American Airlines + US Airways Merge

We just received word from American Airlines that American Airlines cargo, US Airways cargo officially combine under a single air waybill. This directly impacts animals that are shipped as cargo. As of today Live Animals can be accepted across the combined network except on embargoed fleet types. Embargoed fleet types affect certain aircraft types with heating limitations. Tropical fish, lobsters, and other “aquatics” are accepted across the entire fleet.


FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines and US Airways have reached a significant milestone in their merger today as the Cargo divisions combine under a single air waybill.  The new entity brings in more than $800 million each year and moves more than one billion pounds of freight and mail annually. The Cargo teams have successfully combined 154 facilities and harmonized products since December 2013, making it the first operations division at the airline to be fully integrated.

“Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work by our Cargo employees,” said Jim Butler, president of American Airlines Cargo. “We have brought together the expertise and solutions that customers have come to rely on and the teams that are focused on restoring American Airlines as the greatest airline in the world.

As of today, all booking channels are open and cargo customers have access to flights across the combined network of the world’s largest airline.” “Becoming one cargo organization less than a year after we legally closed our merger is a tremendous achievement,” said Robert Isom, chief operating officer of American Airlines. “Today’s announcement provides great momentum in our efforts to provide our customers a seamless experience as we continue to integrate our passenger systems, route network, and loyalty programs.”

About: American Airlines Cargo American Airlines Cargo is a division of American Airlines Group, the holding company for American Airlines and US Airways. American provides one of the largest cargo networks in the world with cargo terminals and interline connections across the globe.



Life Unleashed Partners with Bags VIP

Like many of the major airlines, cruise lines, and resorts, Life Unleashed Pet Movers today announces that it has joined forces with Bags VIP Luggage Delivery Service to enhance the travel experience for our clients. As pet relocation specialists, first hand we see how hectic and overwhelming it can be just to get your pet taken care of and dropped off or picked up from the airline cargo facility. Life Unleashed decided to take it a step further and make the overall travel or relocation experience that much easier by partnering with Bags VIP. Bags VIP luggage delivery agents will retrieve your checked luggage same-day and deliver it within 100 miles of your accommodations or home so you can get started in on your vacation or begin acclimating to a new home with your pet. Bags VIP luggage delivery allows you to bypass baggage claim and gives you more time to focus on yourself and your pet without the added frustration, time, or hassle of waiting.



Bags VIP luggage delivery is available for all domestic flights arriving at an airport included on the Bags VIP list of airports served.

In general, Bags VIP luggage delivery is not available for passengers arriving on international flights because of U.S. Customs and Border Protection policies. However, if the service is available at the destination airport, Bags VIP luggage delivery is available for international travelers arriving in the U.S. from airports with Pre-Clearance, from U.S. Territories, or when an international traveler clears Customs and Border Protection at a U.S. airport prior to boarding a domestic connecting flight to a destination where Bags VIP is offered.

Bags VIP is offered on international flights ORIGINATING from the following pre-clearance airports:


  • Calgary International Airport (YYC) – Calgary, Alberta
  • Canada Edmonton International Airport (YEG) – Edmonton, Alberta
  • Canada Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) – Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Canada Montreal Trudeau International Airport (YUL) – Montreal, Quebec
  • Canada Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW) – Ottawa, Ontario
  • Canada Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) – Toronto, Ontario
  • Canada Vancouver International Airport (YVR) – Vancouver, BC
  • Canada Winnipeg International Airport (YWG) – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


  • Bahamas, Freeport (FPO) Bahamas
  • Nassau (NAS)
  • Bermuda (BDA) – St. George, Bermuda
  • Aruba (AUA)


  • Shannon Airport (SNN) – Shannon, County Clare
  • Ireland Dublin Airport (DUB) – Dublin, Ireland



Checklist to Prepare Your Pet

Even though airlines differ in their requirements, this is a very helpful outline and checklist prepared by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. However, make sure to check with your own airline’s specific rules, regulations, and required procedures prior to traveling with your pet. It is important to realize that not all airlines are alike.


This is the checklist to prepare your pet when flying on KLM.  When checking in your pet at the airport, they will use a checklist to make sure that your pet is fit to fly.

Travel arrangements:

  • Be sure to arrange vaccinations, travel documents and other important matters well in advance. Contact the local embassy of your destination country for precise requirements. Remember that some countries have strict quarantine regulations.
  • Secure a label to the side of the kennel stating the animal’s name and feeding instructions.
  • Allow five days for your pet to get used to its kennel before the flight.
  • Do not allow your pet to drink for 4 hours before departure. Do not feed your pet for 4 hours before departure.
  • We strongly advise you not to tranquillize your pet.

