I want to travel to America from Australia with my dog in the cabin or else be with him in cargo.

NONE of the Airlines flying out of Australia will let me do this. I am willing to travel very rough in cargo as long as I can stay with my dog. I don't even need food, just maybe water. Flying dogs separately in cargo especially over such long distances is EXTREMELY RISKY. Many have DIED or gotten lost in transit (see [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]). I am a senior citizen and my dog is my only family member left alive. He means the world to me and I will not leave him behind.

Is there any solution to this? I have looked into flying privately but it is far beyond my means. Is it possible to hitch a ride on a cargo plane or military transport plane?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 19 '17 at 14:13
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because judging from commentary it seems like this person is mainly here to rant, rave, vent, blow off steam, and/or get visibility for his perceived injustice. Not what SE is. Sep 19 '17 at 14:44

I'd suggest not going by plane then, but rather by ship. It might take longer, but your dog will not have even remotely as much stress. Some cruises allow at least smaller dogs. What Peter M wrote still applies, though.

  • Or for that matter a cargo ship, which have a few passenger cabins. I wish I could upvote this answer, but honestly I think what Peter M said about quarantine will end up being the ruling factor. Unless OP plans to never return with the pet, so means to overstay his US visa. Sep 19 '17 at 18:00
  • Well, to get really petty here this question is only about getting from australia to america, no word about getting back or that there is a reasonable way around going to america in the first place. But you are right, quarantine is a key topic for everyone who would want to go back and therefore should be one of the top answers.
    – Pat
    Sep 19 '17 at 18:51

There are absolutely no passenger airlines flying to the USA that will allow you to ride in the cargo area, it is against FAA rules (no seats, no seat belts, no emergency exits). Plus no windows, no cabin crew, no toilets from the comfort pov.

A number of airlines will no longer accept animals as checked luggage, due in large part to safety of the animals. So if your dog is not very small, chances of traveling together on a scheduled flight to USA are slim.

Perhaps you can find a cargo carrier that would allow an animal attendant, but it won't come cheap. Or a private flight, again not cheap.

  • I hope the airlines are reading it because this problem needs to be fixed. Sep 19 '17 at 13:42
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    @DesperateDogLover - Be Nice. These kinds of comments are inappropriate here.
    – brhans
    Sep 19 '17 at 13:46
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    If the dog is a service animal you'll be able to travel with it in cabin. If it currently isn't you can look into getting it as a service animal if applicable. Sep 19 '17 at 15:12
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    @ClumsyHamster despite what you may have heard from dodgy sellers of fake orange vests, or from witnessing scumballs using same... becoming a service animal is a huge effort akin to getting a bachelor's degree in college. And must be started young. One does not simply wave ones magic wand and smite such a status on a dog who's spent a lifetime being mistrained. Sep 19 '17 at 17:39

In addition Tom's answer. If you are planning on returning to Australia with your dog then you are going to face strict quarantine restrictions that could preclude you from traveling with your dog anyway.

See Cats and Dogs returning to Australia from the Department of Agriculture and Resources. From that page:

When your cat or dog leaves Australia it immediately loses its Australian health status. This means you might not be able to bring it back to Australia at short notice. Please consider the information below before exporting your cat or dog.

Cats and dogs can only be imported into Australia from certain countries and, depending on the country, the pre-import preparation time can be over six months. However, if you start preparations in Australia before your cat or dog goes overseas, returning them to Australia can be much simpler and quicker.

Also from that page (noting that the USA is considered a Group 3 country)

If there is any chance your dog or cat may visit a group 3 or a non-approved country we recommend they have a rabies vaccination and rabies neutralising antibody titre (RNAT) test before leaving Australia. This will ensure they can return to Australia in the shortest possible time. Rabies vaccinations last between one and three years and you will need to check this validity with your veterinarian. An RNAT test with an acceptable result (0.5IU/ml or more) is valid for 24 months from the date the blood was drawn.

Please note that you will need to maintain valid rabies vaccinations and RNAT tests for the entire time your dog or cat is overseas. If you don’t do this, your animal will have to meet the mandatory 180 day waiting period overseas following an RNAT test if they have visited any group 3 or non-approved countries.

So if you do not follow the rules then you dog will have to spend and additional 6 months in the US before you can even bring it back to Australia.

As a personal anecdote (but not related to your situation). I am planning on bringing two cats back to Australia in the next couple of years. To minimize the time they will spend in quarantine custody IN Australia, this will require rabies tests every month for 6 months. At which point once they are shipped to Australia they will still have to spend 1 month in quarantine.

