Airplane Rules & Requirements: Travelling By Plane in Europe With a Dog

How To Travel With Your Dog By Plane in Europe?

How to fly with your dog by plane? Don’t you feel guilty when you take off on another adventure and leave your poor poochie behind? We all wish we could take our dogs on trips with us! Separation anxiety doesn’t only work one way, and leaving them behind can hamper your enjoyment of your trip and make you miss home more than you should. 


That’s why it’s understandable for you to want to bring them along when you travel.  Well, it is easier than you think.


Believe it or not, Europe is the best place for air travel with petsLots of countries are dog-friendly, with plenty of dog-friendly hotels and rural and city adventures you can bring them to. If they are tiny, can go into an approved carrier, and fit under your seat, you can have them as a carry-on and don’t even have to check them in as cargo. 


Before you go ahead and book those flights, let’s check out some of the requirements and airline pet policies you’ll need to prepare for your pooch.


What Are The Requirements When Flying With Dogs?

There are specific rules and requirements for traveling with dogs on airplanes, and these can vary depending on the airline and the country you are traveling to. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:


  1. Check with the airline: Each airline has its own policies regarding the transportation of pets, so it's important to check with the airline before booking your flight to make sure they allow pets on board and to find out about any specific requirements;

  2. Health and vaccination requirements: Some countries have specific health and vaccination requirements for pets entering the country. Make sure you are aware of these requirements and have the necessary documentation for your dog;

  3. Traveling in the cabin or cargo hold: Most airlines allow small dogs to travel in the cabin with their owners, as long as they are kept in an approved pet carrier that fits under the seat. Larger dogs may need to travel in the cargo hold of the plane. This is our favorite dog airplane carrier

  4. Book in advance: It's important to book your flight as early as possible if you plan to travel with a pet, as there are usually limited spots available for pets on each flight;

  5. Prepare your pet for travel: It's a good idea to gradually expose your dog to being in a carrier and getting used to being around new people and environments. This can help them feel more comfortable during the flight.


#1 What Are The Dog Carrier Requirements?

Flying with your dog in the cabin has some requirements. If you have a small dog, you can fly with them inside the cabin in a carrier under the seat in front of you. This regulation goes for most of Europe, except for the UK. Unfortunately, in the UK, even small dogs will have to travel by cargo unless they’re certified guides or service dogs. 


To be able to check them in the cabin, you’ll need a dog carrier that is within the regulated guide of the airlines. Generally speaking, these are the maximum dimension guidelines for the different airlines:


  • KLM Netherlands: 46 x 28 x 24 cm
  • Iberia Spain: 46 x 35 x 25 cm
  • Air Europa: 55 x 35 x 25 cm
  • Air France: 46 x 28 x 24 cm 
  • Vueling: 45 x 39 x 21 cm 
  • Alaska Airlines: 43 x 28 x 24 cm 
  • Lufthansa Germany: 55 x 40 x 23 cm
  • TAP Air Portugal: 40 x 33 x 17 cm


Many other airlines do not specify exact dimensions but only state that it needs to fit the compartment underneath the seat. It’s tough to find a bag that fits the specifications, and in some cases, you can use roughly similar measurements as long as it’s soft-sided and can be squeezed underneath the seat. 


The best option is for you to contact the airline first and make sure you can board with your pooch. You can bring 1 cat or dog with you in the cabin when travelling in Economy Class, or when travelling in Business Class within Europe.


Aside from the specific dimensions, the carrier also needs to be leakproof, fully closed (with mesh material), and ventilated as well.


#2 Requirements of How To Travel With Dogs on a Plane

Another factor you need to pay attention to is your dog's specifications, such as its breed, age, and weight. Several airlines and countries do not allow you to travel with dog breeds that are considered “dangerous” such as Pitbull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, and Dogo Argentino. Some will also require you to put on muzzles on your dog to avoid barking and biting. 


Each airline and countries have different requirements, but you can check the EU guide or contact your airline for more details.


