Cat to Hawaii from South Korea during Summer
Currently, my husband is stationed in South Korea with the military. We are awaiting orders and they will probably be to Hawaii. This presents a few pet travel problems. Right now I'm just trying to assess the situation, so I know where to direct my phone calls when we actually have orders and a report date. As of now, we don't have orders, and we've been waiting for a long time, so it's still possible that we could end up either not going to Hawaii, or not being due to arrive until after September. (we already have the rabies test completed and sent to Hawaii - my cat is set for the 5 days or less program at the end of June assuming I get all the rest of the paperwork together) Under normal circumstances, he would be able to travel with us in the cabin, but Hawaii is a special case and the only airline that allows pets to travel in the cabin to there is Korean Air which has a weight limit of 5kg (around 11lbs) and our cat is 13lbs. We will have to deal with heat embargoes, which I'm not happy about, but nothing in life is ever ideal.
Either way, the military will likely want to book us on a Hawaiian Air flight, because of the contract they have with that airline for this particular city pair. It's also the cheapest option for flying. I might be able to get around this policy and get them to reimburse us for an alternative flight, but I'll need all the information in order to do so. Worst case scenario, we can pay out of pocket for me to fly with the cat on a different airline, while my husband flies with our son on the military designated flight (this is probably the most expensive option as flights to Hawaii are not cheap).
First of all, Hawaiian Air's policy is a bit confusing. They DO have a heat embargo, but it doesn't indicate if it's a case-by-case basis or if they don't allow any pets to travel during the summer months (May-October). Does anyone know more about their policy? All of our flight options are overnight, but some of them arrive later in the day than others. If it is a case-by-case basis, do they make the decision with an hourly forecast, or just a daily?
Korean Air - In general, the US military likes to stick with American companies, however, I am aware that exceptions have been made if it's a flight purchased through an American company, but operated by a foreign company. It's possible that they may book a flight operated by Korean Air through Hawaiian Air. Would this make us bound by Korean or Hawaiian's policy? The Korean Air policy is even more difficult to nail down than Hawaiian Air. Nothing about a heat embargo is mentioned on their website, and I've heard rumors that they don't have one. Is this true?
Delta & United - Both carriers have exceptions to heat embargo policy for military personnel traveling on orders. They also seem to have protocols in place for dealing with the heat on the runways, which may make the exceptions irrelevant. The issue here is that neither airline operates nonstop flights from here to Hawaii. They both require stops in Japan. This would increase our travel time quite a bit - from 9 hours total travel time to a minimum of 14 hours not including time spent on either end or any delays. Again, the flights are overnight.
My final option is to find a friend here that is willing to watch our cat for a few months until the embargoes are lifted, then ship him unaccompanied at that point. I'm not crazy about this idea, because it takes away my control over the situation to an extent. (it would actually be cheaper to do it this way than pay for an alternative flight for me and him)
The money isn't a huge issue for us, but it would be nice to find the least expensive option. Ideally, we will figure out a way for him to fly on the military purchased flight with us for only a few hundred dollars, but I also want to minimize risks. Just because I CAN fly him in a certain manner doesn't mean I SHOULD. I understand that putting a pet in the cargo hold is always at some risk to the pet, but we have no other way to get him from here to Hawaii.
I know that I won't get a final answer until I call the airlines and ask myself, but I don't want to waste my time with phone calls that won't get me anywhere.
Re: Cat to Hawaii from South Korea during Summer
It is always better to travel at night or early morning when faced with the summer heat embargo. The temperature is considered hourly, so the time of day is important. You will have to call Korean Air to confirm their policy on the heat. Most all airlines honor it, but perhaps they will accept a release of liability. All said, the safety of your pet is what matters, and there is a reason for this embargo.
The rules will be imposed on the airline that is carrying the pet, not the airline which arranges the travel.
Re: Cat to Hawaii from South Korea during Summer
Thank you. That helps. We're still waiting on the orders, so we may end up headed back to the continental US in which case he'll be able to fly in the cabin with us as I originally intended.
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