TRAVELING WITH A DOG BY PLANE
Tips for flying with a do
Many travelers ask us if it is possible to travel with a dog on a jet. Yes, it is. There are many airlines that accept dogs in the hold and some of them allow passengers to carry small pets in the cabin. We are going to give you the keys to solve the main doubts and some useful tips that will make it easier to fly with a dog, even in times of coronavirus..
Before traveling with a dog by plane
FIRST OF ALL: CHECK THE ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DESTINATION COUNTRY.
We insist that before booking the tickets, you must check the requirements for entry of pets to the country of destination. To give you an idea, the United Kingdom requires, among other things, a previous treatment against Tapeworm that must be administered between 1 and 5 days before the trip to Great Britain. In addition, pets are only allowed to be transported by certain airlines and cannot be carried in the cabin, but only in the hold. And one of the most extreme cases is Iceland, whose legislation prevents in practice to go on vacation with your dog to the island (among other things, it requires a quarantine of two weeks). In addition to the official websites of each country, you may find useful the information offered by the Spanish Government for traveling with a pet to other destinations.
NOT ALL AIRLINES ACCEPT ANIMALS AND DO NOT HAVE THE SAME CONDITIONS OF CARRIAGE
In addition to checking the pet entry regulations of each country, you have to see if the airline you want to travel with accepts dogs and to which destinations they can transport them. Not all of them do (some low cost airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet only accept guide dogs). In addition, the rules vary significantly from one airline to another. For example, the size of the carrier accepted in the cabin is not the same in all of them. At the end of this article we review the rules of the main Spanish airlines and provide you with access to the rules of several airlines operating in Spain.
THE PET'S DOCUMENTATION MUST BE UP TO DATE
Once you have gathered all this information, you must have your pet's documentation up to date, which you can get from your usual veterinarian: passport, health card with updated information on vaccination and deworming required in the country of destination, and a certificate of good health issued a maximum of 10 days before the flight. And, although it may seem obvious, it is vital that the information is written where it corresponds, legibly and without erasures.
In the cabin
ANIMALS IN THE AIRCRAFT CABIN
Some companies allow small dogs weighing up to 8 kilos, including the container, to travel with their family in the aircraft cabin inside a bag or carrier (in April 2021, Vueling announced that it was increasing this weight to 10 kilos). It is always necessary to reserve a seat in advance (each flight has a maximum number of pets allowed) and, usually, a ticket must be paid for the animal (there are exceptions, such as the Balearic company UEP Fly, which in 2021 launched a campaign so that pets do not pay a ticket). Some companies allow carrying more than one animal in the same carrier, as long as the maximum weight is not exceeded.
At the baggage check-in counter at the airport, they weigh the pet inside the carrier to check that the limit is not exceeded and make sure that the animal is comfortable inside, that it can stand up and turn around inside the carrier. Please note that if these conditions are not met, your dog will have to go in the hold (in this case, you will have to have a rigid carrier or buy one at the airport).
PET BAGS ACCEPTED FOR CABIN TRAVEL
Many of you ask us what kind of bag or carrier can be carried in the cabin. As we said, the maximum size differs somewhat from one airline to another. For example, at the time of writing this information, Iberia accepted a maximum size of the container of 45 cm. long, 35 cm. wide and 25 cm. high, provided that the sum of these three dimensions does not exceed 105 cm. On the other hand, Air Europa accepts bags 10 cm longer: their maximum dimensions are 55 x 35 x 25 cm.
With Pipper we have flown using the bag that you see in the photos and that is flexible (it is called Ryan). But Trixie's Wings model is accepted by most companies. And the Maxima Extendable bag is a winner because the surface area can be doubled in size by folding down the side pocket.
Pet dogs can travel with us, on a leash, through the airport, but just before boarding, the dog must be in its bag, and the airlines require that it remains in the bag for the entire flight. Of course, you can open the top for a drink of water or a treat. And if your seat mates are doggies, it will be no problem for them to have their heads out for a while. Remember, in any case, to always follow the crew's guidelines.
