Patriot Express offers options for pet travel

May 21, 2012

By U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

HEIDELBERG, Germany – The Patriot Express, a Department of Defense-chartered air travel, originating at Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) and transiting to Ramstein Airbase (RAB) offers options for Trans-Atlantic travel with pets.

“During the summer months, May through September, most airlines may impose a Summer Heat Embargo and will not allow individuals to transport pets in the cargo compartment,” said Maj. Steven Czap, operations officer with USAREUR G1. “Most Patriot Express flights to BWI are climate controlled and can fly year round without restrictions on breeds, or air temperature and pet travel costs on PE are generally cheaper when compared to commercial carriers." 

According to the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Passenger Policy Branch, there is a minimum fee of $112 for up to 70 pounds and a max fee of $336 for a 150 pound animal to fly on the PE. This calculation is based on the pet and kennel’s combined weight and is broken down into three weight increments. 

Commercial carriers calculate pet shipping cost based on cubic feet of cargo space taken up by the kennel and air space around the kennel for proper ventilation.  This calculation can cost anywhere from $395 for an average kennel to over $1,160 for the largest commercial kennel to support a 150 pound animal for the same itinerary.     

Currently there are 10 pet spaces, cats and dogs only, available on the Tuesday Patriot Express flight primarily used for PCS transportation. Each week there are also three other Patriot Express flights, (formerly known as Cat B or “Freedom Bird” or “Rotator”) flying Soldiers from the CENTCOM AOR that transit through Ramstein AFB to BWI, and these often have temperature controlled spaces for pets, equating up to 40 pet allocations per week.

A very limited quantity of small pets may be authorized to travel in cabin. Pets must be able to fit comfortably in a kennel (hard-sided or soft-sided) no larger than 20” long x 16” wide x 8” high in order to fit under the seat in front of you. Pets must be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around with normal posture and body movements.

When making outbound travel arrangements for pets, service members will have to keep in mind that they will have to make appropriate onward movement arrangements of their pets from BWI to their PCS destination.  This may be harder during the summer heat embargo period than the rest of the year.

If there is no space available on the PE flight, travelers still have the option to ship their pets via commercial carrier or through air cargo (both unaccompanied).  Some additional options to off-set the cost of pet shipping include, but are not limited to:

  • Shipping a POV to the port of Baltimore in advance of official travel and drive to the permanent duty station or leave address. This option requires coordination with the local transportation office.  Source specific guidance is the Joint Federal Travel Regulation (JFTR), Chapter 5, U5435.
  • Renting  a car to travel from BWI to their permanent duty station and bringing the pet with them in the rental vehicle, but travelers will not be reimbursed, except for the mileage @ $0.555 per mile when submitting travel voucher to DFAS. Specific guidance is in JFTR U5105.
  • Transporting pet via commercial or govt. air (PE) in advance of travel (non-reimbursable) and have family members receive pets at the arrival airport.

The Patriot Express offers cost-effective pet travel, however, whether flying on the PE or a commercial airline, the cost for shipping pets rest solely on the owner and is not reimbursable by the government.

For specific PE flight details and reservations contact your SATO travel representative.

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