so what is the best age to fly a pup, and when will they be ready to go?
Basically, the way it works is that you choose an airline (Delta is my preferred one, but you can use any of the ones that take dogs as cargo--getting a short or nonstop flight is more important than the airline) and a couple of possible flights. You have to be careful to figure out CARGO, not the passenger terminal and requirements (for example, cargo often has to be there a certain amount of time before the flight to be checked in, and it's often in a totally different terminal or area of the airport). You check out the airline website for the specific requirements for dog cargo for that airline. Usually, it's a plastic crate with ventilation on at least three sides, food and water dishes attached, and paperwork and some extra food taped on top. Some airlines require additional locking like zip ties.
Then you have to get the puppy to the vet for a health check within (usually) 10 days of the flight. This doesn't have to involve vaccinations--it's a very brief exam and the vet prints out a piece of paper that says the dog is safe to travel and signs it. It's best to check with the vet beforehand to make sure they are used to this requirement and have the health statement in their computer.
Then you call the airline and try to pre-book the flight a few days early, confirm on the day that the best flight is still available, and then just make sure to be at the cargo terminal early. Walk the puppy, offer water, put a towel in the bottom of the crate, and lock it according to the requirements of the airline. Then go in and fill out the five or six pieces of paperwork, hand over the health certificate (I also tape a copy of the cert to the crate, and I put a big sign on the crate that says "DOG WAS FED AND WATERED AT XX:00") with XX being less than an hour before the flight. I don't want them opening up the crate thinking the puppy needs something.
Then the puppy gets put on the plane. I then call and confirm with the new owner that the dog is on, re-confirm the flight number, and go home. When the new owner picks up the dog, they call me and let me know that he or she arrived safely.
The last time I had a puppy come to me, which was about a year ago exactly, the cost was $182 from Arkansas (Little Rock) to Boston.
If you are thinking of shipping a puppy from this litter, since the litter is quite rural, I would personally recommend sending a crate there so that MCatLvrMom2A&X doesn't have to go find an airline-legal one. This crate is perfect, and already has the stickers and the clip-on cups. The "Small" size is the right size.
I have been told, but have not personally confirmed, that two puppies can be shipped per crate for the same price. I would definitely ask the airline if this is true, if you're thinking of that option; in that case you'd want the medium crate.