Patriot Express, the Defense Department’s chartered air travel service between Baltimore/Washington International Airport and Ramstein Airbase, gives more options to military families who are about to relocate with pets.
Extreme heat during the summer months can put an animal in a life-threatening situation while onboard an aircraft, and during May through September, many airlines may impose a summer heat embargo and will not transport pets in the cargo compartment.
“Most Patriot Express flights to BWI are climate controlled and can fly year-round without restrictions on breeds or air temperature,” said Maj. Steven Czap, the operations officer with U.S. Army Europe’s G1. He added that pet travel costs on Patriot Express flights 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 an animal weighing up to 70 pounds and a maximum 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 costs based on cubic feet of cargo space taken up by the kennel and the air space needed around the kennel for proper ventilation. It can cost anywhere from $395 for an average kennel to more than $1,160 for the largest commercial kennel that can house a 150-pound animal, on the same itinerary.
Currently, on the Tuesday Patriot Express flight that is primarily used for permanent change of station transportation, there are 10 pet spaces for cats and dogs only.
There are three other Patriot Express flights each week that fly Soldiers from the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility through Ramstein AB to BWI, and these often have temperature controlled spaces for pets, equating up to 40 pet allocations per week.
A very limited number of small pets may be authorized to travel in the cabin.
Pets must be able to fit comfortably in a hard-sided or soft-sided kennel no larger than 20” long x 16” wide x 8” high. The carrier must fit under the seat in front of the passenger. 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 final duty destination. This may be more difficult during the embargo period than other times 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 privately owned vehicle to the Port of Baltimore in advance of official travel and then driving to your location. This option requires coordination with the local transportation office. Specific guidance is the Joint Federal Travel Regulations, Chapter 5, U5435.
• Those who rent a car from BWI to their permanent duty station will not be reimbursed rental car fees, but will receive mileage at .555 cents per mile when they submit their travel vouchers to Defense Finance and Accounting Services(JFTR paragraph U5105.
• Transport the pet via commercial or PE in advance of your travel and have a family member receive the pet at BWI. Costs associated with this option are non-reimbursable.
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. Find out more at http://www.spacea.net/faq/patriot-express