Best ways to safely transport pets to and fro Puerto Rico


What are some of the best ways to safely transport pets to and fro PR? Any great suggestions?

Most commercial and major airlines won't fly animals when the temperature is above 85 degrees.This is because while their cargo hold is climate controlled, the pets are outside on the tarmac -- without A/C -- between loading and unloading them from a plane. I was told by Delta, for instance, that pets can be kept waiting for maybe 15 minutes on the tarmac, before entering an A/C'ed building.

In my research, the only major commercial airline that safely keeps pets in A/C environments while outside the plane is United. They transport pets in A/C vans when loading and unloading them on the tarmac. … safe.aspx.

Another safe option I've discovered in my research is Amerijet airlines.  This is a cargo-only, no passengers airline, that constantly keeps animals in climate control environments. They also provide non-stop flights, which many of the major airlines may not do.

Are there any other suggestions?

(Posted August 2014)


It's a good thing I read your post and then double checked Southwest's policy, which states "Pets are not permitted to travel on international flights including those to Puerto Rico.." Now I know I have to make arrangements for transporting my chihuahua, after all. Thanks for the great question!

United is by far the best. This is because of their acquisition of Continental, which had won many awards as the best pet shipping airline. I transported my English Mastiff from NC to PR on Continental and everything went smoothly.

One note on pet shipping: The road to the warehouse where you retrieve your pet cannot be reached by entering the road that leads you to the airport. You need to take the Base Muniz exit off of el Expreso Baldorioty (Rte 26) and drive a good distance to the warehouse - a few kilometers past the main USPS distribution center and on the left near FedEx.

Thanks Nomad Lawyer! It is good to know where to pick up our pets.  I'm assuming your writing about the San Juan International Airport? What is the actual address where pets are picked up at the San Juan airport? The address can be Googled to make it easier to reunite with our pets.

Here are a couple more questions for expats-in-the-know:

1. Because many airlines won't transport animals when the temperature is above 85 degrees, when is the temperature at the San Juan International airport predictably below 85 degrees, if ever?   

2. Because the location of the San Juan airport can often have hot temperatures, which may restrict traveling to and fro with our pets, is there another airport, or other airports, on the island of PR that have temperatures regularly below 85 degrees? If so, do some of the major commercial airlines fly to and fro from the possible alternative airport(s) too?

Schedule an arrival for evening or night time. My understanding is that if you fly your pet as checked baggage instead of cargo you don't have to pick them up at another location. Instead of asking the forum these questions, call United directly and they can give you all the answers you need right then. Seems to me that would be easier. We had our dog shipped from PR to Orlando, FL and she arrived here at 2am.

We transport 6 cats in carry on cat carriers in the body of the plane. They go under the seat in front of us. Of course, every cat needs it's own human and only one cat can go in a carrier. Therefore, we have to engage friends to help or make three trips. The cost is outrageous but that is the price of so many cats. I don't know anything about large animals. All our cats get statements from the vet that they are healthy. This costs us about fifteen dollars per cat in the states and sixty per cat in PR.
Hope this helps

Hi Gregg K. Thanks for the information. It's great to exchange tips here.

A few days ago, we spoke with all of the airlines going to and fro PR. Between each of them, there sure are differences in how they transport pets. So far, we've learned that flying pets via United works the best for us.

With United, we could even fly into San Juan on the hottest of days, and the pets will still be physically comfortable inside A/C vans on the tarmac.   

If we needed to fly with another airline for some reason, and it could arrive or take off during the evenings and nights, that'd be a great option. Thanks for the reminder about the cooler temperatures with the 'red eye' flights.

Topic Sticked!  :top:

:cheers: Here are more tips. They're about the crates.

The current guidelines for crate sizes, is in my reflective opinion, too small. If we actually used the sizes that are being recommended, our pets would have to lay in a continuous semi curled-up position. To help avoid this, we chose sizes that make it possible for our pets to actually lay down and stretch out --- loooong --- and ---- relaxingly ---- inside of. 

