Those who own a dog often want to take it with them on vacation. Depending on the destination, the means of transport can be car, train or plane. Especially when flying with a dog, however, there are a few things to keep in mind. After all, the most beautiful time of the year should be as stress-free as possible and make both humans and animals equally fun What you should consider when flying with a dog in any case and what restrictions you need to take into account in your planning, we explain to you below. The most important things at a glance:
- Before booking, find out whether and under what conditions the airline allows dogs to be taken along.
- Observe the entry regulations of your vacation country and make sure that you have all the necessary documents for the four-legged friend with you.
- Give your dog the opportunity to get used to the transport box before the flight.
- If in doubt, ask a veterinarian whether there are any health reasons for your four-legged friend not to travel by air.
- Due to the high stress that a flight means for the animal, flying with a dog should remain the exception.
Flying with a dog is not possible with all airlines
Be aware that airlines are not required to carry pets. Therefore, if you want to fly on vacation together with your dog, you should check the regulations of the respective airline before booking the tickets. Ryanair, for example, does not generally take any pets with it apart from guide dogs and companion dogs, while Germanwings only allows small dogs that weigh a maximum of eight kilograms, including the transport box, to fly as hand luggage. Other airlines, such as Lufthansa and British Airways, however, also take larger animals. These must be accommodated then however if necessary in the luggage area.
Registration and check-in of the four-legged passenger
Be sure to register your dog for the flight in good time. Ideally, you should do this directly when booking your ticket. Otherwise, please observe the deadlines set by your airline for registering pets traveling with you. Also, show up on time for check-in. In the case of larger dogs flying in the cargo hold, it is usually necessary to hand over the transport box together with your four-legged friend a little earlier.
The correct accommodation of the dog when flying
Depending on the airline, your dog can fly either as hand luggage in the cabin or in the cargo hold. For the carriage in hand luggage, the four-legged friend together with the transport box must not exceed a certain weight. In addition, restrictions on the size of the box must be taken into account. The requirements for both can differ from airline to airline, which is why you should inform yourself in advance. Placing the dog on a seat or letting it out during the flight is not normally permitted by any airline. Larger dogs traveling in the cargo hold must also be placed in a suitable transport box. It is important that the box is sufficiently large, well ventilated, leak-proof and bite-proof. Many airlines have quite precise specifications in this regard that you must follow. Some airlines also have their own transport boxes for dogs traveling with them. We generally advise against transporting dogs in the cargo hold, as this is a traumatic experience for many dogs and it is not possible to visit or calm the dog during the journey.
Preparing the dog for the flight
For your dog, flying means pure stress. Therefore, to make it as pleasant as possible for him, you should prepare him well for the upcoming trip. The most important thing is to get him used to his transport box. By setting it up at home some time before the flight, your dog can familiarize himself with the box. Reward him with a treat when he voluntarily lies down in it and perhaps even sleeps in it. In addition, it is advisable to provide a familiar smell with a blanket and a toy in the transport box. Immediately before flying, you should take your dog for another long walk and give him the opportunity to exercise properly. After all, during the flight he will not have the opportunity to move significantly for a long time. On the other hand, you should refrain from administering tranquilizers. These can make flying even more unpleasant for your dog and in some cases even lead to a circulatory collapse in the cargo hold.
Observe travel regulations when flying with a dog
An important aspect that you should pay attention to when flying with your dog are the entry regulations in your vacation country. This is because different requirements may apply depending on your destination. For example, your four-legged friend may have to wear a muzzle or have certain vaccinations. For cross-border travel within the European Union, your dog also needs a so-called EU pet passport, which is also important when returning to Germany. Information regarding applicable regulations can be obtained from the German Foreign Office. Find out about this as early as possible and in this context also make sure to carry all relevant documents when flying with your dog.
Flying is not a good idea with every dog
Regardless of any legal restrictions or regulations imposed by your airline, you should also be aware that flying with every dog is not a good idea. For example, brachycephalic (short-headed) dog breeds such as the Pug or French Bulldog are considered particularly sensitive. They get short of breath very quickly and do not tolerate high temperatures, as they are in some popular vacation countries. In addition, of course, your four-legged friend may prefer to stay on the ground due to his general nature, lack of education or existing health problems. To avoid problems, it is best to ask your veterinarian if you can fly with your dog or if it is better to do without.
