Travel with a dog by air #2

Travel with a dog by air

I have been traveling with Shark for more than a year now: from the Indian ocean to North Africa, then Europe and finally South America. During this year, my dog and I traveled together on 9 flights: 3 national flights (1-2 hours each), 4 international flights (3-4 hours each) and 2 intercontinental flights (12 hours each). So yes, I have some experience in traveling with a dog by air 🙂 Many of you asked me for tips and some may consider taking their dog along on their next vacation. So finally here it is! All you need to know before traveling with your dog by air.



You need to visit your vet within 8 or 10 days before the travel (depending on each airline’s requirement) to get a health certificate for your dog. This document is mandatory to travel with your dog by air. It basically certifies that your animal is in good health and able to travel. Make sure the document is written in the language of the country or at least in English. There is an international model of health certificate that I advise you to use. You can buy it here.


The day before the travel,make sure that you have all the documents of your dog in your bag. Personally, I always scan these documents and send to my email in case I loose them. I also keep copies in my luggage. Always double check the container before leaving home to make sure nothing is missing (fixed water bowl, zip ties to strengthen the door, favorite toy, blanket, sticker with your information).


Make sure to arrive at the airport well in advance. Airlines generally ask passengers traveling with a pet to check-in 3 hours before an international flight and 2 hours before a national flight. Some airports have special counters for people traveling with a pet, others don’t. Anyway, just ask at the check-in counter of your flight for the procedure and you will get all the information.

By experience, I can tell you that you may have to go to 3 different counters: the first to check-in your dog and yourself, the second to pay the transport fee for your dog, the third to board your dog. So now, to save some time, I always go to the airline’s agency before the travel to pay the transport fee for my dog. You can also pay through the call center of the airline. They will ask you for the weight of the dog and the container.

Like everybody, I used to think that pets were drugged when traveling on hold. Well that is a legend. Shark never took anything before a flight on the advice of my vet but also because most airlines refuse to board an unconscious or sleepy pet. Always ask your vet for advice, especially if your dog is nervous.

Last but not least, make sure you have enough time to walk your dog a last time before bringing him to the boarding gate. Don’t forget to put water in the bowl of the container. And of course a last hug and some nice words to reassure him 🙂

travel with a dog



As soon as I am on board, I ALWAYS ask the crew to check if my dog was boarded and I wait for the confirmation. Then I ask if the pilot is informed that a pet is traveling in the hold. I may sound like a control freak but can you imagine what would happen to your pet if they don’t board it on the same flight? Waiting for hours or days in an airport where probably nobody would take care of him. That’s why I take no risk.


Once you land at your destination, the container will generally arrive on the oversized luggage conveyer belt. Get your dog’s documentation ready for the control. In some countries, they check the documents quickly and let you go; in others you need to go to a special office for inspection; finally some countries have quarantine rules. Be sure to meet the requirements of the country you are visiting to avoid issues at arrival.

Once you are outside the airport, take a moment to walk your dog and give him water. He can be a dehydrated especially after a long flight. Don’t worry if he doesn’t make his necessities right away. Some hugs and nice words to reassure him, then tou’re both ready to enjoy your vacation!

READ PART 1: Before the travel

Travel with a dog by air

Photos & contents @ The Tropical Dog 2015-2017. 

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  • Jonny says:

    When you landed at Paris with AirFrance, did you collect him beside baggage? And then take him to customs to check his health certificate and get it stamped for first entry to the EU? Was this free and easy to do?

    I’ve only flown to Helsinki and Stockholm before and it was easy like described.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Jonny! I’m so sorry for the delay of my answer… I missed your comment 🙁 Landing in Paris or anywhere else in France with your pet is easy. If the pet travels in the hold, you will collect him in the oversize baggage area, near the regular luggage area. The customs agent will control the pet documents. They don’t stamp anything and it’s totally free! Safe travels!

  • Estelle says:

    Flying to Paris for 3 months followed by Milan for 3 months too for work, flying from Nice at first and from Paris second.

    My dog is a little corgi (just at the weight limit to fly with me in the cabin)! She’s not a stressed or difficult dog, so I’m hoping shell be ok.

    Have you flown with Aitalia? Are they any good?

    Thank you so much for all your tips they made me feel much better about traveling with her!

    • I’m glad you found my blog Estelle 🙂 I didn’t fly on Alitalia with my dog but don’t worry, it’s a good European airline. If you meet the requirements to take your dog in the cabin (weight, container dimensions and pet documents), there will be no problem. Plus, the distance is very very short! Feel free to let me know if your dog liked the flight 😉

  • Christine OReilly says:

    Hi, I am already living in Antibes (South of France) and want to bring my dog from Melbourne Australia. It’s a massive journey and I am very worried about him as he hates the car, cannot imagine what he will be like in a plane. I was thinking of using Jetpet, have you used them before or do you have a recommendation of a company i can use? I have taken him to the vet in Australia and he has had all his injections etc. Now its just a matter of finding a company that is excellent for long distance.

    Any suggestions or tips are welcome.

    • Hello Christine,

      I have always traveled with my dog in the hold on the same plane, so I can’t recommend any pet transport company. But I travel blogger friend of mine has traveled from France to Australia with her dog 3 years ago. She has shared her experience in a very exhaustive post on her blog (in French): She used Golden Way and recommends it. You can contact her on my behalf if you have questions (she speaks English). Maybe she knows more about Jetpet.

      As your dog hates the car, you need to prepare him in advance for the trip :
      1-Take him on a ride as often as you can even for 15min.
      2-Buy his transport crate and made him like it. He needs to feel comfortable and not afraid in it. Put food, a blanket, toys, make him sleep in it and even lock him in for 5min, then 15min, 1 hour to get him familiarized with the crate. He will be less stressed out the day of the trip.
      3-Ask the vet he can give him something natural to calm him down (not sleeping pills it’s forbidden on the plane). I know there are some natural sprays that seem to work or transport pills if he get nauseous. Try it way before the travel, before a ride for example to see if it works.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to share your feedback 🙂
      Safe travels to both of you!

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