KLM Pet Checklist Kennel:

  • Dog/cat must be able to stand with head fully erect (without touching the roof), turn around, and lie down comfortably.
  • Kennel must be made of rigid plastic with a built-in metal door. (Wooden kennels and kennels with plastic doors are not permitted.)
  • The kennel must have two empty dishes attached, or a single dish with 2 compartments for food and water.
  • The kennel must have a blanket, newspaper or other absorbent material on floor. Straw is prohibited.
  • The kennel must have at least one ‘Live Animal’ sticker and two ‘Arrow Up’ stickers attached to the exterior. KLM will provide these if necessary.
  • The door lock must be secure, but no padlocks may be used. Door hinges and locking pins must extend beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the opening by at least 1.6 cm (0.62 in).
  • Wheels must be removed or taped.

Age/quantity: Your dog or cat must be at least 10 weeks old. Each pet must travel in its own kennel. However, if 2 cats or 2 dogs of the same size each weigh max. 9 kg (20 lbs), then these 2 pets may travel in 1 kennel. Pups or kittens younger than 4 months may travel in the same kennel as their mother.


  • Your pet’s passport or health certificate must be in English. We strongly recommend attaching copies to the kennel. Make sure to bring the original documents with you when you check in.
  • The kennel must have a tag with the passenger’s name, address, and phone number attached.
  • A label must be attached to the side of the kennel stating the animal’s name.

Physical condition: Your pet must not appear to be physically distressed, injured or tranquillized. The pet may not wear a leash or muzzle, nor may these be left in the kennel.

SOURCE: The above information is courtesy of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Some Great Work


Yesterday, Life Unleashed staffers got to partake as volunteers in a wonderful non-profit event Dance for the Rescues held at the Custom House Plaza, State Historic Park, Monterey, California. This event was established in early 2010 to support the critical work of animal rescue groups committed to making a difference in the lives of at-risk animals and their caretakers. The dance event benefits for non-profit animal rescue organizations. Beneficiaries of the event are Animal Friends Rescue Project (AFRP) and Peace of Mind Dog Rescue (POMDR) – raising more than $87,000 for the two organizations in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. It also features and supports other animal rescue groups committed to making a difference to animals in need.


We also learned of other organizations doing wonderful things to help promote the care and well-being, and awareness of animals. The first group we encountered with a booth at Dance for the Rescues was Operation Freedom Paws. Operation Freedom Paws empowers veterans and others with disabilities to live a quality life by teaching them to train their own dogs, and certifying them as service dog teams. The dogs, usually from rescue organizations or shelters, are carefully evaluated. Each is then matched to a specific client’s physical and psychological needs.


Another California based non-profit we learned about is Red Rover based in Sacramento. This organization offers three great programs. According to the Red Rover web site, the first program is Red Rover Responders which shelters and cares for animals displaced by natural disasters and other crises, such as criminal seizures and hoarding cases, in the United States and Canada. The second program, RedRover Readers offers a unique community-based literacy program that helps children explore the bond between people and animals through stories and discussion. Thirdly, RedRover Relief Provides financial and emotional support to Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations and resources to help victims of domestic violence escape abusive environments with their pets. Fortunately, you need not be California based in order to volunteer and help spread the word of Red Rover’s mission.  Volunteers live throughout the United States and Canada, and stay connected to RedRover through email newsletters and by working directly with RedRover staff and fellow volunteers. As a volunteer-driven organization, volunteers play an essential role in RedRover’s work.


This amazing organization Pets of the Homeless is based in Nevada yet provides services throughout the United States. According to information provided on the Pets of the Homeless web site and from statistics given by the National Coalition for the Homeless their estimates indicated that 3.5 million people in America are homeless and between 5% to 10% of homeless have dogs and/or cats. In some areas of the country, the rate is as high as 24%. Most people who experience homelessness are homeless for a short period of time and usually need help to find housing or a rent subsidy. Unfortunately for those with pets it becomes more difficult. Many are forced to choose between their pet or a roof over their head. Surprisingly, most choose to stay on the streets with their pets because pets are nonjudgmental; provide comfort and an emotional bond of loyalty. In some cases, they provide the homeless with protection and keep them warm.

