The Truth About Standby Flight Nannies Your Breeder Isn't Telling You
Updated: Oct 4
Imagine planning this day for two months. Your puppy is eight weeks old and ready to fly home to you. Your breeder recommended a couple of flight nannies and you made arrangements with the person that had the best price to have your puppy flown to meet you at your home airport. You have coordinated to leave work early to pickup your kiddos so you can all celebrate gotcha day together at the airport once your new puppy lands. You are SO excited.
Suddenly you get a text message from your pet nanny.
“Flight is delayed 1 hour.” Well, it happens. No big deal. The kids won’t know the difference.
Then you get a message from a different number. “Missed connection. Next flight is in three hours.” - Wait, what? This was supposed to be a simple three hour nonstop flight. And who is this other person that now has your puppy?!
Eight hours later you finally get your puppy after they asked you to drive an hour to the OTHER airport near you. Come to find out, they were airline employees flying standby. Which means, they never had a confirmed ticket for the flight and were using their work benefits to fly for free. Your puppy was at the airport all morning in his pet carrier waiting for a seat on his flight. And when the original nanny couldn’t make the trip, they simply handed your puppy to a co-worker.
Unfortunately, flying standby with pets has become a lucrative endeavor for airline personnel who use their flight benefits to make a profit. They can charge a competitive rate, $400-800 for one flight, but their only expense is the taxes for the flight, maybe $20. Not only is this a breach of contract with their employer, but it is also incredibly unethical and unfair to these poor pets. Employees caught using their benefits for profit can have those privileges revoked or even lose their jobs on the spot.
The USDA regulates the transport of animals throughout the US and has a list of requirements for commercial transporters. For one, they do not condone COD or cash-on-delivery for live animals. However, many standby nannies work this way by accepting a small booking deposit and then taking cash on delivery. Ever wondered why? They don’t want to pay taxes on that income or have a paper trail linking them to this transaction. Secondly, the USDA wants all breeders sending pets with a commercial transporter to have a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel. This is a special form that varies by state and is issued in addition to the standard health records. If your nanny is not asking for this they are likely not registered with the USDA or insured. This means no responsibility and no accountability.
Some of you have used standby nannies and never had a problem. You might be surprised to learn that they are using benefits because no one ever told you the truth. They HOPED everything would work out and they didn’t think they needed to bother you about the details.
We get phone calls every week from distressed pet parents who originally booked a standby nanny, but their puppy has been unable to get on a flight for two days. They had no idea their nanny was flying standby or they simply didn’t understand the risks. Afterall, the person or company came recommended from their breeder. Now they are forced to make the trip themselves or hire someone to book a last-minute flight so their new family member can get home ASAP! Some families end up canceling the puppy purchase all together because they no longer have the funds available.
It is understandable that you might be tempted by the low cost of a standby nanny as compared to a pet nanny that is purchasing a confirmed round trip flight. But we ask you to weigh the risks. What is your time worth? What is your peace of mind worth? What is the physical and emotional well-being of your pet worth?
Before you book your next pet nanny ask these questions:
-Are you flying standby?
-Will you provide the flight number once you book?
-Will you be my nanny or will you be subcontracting?
-What is your refund policy?
-How do you accept payments?
Check reviews on Google and Facebook to confirm they are a legit business and registered with the USDA. Schedule a phone call to talk with them personally before you send money. Never send payment via irreversible means like cashapp, zelle or paypal friends-and-family. Your financial investment and the health and safety of your pet depend on it.