Are you planning a move or holiday abroad and don’t want to part with your pet? Are you wondering whether your pet can fly with you and how to prepare your dog for such a journey? Read our guide „Your dog on a plane” and find out how travelling by plane with your dog works in practice.
Transporting your dog by plane. Is it possible?
Of course, it is! If you wish to transport your dog, you must inform us when booking your ticket or by phone up to 48 hours before departure. It is allowed to transport animals min. 3 months and min. 21 days have passed since the last valid rabies vaccination. You should bear this in mind if you plan to travel with a puppy. As an exception, some countries may issue travel permits e.g. for puppies under 8 weeks of age, which are with their mother and cannot yet be weaned.
3 different ways to fly with your dog:
- on board the aircraft in a carrier
- in the hold
- on a separate transport (cargo) aircraft
Whichever option we choose, we need to prepare the necessary documents to prove the identity of the pet and its fitness to travel.
The dog must have:
- an up-to-date vaccination booklet (especially against rabies);
- a certificate from the vet about the dog’s health condition (issued up to max. 48h before departure);
- a microchip;
- a special passport, which is also issued by the vet with a detailed description of our dog: coat, breed, sex, microchip/tattoo number and the owner’s details;
We also recommend that before booking your flight you familiarise yourself with the regulations governing the import and export of animals in the country you are planning to travel to and in transit countries. You will be able to find this information at the consulates of the respective countries.
The dog on the plane. How to prepare for the journey?
Before travelling, you need to take care of an appropriate and safe carrier. Some airlines have special requirements as to the size of the carrier you can take on board – it’s worth finding out about them directly on the carrier’s website before you buy your ticket. Usually, the carrier dimensions are around 45cm (length) x30 (width) x20 (height). It’s a good idea to familiarise your dog with the carrier beforehand – if he feels safe and comfortable in it, it will be easier for him to cope with the journey.
Remember to take your dog for a long walk before the journey. Your pet should not eat a meal for a few hours before departure (up to 4 hours before the flight), you can only give it small amounts of water just before the journey. Also, do not feed your dog during the flight (if it is in the cabin with you). If you know that your dog may be very stressed about the journey, get the appropriate sedatives from your vet. Arrive at the airport well in advance (2-3h before departure), as the check-in procedure with your dog may take longer.
A dog on your lap on a plane?
Not at all! The airlines allow you to travel with your dog on board but under certain specific rules. During the journey, the dog must travel in a special carrier which must be placed under the seat during take-off and landing. It must not be removed from the container. It is also forbidden for the carrier to be on the seat, alternatively, the carrier can be kept on your lap or under your legs, but as soon as there is turbulence or other complications, the carrier must be slid under the seat.
What’s more, most airlines will only allow you to take your pet into the cabin if the weight of the animal and its container does not exceed 8kg (you should also check this on the website of the relevant carrier, as there are airlines that allow a maximum of 6kg and others even 10kg). Therefore, if you plan to take your pet to the cabin, weigh it beforehand in the target carrier. What’s more, the flight attendants also pay attention to your dog’s comfort – your dog must be able to stand upright in its carrier. In practice, therefore, really small dogs may be allowed on board. Please note that when you check-in, the flight attendant is obliged to check whether your carrier meets all the requirements. If they have concerns, they may refuse to transport your pet.
A dog on an aeroplane is treated as additional hand luggage and a fee may be required. As a general rule, no more than 2 dogs may travel in the passenger cabin on any one aircraft. Unfortunately, not all airlines allow dogs on board (e.g. some low-cost carriers). Therefore, before buying a ticket, read the regulations on the carriage of animals by the given airline.
Separate rules apply to guide and therapy dogs. In the case of such animals, the vast majority of carriers agree to transport them on board. Documentation requirements for working dogs are specified by the carrier on its website and information is provided through its offices and hotlines.
Transporting your dog by plane in the hold
Larger animals must be checked into the cargo hold. This sounds a little dramatic, so we would like to clarify that your pet does not fly with your luggage but in a special area designed for transporting animals. The right temperature and oxygen content in the air is maintained there and the room is additionally soundproofed. The noise level is similar to the one we hear in the passenger cabin. The exact standard depends on the airline and the model of the aircraft.
So we do not need to worry about our pet’s safety. However, we should take care of its comfort. It is allowed to transport one adult animal in one carrier, except for animals up to 6 months old, in which case the number cannot exceed three animals per one carrier. The carrier should meet the requirements set out by the International Air Transport Association. The cage should be large enough to allow the dog to move freely – to turn around and lie down comfortably; it should also be made of sturdy material, ventilated on at least three sides, without wheels, clean and well closed. In addition, line the floor on the inside with absorbent material, prepare a container with water and label the carrier with the appropriate label (contact details + e.g. how to handle your pet). The container must have a „LIVE ANIMAL” sticker and an „Arrow UP” sticker. [this direction up] – which you can get at the check-in counter. When you arrive at your destination, you can collect your dog at the airport in a special pet collection area, which is usually close to the baggage reclaim area.
Just as in the cabin, a limited number of animals are allowed on board. In addition, some airlines set a weight limit for the weight of the dog in the hold (e.g. up to 75kg). If the dog weighs more than this, it must fly in the transport plane.
Aeroplane flight with a dog. Summary
Before you set off on your big trip with your pet, make sure that your dog has all the required documents (passport, vaccination booklet, health certificate, chip). If you have travelled abroad together before, this should not be a problem. It is also worth checking the requirements for transporting animals with a particular airline – not all airlines accept the presence of a pet in the cabin. It is a good idea to do this before you buy your ticket, as the regulations of individual airlines may differ.
Have your pets flown? Share your experiences.