Pets of the Homeless has three types of programs:

  1. Providing Pet Food to homeless and less fortunate across the country
  2. Veterinary Care for Pets of the Homeless – Funding to veterinarians that go to where the homeless congregate and provide veterinary care such as vaccines, spay/neuter and other needed treatments.
  3. Pet Sleeping Arrangements at Homeless Shelters – Many homeless with pets do not have access to the necessary resources to move out of a state of homelessness because there are no accommodations for homeless with pets. We recognize the need for homeless services to fill a gap left by not allowing pets into shelters. Due to the homeless’ commitment to their animal companions many rarely seek services that could truly help. Free crates are awarded to homeless shelters looking for ways that allow pets sanctuary with their owners.


KLM from Cargo to Crew

KLM’s dedicated Lost & Found team at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is on a mission to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. In this video, KLM highlights the important role and this video serves as a reminder of the capabilities which animals have in helping mankind. Historically, KLM plays a unique role in the evolution of the pet relocation and the live animal cargo shipping industry. Animal Transport – a separate department of AIR FRANCE KLM Cargo – is one of KLM’s specialties. KLM was the first airline ever to transport live animals. In 1924, a bull named Nico was flown from Rotterdam to Paris. Today according to company sources, KLM transports more than sixteen thousand dogs and cats around the world each year. Most often noted for their professionalism in safely reuniting precious cargo with their people, this video elevates the reunion process to an entirely new level.

From Dubai to Denver

Bella and Chianti arrived safely into the mile high city of Denver after a flight from Dubai. Their flight routing first took them through Chicago where they cleared customs. In order to get back into the United States there were a few pre-requisites before departing Dubai. Each pet needed to have its set of current vaccination records, a health certificate from the UAE Ministry of Environment & Water (MOEW), and to be examined and cleared for screwworms, be free from any infectious disease, and fit for travel. These documents must be signed by a veterinarian attesting to their accuracy and validity.

After spending a few years in Dubai, Bella and Chianti return home to the United States. However, this is not always the case for all animals traveling. If you are traveling round-trip with your pet and plan to return to Dubai you may opt prior to departure to pre-arrange for UAE’s Re-Entry card which lessens the import requirements. This card enables you not to have to arrange for a permit to re-enter the UAE. In general, to be eligible for a UAE card, your pet must already be residing in the UAE, your pet’s rabies vaccination must be at least 30 days old and no older than 12 months. In addition, your pet’s rabies vaccination must be valid the entire period during which you are out of the UAE and most important to note is that the UAE Ministry Veterinarians do not recognize the 3-year rabies vaccinations for the purpose of the re-entry card.


Clearing Your Pet Through Customs

When traveling internationally, clearance of your pet through customs is a critical component to a successful relocation. Depending on which airport or country is your destination some require fees, specific paperwork, a copy of the owner’s passport, and the hiring of a custom’s broker. Additionally, some airlines no longer will pre-clear your pet before pick-up and therefore it is up to you or your relocation company to make prior arrangements. Arrival into Denver International Airport does not require a customs broker however the US Border and Inspection facility is no longer near the airport premises. In order to clear customs in Denver you must provide the following and present it to the customs agent.

For example, when arriving into Denver, Colorado USA in order to clear customs you or your agent will need the following copies of these documents provided in advance of a flight’s arrival for customs. It is a good idea to pre-clear a pet in case there are any airline delays and to make sure the clearance is done during office hours.

For each shipment or pet you will need the following:

(1) Copy of the Air Way Bill

(2) Copy of each pet’s health/shot/vaccine/microchip and rabies record

(3) Official Health Certificate for each pet issued by the country of export


A Stay in Style – The Frankfurt Animal Lounge

The Animal Lounge at Frankfurt International Airport is the largest animal airport facility in the world, handling everything from ornamental fish to polar bears. The world’s most advanced animal station combines the handling, coordination, and necessary veterinary services all strategically based at one facility. Frankfurt Airport is an “airport of first entry” for importing animals to the European Union by air. The Animal Lounge is accessed by all air carriers.

Operated by German carrier Lufthansa, animals range from domestic pets to exotic species relocating to a zoos and animal reserves, states Axel Heitman, director of the Animal Lounge. Interestingly enough, a majority of animals usually travel in the belly of passenger planes, but Lufthansa is equipped with a fleet of 18 freight aircraft which can accommodate a variety of animal sizes even a hippopotamuses or crocodiles.

