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Are there airlines that permit pets in the cabin for int'l flights?

Are there airlines that permit pets in the cabin for int'l flights?

Dec 9th, 2007, 07:45 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 744
I really appreciate all the responses. Thanks especially JamesA for pointing out the transit country issue, I really hadn't thought of that.

clevelandbrown, I have heard the "hold" is technically climate-controlled, but there is no way it's "as" comfortable. The cats will be freaking out regardless, but having me present would be very reassuring (for me as much as them!). I have also heard that the "hold" is incredibly loud, which can be very painful and damaging for pets with very sensitive ears. Pets also die regularly in the hold (they release statistics on that now), apparently due to temperature excesses (which have led some airlines to ban pets in the hold during certain times of year) so I don't know how guaranteed the climate controls are.

For those reasons I refuse to go with one of those pet-transporting companies. When I moved to France as a kid we had our long-time pet dog brought over; he had to go as cargo and while he made it there is no question it was very rough on him and we all regretted having put him through it.

I think with a sedative my cats could handle being in-flight with me, they freak out during long car trips and this wouldn't be that much different. But I wouldn't feel right putting them in the hold, though it looks like that might be the only way.

Oh and Melissa 5: even though it's allowed, in my many flights annually I have only seen pets on a plane twice in my life--once, the lady I mentioned (who I'm sure would have put it back in the carrier if someone complained of allergies), and the second time when it was my own. I don't think it's that big of a concern, just in terms of the numbers. Otherwise, surely, it would be in the airlines' best financial interets to accommodate allergic fliers over pet-owning ones. And as was pointed out many airlines don't allow pets. (Though I should point out that I was wrong, not all U.S. domestic airlines ban them in the cabin int'lly; apparently Continental permits that on a case-by-case basis.)

Thanks to all! I would still love to hear from someone who has taken their pet on an int'l flight, esp. someone who had to transfer in one country as JamesA mentions.


mp413 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2007, 07:55 PM
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JamesA thanks so much for looking into those sites, and for your thoughtful concerns. I am an animal lover as well and there is no way I would bring them if I thought it would be better to leave them at home. The climate in Cambodia is awful and worse than anything my cats have known (Egypt not as bad), but apparently it's very common to have a/c in those places, even on a low budget like me so I think they would be fine in that respect. And they are indoor cats. I am really most concerned about the journey itself. My friend who brought her cat from Mongolia said her personality changed completely, she suspects as a result of the trauma from the journey. That's why I am hoping someone can tell me how their cats held up in-cabin on long trips.

I totally agree w/ your concerns though.
mp413 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 02:13 AM
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Last year I moved with my cats from Boston to Germany (8 hour direct plane ride on Lufthansa) and my two cats traveled in the cargo hold. I was initially very skeptical about having them travel in the hold but after some serious conversations w/ my vet and the airline rep. I decided it was the better option.

The airline representative told me that regulations regarding conditions in the hold have significantly increased and that they now regulate pressure, light and temperature in the hold in the same manner as the passenger cabin. However, I think it's important to speak to the airlines yourself.

My vet brought up the point that although I thought that having my cats near me in the cabin would comfort them, in actuality all of the foreign scents and stimuli would stress them out more. In the hold they can in essence hide, and thus feel more protected and less stressed. Also, in the hold they can travel in larger crates, allowing them more room the stretch and move, which is important during a long flight. It is also easier to secure proper food and water dishes and a good absorbent liner in a larger crate than it is in a carry-on carrier.

Although my cats were definitely unhappy after the flight, they bounced back to their normal selves quickly.

That's my personal experience. As far as advice, I'd go visit your vet ASAP to discuss your concerns and what medical documentation is necessary and get on the phone with potential airlines to find out what their exact policies are.
chelleybelle is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 04:59 AM
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Hi chelleybelle, thank you so much for that personal account. It's definitely encouraging. I take your point about their having space to move etc. in the hold. But I'm still skeptical! I wish I weren't, it would make it so much easier to bring them with me.

I'll definitely ask a vet.
mp413 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 01:52 PM
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My aunt once transported a cat to her friend, on the plane. The cat yowled the whole way, would not be comforted and was so upset that there was no way they could open the carrier to pet the kitty.

It was a 4-hour flight and my aunt took a lot of dirty looks from people. I can't imagine why!

