Flying with your dog
How lazy I feel to travel by plane
First of all, I want to say that it is a shame that there is no airline letting our dogs fly with us. They are a member of the family and do not deserve to be treated as objects traveling in the cabin. Something must be done. I am thinking about how to start a campaign to convince some airlines to establish a weekly dog-friendly service to certain destinations. Thus, allergic people and those who do not like dogs could always keep flying, except one day a week. This starts little by little…
Nobody likes to travel by plane with their dog, because it is not a pleasant experience (for either of you). Someone enclosing you in a cage, being transported by a stranger and ending up for hours in a dark, solitary and noisy place is not something your dog has dreamed of. That is why, before starting to keep going with this post, I want to share with you several tips in relation to the welfare and comfort of your dog.
TIPS TO HAVE IN MIND
Avoid planes as much as possible. Your dog is not going to like flying. Especially if ishe/he has to go in the hold (dogs over 6-7 kg). Therefore, my recommendation is that you look for another alternatives, even if this means spending more time and/or money. Travel by train, boat, car (own or shared), bike, hitchhiking... There are many ways to travel with your partner (here for more information). I would leave the flights only for when there is no other possible transportation option (crossing the sea, very, very very very long distance...). That is, when it is the only way.
Direct flights. Try to fly directly to your destination, without stopping. First of all because you avoid extra stress for your dog, and secondly because you may have a dislike: the different airlines ask for different requirements (dimensions of the cage) and the country of the stop may not receive dogs. If you are going to take two flights because you have no alternative, make sure you are not flying to a strict country (for example, a common stop is United Kingdom) and you meet the measures of the most demanding airline, lest you stay on land!
¿Drug him or not drug him? Cocaí has never been sedated in air trips. I consulted this with my veterinarian and she told me that given her calm nature, it was better not to do it. It all depends on how your dog is. If your dog is restless, maybe sedating is the best option (this will avoid stress). If he/she is a quiet dog maybe it is better not to give your bud anything. When they are sedated their metabolism drops, and in the hold it is cold. It will depend on whether you think your dog tolerates better stress or cold. Melatonine is a good option for those who just want to calm their dogs down but keep them awake.
First of all, one must be well informed about the requirements that the destination country requests when arriving by air. Lest it a destination that does not let your dog the access... Unfortunately, this can happen either because they consider your country of origin as a high risk of rabies disease, or because they have a ban on your specific breed of dog. This usually does not happen, but they will ask you for a series of papers to access their territory. In the post "Dog documentation" detailed information is provided, but here I will repeat it briefly because it is important. You will usually be asked for: rabies vaccine in force (thit is, administered in the last year), deworming in the last week (this varies by destination; for example in Mexico it is within the ten days prior to the flight, while in Spain it is within the last three days), microchip, and a veterinarian's medical certificate. There are certain more restrictive countries that will ask you for additional documentation. Among the most "Nazis" are Australia, New Zealand or Iceland. I hope these are not your destinations because in some cases it is practically impossible to access them with your loyal friend, but if they are, be prepared to fight (and probably disburse a big amount of money).
On the other hand, it is convenient that, if you have the option, you get your dog a European passport. You heard right, it is not a joke: there is also canine discrimination, and European dogs, like their human compatriots, have certain privileges. If you come from Europe I recommend you to get this passport, which is as easy as asking at the veterinary for it (it costs around 30 euros). It is exactly the same as any normal dog vaccination card, but with a blue cover and the stars. With this passport you will be exempt from such absurd requirements as the “rabies neutralizing antibodies test” that you could be asked when returning from one of the countries considered by the European Union at high risk of rabies (to learn more about this horrible document, read more in "Dog documentation" and in "The most strict countries regarding rabies"). Not only will it be easier to fly, it will also give you peace of mind when you cross borders on foot ("Hey, my dog is European, you can't deport her!"). So (if possible) get this passport to speed things up and avoid trouble.
Also, be sure you meet the requirements the airline asks for, although they usually coincide with those of the country of destination. Go to the airline website with which you are going to fly and look for the requirements they ask for, as well as the specific measures of the kennel, which vary from one airline to another. If you can not find the information on the internet, call them directly. In addition, you need to inform them in advance that you are going to fly with a dog, since they have a limited number of dogs to transport on each flight (they will tell you if there is room for your dog on the date you request; you will likely get a "yes" by answer, as just a few people, at least nowadays, travel with their pets).
CABIN OR HOLD?
Depending on the size of your dog you will be able to take him/her in the cabin with you or he/she will go in the hold obligatorily.
CABIN. Congratulations to all dogs weighing less than 7 kilos (sometimes even a little bit more) and their owners ! You are lucky, my friends: you can take your shaggy up, in the passenger area. You only have to carry a bag or carrier (cloth is valid) with the proper measures (the measures will depend on the airline, so pick up the phone and get information).
HOLD. For the rest of us, that is to say dogs from 7 kilos upwards, there is no alternative but to get used to the idea that they have to travel down there, with the luggage. You will need a cage (no cloth, it must be rigid) with the appropriate measures (ask the airline directly, because it varies from one to another). Usually, the dog must fit well, without touching the top with the head while standing. I have never been asked to show them this, but in theory they can ask for it. A cage big enough for your buddy should be fine. I think nobody likes to get their dog traveling in the hold, because nobody wants their dog to feel alone, in dark and cold conditions, surrounded by noises. But sometimes it is what it is. In my personal experience, I will say that my dog has always landed in good condition and has maintained her sphincters perfectly. At least until she got out of the cage. The two times we have made a long trip (Santiago-Madrid and Madrid-Cancun) she made a mess as soon as she left the cage in the middle of the airport!
UPON YOUR ARRIVAL
Where to find your dog?
Depending on the destination (I mean the airport of arrival in question), dogs come one way or another. I have experienced both sides: seeing Coqui appearing with the suitcases in the baggage conveyor belts; being called by the speakers to go to a specific room where she was waiting for me. This you will have to find out asking the staff of the airport after you land. Just keep calm, you are about to meet your friend!
And finally, you landed and you have met with your dog. I do not know which of the two of you will be happier! However, before celebrating the reunion too much, you will probably have to make one last step in the office of the department corresponding to the agriculture/livestock or environment (in each country it is called in a different way, but here we do not really care). Basically, they will ask you for your bud papers, check that she is in good condition (they call it physical exam), will record their data in the system, and will make you some questions about your dog. You may have to pay a fee in certain countries (for example in Peru). But at that moment you will not mind too much: bye airport!
Traveling by plane with a dog the cost of your trip will be increased for two reasons:
Directly: dog fees. This will vary depending on the company with which you travel, but normally it will not be lower than 150-200 euros for international flights. For national flights it will be a little cheaper. Anyway, you never know: Wamos Air did not charge me anything on the Madrid-Cancun trip. This is pretty unusual, though.
Indirectly. On the one hand, you will not be able to book with low cost companies (for instance, Ryanair or Easyjet, do not accept pets on their flights). On the other hand, direct flights tend to be more expensive than those with stopovers.
Tips to reduce costs
However, there is always some way to make things cheaper. Do not look for flights only to your destination, look also to nearby cities, as well as from cities near your city of origin. For example, if you live in Madrid and want to go to Rio de Janeiro, you can also search from Lisbon to São Paulo. If there is a big difference in prices, you could opt for this option, covering the Madrid-Lisbon and São Paulo-Rio routes by land. I would make the trip more complicated, but you could be saving a lot of money...
I recommend these servers to find cheap flights:
Just remember to book a flight without twenty stops, please!