In fact, each year, more than 2,000 horses pass through and 15,000 dogs and cats have short stays in the building. More than 100 million animals jetted in and out of Frankfurt’s Animal Lounge last year including 2000 horses, 14,000 cats and dogs, 80 million ornamental fish and 300 tons of worms.

The 3,750-square meter facility opened its doors in 2008 and is equipped with non-slip floors and climate-controlled chambers to help make an animal’s stay as comfortable as possible. “It’s a lounge just like the lounges we have for passengers. You stay here for a few hours and relax and then connect to another flight. Only there are no cushions,” said Marco Klapper, project manager for the Animal Lounge.

A team of trained vets and qualified animal handlers are also on hand round the clock to monitor them upon arrival. There are also surveillance cameras. The animal lounge is a large warehouse type facility cleaned twice daily. The lounge has an area with black lights for veterinarians to examine fish, and an oxygen supply for the fish in case they need a refresher. There is a quiet area reserved for cats so they don’t get more stressed by subjection to barking dogs.

Lufthansa’s Animal Lounge is a source of inspiration. New York’s Kennedy International Airport expects to open an animal shipping facility late in 2015. It is calling the project “Ark” and will have webcams and GPS shipment tracking for each pet. For now, Lufthansa’s Animal Hub remains the five star service for four paws.



Relocation from Ireland to the United States

Recently two cats, Sunny and Lucky, flew on Lufthansa into Denver, Colorado from Dublin, Ireland. In order to relocate to the United States they first had to meet the export requirements from their country of departure. In addition, they needed a health certificate containing the pet’s vaccination records and statement that each pet is in good health enough to fly.  Sunny and Lucky had a water bottle attached to their crate which is a good idea when flying so that a pet can access water at any time and not have it spill anywhere. En route they spent the night at the Frankfurt Animal Lounge.

This post outlines the conditions and requirements when importing pets into the United States.  With the exception of pets entering the state of Hawaii, there is no quarantine for pets arriving in the US from overseas at this time. All cats and dogs are subject to inspection at ports of entry for evidence of infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

The U.S. Import Requirements for Dogs and Cats:  

1) International Health Certificate – Within 10 days of departure your vet will need to issue an International Health Certificate as required by all airlines. This certificate states that your pet is in good health and approved to fly.

2) Rabies Vaccination & Certificate – In general, it is required that dogs be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to entry, except for puppies younger than 3 months and dogs originated or located for 6 months in areas considered to be free of rabies. Dogs and cats coming from areas not free of rabies must be accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate. If a vaccination has not been performed, or if the certificate is not valid, the animal may be admitted if it is confined immediately upon arrival at a place of the owner’s choosing. The dog must be vaccinated within four days after arrival at the final destination, but no more than 10 days after arrival at the port of entry. The animal must remain in confinement for at least 30 days after being vaccinated.

3) Dogs: Screwworm Policy – The USDA pet import policy allows dogs from screwworm affected countries to enter the country if the following requirements are met:   1. Health certificate issued prior to the flight (International Health Certificate) needs to include that the dog(s) were inspected for screwworm within 5 days preceding shipment to the U.S. AND dog(s) were found free of screwworm

4) Additional Information:

** Depending on the breed of pet some individual US cities and states ban certain breeds such as Pit Bulls or exotic cats for example.

** Customs – some airports in the US require a customs broker to do the clearing and others do not (owner can do it him/herself)

** Birds – this does require prior permission from USDA and CITES / special permitting depending on species or type of bird


Perla’s Trip to the United Kingdom

Perla moves to England

Perla moves to England

Perla is now happily and safely reunited with her family in the United Kingdom. She arrived yesterday on a British Airways flight originating from Denver, Colorado USA. It was ideal that she could fly on a direct flight. When possible, it is best to avoid connections or layovers when shipping a pet. Perla’s relocation went smoothly and Perla appears to be settling in nicely.

There is much planning required for your pet when relocating to the United Kingdom. For Perla to move to England she had to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies (the rabies vaccination must not be less than 21 days prior to the date of departure), receive a health certificate endorsed by the USDA, and complete a customs C5 form prior to arrival. Dogs must be treated with a tapeworm treatment containing Praziquantel as an active ingredient.

“Best. Day. Ever! Perla is very happy and healthy! She hid for a bit but then spent the evening cuddling and playing.  She’s eaten, had plenty of water, and has used the loo! Thanks to you guys this has been relatively painless and stress free! Thanks for everything!! We are all so happy!”