To help keep their inside space roomy, we attach the water and food containers to the wire door at a certain level and location.  We want their heads, noses, tails and paws to have room underneath, or at least to have space to the side, of the water and food containers. This allows them to stretch their bodies out as far they can, without having to continually press up against the water and food containers.     

We also prefer crates that have ventilation on all four sides; and that also have as-large-as-possible vent holes. If a person is handy, they could cut/saw out and sand smooth even larger vent holes on the sides, or create new vents. This could be done, just as long this doesn't weaken the structure of the crate. If someone doesn't know how to, or can't figure out how to protect the structure of a crate by doing this, having someone else do this can help.  --- Having vents on all four sides of a crate (and one crate size larger) is extremely important for short-nosed dogs and cats, like pug dogs and persian cats. But even if a healthy pet has a long nose, they will benefit from having as much ventilation as safely possible inside a crate.

Here's one more tip.
For inside the crates, we use "Dry Fur" pads.  They are available on the "Dry Fur" website at … avel-pads, and on at … +fur+pads. 

Packing a light weight extra pad inside a suitcase is something to consider doing. For instance, this could useful when there is an overnight layover, or when after picking up the pet, they need to have their old pad replaced, and before their crate (and with them inside it, that is, if you still need them to be inside their crate) are placed inside an auto.   

(Posted August 2014)

If you still need info on affordable, safe, dependable pet transport, I used United for my lab in March. All other airlines were either not transporting large pets (my lab is 65 lbs.), had "first come first serve" for pets, or did not guarantee safety. United has an a/c van for transfers/layovers.
Pickup in San Juan is tricky so CALL for directions to pet cargo. It is not at the airport.
Also, since medication isn't advised for transport, a pheromone collar ( D.A.P. Collar) was excellent through our vet.
When we got our girl, they stayed on the phone and directed me to the pet cargo site until I pulled up. Very good peeps! They made sure she had lots of water.   
Hope this helps.

I'm new here but if we decide to move to Aguadilla next year, we were planning on flying jetBlue. Here is their pet program info. I love that the pet flies with you and not in the cargo hold. Hope this helps! … j%28203/!\ I AM A STUPID SPAMMER /!\29

There are strict size restrictions on pets that fly with you and they don't allow birds.

Also, when I was looking for an airline, I was looking with my chihuahua in mind. So small dogs, I'm sure.

Yep. As long as they fit in a carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. I might suggest that after you are there awhile you might adopt a Sato to keep your dog company. There are plenty of stray Chihuahuas roaming the streets in PR. They get a"fad" dog and everybody has to have one. Then when a new and more popular dog comes along they abandon the old ones in the streets to fend for themselves. Just toss them out like yesterday's trash without a second thought. That reminds me. I've said this many times. Please carry a bag of dogfood around with you in your car and some water too so you can can show some kindness to the multitude of strays you will encounter wherever you go.

We are moving in January and planning on bringing my daughter's beloved guinea pig but I can't find any airline that will transport. Has anyone ever done this before?

Try US Air. They are one of the few left that will allow you to carry pets on board as carry-on luggage. Don't know if they accept guinea pigs. But it's small enough to place in a carrier that you can put under the seat in front of you. It will count as one of your carry-on luggage pieces and last time I checked there is also a $125 fee. You also have to get a general helth certificate from the Vet either 10 or 30 days before your departure. It's been awhile so I don't remember all the details. Look up US Air and read their pet policies or call them if things aren't clear concerning guinea pigs.

US Air says no to guinea pigs too, FYI. Thanks for the suggestions. Will try Amerijet...

Yes, I have one more suggestion. Go on the internet and contact all of the airlines. Find out what their policies are and exhaust all of your resources, i.e.. all the airlines that go to PR. If you do all of that and still don't get the answer you are looking for, nobody here on the forum will be able to help you any further. Contact the USDA in PR to find out what animals you are allowed to bring in first. Just because it's a family pet doesn't automatically mean you can take it with you. Some animals they don't allow. I'm pretty sure that guinea pigs aren't on the prohibited list but check anyway. You might be faced with the possibility that you can't safely bring the animal in. Most airlines have changed their policies with animals. We easily brought a cockateil with us when we moved there. But a year later when we left most of the airlines wouldn't allow birds. Delta was the only one we found that we could use to fly the bird out with us. It would have cost us almost $300 more in ticket prices and a 2 and a half hour trip to San jaun airport. We were trying to fly out of Aguadilla. Unfortunately the bird died before we left. Cats and dogs aren't usually a problem.

