Should I Book my Pet’s Travel with the Airline or Booking Site?

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Booking Pet Travel airline flights directly with the airline is usually more convenient but, more expensive whereas booking through a 3rd party (Expedia, Skyscanner etc.) has cheaper fares but fewer options for routes and much harder for changes, last-minute trip interruptions, weather delays and overbooked flights, refunds and cancelations.

Is it Better to Book Airline Tickets Through the Airline or Third Party?

Booking Pet Travel Directly with the Airline is Best—If You Can Afford to. Booking through the airline directly may cost more but you get a number of advantages. 

One of which is priority dealing with many problems and trip interruptions that occur.

Preferential treatment in reassignments and compensation and rebooking are usually given to those who book directly with the airline over someone who booked through a 3rd party.

When you have a change or cancellation and you booked through a consolidator, you have to deal with 2 companies and 2 separate policies and rules.

Call the airline directly when there is a weather cancelation or an overbooked flight and if you booked with Kayak, Agoda etc. you are often told to contact them to reschedule your flight, while others who booked directly only have to call the airline.

When you book directly with the airlines you only need to deal with airline and their policy on changes and cancellations–they won’t redirect you to the 3rd party booking company (Kayak, Agoda ect.)

Time is of the essence—especially when traveling with Pets.  If weather interrupts your boarding or the flight is overbooked, it’s best to have booked directly with the airline. 

Each aircraft can only carry a few pets onboard and losing a space for your Pet is more of a problem than just getting another seat for yourself.

Example: we all know there are only between 2 and 6 spots available for pets flying in cabin. 

Related: Pet Travel: Canceled Flight? Delayed Flight? What To Do

Take the situation when there is a last-minute change of planes and the passenger and pet need to be rebooked, the traveler who booked directly with the airline will get preferential for those few coveted spots. 

What is the Safest Way to Buy Airline Tickets when Traveling with Pets?

The safest way is to book directly with the airline.  Do not assume 3rd party aggregators (Kayak, Expedia, Agoda) have access to all airlines or routes.

They do not.  These OTAs (Online Travel Agents) only can sell you what the airline gives them access to.  Some airlines do not allow any of their flights on 3rd party sites. 

Even when you’re an airline is showing flights, routes and rates, that does not mean you are seeing all the routes and rates. 

Airlines work hard to beat these aggregator sites and often withhold fares and routes just for booking directly with them:

RELATED: Pet Travel: How to Book Your Pet to Fly In Cabin

Is Buying Airline Tickets from a 3rd party Site a Good Idea?

When the lowest price ticket is your number 1 concern and you are willing to gamble a little bit with the hassle of rebooking with a 3rd party consolidator instead of the airline directly when a flight is cancelled, delayed or overbooked, then it may very well be worth the savings.

Pet Travel is expensive and well-worth it. Certainly, the most expensive part of a move or vacation is the airline ticket. 

Still, sometimes we do not know how long we will stay on vacation or where we will travel next.

And, we do not want to pay for a roundtrip ticket for us and our Pets.  What do we do when we need flexibility in our return trip?

RELATED: Pet Health Certificates and Pet Passport US to Everywhere

What Happens if my Pet is Denied Boarding at the Gate

If you and your Pet are at the airport waiting to board your flight and you are bumped, you can negotiate for compensation.

The airline will do their best and find a flight as soon as possible to your destination. 

For the time between the first flight and the new flight you may request lounge access, or if the flight is the next day, you can request a hotel stay near the airport and transportation costs, even a meal.

Preference for remaining seats on a flight will likely be given to those Pet Parents that booked directly with the airlines.

How to Get Proof of Onward Travel when You Travel One-Way or Plans Travel Plans Change?

You have 4 choices when airlines or immigration demand proof of onward travel when your tourist visa expires but, you don’t know when you’re leaving: buy a refundable or changeable ticket, hope they don’t ask or rent a ticket good for 24 to 48 hours.

Foreign Countries, Airlines and Customs/Immigration agents often require proof of a return airline ticket or travel onward after your tourist visa expires.

What to Do when you haven’t decided how long you will stay or where you will travel next? You have 4 options:

1. You can buy a refundable or changeable airline ticket.  Do your best to decide the date you will return or where you will travel next. When you decide where you will travel to next, pay the fee to change and take the loss as a cost of travel. This is the least agreeable route as it ties up your money.

 2. Most US commercial airlines are required by law to allow you to cancel an airline ticket within 24 hours of purchase. So, you can buy a ticket right before you fly out on vacation and then cancel within 24 hours.  But, be warned, you may get so busy enjoying your first day of vacation, you miss the deadline for cancelation.

3.  Hope they don’t ask; often they do not.  Proof of onward travel is really enforced by immigration or passport control on arrival, airlines just request it on behalf of the country you are traveling to. 

And many passport control agents do not ask; however, in all my travels, I have been asked about 40% of the time: Leaving the US, entering Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan

4. Rent use of a valid onward travel ticket.  You can buy proof of onward travel without having to pay the full amount upfront or remembering to cancel. 

For about $15usd, you buy a real flight ticket that is valid for 48 hours from the date you select.  You show the ticket agent at the airline check-in. 

The company fronts the money for the booking and cancels—you just rent it for 48 hours.  It’s all done online, and you receive your booking confirmation within an hour.

I have used this many times. It gives me peace of mind and flexibility.  I am rarely sure where I will travel next or when.  I like to keep my option open, so can you. Two options for these tickets are: BestOnwardTicket and Bookonwardticket

See also, Can an Airline Deny My Service Dog to Fly?


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