From Woof, Woof to Wiouf, Wiouf
August 11, 2010 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Can I buy a seat on a plane for my dog?

My wife is contemplating grad school in Europe (France specifically). I plan on staying in NYC and commuting every few weeks to see her. We both think it would be best if the dog goes with her but I am struggling with how to accomplish that. He is just a bit too big to fit in a carry-on although not so big that he maybe couldn't fit in a business class seat as a carry-on (25lbs or so). But what about buying him his own seat next to her and harnessing him in? What are our options?

What about hoping a ride on a container ship? Would that be possible? Anyone have any info on that option?

I am not considering putting him in the hold. If that is our only option he'll stay here and go to one of our parents for the weeks I go to France.
posted by JPD to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You cannot take a dog overseas without having the dog undergo a period of quarantine. I believe that period is in excess of 3 months, possibly more. If her move to Europe is not going to be permanent, it will be better for the dog to remain with you.
posted by devinemissk at 8:22 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

It depends on the airline, apparently. See this link and pick your airline from the drop-down to find out the individual airline's rules. Air France, for instance, allows small dogs in the cabin, but the animal must be small enough to fit in an approved under the seat carrier.
posted by litnerd at 8:23 AM on August 11, 2010

American Air doesn't allow pets in the cabin on trans-Atlantic flights and only in specific sizes of cages inside the US, as an example.
posted by ghharr at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2010

Traveling with pets internationally is a huge deal, often involving quarantines or microchipping and a lot of hassle. For information on traveling with pets, see this link. Note that in the terminology used, the US is a "Third Country".

Typically, no, airlines won't allow you to buy a seat for a dog, due to various safety and regulatory issues. My employer (domestic-only) only allows pets in cabin, and only under the seat due to the possibility of allergies, and people causing issues over seeing even a small dog or cat. You can't account for everyone's phobias, hangups, allergies and so on. That's not to say that nobody allows it, but it will be pretty rare.

Container ships take weeks to traverse either ocean - Probably not viable. (A quick Googling shows, "New York to Le Havre, France is 3062 nautical miles. At 20 knots, that would be 6 days 9 hours and 6 minutes. ")

Unfortunately, you're likely best served leaving the dog home given that you plan on doing this trip repeatedly, and for short durations.
posted by Rendus at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2010

Ack -- I'm wrong -- only the UK has a mandatory quarantine period.
posted by devinemissk at 8:28 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I knew I should have put this in - The standards to move a dog from the US to France essentially consist of making sure he is microchipped and vaccinated for Rabies - both of which are already accomplished.

I don't think a week is too long on a container ship. I have a departed friend who used to regularly take container ships trans-atlantic and trans pacific in their guest cabins.

Also the plan is to move the dog once maybe twice depending on whether we move back to the states or not.
posted by JPD at 8:33 AM on August 11, 2010

I did find this neat tidbit about bringing your pet to France from the French Embassy. And here's the same info repeated on a page about Pet Immigration.

So technically, you can send the dog along with her. But at 25 pounds, most airlines will put him in cargo.
posted by mrsshotglass at 8:34 AM on August 11, 2010

Why don't you want to send him in the hold? My parents moved from eastern Canada to Maui (time in transit totaling around 15 hrs, probably 9-11 hours actually in the air) and brought our two bassets with them, and then back when they left two years later. The dogs were fine. We got to see them and take them out of their cages at a stop in Chicago, and they were having a great time, the people were really nice and treated us and the dogs very well. If you're concerned that your pet is prone to stress ask your vet about it, they may recommend an OTC or prescription relaxant.
One thing I've learned from hauling animals across the country is they make the process much more friendly. Nothing makes security less stressful like taking a sappy cat as carry-on, people love it.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 8:41 AM on August 11, 2010

I misread what you were asking with the cargo ship - I thought you meant you were going to commute to see her, with the pet.

I have no direct experience with cargo ships and pets - That's going to be a pretty niche market, and you'll probably need to ask directly about that.

That being said, if you feel the pet would be best served with her... Well, you've eliminated the best option available.
posted by Rendus at 8:44 AM on August 11, 2010

My girlfriend and I moved to France with our two cats about two years ago and we dealt with the whole process of figuring out which airlines allow what. IIRC, only United would ship animals internationally in the cabin, provided they fit within some size guidelines. You can see more info here, on their website.

I know you said you didn't want to check your dog, but it wasn't that bad at all when we shipped our two cats (who we love with all of our hearts). Because we had two cats and were flying from Houston and wanted a direct flight, we chose to put our cats in the hold. The process was very easy on the US side and a bit complicated on the France side. We were flying Continental; the process entailed going to the QUICKPAK window at the airport with the animals already in the IATA certified crates. They checked the paperwork and they took the animals in the back. In France, we had to take a cab to the Freight area and wait until they opened (it was lunch) to pay the import/customs fees. The animals came out scared but were back to normal in about 24 hours.

As an FYI to other posters/future readers, France (and the majority of the EU) does not require a quarantine period provided the animals have an up-to-date rabies shot and a European (!! very important that it is a European chip) RFID chip. You also need a filled out Veterinary certificate, available here. You have to have the vets examined by a local vet, who will fill the sheet out, and then mail it to the local Veterinary Services area office for certification. We had to do that part via overnight mail to make sure the certification was as close to our flight as possible.

Regarding prescription medicines/relaxants, most of the information that I have read has said that this is a very very bad idea. Many airlines will not deal with animals that have been drugged.
posted by swhitt at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dogs are permitted on the Cunard line, so you could take the Queen Mary 2. I recently met a woman who brought her cats to Ireland this way. It requires lots of planning in advance. Sometimes fares can be comparable to transatlantic flight, so worth checking out.
posted by mochapickle at 9:09 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

A friend had been living on a military base in Germany for four years. When she moved home to California in January she brought her two huskies with her. They went cargo in approved crates. She gave them some Benadryl. Everyone arrived safe and mostly happy.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:21 AM on August 11, 2010

Recent article about seven dogs that died after transport in the cargo section of an American Airlines flight
posted by trampoliningisfun at 9:30 AM on August 11, 2010

You may also wish to know that it is not Wiouf, Wiouf, but Ouah, Ouah.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:40 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

I flew my dog several times. It was never a problem. Dogs generally just go to sleep once it's dark. They're all excited when they see you, sure, but the rest of the time they're probably sleeping.

Obviously I would only take a nonstop, and make sure you're traveling during reasonable weather.

There are also services that will fly your dog "first class," but they're expensive.
posted by musofire at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2010

Forget Cargo ships. They carry bulk or containers. They won't even consider the request.
They do not want the risk or bother of looking after an animal.
Most pets fly in the hold. As the dog is going to France try KLM/AirFrance Variation Live; or one of the many freight agencies specializing in Pets such as World Pet travel they are specialists and will be able to offer good advise. It is not advisable to drug animals for flights as there can be hydration problems. You should also make sure your dog is travelling in a big enough cage otherwise it will be rejected at check in.
if you won't put the dog in the hold it isn't going.
posted by adamvasco at 9:45 AM on August 11, 2010

Response by poster: Forget Cargo ships. They carry bulk or containers. They won't even consider the request.
They do not want the risk or bother of looking after an animal.

I'm not talking about shipping him as cargo. I'm talking about ships that take guests and bringing him along.
posted by JPD at 9:52 AM on August 11, 2010

Also be sure to check what the requirements are for getting the pet out of the destination country again. I just transported a cat from China to the US, and China's regulations were much stricter than the US's. EU might be better than China, but I had to jump through a lot of nonsense (and pay many fees) that the US side doesn't care about at all.
posted by msbrauer at 10:41 AM on August 11, 2010

Oh, also, be aware of date limitations on pet transportation. Many airlines don't accept pets during summer months. If the pet's in the cabin, that's not an issue, but most airlines ship pets as cargo and have restrictions on when and where from and to the pet can be transported.

And be sure to find out exactly where the pet will be picked up at the destination airport. Sometimes it's right near the place where normal baggage is claimed, but sometimes it might be in a different building or terminal.
posted by msbrauer at 10:43 AM on August 11, 2010

You could try contacting Cunard. They have a "pets on Deck service. You will probably need to speak with your bank manager as well.
posted by adamvasco at 1:22 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

At the Cunard sight, it reads;
"healthy gourmet cookies for dogs and cats baked fresh daily and offered at bedtime"

I know it's a misprint, but i find it funny that they may bake up come stray cats, and feed them to the dogs on board.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:08 PM on August 11, 2010

Alright, I attempted to bring my boxer/mastiff on a 30+ day cargo ship to Asia last year. I called six cargo companies who had room for passengers, but not one would take a dog, no matter the size.

Not that this is in any way feasible, but this woman took her boxer on a flight from Paris to Tel Aviv last year.
posted by gman at 2:30 PM on August 11, 2010

« Older Where to watch Perseids near NYC   |   germanyfilter: visit after visa? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.