I flew my pup down to PR this past week on United. They charged $125 to have her as a carry-on pet. Although I wonder if the airline would have even known she were there. The baggage counter guy didn't know why I was telling him I had a dog (United had told me I needed to present a certificate of health for her). Then nobody looked at the "boarding pass" for her for either flight! All was well though and we made it very easily.

United was wonderful. They took great care of our two large dogs. We chose an evening flight so the temp wasn't much of a concern. If they are small, you can take them on board as a carry on with JetBlue. We also had three small guys with us.

The first time I flew with my (then 12lbs puppy), he was so well behaved, nobody knew he was there, and this woman, with a 2yr old, in a car seat, taking up an entire seat, had to pay ZERO! The child cried and complained, throughout the flight, and none of the stewardesses knew my dog was even there! I had to pay $75, and my dog was tucked away, under the seat in front of me, taking up no passenger space... I was a bit annoyed at that little injustice.

Some questions to those that carried small dogs on the plane.
Did you make the flight plans via one of the cheap ticket places or did you go to the airline site and made your people arrangement then followed with a call to make dog arrangements?
Did you get the extra space seats?
Did you go first class?
Were you allowed to remove the dogs from the carrier during the flight or did they had to stay in the carrier the whole flight?
After all they are not animals, they are just Hairy children.

Just landed today.  United did an excellent job.  My large dog (90lb) had to leave a day before me, crate that size can't fly 737.  He flew to Newark, spent the night in pet hotel, and we were on the same flight to San Juan.  I watched the whole loading process from my seat on the plane.  The van waited out there, and the dogs were the last thing loaded and the first things unloaded.  Petsafe has been great to deal with the whole way through, they didn't even laugh at me when I cried while dropping him off yesterday.

I carried my cat aboard.  Agree with above posters, NO ONE ever checked to make sure I had paid or anything.  I had three carry on bags: Big one for overhead, "personal" shoulder bag and cat, which both went under the seat.  Other than being pissed off that she was in that bag for 12 hours, all went just fine.  The United cargo people even helped me break down that massive crate and get it in the car.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this little adventure went!

Glad all went well Travelgurl.

Glad to see there have been good experiences.  Our Great Dane and Beagle are flying in Friday with AmeriJet.  Ill post about the process after we get them!  Due to the size of our Great Dane, Amerijet out of Miami was the only real option.

We flew United Airlines from Chicago to SJU on 8/31 with our 19 lb. beagle corgi mix ("Domino").  Domino's arrival in SJU by United's Pet Safe was excellent. We and other passengers cheered when we witnessed him being the first package off the plane and a "Live Animal" air conditioned van waiting for him.  Other expats' comments about retrieving your pet are right on target: it is a little ways away from the airport, but the United personnel were wonderful on the phone, providing details for picking up at the loading dock.

My complaint against United is the horrific process we went through at O'Hare in Chicago on the 31st to get Domino on our flight, despite having reservations for four months in advance.  The information that United provided to me was inaccurate, all four telephone numbers on printed materials were not answered, the location of the Pet Safe office was so far away from the airport ($80 in cab fare!!), and even though they demanded Domino be there 3 hours prior to take off, when we arrived there, the office was closed.  At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it was a nightmare and one of the most stressful situations of my life.

I have contacted American Airlines about my 45 lb Labrador mix to flight on the same flight with us PHX - SJU (with a plane change in DFW or MIA).  If that does not work out, I will fly him United. I just wish I could buy him a seat on the plane to sit next to me, his is better behaved than most children!

United has a very good rep for transporting pets. I've sent several foster dogs to their forever homes with them.

