Since I just went through the hectic process of booking tickets back to the US for two adults and a dog, I thought I'd add my experience to this thread.
Short version: DO take your pet with you, but avoid moving back to the States with your pet in the summer.
For Northwest Airlines, that means May 15th through September 15th. They have a total embargo on pets in the cargo hold during those months. All the other American airlines I checked (and I checked many), have heat restrictions in the summer. Most airlines won't load the pet if the temperature hits 75F degrees on the day of the flight, or 65F degrees for some breeds (i.e. snub-nosed breeds with known respiratory problems such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, shih tzus, etc.). They are very strict about this.
If someone had told me how expensive it would've been to ship my dog back, I might have tried to get out of here earlier. :s I originally had Northwest tickets to Detroit booked for 27K a person, and found out about their embargo when I called the airline to doublecheck (our travel agent didn't know anything about it). Luckily, I hadn't purchased the tickets yet.
Many frantic calls later, I ended up buying tickets through Eva and Air Canada (the latter has no summer restrictions, only winter restrictions) to get back to the United States. Thus, the plane tickets are going to cost us 10K more than expected. Eva charges pets as 2 pieces of excess luggage (as opposed to China Airlines, which counts pets as 1 extra piece), adding 6400NT to the cost. We have to transfer twice -- in Vancouver and Toronto, and they're going to add $105 Canadian dollars at each stop. So you do the math... what was supposed to be about a 55500NT bill will end up costing over 80000NT.
But I have to move now and I'm not leaving the dog. So... I'm doing what I've gotta do.
I'll report on how it went when I get to the other side.
Okay, I'm still Taiwanese enough to bitch about how much it cost the bring my dog over, but in the end, I want to say that IT WAS WORTH EVERY NT. Well, actually, it shouldn't have cost as much as it did, but how can I put a pricetag on that look of pure awe on my pup's face when he landed in North America and just saw wide open space, green scenery running all the way to the horizon, and heard virtual silence for perhaps the first time in his life.
We took him in about three hours before our flight (which left at 11:55pm on a breezy evening, so I wasn't too worried about the heat), and the guy running the Plant and Animal office at Terminal II was very friendly. Hung out with him until about an hour and a half before our flight then took him to the EVA counter. The representative squealed with delight when she saw us coming because she's a doglover and had been anticipating our arrival. Things got a little hectic as I was trying to pay for his excess baggage fee (6904NT, more expensive than anticipated but I think included any Air Canada fees since we didn't have to pay them), and to apologize for the extra check-in time, they bumped us up. They helped us strap up his cage nice and tight. We were able to follow our pet up to where they set him on the special baggage loading belt.
Landed in Vancouver about 11 hours later, picked him right up from the special baggage area, got our paperwork looked at by a very friendly Santa Claus-type guy, but when he saw that we were taking him to Detroit, he crossed off all the paperwork and waved us through.
Things would've continued splendidly if our Air Canada flight to Toronto hadn't been cancelled. We spent 10 extra hours in Vancouver in the dog-friendly Delta Airport Hotel, and since we were unable to find dog food, convinced an Elephant & Castle waitress to find us some meat scraps.
Folks in Toronto jerked us around. Part of the confusion was caused by the fact that we were going through the US Customs gate there, but the guy just asked all sorts of asinine questions like "Why do you have a dog?" (duh, he's a pet) and "Where's your dog? Who's he with?" We were told that we had to get through customs before we could see him, but even then, there was some major confusion, the worst part being when we were in one room just past customs and there was a triangle of three people all pointing to each other trying as hard as possible NOT to answer our queries of "Where's our dog?" Whatever. It was just a hugely disorganized airport and I will avoid it if at all possible. In the end, we didn't get to see our dog and confirm that he was okay until we boarded the plane.
Finally we arrived in Detroit and basically walked straight into the baggage claim area, picked up our dog, and walked out of the airport. Nobody even checked our papers (that's what the Toronto customs gate was supposed to be for). In retrospect, it was totally easy.
