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  • Writer's pictureElaine Green

Exploring the Contrast Between In-Hold/Checked Luggage and Cargo Pet Transportation

When considering air travel for pets, particularly if they are too large or restricted from cabin access, two main options emerge: in-hold/checked luggage and cargo. Each approach brings distinct benefits and drawbacks, and understanding these differences can help understand what potential impacts it will have on  your pet's journey. Let's delve into the pros and cons of each method to help you make an informed decision.

Option One: In-Hold/Checked Luggage - This is a very informative Youtube Video of real pet experience traveling as checked luggage. 

For those prioritizing cost-effectiveness, adding pets to flight tickets as excess baggage is a common choice. This method facilitates travel on the same flight as the owner but presents certain considerations:


  • Cost-effective solution for pet transportation.

  • Allows pets to accompany owners on the same flight, minimizing separation time.

  • Comfortable Proximity: Pets are placed in designated areas within the cargo hold, allowing owners to be on the same flight


  • Lack of temperature regulation in the hold may discomfort pets.

  • Potential exposure to tarmac conditions during loading and unloading.

  • Stressful environment in bustling airport surroundings.

  • Pets may be left unattended in the oversized luggage area until departure.

  • Limited care provision during transit, particularly in international settings.

  • Increased risk of logistical challenges, such as pets being overlooked or stranded.

  • Space Constraints: Limited cargo hold space may not be suitable for larger pets.

  • Restrictive Policies: Some airlines impose restrictions on pet sizes and breeds for checked luggage.

Option Two: Cargo - This is a very informative Youtube Video of the care pets receive when traveling cargo and transiting through another country.

Opting for cargo transportation provides a more controlled and independent journey environment for pets:


  • Pets travel independently, offering flexibility in scheduling.

  • Cargo office check-in typically offers a quieter, less crowded environment.

  • Specialized vehicles ensure pets' comfort with temperature-controlled transport.

  • Priority handling ensures swift loading and unloading procedures.

  • Pets receive essential care, including feeding and walking, during transit.

  • Safety and Security: Cargo sections feature dedicated areas with climate control and secure enclosures, ensuring your pet's safety.

  • Ample Space: Cargo areas offer more room, making them suitable for larger pets or multiple animals traveling together.


  • Possibility of pet flight bumping due to higher-priority cargo.

  • Higher cost compared to in-hold/checked luggage options.

  • Potential for elevated customs fees in certain destinations.

  • Extended separation period between owners and pets during transit.

  • Limited Access: Depending on airline policies, owners may have restricted access to their pets during transit.

Cargo transportation guarantees meticulous monitoring and tracking, providing peace of mind for pet owners. Many, including myself, favor this method for international travel, alleviating stress by allowing pets to travel ahead while owners attend to final preparations. Additionally, arriving in the destination country before pets facilitates smoother transition into new surroundings without leaving pets unattended.

In conclusion, both cargo and checked luggage transportation have their merits and demerits. To choose the right method, consider factors such as your pet's size, temperament, health, and travel needs.

Prior pet crate familiarisation and avoidance for anxiety-prone pets are essential considerations for both methods of transportation.

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