The Patriot Express, a Department of Defense-chartered air travel service originating at Baltimore/Washington International Airport and transiting to Ramstein Airbase, 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 U.S. Army Europe’s 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 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 for 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 Central Command Area of Operations that transit through Ramstein 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 permanent change of station 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 Patriot Express flight, travelers still have the option to ship their pets via commercial carrier or through air cargo (both unaccompanied). Some additional options to offset the cost of pet shipping include, but are not limited to:
? Shipping a privately owned vehicle to the port of Baltimore in advance of official travel and driving 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, Chapter 5, U5435.
? Renting a car to travel from BWI to their permanent duty station and bringing the pet with in the rental vehicle, but travelers will not be reimbursed, except for the mileage at $0.555 per mile when submitting a travel voucher. Specific guidance is in JFTR U5105.
? Transporting pet via commercial or government air (Patriot Express) 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 Patriot Express or a commercial airline, the cost for shipping pets rests solely on the owner and is not reimbursable by the government.
For specific Patriot Express flight details contact SATO. (Courtesy of U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs)