Can You Take Pets on Board a Flight Within Europe?

Aug 10, 2019

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If you’ve flown domestically in the USA before, you may have been surprised to be seated next to a cat or dog with its owner and wonder why these pets are seated in the cabin rather than being in the cargo hold. These are known as Emotional Support Animals and are a controversial feature of flying in the States.

While many European airlines look favourably at pets flying in cabins with theirs, the UK is unique in that it does not. Major British airlines, including British Airways, Flybe and Virgin Atlantic, will only allow approved assistance dogs in the cabin with the passengers. All other pets/animals have to travel in the cargo hold. Whether in the cargo hold or in the cabin, these airlines will also usually require:

  • The animal be microchipped
  • Carry an EU Pet Passport
  • Have had certain recent vaccinations

Fortunately, assistance dogs travel free of charge where permitted to be in the cabin with the passenger. If you are transporting an animal in the cargo hold, there will usually be a fee associated with this. This fee may differ based on the dimensions and weight of the animal and its travel cage.

Low-cost carriers like EasyJet, Jet2 and Ryanair do not allow pets to be transported in the cargo hold and will only allow assistance dogs in the cabin on certain flights and in certain circumstances.

(Photo courtesy Getty Images)

Mainland European carriers are a bit more generous in what they will allow in the cabin. Both KLM and Lufthansa allow small dogs or cats in the cabin provided they weigh less than 8 kilogrammes (including their carrier). So if you are determined to fly with your small dog or cat in the cabin of your next flight to mainland Europe, consider choosing a full-service mainland European carrier rather than a British airline or a low-cost option.

Regardless of whether your pet will be in the cabin or cargo hold, you should contact the airline well in advance to determine their policy — don’t leave this until the last minute. Most airlines will have a written policy on their website. Some breeds of dog may be prohibited from flying if the airline considers them to be dangerous, or if their breed may find it difficult to fly.

Featured image by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

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