Dog was an absolute angel through the entire process. Didn't pee or poop in his crate, didn't cry, didn't throw up, was a little stiff-legged but totally mellow coming out, didn't resent us for cooping him up. We got a little lecture in Vancouver about getting him a bigger crate (he could turn around and lie down comfortably, but he was just too tall to stand up straight without his ears touching the top), but I'm just grateful they didn't reject him outright as I'm told some airlines will do. I went to three different petstores in search of the PERFECT crate, and the one we got him was most ideal (it was either the one we got him or a golden retriever-sized crate for a 12kg dog -- I do blame Taiwan for my lack of options). So maybe if you want to be on the safe side, go crate-shopping earlier.
Arrived back in the States to hear all about the dog-beating rabies-scare in China and kitten torturer in Taiwan. I would do this again in a heartbeat (perhaps not to the same dog, but for a new pet ;]). Like I said, it hasn't even been a week and the dog's a completely happier fellow. Not that Taipei is a terrible place for all dogs and cats, but our dog, despite our best efforts, never liked it and this new North American life is exactly what he needed.
Hi Geotpe, I am in the process of arranging to take my dog back to the UK via Hong Kong. I can give you the number for a cargo agent to help you 02 27682335 and the number for Cathy Pacific Cargo Service is 03 3982511/2515. The guy I spoke to was quite helpful, he did say the cargo agent charges money, but you could arrange it yourself.
The other thing was to import an animal into HK you need an import permit. You can check www.afcd.gov.hk for a copy of the certificate and more info. The certificate is vaild only for 14 days, so don't get it too early.
Hey random. Thanks for the info. Gustaf and I actually arrived in HK about four weeks ago. I had to use a pet shipper (a number given to us by Asia Tigers KC), but they took care of everything. It was a bit traumatic for him, since he was given the Taiwanese standard microchip in Taiwan, and HK standard microchip over here. I thought the shipper would've known better, but anyway.
Interesting thing though. The pet shipper or the government vet never even saw Gustaf until the day we flew out. I took him to the airport cargo area. I met with the shipper. They implanted the chip. The government vet came over, scanned the chip, checked his sex, and off he went to the cargo plane. I guess all the permits and things were done "under the table" since it was ready on the spot. It was a long wait before he was finally delivered to my door here in HK, but it was all done the same day. And yes, definitely worth it. He loves Hong Kong since there are dogs everywhere.
Btw, final cost (without the cage) was NT16,000. Included everything on the Taiwan and HK side.
Thank you Stray Doggie. Okay, that's what the ticket agent said. So that's what I'm going with. Also, he said I couldn't go thru Japan, which I thought was strange, since when I last called AA they didn't imply that it would be a problem.
I love my doggies, but man this moving is getting to be a pain....I don't wanna think about cargo for my dog. God only knows what kind of therapy he would need if I had to send him that route.
Namahottie, I am positive that you can take dogs that weigh 25 - 30kgs as excess baggage on a passenger ticket. At least with China Airlines you can. I even watched them roll away on the conveyor belt.
Maybe certain air carriers have varying rules. I don't know. How heavy is your crate? You can get some fairly lightweight ones even for large dogs.
If you haven't booked your flight yet and want to talk to a good travel agent, call Ellie at 25981900 and see if she can set you up. But you will have to give her all of the exact dimensions of your crates as well as the exact weights of the dogs and the weights of the crates.
Anyway, I had always heard that taking them by excess baggage was the most comfortable and easiest way to go. Maybe because there is less waiting time. But, I could be wrong.
My guess is that they can book you a flight, too. But it's just a guess.
I would double-check with other airlines, especially China Airlines. The agent that Eric suggested probably can find out exact details for you, too.
Good luck, and don't stress more than yo need to. Just get your homework done on time, and everthing will be fine.
Edit: To my knowledge, the animals do not get fed during the trip. Only a water bottle. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty certain. It's good to train the dogs to drink from a drip style bottle prior to the journey, BTW.
Okay Bobepine and Eric thanks a bunch. I think I have dealt with Ellie before. I will call her. The agent I'm working with now, is telling me that I have to use China Air as other airlines are booked. :s which ticks me off because I have a nice amount of mileage I would like to use on AA so I can be comfortable in Business class. But for some reason Dec 31 is booked up. Now, rant on I can get airlines in the States being fully booked. But over here? Is what I don't get. rant off
I think that may depend on your flight, I took eva air to canada with two dogs, two bike boxes full of stuff. My first dog cost me the "two" extra pieces of luggage and my second one cost me a bit more than that.