Usually, the dogs will need to be at least 12 weeks of age, because they have to be already vaccinated and weaned. If you want to travel with young dogs, you’ll have to provide a certificate that claims that they have no contact with rabies or travel with their mother that has been vaccinated.


Last but not least, make sure that the total weight of your dog and its carrier is less than 9 kg. That’s the typical maximum weight, but they can also be higher at 10 kg or lower at 6 kg. This will depend on your airline, so contact them before you make your decisions.


For this reason, some of the best breeds to fly on a plane with include: 

  • Chihuahua
  • Yorkshire terrier
  • Toy Poodle
  • Maltese
  • Brussels griffon
  • Japanese chin
  • Pomeranian
  • Pekingese
  • Bichon Frise 


#3 Vaccinations, Health & Other Certificates For Flying With Dogs

Before you take your dog to travel to Europe, there are some vaccinations and certificates that you need to fulfill first. It’s not that strict, because except for the EU health certificate, many of us do this for our dogs already. These are the general EU requirements for your pet:


  1. Microchip certificate: Has been microchipped according to the guidelines, or has a readable tattoo that was applied before 3 July 2011;
  2. Rabies vaccination certificate: Has been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days or no more than 12 months before;
  3. Worm Vaccination: Had treatment against tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) if you’re visiting tapeworm-free countries like Finland, Ireland, Malta, Norway, and Northern Ireland;
  4. Animal Health Certificate: Has an EU animal health certificate and passport that contains information about your dog like identity, vaccinations, and treatments. The certificate must be issued by an appointed government vet in your country no more than 10 days before you arrive in EU countries, and it will be valid until 4 months or when their anti-rabies vaccination expires. You should also have a statement attached to the certificate that the relocation is not for commercial purposes;
  5. Rabies Titer Test: Some countries require pets to have a rabies titer test before entering. This is usually the case when you are traveling from a country that is considered high risk for rabies;
  6. Parasite Treatment: To enter many countries, dogs are required to be treated against internal and/or external parasites before entering. This includes treatment for tapeworm, fleas, ticks, nematodes and cestodes;
  7. Additional VaccinationsDepending on where you are flying to, your dog may also require additional vaccinations or treatments.For example, Turkey requires that all dogs are vaccinated against parainfluenza, leptospirosis, parvovirus, bordetella, hepatitis and distemper before being allowed into the country.


#4 Documentation

When traveling with a dog on an airplane, you may need to provide certain documentation to the airline and to authorities at your destination. Here are some common documents you may need to provide when flying with a dog:

  1. Health certificate: Many airlines require a current health certificate from a veterinarian for pets traveling in the cabin or cargo hold. This certificate should be issued within a certain timeframe, usually within 10 days of travel.

  2. Vaccination records: Some countries have specific vaccination requirements for pets entering the country. You may need to provide proof of your dog's vaccinations, such as a vaccination certificate or records from your veterinarian.

  3. Identification: It's a good idea to have a current identification tag on your dog's collar with your contact information in case they become lost during travel. Some countries also require a microchip for identification.


It's important to check with the airline and with authorities at your destination to find out what documentation is required for travel with a dog. It's also a good idea to carry copies of all important documents with you in case they are needed during travel.


Most Asked Questions

Will I have to pay extra to fly with my dog in cabin?

You will yes. The amount you pay however, will differ between airlines as they charge different amounts. The charge also depends on where you are flying to and from. International flights usually costing more.

Can I fly with my dog in cabin on international flights?

You may be able to, depending on which airline you are flying with, and where you are flying to and from. Some airlines allow dogs in cabin on international flights, such as Aegean Air. Southwest, however, do not let dogs in cabin on international flights.

Can I fly with my puppy in cabin?

This depends on how old your puppy is, and which airline you are flying with. Different airlines have different restrictions on the age of dogs that can fly in cabin. Some require puppies to be at least 8 weeks old, where others require them to be 16 weeks old.

Can I fly with a large dog in the cabin?

