Flying With Your Pet

May 1, 2024by Gary Cooney

As mentioned in a previous blog post, there are plenty of pet-friendly holidays to enjoy abroad. The only issue is the sea between us. However, travelling with a pet is a lot more accessible than it once was. It’s just a matter of choosing the destination and finding the airline that will fly you there. Both Aer Lingus and Turkish Airlines are approved by the DAFM and, on the DAFM’s website, you can find air freight companies that travel internationally. We’ll discuss this more in another post.

So, let’s assume you’ve chosen a sunshine-filled destination and you have booked your ticket, what next?

Having notified the airline that you’re taking your pet on holiday, you’ll need to get a good animal container for the flight. A solid plastic crate with good locks is preferable. A mesh cage will not suffice as an agitated pet could chew through it, though a mesh door is acceptable. Failure to produce the right kind of cage could result in the airport turning you away.

Before buying your crate, make sure you know the exact amount of space needed for your pet so that you purchase the right sized crate. Airlines will insist your dog can stand up and turn around, so your carrier must provide that space. It must also be leakproof should it get wet inside. Airlines use the following IATA diagram to ensure the animal has enough space to turn around normally while standing, to stand and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position.

dog crate diagram

Once you’ve picked out a dog crate - you can find a few here - it is important that you train your animal to adjust to its new surroundings. Let it become familiar with the crate for a few weeks or even months before your planned departure. An animal that is comfortable in its surroundings travels better. Make the crate feel like a home for your pet and it will be less stressful for everyone involved.

Double-check that all locks are secure and that your pet cannot disturb the mesh on the door. A loose dog in a cargo hold is not only dangerous but costly.

Some airlines will require a health certificate for any animal they are transporting - contact your airline to confirm whether they do or not. Your pet will need a passport which can be obtained from any private vet, and also, as with all dogs now, they must be microchipped. Again, check the DAFM website for all flight requirements when taking an animal out of Ireland.

If you haven’t, contact your airline to confirm that they’ll accept your pet on the day and flight you prefer, and reconfirm at least 48 hours before departure. Airports reserve the right to cancel a pet’s flight up to and including the time of the scheduled flight. This can happen due to a number of reasons such as: carrying cargo that would conflict with a pet, too many pets flying, etc. so please keep in contact with your airline.

Find out your check-in time. Just as humans become stressed within an airport environment, pets can too because they don’t understand what’s going on. Check-in early so that your pet can be sequestered away in a quiet place to relax.

To get your pet ready, cut down their amount of food the day before but give them the usual amount of water. Take your dog for a walk before leaving for the airport and again before check-in. A light meal 2 hours before handing your pet over will help calm it.

If you ship your pet as air freight, check with the airline to ensure the air freight facility is open so your pet may be claimed by the consignee. Always try to ship your pet on a weekday as there will be more staff working and that will help make your pet’s flight a smoother experience.

It may sound complicated, but if you prepare in advance and talk to your airline, you will soon be holidaying in the sunshine with your pet.

You can also check out some of our dog travel accessories here.