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Be a Responsible Tourist - Pet Travel by Air

Pet Travel by Air


Domestic travel:

Traveling with your pet in Spain is quite simple. At the time of booking, specify that you are going to travel with your pet, since airlines only allow a limited number of animals per flight. Make sure the airline has accepted your pet before buying the ticket. If you are traveling with more than one airline, check the regulations for each one. Some airlines require a veterinary health certificate issued 10 days before flight date showing the inoculations the pet has received and stating the medical history, so do not forget to bring it!

Depending on the size of your pet, and the policy of each airline, your pet is either allowed to travel with you in the cabin or must go into the belly. In general, airlines will transport dogs and cats.

Airlines usually allow animals to travel as hand luggage if they are small in size and weigh no more than 6 kg. Therefore they must be travel in a special pet carrier that does not exceed the following measures: 50 x 40 x 25 cm.

The cost usually depends on the policy of the airline and the weight of the animal. Always ask for the rates and conditions in writing, since the answers might vary depending on the knowledge or interest of the person giving you the information.

The pet carrier must be stored under the seat or the seat in front and your pet has to stay inside throughout the whole trip.

Some airlines reject animals if they are smelly since other passengers could feel annoyed, thus we recommend bathing your pet before traveling.

Guide dogs are allowed to travel in the cabin as long as their owners need their guidance to move around. But they do need to wear a muzzle when traveling in the cabin! Since service dogs occupy the seat next to their owners, make sure the disruption to other passengers is minimum. Guide dogs travel for free and have no restrictions on weight or size.

Pet Carriers

The rules regarding approved types of containers for cats, dogs, ferrets and birds travelin in cabin or as cargo were created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and, for the most part, have been accepted by the world's airlines. To be sure, check with your airline about the specific requirements before traveling. Your airline can request the container for you at the airport or can be purchased at specialty stores. If you are purchasing a container, make sure that it meets these minimum requirements:

Check the size.The pet carrier must fit under the seat in front of you and must have a waterproof bottom, secure fasteners, and adequate ventilation. Your pet must be able to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably in the carrier. In order to size the carrier properly, measure your pet from tip of nose to base (not tip) of tail and from the top of the head to the ground when your pet is standing. With these measurements, you will know which size carrier is appropriate for your pet. Airlines do not admit carriers that are too small!

Check the locking system. The container must have a secure, spring loaded, all around locking system with the pins extending beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the door to avoid the door to open accidentally and for your pet to get lost or hurt!

Check the floor absorption and ventilation. The container must be made of a sturdy plastic - no wire pet crates- and have a waterproofed bottom. Remember that your pet will have to urinate and defecate in the carrier. If the trip is short, and with a bit of luck, they might be able to retain up to arrival.
You might be relieved to know that your pet will fly in the special area of the cargo department, which is pressurized and temperature controlled, but even though the kennel has to have ventilation on all four sides. Without proper air circulation, your pet could suffer a thermal imbalance or heat stroke from lack of oxygen.

Water and food. Both water and food bowls must be attached to the inside of the front door and be refillable from the outside of the container without opening the door.

The screen door. Make sure the front of the kennel (the screen) is not too wide as for your pet to stick their head out. This could be dangerous for them and for those handling the kennel during loading and unloading!

Identification of the container. The Container must have LIVE ANIMAL STICKERS on the top and sides in letters at least one inch tall and arrows indicating the upward position. Additionally it must be identified with you pet's name and owner's contact information, address, phone number and accommodation information at the destination. The best way to do this is to attach your pet's information to the outside of the crate.


Make pet travel less stressful

Most animals are anxious and nervous the first time they have to enter a kennel or are in an unfamiliar environment away from home. Therefore it is very important to follow these recommendations:

  • Try to be calm when packing, and on the day of travel behave as on another day.This way you avoid transferring your anxiety to the animal.
  • It is best not to feed your pet for 8 hours before boarding time to prevent vomiting during the flight.
  • IATA recommends not to provide sedatives or tranquilizers. At high altitudes the effects of tranquilizers are unpredictable, they reduce the ability of the animal to move and adversely affect the normal regulation of the body temperature.
  • Introduce your pet to the kennel about a month before the trip so he can get used to it. This will calm him down and make him feel safe, since he recognizes the place. Thus the journey will be less traumatic!
  • Leave a blanket, pillow or  some other object in the kennel that has a familiar smell. And do not forget his favorite toy and / or something to chew on.
  • When you hand him over to the airline staff, do not make the good bye any harder on your pet by transferring your anxiety and worry. Act normal!

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