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Flying with pets


Sometimes a holiday just isn't a holiday without Rover coming too, but how can you fly him out, what's it going to cost and what do you need to do to arrange it?

Read our top ten tips on travelling with pets.

Pet travel rules

If you are coming to the UK from any other EU state or a listed non-EU country, you'll need to have your pet micro-chipped for ID purposes, vaccinated against rabies and have an EU pet passport or, if you're arranging transport in a non-EU listed country, an official veterinary certificate. If your dog is flying, it will need to be treated for Tapeworm (not necessary if you are coming from Finland, Ireland, Norway or Malta).

If you are travelling from an unlisted country outside the European Union, you'll need to have your pet microchipped, vaccinated against Rabies, blood tested (to ensure that the vaccine is working) and get an official veterinary certificate. Dogs, unless you are travelling from Finland, Ireland or Malta, will need to be treated for Tapeworm.

Finally, if you're travelling to the UK from an unlisted non-EU country via an EU or non-EU listed country pets may enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the EU entry requirements (microchip, rabies vaccination, blood test 30 days after vaccination and a three-month wait).

Which airlines can you take pets on?

If you're flying internationally, you've got a good choice of airlines. British Airways carries pets not in the cabin but on British Airways World Cargo (via a Pet Travel Agent). Virgin Atlantic allows cats and dogs to travel in the cargo hold to and from Antigua, Barbados, Boston, Dubai, Hong Kong, New York JFK and Newark, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Miami, Narita, Orlando, San Francisco, St. Lucia, Washington (there are seasonal services to Chicago, Vancouver and Cape Town). The cost depends on the size of the pet's travel box size.

KLM - small cats and dogs weighing up to 6kg (13lbs) (including a kennel or travel bag) may be taken into the cabin. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance of travel. Household pets (cats and dogs) may travel as check-in baggage too. Alternatively, pets can be transported as freight with Air France-KLM Cargo. This is the option for heavier animals (and their kennels) that weigh more than 75kg (165lbs) for flights to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Kenya, South Africa or the United Arab Emirates.

Lufthansa carries pets in the cabin (up to 8kg) or as cargo (in a container that is IATA approved).

Whichever airline you choose to fly with, you will always need to call and reserve your pet's travel. While some airlines allow pets in the cabin, others do not and while there is always an administrative charge for the transport of animals, these can vary hugely by airline. Research all these factors before you select a carrier.

Low-cost airlines

The UK-based low-cost carriers will not allow pets to travel in the cabin. Flybe transports pets in the hold on domestic routes. However, it will not transport animals on international routes. EasyJet and Ryanair don't carry animals and will only transport service animals from some airports.

Monarch will carry pets (up to six animals are allowed on each flight) from all of the airline's departure airports around the UK but, at present, they can only be returned via London Gatwick and Manchester airports. Pets are transported in the hold (not in the cabin or as excess luggage) Monday to Friday only. Thomson will carry pets in the cargo hold (contact Cargo department 0203 4327828). If travelling around Europe, Germanwings transports cats or dogs up in the cabin if they weigh no more than 8kg (17lbs). However, they won't carry pets on flights to the UK and Ireland.

Frequent Flyers

Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Paws frequent-flyer programme allows animals to win gifts for themselves and air miles for their owner. On their first flight, the animals will receive a "welcome onboard pet pack" complete with doggy t-shirts, toy mouse or, for the ferrets, a flying jacket and collar tag. All pets will receive their own passport, which gives them paw prints that they can redeem for gifts. Sir Richard Branson calls it "pawtastic".

Updated May 2014

Oonagh Shiel
Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!