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Flying with dogs or cats

21.06.2018

Flying with dogs or cats – What to look out for

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Pet-owners about to go on holiday always wonder who is going to look after their pets while they’re lying on a beach or climbing a mountain. If they know that their pet will be well looked-after during the holiday, they can fly away without a worry. But not every pet can handle this. And why should you miss out on your little darling during the holiday? Many airlines offer the option to bring dogs or cats onboard or in cargo hold. And for your four-legged friend to withstand the journey, thorough preparation is key – especially since every country has different terms of entry, and not every airline will accept pets without an issue. So here is what you should know about this topic.

Before travelling

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Flying is as unsettling for a pet as it is for a human, so it’s good to consider whether you can expect that of your pet. Before you book your flight, you should read up on import and export regulations of your destination country. For example, countries like Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland and Jordan do not allow pets to be brought in. Ask your vet about valid animal protection regulations and obtain all the necessary travel documents. These include the EU pet passport, as well as the rabies vaccination and a certificate of fitness to fly. You should also consider whether pets are allowed in your holiday accommodation. 

Not every dog is the same

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Flying is as unsettling for a pet as it is for a human, so it’s good to consider whether you can expect that of your pet. Before you book your flight, you should read up on import and export regulations of your destination country. For example, countries like Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland and Jordan do not allow pets to be brought in. Ask your vet about valid animal protection regulations and obtain all the necessary travel documents. These include the EU pet passport, as well as the rabies vaccination and a certificate of fitness to fly. You should also consider whether pets are allowed in your holiday accommodation. 

Flight booking and registration

Transportation of animals is usually taxed and must be registered with the respective airline early on – best would be to do it at the time of booking. For most airlines, registering animal transportation is possible up to 24 hours before departure. Please note that not all airlines offer this service, and that flight capacity may be limited depending on the type of aircraft. The cost of animal transportation is calculated according to size of the animal and flight route. 

Onboard: cabin or cargo hold

Where your four-legged friend will be carried in the plane, depends on their size and weight. Some airlines, like Eurowings, will only take small dogs or cats. Others, like easyJet and Ryanair, do not permit any animals on their flights, with the exception of guide and service dogs.

Small dogs

Small dogs are classified as hand luggage and are allowed to be brought into the cabin. They have to be transported in a special bag for the entire flight. The animal is not allowed to leave the bag at any point during the flight. Find out about the size of the bag and the maximum weight permitted, including the animal, by consulting your airline.

Large dogs

Large dogs are considered special or oversize luggage. They spend the flight in a transport box carried by the holder, in the air-conditioned compartment of the plane. Fighting dogs require a special cage. The box will be safely stowed and secured from shifting around. At the airport, drop off your dog at the check-in counter.

The right transport box

In both cases, it is always important that the transport box is suitable for the respective animal. The animal must be able to stand up straight, lie down and turn around in the box with comfort. Additionally, the box must be closed, escape-proof and leakproof. The box should be able to withstand being bitten, should be waterproof and well-ventilated. You should be able to receive all the necessary advice in a specialist pet shop. Before the journey, the name of the animal, the contact address and telephone number should be legibly marked on the transport box. Set up the box at home before your flight so that your pet can get used to it in advance. For example, you could reward your dog with a treat when it goes into the box. If the box does not meet the requirements of the airline, then transportation of the animal may be refused. 

At the airport

In order to ensure a smooth departure, you should arrive at the airport punctually. This way, you will have enough time to check in your „animal companion“, and, if necessary, hand it over to the counter for outsized items. Along with the box, make sure to bring the EU pet passport. The transport bag or box – will be weighed at check-in. And don’t worry – your four-legged friend will not be put through the x-ray equipment. You will go take your pet through the detector with you and only the empty cage will be scanned. Before departure, your dog should have the opportunity to get in a good workout.

There is a lot to bear in mind when you and your four-legged friend want to fly together. But once everything has been organised, nothing stands between you and the trip. Have a good flight!

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