An owner and her pet – on an aircraft? But isn’t that, like, totally complicated and horrible for the animal? “Not at all!” says myAustrian fan and dog-owner Maddy, speaking from personal experience. Today, Maddy tells us how simple it is for our much-loved four-legged friends to accompany us when we fly with Austrian Airlines.
What do pet owners tend to worry about when flying with their four-legged friends?
I was scared my two dogs wouldn’t be OK! They’re both highly active and I was flying long-haul with them, so I decided to transport them in the cargo hold.
What are the benefits of transporting animals in the cargo hold rather than ‘with us’ in the cabin?
Transporting pets in the cargo hold of the aircraft means they can travel in a larger transport box than it would be possible in the cabin, so they’re more comfortable. Apart from that, they don’t have any distractions such as smells of food from the galley, unknown voices and sounds, or people they don’t recognise right next to them which they have to ignore.
Was there anything else you were worried about?
I was concerned I might not have completed all the relevant documents and papers absolutely right. None of us wants to get stopped at Customs in a foreign country just because we’ve filled out one form too few?! So I made a point of informing myself in detail before the flight about all the entry requirements for animals, necessary vaccinations, etc. Austrian Airlines also gave me some very helpful information and tips on how to do this.
I‘ve also flown with one of my two dogs in the cabin before – from Vienna to Innsbruck. The aircraft wasn’t fully occupied that time so the situation felt less ‘pressurised’ for the dog.
How did this latest flight turn out in reality?
I thought about my dogs constantly, of course, but the flight attendants were really nice and took care of me throughout the journey. Flying was a surprisingly relaxed experience for my dogs, on the other hand. They were brought back to me at the Oversized Luggage counter, wagging their tails. When I let them out of their box, in fact, I was amazed to see the two of them in such good form; the flight seems to have been far more exciting for me than it was for them, in fact!
What exactly is the procedure you have to go through? What did you need to take care of before the flight?
On the long-haul flight, I made sure my dogs hadn’t been fed for six hours and enjoyed a log walk before takeoff. After that, you just check in like normal. The pets are collected in their transport boxes at Check-in and received by a member of staff. After this, you don’t see them again until Baggage Claim at your destination airport.
Were all the preparations very complicated?
There’s actually not much to organise when you’re travelling short-haul – it only takes a couple of hours. It would usually be equally simple for a long-haul unless you’re super-careful – like me – then it takes longer! I spent a lot of time asking at every (and I do mean every) possible juncture about vaccinations, entry conditions, etc. That’s important too, to ensure you don’t have any problems getting into your destination country.
Roughly how much can you expect to have to pay?
A few hundred euros will usually cover it, for vaccinations, the transport box, and an EU pet passport from an official vet. If you fly more often, of course, you’ll already have a lot of this ready and waiting so it will be more affordable.
What personal tips can you give dog owners considering flying with their little darling sometime soon?
Try not to take the whole experience too seriously. The employees at Austrian Airlines are true pros, and know exactly what to do – although remember that as the animal’s owner, it’s still your responsibility to find out the exact details of any entry conditions, vaccinations, etc. that may apply where you’re going. None of the myths you may have heard is true – that animals get cold in the cargo hold and so on. All these stories serve to do is stress out the owner. Since I’ve seen my dogs withstand a flight as easily as they did, I’ve been much more relaxed, and I’m already planning my next vacation with them!
Checklist when flying with pets:
- For any information about regulations relating to dogs and cats flying with Austrian Airlines, and the cost of transporting them, go to: http://bit.ly/2kOAUWH.
- Have a rabies vaccination or rabies titer test done (where necessary).
- Ensure you’ve got a valid EU pet passport when travelling within the EU, EEA and Switzerland.
- A Veterinary certificate is needed from an official veterinarian when travelling to third countries or outside the EU (not EEA or Switzerland). For further details, go to: http://bit.ly/2lLaq6G.
- Buy a transport box big enough for the animal to be comfortable.
- Check up on what vaccinations are necessary for the country you’re travelling to – ask the official veterinarian for details of what these are.
- Ask at the embassy of your destination country whether there are particular entry conditions or documents necessary when entering with pets.
Watch out: these conditions can differ from one country to another, and change continuously. While this checklist includes the most up-to-date preparations you’ll need to make, you’ll still need to make an individual clarification, depending on your destination and journey time.
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