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International Travel With Pets

International Travel With Pets

Old Apr 1, 21, 3:28 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2021
Programs: United
Posts: 1
International Travel With Pets

My wife and I will be relocating permanently from Orlando, Florida to Florence, Italy around the beginning of May 2021. We have 2 chihuahuas and 3 cats that we want to take with us and we are looking for some help and advice on the best way to get them there.
  1. Is it true that passenger airlines are no longer taking pets in their cargo hold? We would be willing to put the cats in the hold, but the dogs are not an option for my wife.
  2. If the cats cannot go in the cargo hold then can we buy seats for them in economy? One agent told us to do this, but another one from the same airline said that it was not allowed.
  3. Can the two dogs travel in first/business class with us as one of our carry-ons? We have been told that the lie-flat seats are not big enough for pet carriers, but I would like to know for sure if this is true.
Using a third party pet mover seems to be a bit unreasonable because we were told the following:
  1. Our cats would need to depart from Miami instead of Orlando, which would add at least 6-8 hours to their journey before the flights even begin.
  2. We were also told that the cats would need to arrive in either Milan or Rome and then driven to Florence. Again, this would add another 4-6 hours to their already long journey.
  3. If using a third-party pet mover is our only option, does anyone have a recommendation for a group operating out of Orlando?
Any help or thoughts that you may have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
csopko is offline  
Old Apr 1, 21, 4:40 pm
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 50,270
Every carrier has a different policy and different fees and most differentiate between class of service, number of pets permitted in the cabin and number of pets per passenger.

As a starting point, take a look at each carrier's website and take some notes on its pet policies.

Then (or perhaps even first), review Italy's policies for pets with careful attention to vaccinations, quarantine and the like.

With multiple pets, you may well want to work with a professional service which can manage this for you. It will be expensive, but it is a system with little tolerance and if not done absolutely correctly, means a lot of hassle to unwind.
Often1 is offline  
Old Apr 12, 21, 3:15 pm
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 4
Hi! Have you looked into private charter options at all? I've been exploring some as I'm trying to get my french bulldog to Europe (and I won't consider putting him in the hold), and would be interested in joining up with others to do so. (have been discussing this in another thread - "Anyone looking to share private flight NYC to UK - with dogs!")
cfp5 is offline  
Old Apr 28, 21, 1:42 am
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: BSL
Programs: AA (EXP); among others :)
Posts: 1,883
Yes, many airlines have currently suspended acceptance of pets as checked baggage. AA - the last of the large US airlines still accepting pets as checked baggage - stopped accepting them temporarily, and most European airlines who still accept them have suspended transatlantic flights. This will not change until pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted, which will take several months at best.
Prices for pets as manifested cargo have skyrocketed together with general air cargo rates and now are firmly in the 'unaffordable' realm. Prepare to pay several thousand dollars for getting your animals to Europe especially if they have to travel in separate crates.

No, you cannot buy seats for pets, not on standard, scheduled flights with commercial airlines.
This would only be possible on a private charter - a thing that's cost-prohibitive for 99,999% of the general population for transatlantic flights.

Many - but not all - airlines do not allow carry-on pets on aircraft with lie-flat seats. This is a safety issue - lie-flat seats do not have underseat space where the carriers can be safely tucked away for take-off, landing and during turbulence.

Generally, your plan of taking the dogs in the cabin and checking the cats into the hold is a sound one, but there's caveats:
What breed are your cats? There are some breeds like Burmese or Persian cats that are snub-nosed/brachycephalic and on the ban list of most if not all airlines these days.These will not be accepted for travel in the hold as checked baggage.
Then there's your route. Between Orlando and Florence, one- or two-stop, one-airline flights simply do not exist. Changing airlines with all that entails (booking pets separately with each airline involved, retrieving them at the layover point and checking them in again) is something definitely not recommended for inexperienced travelers during pandemic times... and I`d rather drive to Miami than adding an additional stop somewhere.

What I would do: Fly Iberia Miami-Madrid-Florence. This is the only one-airline, one-stop journey I could find currently allowing both carry-on pets and checked-baggage pets ,and allows cabin pets to travel in business class on the transatlantic sector.. If you are *really* lucky and your dogs as well as your cats are *really* small, you could even take all four of them into the cabin as Iberia is one of the very few airlines who allow multiple animals per carrier, provided the 8kg weight limit isn't exceeded.
You might have to plan the trip with a longer layover in Madrid so the animals can enter the EU there. I don't know if Florence qualifies as point of entry for animals from third countries.
bhomburg is offline  

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