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How to travel with a large dog on a plane?

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Are you moving abroad or going on vacation and can't travel without your dog? It is quite possible to make him take the plane. However, in order for his trip – and yours at the same time – to go well, it is best to know the regulations in force within the airlines on the transport of animals. Here are some tips to help you take the necessary steps and prepare for your trip to enjoy a smoother flight.

How to take your dog on an airplane?


To take your dog on a plane, you have two options: travel in the cabin, with you, or travel in the hold.

Whichever solution you choose, you must inform the company when purchasing your ticket. Indeed, it is not only a question of going to the airport with your dog without having informed the crew. Anticipate and plan the necessary in advance, in order to settle the necessary formalities and avoid a refusal.

Transport your dog in the cabin

If your pet is traveling in the cabin, it must stay in a suitable transport crate. This will be placed at your feet, on the ground, during the trip. For this, the transport box must respect certain dimensions and a certain weight when your animal is inside, the objective being not to disturb the quality of the flight for the other passengers and not to represent a source of danger in case of disturbances.

The weight limit is freely defined by each company. Companies like Air Canada or Transavia accept dog/crate lots for a weight of up to 10 kg, but this is not commonplace. Air France, Air Europa, Iberia or Swiss Air for example only tolerate up to 8 kg, British Airlines up to 6 kg and Royal Air Maroc only up to 5 kg.

As you will have understood, only small dogs can claim a trip in the cabin. The only exception is assistance dogs, which are allowed regardless of weight.

However, do your research beforehand, because several companies refuse certain breeds of small dogs in the cabin, while others do not accept any; this is notably the case of Air Lingus, Easyjet or Ryanair.

Transporting your dog in the hold

Depending on the company, your dog may not be accepted in the cabin. It depends on his weight, sometimes his race, and the policy applied by the airline you take for your trip.

Thus, if your animal is not authorized to travel in the cabin, it will have to travel in the hold. In this case, it is up to you to provide the necessary so that he has food and water for the duration of the trip.

The transport box

For your dog to travel by plane, whether placed in the cabin or in the hold, it is imperative to provide a suitable transport crate that meets IATA or International Air Transport Association standards.

  • The hull of the crate must be rigid plastic or fiberglass. The two parts that make it up must be held together by strong bolts.
  • Your pet must be able to stand on it without its head touching the ceiling, sit or lie down comfortably and it must be able to turn around without being embarrassed.
  • The door closing system must be centralized, that is to say, it simultaneously closes the upper part and the lower part.
  • The wheels must be removed or blocked.
  • Nothing should protrude from the crate.
  • The crate must be comfortable and sufficiently ventilated for the well-being of your dog.

Some airlines provide a certified transport crate free of charge, but this loan is very rare. It is advisable to invest in an IATA crate for the well-being and comfort of your animal during the trip. If some companies tolerate non-certified boxes, be aware that they will be subject to an additional charge when you check in.

What are the airline regulations for transporting dogs?

A plane trip with a dog is planned and prepared in advance. Each company applies its own policy, it is necessary to know the details to make the right choice.


The company agreement

This first step is essential. Make sure you have the agreement of the company at least 36 hours before your departure and bring this authorization to present it when you check in. Rest assured that you know whether your dog is allowed to travel in the cabin or in the hold. Also, young puppies are generally refused; to travel, your dog must be at least 10 weeks old, or even 15 weeks in some companies. Finally, check that your dog is authorized to travel to the chosen destination, as this is not always the case.

Likewise, show up early on the day of your departure, as your dog will have to pass a veterinary check. Be aware that the operation will be repeated when you land. So check the attendance times beforehand so you don't find yourself stuck at the airport for the night.

Flight conditions

Contact the chosen airline before booking your ticket. Find out about the flight conditions for your animal. If he cannot travel in the cabin, question the comfort of the hold (heating, ventilation, minimum and maximum temperature, access to your animal during stopovers, necessary certificates, etc.). Make sure the flight is in the best conditions for your dog and choose your airline accordingly.

Compulsory vaccinations

Your dog's vaccinations must be up to date. You will have to present his health record to prove it. Consider destination-related and rabies vaccines. He must have an electronic chip, because the tattoo alone is not enough , and he must have a passport.

Ideally, take your dog to the vet before departure. Make sure that he is in good general health and get the necessary vaccinations. In addition, many countries require the application of pest control and deworming . In addition, the veterinarian may prescribe painkillers to help your animal better live the flight.

Do what is necessary, it would be a shame if your dog is banned from staying once there.

How much does it cost to fly your dog by plane?

Establishing an accurate fare is difficult, as each airline freely applies its standards and prices. In general, the cost of air travel is determined by your dog's weight, size and your destination. Only accompanying dogs are accepted; in most companies, they can travel for free within the cabin, regardless of their weight, size and destination.

Cost of cabin travel for your dog

Most of the time, animals traveling in the cabin are not included in the baggage allowance standard. Consequently, the additional cost applied corresponds to the price of a second bag and generally varies between 20 and 50 euros per flight. However, increases are possible depending on the destination.

Cost of a trip in the hold for your dog

If your dog is traveling in the hold, you will need to plan for a larger budget. Indeed, count on average 40 to 80 euros, without counting the increases applied by the companies according to the destination. You can thus end up with an invoice of 300 euros for the only transport of your dog in the case of an international flight.

Do not hesitate to contact the company beforehand, after having weighed and measured your dog. This will help you get a more accurate quote.

Some tips and tricks for a trip to the top!

  • Prefer direct flights, as layovers can be stressful for your dog as well as for you. Not all companies will allow you access to your animal during stopovers. Also, if you change airlines between two flights, the regulations may be totally different and your dog may be denied boarding halfway.
  • Help your pet to better endure the trip by administering tranquilizers before the flight. Avoid feeding him before takeoff, as he may feel nauseous or defecate in his crate. Tire him out a little before the trip by giving him a good walk.
  • Get him used to the transport crate by placing it at home a few days before the trip. Decorate it with cushions and toys so that he does not associate it with an unpleasant event.
  • Remember to remove his leash when you put him in a transport crate and clearly write down your contact details and the telephone number where you can be contacted after your arrival.
  • If you can, provide him with a block of frozen water so he can drink on his journey.
  • Provide blankets if your pet is likely to get cold during the flight, as long as he is not likely to choke on them if he tears them due to stress. Also equip yourself with the necessary to clean his cage on arrival, because he can soil it.
  • Find out about the possible quarantine of your pet after landing. This can disrupt your schedule and generate an additional cost.

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