Unfortunately, unless your dog is an official service dog, only small dogs are permitted. Most airlines require that dogs and travel carriers must have a combined weight of no more than 8kg.

Can my dog sit in a seat on a plane?

Can I buy my dog a seat on a plane? Most airlines do not allow passengers to buy their dogs a seat on a plane. However, depending on the dog's size and breed, as well as the specific airline's rules, you may be able to pay to have your dog fly with you in the cabin.

Which destinations often do not allow dogs?

To some destinations, unfortunately, you are not allowed to bring your pet. This is not due to the country's rules, but to the rules at the airport. These include the UK, Ireland, Scotland, the United Arab Emirates and Chambéry. Check this before booking.

Other islands, including Australia, Hawaii and Ireland also have different rules for travelling with (or importing) pets. In some cases, animals are required to spend some time in quarantine after arrival to protect local flora and fauna.

Other Important Factors You Need To Know

If you’re ready with all your documentation and preparations, here are some more considerations for you before you take off to make sure your travel experience is smooth:


  • Supplies that your dog might need, because they may not be available at your destination. Prepare their medications and grooming supplies beforehand, a small bowl of food and drinks for the flight. Don’t forget to bring a spare leash in case your primary one is broken or lost;
  • Lots of airlines don’t allow online check-in for your dogs, so you must come to their check-in counter even if you don’t have any baggage. This is because they’ll be measuring your carrier and dog’s weight;
  • Make sure you have plenty of time before your flight because you’ll have to go through security with your documentation. When you go through the x-ray machine, take your dog out of the carrier and carry them as you go through the metal detector;
  • According to airline regulations, your dog must remain in the carrier at all times. They can also remove you from the flight if it acts violently toward the flight crew or other passengers. So make sure they’re on their best behavior, not anxious or nervous. If any emergencies happen, you can take them into the toilet to calm down or contact the flight crew for some help;
  • Pets are often not allowed to travel in business class, due to the design of the seats. If you’d prefer to fly in business class, look into the pet policy of potential airlines;
  • Dogs tend to be prone to freaking out in airplanes, especially if they are naturally anxious. They can sense the  sound of the engine, and pressure in the cabin way better than we can. Be sure to get plenty of chew toys to keep your dog occupied. If your dog starts whining and fussing, you might need to take it aside to calm it down to avoid disturbing the other passengers;
  • You need to check if the country that you’re going to has quarantine rules. For example, Iceland has a 14-day quarantine period for pets. You don’t want them alone in a foreign country when the reason you bring them along is to spend more time with them. 


When is it not allowed to bring your dog on a plane?

There are several situations in which it may not be allowed to bring a dog on a plane, including:


  1. The airline does not allow pets: Not all airlines allow pets on board, so it's important to check with the airline to find out about their policies before booking your flight.

  2. The destination country has restrictions on pets: Some countries have specific requirements or restrictions on pets entering the country, such as quarantine periods or health and vaccination requirements.

  3. The dog is not in good health: If your dog is not in good health, it may not be safe for them to travel by plane. It's important to consult with a veterinarian before deciding to travel with a dog by plane.

  4. The dog is too large to travel in the cabin: Most airlines have size restrictions on pets that are allowed to travel in the cabin with their owners. If your dog is too large to fit in an approved pet carrier that fits under the seat, they may need to travel in the cargo hold of the plane.

  5. The dog is a restricted breed: Some airlines have restrictions on certain breeds of dogs that are not allowed to travel on their planes.


It's important to check with the airline and authorities at your destination to find out about any specific requirements or restrictions on traveling with a dog by plane.


Final Thoughts

Flying with your dog can be a daunting undertaking, but it is easier than it seems. Just be sure to do your homework and get all the paperwork and administration in order.


Once you do it the first time, the second time will be a piece of cake. And once you’ve gotten used to traveling within the continent with your dog, now we’re talking! There are going to be loads of adventures for the both of you to have! 


Good luck, happy planning, and bon voyage!


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