Airport lounges usually allow pets, but only if they remain in their bag and do not disturb other passengers.
BEFORE TRAVELING, THE DOG MUST BE ACCUSTOMED TO BEING IN THE BAG.
When we fly, Pipper gets into the bag, curls up in a ball and gets fried. The truth is that, in this respect, we are lucky: he sleeps almost anywhere indoors and is not frightened by noises (unless they are firecrackers and fireworks, which are obviously not present at airports). So far, we have only made short flights (from Barcelona to Palma, from Madrid to the Canary Islands, and between the islands) and Pipper has been so calm. Before traveling, we advise you to get your dog used to the bag. You can play at getting him to get into it by giving him a prize, so that he gets used to us closing the zipper.
In the hold
DOGS WEIGHING 8 KILOS OR MORE MUST GO IN THE HOLD.
In general, the rest of the pets (normally up to 45 kilos, although some companies accept animals with more weight) must go in the hold of the plane inside a carrier with maximum measures and the corresponding amount must be paid. We remind you that there are airlines that only give the option to travel in the hold, regardless of the weight of the animal. We have not yet gone through that experience, so we have documented ourselves to make this post and we have had testimonials such as Shiro (@shiro_stories on Instagram), one of Pipper's friends who is used to travel in this way.
Here you have some carriers suitable for cellar. We love the Giona model from the Be Eco collection (made from recycled materials). Others are the Gulliver model and the Skudo carrier.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRAVELING IN THE HOLD OF THE PLANE
If your dog is going to travel in the hold, consult your veterinarian about the convenience of administering a painkiller.
Make sure your dog is in perfect health.
If your dog is not used to the carrier, do it before flying. Keep it inside for a few hours, with the door closed, and reward it afterwards. You can repeat the process several days before the flight.
Do not tie the leash inside the carrier.
Put his favorite blanket, cushion or toys inside. Give him water.
Do not feed him 4 hours before the trip.
Identify him with a tag on his collar that includes name and phone number.
Choose the hours of the day with the mildest temperatures.
PROCESS OF DELIVERY AND COLLECTION OF THE ANIMAL AT THE AIRPORT
The carrier must be presented at the check-in area of the flight, where it is validated and labeled. There, an assistant will accompany you with the carrier to a different area of the airport with a specific security checkpoint for animals.
Once there, you must pass the empty carrier through the scanner and the pet through a security arch. The dog returns to the carrier, which is sealed with cable ties to prevent it from opening accidentally. There you say goodbye to the dog, (tears on both sides...) and return to the check-in terminal.
You have to calculate the best time to check in. If it is too early, the dog will have to spend more time in the carrier, alone between noises and suitcases. If it is too late, the process is stressful, since, once delivered at the security checkpoint, you will have to go back to the check-in terminal and go through the usual circuit: security check, passport, going to the boarding gate, etc.
A good habit when entering the plane, is to indicate that we are traveling with an animal in the hold: then it is certified if it is already on board or they will let you know when it is. You travel a little more relaxed, with the certainty that it is already on the plane.
Each airport does it differently. For example, in Las Palmas it leaves the baggage belt with special sizes; and in Barajas it is brought on a trolley to the information desk next to the baggage claim belts. The best thing to do is to find out which delivery circuit is available at the airport of arrival to avoid the animal being alone longer than necessary. The delivery time varies and can take up to more than an hour at large airports.
SOME AIRPORTS HAVE CANINE RECREATION AREAS AND EVEN TOILETS!
On our trip to Mallorca we were pleasantly surprised. There are airports that have canine recreation areas and the one in Palma is one of them, with its enclosed green area, games, fountain... The one in Gran Canaria also has a similar area, but smaller. And, in Spain, nothing else. I wish all Spanish airports had something like this.
The United States is ahead of us. To meet the needs of assistance dogs and the millions of pets that travel by air each year with their families, federal regulations require major airports to have pet relief areas (or restrooms) in each terminal. These pet relief areas have a small artificial grass area for pets to relieve themselves and a water fountain. In addition, some airports have outdoor recreation areas in the style of the one in Palma de Mallorca.