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MAY 2015



have to change planes (and

airlines) along the way. On

some airlines it is not an

option if your pet and the

kennel combined weigh more

than 100 pounds.

Or, pets can be shipped as

cargo, but that is generally a

more expensive option and

usually requires a commer-

cial shipper.




. A 2012 change to the

Foreign Affairs Manual (14

FAM 543) allows permanent

change-of-station travelers to

use an airline other than the

U.S.-contracted carrier when

that airline has no space for

pets as checked baggage.

This exception allows

you to take a non-contract

carrier—even a non-U.S.

carrier—as long as you pay

the difference in cost. There

are a variety of regulations

to comply with to make use

of this option, and you must

check with your agency’s

travel office or the OBC to

be sure you are complying—

or you might find yourself

responsible for the full cost

of the ticket.


Watch out for “inter-

lining.”With the recent airline

mergers, the cutback of ser-

vices on American carriers,

as well as the widespread use

of codeshare flights, this can

be a real problem for travel-

ing pets.

Say, for example, that

you must fly on a United/

Lufthansa codeshare, with a

stop (and change of planes)

in Frankfurt. If you traveled

on a United flight for the

Washington, D.C., to Frank-

furt leg and then on a Luf-

thansa flight from Frankfurt

to your final destination, you

would be required to claim

your pet in Frankfurt and

then recheck the animal onto

the onward flight.

From what I hear from

fellow Foreign Service family

members, this is where prob-

lems are likely to arise.


Save all your receipts.

Pet shipment can qualify as a

legitimate “moving expense”

for the IRS. These costs can

also be considered miscella-

neous expenses and partially

reimbursed by the Foreign

Transfer Allowance or Home

Service Transfer Allowance.

I asked my fellow group

members on an FS family

member Facebook group

to share their pet travel

stories with me. I got a lot

of responses. Some stories

were funny (a plane delayed

because a monkey and a

dog were not getting along

in the cargo hold); some

were downright nightmarish

(animals lost, connections

missed, months and months

of planning wasted, thou-

sands of dollars spent).

One thing I heard was

universal, though: the belief

that there has to be a better