  • Peter M. In some countries "quarantine" can be done at your house. I would not expect this from Australia, but it is worth at least looking into if you haven't. Sep 19 '17 at 17:04
  • @theinvisibleduck I have looked into this. There are 3(?) sites in Australia where you can quarantine an animal. Doing "quarantine" at home would be a huge risk for the entire country given the animal diseases that it does not have.
    – Peter M
    Sep 19 '17 at 17:19
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    This is the crux of the matter. America (and Austria/Germany) may have their own quarantine requirements. I'm not sure who you're worried about being stressed out by the flight, but I guarantee one of you will not enjoy the quarantines. Sep 19 '17 at 17:36
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    @Harper I once bordered one of my cats at my local vet for a week. This cat was so stressed out (and not eating/drinking as a result) that the vet prescribed prozac in order to calm it down. We both weren't happy after that. The cat for the stress and me for the vet's bill.
    – Peter M
    Sep 19 '17 at 17:40
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    Even worse than this, if the US immigration officer is not happy with his story, funding, lack of plan, lack of return trip etc. (and frankly it does seem poorly thought out so far)... he could be refused entry to the US at which point his carrier takes him right home ASAP next flight, and then he is reentering AU to an immediate quarantine. Sep 19 '17 at 19:18

Service and emotional support animals can fly in the cabin. If you are not disabled or in need of emotional support, then you do not qualify for a service/emotional support animal. That said, as a senior citizen with no family, you may qualify for a service/emotional support animal to help with disabilities (e.g., hearing loss) on your emotional state.

The paperwork for traveling with a service animals is pretty simple (cf. Flying with a service animal). For a service animal the airline is not allowed to ask for documentation about your disability, but if you ended up in a legal challenge, you would want to be able to document it. For emotional support animals, you need a signed letter from a qualified mental health care provider.

The use of service animals is undergoing legal scrutiny since some people who do not need service animals, and even those who do need them, are using untrained animals. That said, at least in the US, there are limited requirements outlining the exact services the animal needs to provide and the training it must undergo.

Again, if you are not disabled or in need of emotional support, then you do not qualify for a service/emotional support animal.

  • I am a senior and yes I have a disability. However, would this apply to an international flight? My dog is small. He is under 10kgs. Still, NONE of the international airlines out of Oz will let me take him into the cabin with me. Sep 19 '17 at 15:42
  • @DesperateDogLover Qantas has pretty good documentation about their rules regarding service dogs.
    – StrongBad
    Sep 19 '17 at 15:49
  • O.M.G.! The private fly company that I contacted just told me that I can sell as many seats on my flight as I'd like. So, if I can find enough people I can actually share the expense of flying privately this way. This totally changes flying privately from being impossible to possible for me. I am so excited!!!! I'm not ready to leave right away so I do have time to try and sort this out and arrange things. Maybe sharing a private flight with other pet owners is possible. Sep 19 '17 at 16:24
  • @DesperateDogLover you should really check Peter M's answer, too. Otherwise you might end up with your dog months under quarantine in Australia. This also diminishes the chances that anyone would accompany you on your charter flight.
    – Chieron
    Sep 19 '17 at 16:54
  • Not every country has protections in law for emotional support animals, I think that Australia is one of those countries. Service animals are only considered to be dogs like guide dogs for the blind, or hearing dogs for the deaf etc.
    – Sarriesfan
    Sep 19 '17 at 19:58

If you are simply concerned about the welfare of your dog and not so much with the requirement that he be WITH you, you could look into a service that specializes in carting animals around. I know a few dog breeders use Lufthansa airlines to fly dogs FROM Canada worldwide because of some sort of special program they use (although I'm not directly familiar with it or if it is still offered).

You could also contact dog breeders in Australia to see how THEY send their dogs overseas. Most dog breeders (I'm talking show-quality pure-breed, fancy-shmancy, dogs) care for their dogs and will only send them in a safe manner.

As others have mentioned, if you are planning to go BACK to Australia, be aware of the quarantine requirements.


Austrian Airlines allows dogs to travel in the cabin with passengers, up to a total weight of 8kg (including carrier). You would have to fly from Sydney or Melbourne to Vienna, and then on another Austrian flight to your US destination. But it is certainly possible if your dog is small enough. I believe Lufthansa also has similar rules so routing via Germany may also be possible.

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    Austrian != Australian Sep 19 '17 at 16:57
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    @theinvisibleduck of course, that's why the tourist shops here sell teeshirts saying "There's no kangaroos in Austria". Unlike the Australian airline(s) however, non-service dogs in the cabin are a real possibility. If OP loves his dog that much, it's worth a detour via Vienna. Sep 19 '17 at 17:06
  • That is a creative solution. Sep 19 '17 at 17:19
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    Would Austrian airlines even have a reason to go to such a wildly remote, Pacific Rim country such as America? I just checked, the problem is they don't go to Australia, they do but it's a codeshare so you're at the mercy of Thai Airways, and they may have a very different sensibility when it comes to dogs. Sep 19 '17 at 17:33
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    Ah yes, sorry, I was under the impression they operated their own flights all the way from Vienna to SYD/MEL. But alas not. Hong Kong/Bangkok is the closest you get; the same with Lufthansa it seems. Sep 19 '17 at 19:50

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