Flying with a dog on a plane: cargo with four legs
Some passengers may be sitting in the aircraft cabin, but their thoughts are in the cargo hold. That’s where their dog is traveling – and they don’t know how it’s doing. One thing is certain, however: only very few dogs get into the vacation mood on the plane. This dog also has to say goodbye to his mistress at the airport. While his owner flies in the cabin, he travels in the cargo hold © picture alliance/dpa Airberlin flight 7160 from Berlin to Bangkok is ready for boarding. Suddenly, a loudspeaker announcement: “Passenger Benjamin Huber please proceed to check-in.” An excited passenger rushes to the counter. But an Airberlin employee calms him down: “Your dog has poured out his drinking bowl and won’t let any of us get to it to refill it.” He takes the passenger – against all regulations – to the Airbus, fetches a bottle of water from the galley and climbs with the canine master into the small, air-conditioned cargo hold, where the dog crate is already strapped down ready for takeoff. Mr. Huber pets his excited Labrador and provides him with fresh water for the long-haul flight. AB 7160 takes off on time – but Mr. and dog still have heart palpitations.
Calming tablets against travel fever
Flying is a challenge for humans and animals – but especially for the four-legged friends. Small dogs still have it relatively well: in a special transport container they are allowed into the cabin. For owners of larger animals, if they don’t hire a pet shipping company, it’s time to say goodbye to their faithful companions at the bulky goods counter – which is often not without tears. Once the dog crate has disappeared on the conveyor belt, “Bello” goes under “cargo” with the airlines like any other freight. He is alone in his box. The smell of kerosene is pure cocaine for his sensitive nose. The noise, the strange people – a flight is pure stress for every dog. But especially for the many long-term vacationers who are taking off to Mallorca, South Africa or Thailand for the winter, there is no question: “Bello” has to come along. In Internet forums, they discuss whether they should give their four-legged friend calming tablets or whether so-called DAP collars are better, which emit the scent of a dog’s breast and are supposed to have a calming effect. The veterinarians are divided in opinion. The flight attendant Steffi from Saarbrücken, familiar through her daily work with dogs in the airplane, finds in any case unambiguously: “I for my part would really expect that of my dog only in the extreme emergency.”
Not all airlines are animal lovers
The biggest fear of many dog owners is that their pet will be forgotten somewhere, or will have to wait for hours in sweltering heat on a tarmac to be loaded. The Internet is full of stories about dogs that have arrived after an errant flight completely distraught, dehydrated, sick or even dead. But Lufthansa Cargo spokesman Michael Göntgens assures that Lufthansa can “guarantee all pet owners that their animals will experience a good, safe and also comfortable journey.” Germany’s largest airline, which carries around 12,000 dogs a year, maintains its own “Animal Lounge” in Frankfurt, which Göntgens proudly points out is “Europe’s most modern animal station” with specially trained animal caretakers and doctors. Not every airline is so animal-friendly. “Ryanair does not allow pets to be transported on any route,” is the short and sweet statement from the budget airline. Competitor Germanwings only takes dogs up to eight kilos (including their crate) in the cabin. Lufthansa transports everything that has four legs. But the flight for the four-legged friend can be more expensive than an economy ticket: On long-haul flights, the dog is considered excess baggage – on flights to Africa and Asia, it costs 30 euros per kilo. Airberlin makes it cheaper: 120 euros costs with Germany’s second largest airline a large dog on long-haul routes. Perhaps that’s why Airberlin tickets are so coveted by “Bello” and “Fifi”: according to Airberlin spokeswoman Silke Manitz, the airline carries around 90,000 animals a year, mostly dogs. Most popular destination: Palma de Mallorca – and “not only in winter!”.
Good to know
Which dog crate is the right one? The International Air Transport Association has defined the size of dog crates on flights. It must be given that the dog can turn in its box and stand upright. Dogs in boxes that are too small will not be transported by the airlines, a decision that is made at the airport and can lead to unnecessary delays. You can use these three rules of thumb to calculate the box size for your dog yourself. Length: Nose to root of tail plus 10 to 20 inches. Width: Shoulder blade width times two Height: Head height plus 15 centimeters
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