says she’s using the experience to teach people that traveling with pets is more accessible — and rewarding — than you might think.
“I just wanted to show that if we can do it with three dogs, one of whom is massive, you can do it too,” she told Insider. “It’s amazing to take them out and show them the world.”
For long-haul trips that couldn’t be made by train or rental car, Demi tried out three different flight options to avoid putting her two larger dogs in the cargo hold of a commercial aircraft.
In a May interview with Insider, Demi broke down each of the options and how much they cost her:
1. Splitting a charter flight
On the way from the US to Europe, Demi flew on a charter plane with the two larger dogs while her husband and the smallest dog, who can fit under the seat, flew commercial.
Demi split the charter flight to Paris with 10 fellow pet owners she connected with in the Facebook group Chartered Air Travel With Pets, a page for people looking for alternatives to checking pets in the cargo hold of a commercial aircraft, she told Insider.
The process was “very stressful,” Demi said, because she was responsible for booking and planning the flight. It cost approximately $11,000 per person, she told Insider.
Demi said she created contracts for her fellow travelers to agree to and sign before the flight and asked owners to muzzle their dogs during boarding and deplaning. She also made a seating map for the pets based on a Google Survey she sent to pet owners about their dogs’ personalities and needs.
“I was very meticulous,” she told Insider, adding that the flight “ended up working wonderfully,” even though everybody was too stressed out to catch any shut-eye.
2. Empty-leg private jet flight
A slightly more affordable option for flexible flyers is a travel hack known as empty-leg flights, which the couple used to fly with all three dogs from Paris to London for a total of $3,000, Demi said.
Brokers will randomly offer these when a chartered jet needs to return back to the airport after dropping off its passengers. Since the plane has to fly the route anyway, the tickets are typically heavily discounted.
However, empty-leg flights are difficult to book far in advance, Demi said, so they aren’t the most reliable means of transportation.
“If you can be flexible, I think it’s a great option,” she told Insider. “We were able to get our entire plane with just the two of us and the dogs for significantly less.”
3. Pay-per-seat semi-private flight
On the way back from Europe to the US, Demi and the dogs flew on K9 Jets, a newly launched private aviation company that specifically caters to pet parents. Seats typically cost between $8,925 or $10,985 per person.
In order to afford to travel the world with their pets, Demi said she and her husband sold all of their belongings and saved $45,000 over the course of two years. They both work full-time corporate jobs, which allows them to afford general living expenses, she added.
“When it’s just me and my husband, we will fly the cheapest flights possible,” Demi told Insider. “But when it came to the dogs, their safety was such a big priority that we decided to save and that’s why we splurged.”
This article originally appeared on Insider: 3 ways to fly internationally with your pets if you don’t want to put them in the cargo hold — and have a big budget