Just want to warn you.  It happened to me with American.  After making arrangements with American, I brought my dog with me to JFK in New York for a flight to SJU, very early in the morning. The American agent checked the weather forecast for San Juan and said that they could not take my dog because the temperature would be in the eighties in San Juan.  The maximum allowable temperature is 84 degrees.  It completely wrecked my travel plans.  I had to go home, re-schedule my flight for myself and my elderly mother who was in a wheelchair, and had to make other arrangements to have the dog shipped.

Our service dog rides in the cabin with us.  He flies happily at my feet.

How many pounds and what type of dog sitka?

Our service dog is a yellow Labrador Retriever, he is a big boy at about 80lbs.  He's a real cream puff.  But he will lay at our feet out of the aisle and travel without complaint - that's what I love about my dog.

You can leave him waiting in the car (with the window down some) for 30 - 45 minutes, when you return, he is happy to see you!  Try that with with your wife...  :lol:

LOL about the wife Sitka.
I was not aware that they allowed such a big dog in the cabin.
Still laughing!

So how is PR Sitka, we are still waiting on your forum updates of your PR adventure.

We have been working hard getting settled into the house.   Not much time available to post stuff on line.  But we have accomplished many things in the last twenty days.

Bought a used car (van) from a private party.   Getting the title transferred was complicated.  I learned that in order to get the title transferred to my name, it required proof of PR residency ( water bill, power bill), ID in the form of a drivers lic and your social security card - which I did not have, so a special trip to the SS office to apply for a replacement - back to the DMV twice to get everything finalized.  Fortunately, our local friend was able to accompany me to the DMV and assist, otherwise I would still be in line there!!

Our house needs extensive rehab, so far I've replaced and or repaired three toilets, two sinks, three or four door locks, and a zillion other small issues to fix.

Hired a contractor to put a new roof on the house which was finished today.  Now that we have a roof that doesn't leak, we can scrape, patch and repaint soon.   Makes my head ache just thinking about it (not to mention my back!) 

If you have any experience with maintenance in a marine environment (like a boat or beach house) , you know that salt water corrosion is an unrelenting enemy!   Any ferrous metal will rust/corrode over time and needs to be replaced or repaired.  (You learn to like plastic)

We still have no real kitchen, no washing machine, no couch, no dishwasher, etc.   So you might say we'er kinda roughing it for now.

We did get a tv & internet so we can watch the election returns from Iowa tonite!

I was not aware you were going for a fixer upper, roof problems are very common in PR, What was the bill for a new roof layer? I imagine it was not cheap.

I hope you get comfortable soon and hope your roof has time to set well before the rain starts.

Aluminum and plastic are best choices in PR, everything rust due to salt in the air and the amount of rain, yes.
When you can give me a description of the house and what you payed for the place. It is good that you have handyman skills, I am all thumbs, I only know computers (all kinds and flavors).

It just occurred to me that I may end up applying at UPR university for a part time job doing the testing of their web applications, probably as consultant since I been working for Harvard University that may help me land the consulting job.

My contractor power washed the roof, applied a primer seal coat and then a multi ply rubber/aluminum top layer sealed with a tourch.
About 5k.
They did a very workman like job, 10 yr guarantee. 

Best wishes on landing a new position w UPR!  When do you plan to move here?  Oh yea, how much snow do you have in the driveway?

This thread is heading off topic now.
Please open a new thread regarding your new topic.

Spirit Airlines take small dogs in the cabin. About $100 per plane. I have a chiweenie, and as long as she is in an airline approved bag, she can travel in the cabin.  Check internet for pets on airlines.

Success!  We transported our 50 lb Labrador mix successfully from PHX to San Juan on 5 days ago. Originally booked with American Airlines, then 4 days before flight I called to confirm.  They informed me, oops wrong aircraft!  We kept our American Airlines tickets, and flew our dog on United's PetSafe program PHX to Houston (with potty break and overnight boarding), then he met us in San Juan the next day. 
Full review, with details, and everything you need to know to fly a large dog in Cargo up on my blog -

Hi, I have 2 emotional support dogs, a beagle and a pom.  The pom  flies under the seat in front of me in a carrier and the beagle will be at my feet.  No charge.  Must have doctor's letter advising of condition and my need for them.

Good luck everyone

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