5alive is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 02:06 PM
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I have been next to the person with cats and sneezed the whole flight. Asked the Flight attendant to move me (plane was full) and he told me there was nothing he can do. My sneezes are quite loud then he came back to tell me to stop sneezing. I asked him what US Airs policy is and his response was "if it is 1 per and it fits in the below seat carrier, you can carry it on". Naturally I asked him if I could bring a Skunk or a snake on. I see why people want their pets on a plane with them but the airlines need to make provisions for people with allergies. If it is a long flight (mine was a 3 hour flight), they definitely need to have provisions. Another flight I was on someone had a cat in the middle seat and the passenger next to her had a dog. Putting a dog and a cat next to each resulted in a lot of barking and miserable people on the plane. I thankfully was able to move my seat that time.
tchoiniere is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 02:48 PM
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The best airline for traveling with pets is Air France. Note that quite a few companies now restrict the months in which pets can fly in the hold of a plane.
Underhill is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 08:07 PM
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Two years ago we relocated our 3 cats from NY to Shanghai and like you, insisted they travel in the cabin with us. Two were quite young (less than 2 years old) and one was fairly old (13 years old). With respect to the airlines, we learned the following: on international flights, United allows up to 2 pets in Business class and up to 3 pets in Economy and only one pet/person is permitted. We had to enlist my father-in-law to bring one for us. Pets are not allowed in a cabin where the seats recline all the way to make a flat bed (so no First Class travel internationally). American Airlines doesn't permit pets in cabin on international flights.

With respect to bodily fluids, we purchased some of those fabric/wicking litter box liners (like diapers really) and lined the bottom of the pet carrier. Our girl cat didn't relieve herself during the entire 24 hours door-to-door. The boy cats however, peed frequently so we were glad to have extra liners with us.

When you make your flight arrangements, be sure to note to the representative that you would be travelling in cabin with a pet.

We did use a pet relocation company to help confirm entry/exit requirements re paperwork, microchipping and vaccinations.

We may return to the US next year and have confirmed there aren't any quarantine restrictions (assuming you aren't going to Hawaii)

Hope this helps -- no one (including the two-legged travellers) seems to have suffered any ill-effects from the lengthy trip over to China.

marysuenyc is offline  
Dec 11th, 2007, 04:26 PM
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My friend just recently took her two cats to France with her via Air France (it was a Delta code share). The cat in the hold did better than the cat in the cabin. Didn't even pee. She did quite a bit of research and settled on Air France. They supposedly had a restriction on wintertime travel in the hold, in case the flight was grounded for an extensive period. However, she took a chance and just brought both cats with her to the airport, and both were accepted (it was a nonstop flight).
mlgb is offline  
Dec 11th, 2007, 08:09 PM
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I have no experience flying with pets, but I posted a link to this thread on a Cats forum, hoping someone might want to help you. Maybe someone there might have some experience with this. If you'd like to check for responses (or post there), here's the link to the thread: http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum....cats&tid=60151
cmt is offline  
Dec 11th, 2007, 09:44 PM
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I really appreciate all the personal anecdotes! Is not peeing a good sign or a bad sign?! This has given me a lot to think about.

I am still very torn about the hold, I don't know why. It sounds like it's better for the pets.
mp413 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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I don't think that not peeing is necessarily a bad sign. My cat had a urinary tract infection once and the vet had to hold her until she went so they could be sure. It took quite awhile for her to finally go, although my vet told me that this is not entirely uncommon when cats are stressed or in unusual places.

I wish you and your kitty the best of luck!

tcreath is offline  
Dec 12th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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mp413 -

My husband and I relocated from Atlanta to Cologne, Germany, two years ago. At that time, I posted a similar question here. After reading the responses and doing further research, we ended up putting our three cats in the cargo hold on the same flight that we were on.

Many posters here told me that European airlines are better at handling pets than U.S. carriers, which was why we went with Lufthansa instead of Delta. Lufthansa flies direct from Atlanta to Frnakfurt while Delta goes direct from Atlanta to Duesseldorf. Frankfurt is a longer drive than Duesseldorf to Cologne, but we went with it anyway.

Our original idea was to bring all three cats in the passenger cabin with us. As someone mentioned, most airlines have a limit on the number of pets in each cabin class. Lufthansa at the time limited two in Business and three in economy. Husband and I were to go in business class with two cats and a friend was to go with the third cat in economy.

Unfortunately, one of our cats weighs more than the maximum allowed weight. We could have brought two with us in the passenger cabin and have one go in the cargo hold. But we finally decided that it's probably more stressful if that one cat was in the cargo hold all by himself (versus hearing, seeing, smelling his friends there as well).

Our vet recommended giving them a very light dose of human allergy medication that will make them a little bit drowsy. But when we tested that at home, it seemed that there was no difference in their behavior (maybe I bought non-drowsy formula by mistake?). Anyway, I just didn't like the idea of drugging them and I've read in pet websites that that's actually not recommended. In the end, we went without.

At ATL, we checked in and told EVERYBODY at the airline that we were travelling with three cats. When we boarded, we again told the captain and the flight attendents the same. (Although the cats should be listed in the flight manifest, this was recommended by some as an reinforcement.)

We flew in late August and fortunately the temperatures in both Atlanta and Frankfurt were within the range that airlines will accept animals. You will need to pay attention to this as well.

Our cats were obviously stressed out when we picked them up in Frankfurt. But by the time we got to our hotel in Cologne, they were fine and curious again.

Another obvious thing you need to check is entry requirement. Germany requires pets to be micro-chipped and we had to get our state animal health official to sign off on a certificate drawn up by our vet. We got all this information on the German embassy website.

I often wonder what we'll do next time we move now that two of them are above 10 years old. I worry that they may not be as tough as when they were younger. I actually looked into sailing if we were to return to the U.S.

