Tuesday 21 May 2019

Jet-set pets: What to know before travelling with your dog or cat

You can take your dog or cat on hols, but it’s complicated, says Pól Ó Conghaile.

F. Andy Messing Jr. checks in at an airline counter with his pet
F. Andy Messing Jr. checks in at an airline counter with his pet "Dick the Dog" for a flight to St. Petersburg, Florida. File Photo: Manny Ceneta/Getty Images
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Doggy beers. Pet turndown services. Regulations allowing dogs and cats into Irish cafes, pubs and restaurants. Travel websites like WoofAdvisor and BringFido.com.

Yep, jet-set pets (and their owners) are carving out a growing niche in travel and, this week, we’ve asked Thomas Breathnach and his dog Vipp for a deep dive into the best pet-friendly places to eat, sleep and stay in Ireland.

Travelling overseas is another story, of course. The comfort and safety of a beloved pet is crucial to an owner, but rules and regulations for cross-border travel are complicated, and can vary frustratingly between (and even within) countries.

Take airlines. Some, such as Ryanair and easyJet, only carry guide and assistance animals. Others, such as KLM and Lufthansa, allow small animals weighing less than 8kg into cabins.

Pets can travel with Aer Lingus, but on European routes, they must be booked into the hold with a freight forwarder (e.g. iagcargo.com, multicargo.ie or petsonboard.ie), and owners must provide IATA-approved crates.

On transatlantic flights, pets can travel as excess baggage for a fee of €160 per flight, with all kinds of T&Cs – animals can’t be shipped from North America on Fridays or Saturdays, for example, and breeds such as Pugs, Boxers, Mastiffs and Rottweilers aren’t accepted on any flights.

That’s only the start of the red tape. If you want to take a dog or cat to another EU country, you need a Pet Passport issued by vets. The animals also need to be microchipped, to meet certain vaccination criteria (rabies must be vaccinated against at least 21 days before travel), and you have to carry original paperwork — not copies. Read more at agriculture.gov.ie/pets or pettravel.com.

When it comes to ferries, Irish Ferries and Stena Line carry cats and dogs for free (in a carrier, or the car) between Ireland and Britain. To France, they must travel in a carrier stored in kennel areas. You can visit your pet during the sailing — under supervision, and during allotted hours — and fees are charged from €30 to €60 per pet.

Phew... and you thought baggage rules were complicated for humans!

The golden rule is to prepare ahead. Talk to your vet, get the paperwork in order, choose your airline or ferry wisely, and book in advance — most hotels, airlines and ferries will only accommodate a limited number of animals. Whatever you do, don’t show up at the air or ferry port expecting to blag your pet into the cabin.

No amount of doggy beer will make that happen.

Read more:

Bow-Wow Factor: 30 pet friendly places to stay in Ireland

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