Journey with a pet

What you should know about flights + animals

Moving to another country or a longer trip does not mean having to leave the our pet with family or friends. Most airlines allow for fast and efficient transport of our animal companions. You just need to acquaint yourself with the legal regulations and the carrier’s conditions. The transport of an animal must be reported during the booking of an airline ticket, since such service must be additionally confirmed. For example, only one dog and cat may travel on one plane, so we need to make sure that our animal can be transported. The low-cost airlines such as Wizzair and Ryanair are an exception here, since they do not allow the transport of any animals except for guide dogs.

1. What should you take care of before travelling with an animal?

The European Union law requires identifying all travelling animals with an RFID microchip. After chipping, animals such as dogs, cats and ferrets have to be vaccinated against rabies. The animal must also have a passport, issued by authorised veterinarian. Issuing such a document costs 51 zlotys. Before leaving to Great Britain, Sweden, Ireland and Finland the animal has to be dewormed, its blood has to be tested and it has to be treated against tapeworm for 120 to 24 hours before travelling. To cross the borders of the EU a health certificate from a regional veterinarian is required.

Animals younger than 3 months are either forbidden from travelling, or are required to conform to a special procedure. It is decided by specific countries. This stems from the inability to vaccinate kittens and puppies earlier than in the 3rd month of life. Vaccination against rabies becomes effective 21 days after the procedure.

2. Guide dog

Even low-cost airlines allow flying with a guide dog free of charge on most routes, if the dog has all necessary documents, and the carrier was informed earlier about the animal’s presence, preferably when the booking was made. Usually guide dogs may travel without a pet carrier, on a leash and with a muzzle, which does not have to be worn.

3. Pet carrier

In order for the animal to feel comfortable it should be provided with a carrier in which it may freely stand and turn about. Only smaller animals may travel on some airlines in the passenger cabin — larger animals have to be placed in an air-conditioned cargo hold. The carrier must contain a bowl with some water, food, if the flight will be exceptionally long, and moisture- absorbing pad. The transporter should be ventilated at least on three sides. If it is equipped with wheels, then they should be removed during the check-in.

Carrier Ryanair
Lot Lufthansa
Animal weight in the carrier n.a. 8 kg 15 kg More than 15 kg 8 kg b.d. b.d.
Carrier size n.a. 55/40/20, 45/30/20* n.a. n.a. n.a. 60x45x40 cm, 80x55x55 cm 100x65x70 cm, 125x75x85 cm
Transported within n.a. Passenger cabin Cargo hold Cargo hold Passenger cabin Cargo hold Cargo hold
Price** n.a. 50 PLN/50 euro/70 euro 90 PLN/100 euro/150 euro 170 PLN/200 euro/300 euro 35/50/70 euro 70/100/150 euro 150/200/300 euro

* depends on the airplane type
** ** respectively on domestic flights, European and Middle East flights, and flights to US/Canada

4. Dangerous breeds

Carriers, for example Air France, frequently refuse to transport dogs of breeds which are considered dangerous. Others place such animals in the cargo hold, on the condition that it is placed in an appropriately durable, bite-resistant carrier. The regulations of the country we’re visiting should be also checked. For example, Germany prohibits the entry of some breeds of dogs.

5. How to make the animal’s trip easier?

Neither a dog nor a cat may be let out during the flight, which is why it is very important for the animal to have an appropriately sized carrier. We should choose trips without transfers. Before the travel we should not water nor feed the animals for at least 4 hours. If the cargo hold will be cold, the animal should be provided with an additional blanket.

The views are divided concerning the use of animal tranquilisers. Not every dog or cat reacts appropriately to them, and they have side effects. If the pet is easily excitable, the issue should be talked about with a veterinary.