I hope this helps you in making a decision.

P.S. My husband works in logistics and has in one previous job transported horses and dogs. He was very comfortable with our decision even after I bombarded him with stories about mishandling.
ngodeia is offline  
Dec 19th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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We've moved back and forth from Seattle to Germany twice in the last seven years, so that makes four international flights for our two large dogs and one cat. The dogs were six years old when we started and the cat was eleven. When we came back in August, the dogs were thirteen and the cat eighteen! We didn't expect to be moving back so soon and certainly never expected to transport them at that age. Through all four times flying them, they did extremely well. The dogs didn't once pee in their crates, although the cat did every time and on each leg of the trips. Here's a few hints I learned along the way......

1) Northwest Airlines has an excellent area on their website with great information about transporting animals. Even if you're not going to fly with them, it's worth checking out the information.

2) Line the crates with puppy-training pads as they absorb fluids so well. Tape them to the bottom of the crate and then put a blanket on top. If you put the pads on top of the blanket, they bunch up the moment your pet moves around and are useless. BTW, the dogs didn't once make a mess in their crates even though their longest crate time was 23 hours (just about broke my heart but there were no other options that time). That said though, make sure you have a place to take them the moment they get out of their crates at destination!

3) I used polar fleece that I bought from the clearance rack as blanket pieces for the cat's crate. They aren't as uncomfortable as cotton towels or blankets when they get wet and are a little thicker. I always carried (and used) extra pee pads, a piece of fleece, an old dry washcloth, a garbage bag and a handwipe in my carry-on. Flying between Germany and Seattle there are no nonstop flights, so we always had a layover somewhere. I'd try to arrange the flights so that the layover was in a place I had to clear customs. Even if it's not your final destination, they will give you back your pet so that you can clear customs and then recheck them for the final leg. I would always find a quiet corner, take my baby out of the crate and change all of her bedding. Use the garbage bag so that you can just throw the wet stuff in any garbage and if necessary wet down the washcloth and wipe down the kitty. Believe me, after all of that you're going to want the handwipe for your hands! The added advantage of using polarfleece is that you can use it as an extra pillow or blanket on the plane on the first leg of the trip.

4) I would always politely ask the flight attendants to confirm for me that my pets were loaded in the hold when I entered the plane. Sometimes they already knew the answer and other times they just came to my seat and let me know before pushback.

5) If you take the pets as "excess baggage" on the same flight as you, it's usually MUCH less expensive than using a shipping company. We always did that with the cat but because our largest dogs required a "giant" crate we always had to use shipping companies for them. Much more expensive (Germany to Seattle in June was almost $1800).

6) We never sedated our pets and I still feel that was the right decision. We once sedated the cat on a long car trip and although she was quiet, her heart was pounding the whole time. Imagine being in a new or scary situation and then having your coping mechanisms taken away by meds.

7) You will be required to have water in a small cup attached to the inside of the crate. If you freeze it first, it takes a lot longer to thaw and is much less likely to spill.

8) If you're pet is a dog and is being shipped by a company on a separate flight, look into having them taken to a kennel at their layover point if it's a long layover. The last time we shipped the dogs to Frankfurt, they had an eight hour layover. We were given the option of paying $50 extra and having them taken to a local kennel where they were fed, given exercise and a quiet place to sleep. They would also have been given a bath and the crates cleaned if necessary. Well worth the money.

9) Make sure the microchip you have inserted is one that is accepted by the receiving country. Our cat already had one but it was older and could not be read by the German scanners, so we had to have her rechipped.

10) We always arranged with someone, either hotel or friends, at our destination to have our pet's food and a clean litter box waiting when we arrived. We were lucky because we could use the military commissary and get the same brand over there, but you may have to try mailing over a few days worth so it's on hand when you arrive. The last thing you want to be dealing with is a stressed and jet-lagged dog starting on a new food. Can you say diarrhea?

11) Be aware that the airline or shipping company may not let you include anything such as toys, leashes or medications with your pet. This is much more restrictive since 9/11 when coming back to the States. To our dismay, they wouldn't let us send Yogi's Rimadyl with him and I knew it would take a couple of days to get it at the other end. I eventually talked them into putting four tablets into the envelope with the papers and waybill but it was touchy for a while.

12) And finally, it's not necessary, but we always wrote up a little blurb about our pets and taped it to the top of the crate. Because the dogs were both so big and intimidating we wanted the airline staff to know that if for some reason they had to take them out of the crates, or if they had to be unexpectedly kenneled along the way, they were big marshmallows and were extremely friendly. We also included a contact number for friends who could supply information and make decisions if we couldn't be contacted along the way. Oh, and on the waybill make sure to designate someone besides yourself who could also pick up your pet it you get delayed along the way. I don't know if it made a difference for the dogs but it sure helped my peace of mind.

Well, sorry about this being so long but hopefully it will give someone some ideas and food for thought if they have to fly with or ship their beloved pets.
sardog10 is offline  

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