Flying with a dog, all you need to know

You are afraid of flying with a dog, traveling by plane with your pet? Wondering how a flight goes, how does your animal travel? How are they transported from the check-in to the hold? Are they with the luggages? What are the papers and other items needed to prepare for your pet’s flight?

We can only understand you since these are all the questions we asked ourselves before traveling by plane with Huaca, our little dog.

Flying with a dog

Sorry, the video is in French, but all the useful info are below in the article.

We were lucky to be able to go behind the scenes and see all aspects of air travel with an animal, thanks to our partnership with Air Austral, a 100% Reunionese airline company. Preparation, veterinary and mandatory vaccines, papers, registration, animals’hold…

While all airlines companies are a bit different, the overall information that will follow will be roughly similar for a flight La Reunion <> Continental France.

For a foreign destination, paperwork, prices, vaccines, quarantine … everything changes if flying with a dog. So be careful, sometimes you have to prepare more than 4 months in advance to travel with your animal (eg New Caledonia , Oceania …).

Everything you need to know about traveling by plane with your animal – Reunion <> Continental France

Our dog, huaca is ready to travel by plane after preparing the flight.

1 / Before the flight – flying with a dog

  • 1/1 – Book your ticket to fly with your animal

How to book your animal companion’s flight ticket?

This is the 1st step. To travel by plane with an animal, it is necessary to book your tickets by telephone or in agency to be sure that your dog, cat will be able to travel on the same flight as you. Yes, there is a maximum number of cages per plane (ex: 9 max on a Boeing 777 on Air Austral).

Our advice (to avoid booking fees when booking in an agency):

> First, find the flight that interests you on internet (favorite date, price …).
> Then call the company to check if there is a place available for your pet on the desired flight.
> Once confirmed, take your tickets on internet and call back to add your pet on your flight.

How does it cost to take the plane with your animal?

For your information, on Air Austral the weight of the animal can be included in your baggage allowance. But if you do not have enough remaining kilos (but what is in your luggage?), you will have to pay a ticket for your dog, cat…

Flying with a dog, cabin or hold?

> If your pet is less than 6kg (transport bag included), he/she can travel in the cabin with you. Which makes us very jealous! Ticket price: 45 € the trip on Air Austral.
> If your pet is more than 6kg, he/she will travel in the hold. Ticket price: 75 € (check before, each company got its own rules).

  • 1/2 – Transport cage for your animal

To transport your animal in the hold, you need a transport cage approved to IATA standards (airport standards). This can change a little depending on the airline company, but generally here are the essential elements:

> Size adapted to the animal, your pet must be able to stand up and turn on himself without being annoyed. For our 10kgs dog, we have a size 4 (L81 x P56 x H59 cm).
> A metal door with a central locking system that simultaneously locks the 2 closing points (up and down).
> Fasteners with bolts to hold the two parts of the cage (plastic clips alone become obsolete).
> The shell of the cage must be rigid plastic or fiberglass.
> No casters or opening from the top.

Chose the good transport cage, adapted to you animal when flying with a dog.

Our tips, we add her usual cushion, a t-shirt we wore (with our smell) and a toy (although it would surprising if she plays during the flight). If possible, get your dog used to the cage at least 1 month before. Unless you have the chance that your pet is not afraid of his cage, which would make us jealous once again!

  • 1/3 – The vet

Going to the veterinarian is not completely obligatory for a flight Reunion <> Continental France, but many companies request it, so it is better to be up to date. To fly with your dog, you need:

> A means of identification (tattoo or chip for France, otherwise the chip is mandatory).
> A passport
> Rabies vaccine
> A certificate of good health done by a veterinarian less than 5 days before departure by plane.

Check your animal's health going to the vet before traveling by plane.

We also recommend the LP4 (lepto) and kennel cough vaccine. Huaca already caught it and we can assure you that it was not happy time (never-ending cough, vomiting …). We also treat her against heartworm, a disease very present in Europe southern countries.

  • 1/4 – Last advices before the flight

Make your dog exercice

We know very well how we are in a hurry the day of departure: last preparations, oversights… but really, if you can, try to walk your dog, cat before departure. A nice ride to get him tired and stretch his legs before a 10 hours flight (plus the time before and after the flight). And give him water just before departure.

Make your dog run before a big flight when traveling by plane.

Sedatives or not?

This is a difficult question with many different opinions. On our side, our veterinarian told us that:

> Huaca, our dog, is afraid very easily.
> It is a long flight (13 hours between the airport check-in and the end), so it is not totally impossible that the dog wakes up during the flight and could be completely lost.
> The sedatives can be really strong and not well supported by some animals.

So we did not take risks and just put her under homeopathy 3 days before departure. We saw that Huaca looked a little softer but unfortunately we can not guarantee that it works.

2/ At the airport – flying with a dog

  • Check-in and boarding

During the check-in, the agent will check your pet’s papers. Good health certificate, passport and you will make you sign a legal discharge in case of loss or death for flying with a dog or cat. It’s a bad moment to pass, but you don’t really have the choice.

You have to sigh a death paper before flying with your dog.

For animals over 6 kilos that go in the hold, of course, your dog, cat, does not go on standard luggage’s carpet. You must take your animal (in its transport cage) to the special formats carpet (like at the Roland Garros airport). Or directly to the luggage management room (like at the Charles de Gaulle airport of Paris).

There are special carpets (straight lines) in order to bring your pet to the hold as softly as possible. From the check-in to the hold.

Ready to travel by plane with our dog, find info on our travel blog.

3/ In flight – flying with a dog

The animals’ hold. A big mystery for us!
Indeed, we have always been very afraid of the hold and its myths. Is it the same hold as for baggage? Do the cages tilt in all directions? Is it the same temperature as outside?

We had the chance to discover the hold for animals during our reportage. We must admit that it was reassuring, even if traveling by plane with a pet is still not the best moment of our life.

In the animals’ hold:

  • It’s an hold dedicated to animals (not the luggages one).
  • Transport cages are firmly attached to each other by good thick rope and attached with metal rivets taht are fixed in the ground. On Air Austral, crates are not overlaid.
  • The temperature is set at 21 °C inside the cargo hold.
  • There is no light in the hold.

Animals'traveling conditions in the plane'hold when traveling by plane.

4/ Get back your pet after the flight

After flying with your animal, it’s time to get it back!!!
Once arrived at the airport (Reunion Island or France), go to the oversized bagages space.

  • At Roland Garros (Reunion Island), it’s just close to the main luggages carpet (back right after the passports’ desk).
  • At Charles de Gaulle (Paris), go to the classic baggage room, the oversized baggage space is on the left near the elevator.

Huaca flew 4 times (2 round-trip Reunion-France) and it went very well. To be very honest, that was not obvious when we get her back. She was stressed, biting her cage’s bars, so not very reassuring for the very emotional owners we are.

All our info and advices to travel by plane with your dog or animal.

But every time we opened the cage … she was in good shape and happy to find us.

Wishing you a good trip!

We hope that those information will be useful for you to travel by plane with your dog and that you feel a bit reassured.

Do not hesitate to let a comment if you found those information useful or if you need clarification.

>> On holiday in Reunion Island ? Find a list of hostels, hotels that accept animals at the end of this article!

Find all info about traveling by plane with your dog on our travel blog.

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