When flying with dogs, many airlines will allow small dogs to be crated and taken into the cabin, almost all allow a certain number of dogs to be checked in with baggage and transported in the cargo hold at controlled temperatures.

The costs for transporting pets varies, but to check in a medium size crate on international flights usually costs something in the vicinity of 20,000-30,000 JPY. I've flown with many dogs to destinations all over the world, and these numbers are based on that experience.

Shipping dogs as cargo (unaccompanied) from Japan though is a whale of a different animal. It costs 100,000-150,000 JPY for a medium size crate to North America, and over 200,000 JPY to Europe. It is often cheaper to fly a person over to pick up a dog than to ship as cargo.

Continental Airlines was one airline with a strange policy, one that would only allow dogs to be shipped as cargo, at cargo prices, even when accompanied by their owners. When they merged with United Airlines, UA adopted CA's policy and the 'PetSafe' system. This was greeted by an uproar among people like me who fly with their dogs, and essentially means that for the past year or so I have not booked a flight with United.

Last month when looking into the best way to get a pup to Pennsylvania however, I found out from my shipping agent that United had changed their policy due to the negative feedback regarding pet transport costs. Instead of charging by a crate size formula, they now charge by weight, essentially almost halving shipping costs. What would have cost around 160,000 JPY last year, ended up costing around 90,000 JPY. So, I shipped using United's PetSafe for the first time, and was actually rather pleased with how everything went.

So, to anyone shipping dogs between Japan and North America, I just wanted to give you the heads up that this option may be what you are looking for.


  1. As I was the one to receive the puppy that Shigeru shipped, I can comment from my end. I know that if you read online reviews, it can kind of scare you away from Petsafe (but then again, the people who post a review online may be biased to having had a "bad" event happen?).

    I was very pleased with Petsafe overall. The only issue I had was that I only had a waybill number, and when I called the Petsafe line to assure that the puppy made the flight (as it was 1 h 45 min to the airport), at first the agent asked if I had a confirmation number, and when I said I only had a waybill, she said "it wasn't her department and she couldn't tell me if the puppy made the flight". I kindly said that I was driving and couldn't log into a computer, so she voluntarily called the other department and used my waybill and confirmed that the puppy indeed was on the flight.

    It was a direct flight from Tokyo to Newark NJ. The flight arrived 50 minutes early (which I knew in advance by tracking the flight online). I arrived at 3:30 pm, the flight landed at 3:50 pm, I saw the puppy at 4:05 pm (going to customs) and she was in my car by 4:20 pm. The guy helping me at Petsafe was VERY helpful (and if you have traveled to New Jersey, sometimes customer service is not high on the priority list). But in this case, I was extremely pleased.

    Petsafe also said that they have Kennels if the flights are delayed or a connection missed and the dogs will be taken out of their crates and put into the kennel if the delay is too long.

    And yes, it saved me quite a bit of money going this route in the long run.

  2. United PetSafe almost killed my Greyhound on July 3, 2013 on our flights from San Diego to Boston. My dog and my cat were never allowed out of their crates, even though I had paid extra for a "Safety Stop" in Houston. They were never given water nor food, nor allowed to relieve themselves for 12.5 hours! They were NOT transported in an air conditioned PetSafe van, as promised in United's marketing materials and as promised on the phone and at the airport. The baggage handler kicked my Greyhound's crate, as she tumbled around in the crate, across the tarmac six times, to push her under the wing of the plane and they left my dog and cat under the wing of the plane in Houston's stifling heat. I have video and pictures proving this. The temperature on my phone was 91 degrees in Houston, it had to be at least 100 degrees on that tarmac. My pets were finally put in the cargo where they sat for more than one hour as work crews tried to fix a seat belt problem and then an air-conditioning problem. The cargo door was open allowing the brutal heat to cook my animals. We had to change planes because of the faulty air-conditioning and I never saw the PetSafe van take my animals out of the cargo. I was informed that I had to get off the plane immediately. My animals were still in cargo. Upon arrival in Boston the cargo employee stated, "This is animal cruelty" while looking at my Greyhound and her crate. Her crate was covered in blood, feces and urine. My cat's crate was covered in feces and vomit. My Greyhound suffered severe dehydration and heat stroke. She needed to be hospitalized in intensive care for 3 days; her kidneys were failing due to heatstroke, and her liver was struggling. She was urinating and defecating blood. My vet bill was more than $2700. I detailed everything to United Airlines and asked to be reimbursed for the vet bills. Their offer to me was $1000, and that was to be given to me only if I signed a 4 page non-disclosure agreement. United claims she had a pre-existing condition and they refuse to tell me what this "pre-existing condition" is. I have a letter from our vet in California indicating she was in perfect health and had NO pre-existing condition. The vet who treated her in Massachusetts has written a letter indicating that her medical problems were brought upon by her mistreatment by United, resulting in heat stroke. DO NOT FLY YOUR PETS IN CARGO WITH UNITED. They have taken absolutely no responsibility for the brutal and neglectful manner in which my animals were treated. They killed Maggie Rizer's dog and Michael Jarboe's dog last year. Google their stories. In all of our cases they refuse to take responsibility and blame it on a "pre-existing condition." I only wish I had read about what they did to Maggie and Michael's dogs before I ever entrusted my animals to them. Please share this with your associates, friends and family. DO NOT TRUST PETSAFE. Your animals are NOT SAFE and United will take NO responsibility, whether they injure them or kill them!

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