The Adventures of Django and Arya

7 Transatlantic Pet Friendly Airlines

transatlantic pet friendly airlines cats dogs usa uk europe eu planes in cabin international in hold

Does your next international pet vacation or relocation involve an international transatlantic flight with your cat or dog? If yes, you’ll be happy to hear that transatlantic pet flights are a possibility from the United Kingdom (UK) as well as many EU countries such as Portugal, Spain, France and Germany. In addition, you can jet over the Atlantic with your cat or dog to the USA or Canada from Holland, Greece Finland and Italy. But, it’s not always possible to have a small cat or dog in the cabin on transatlantic pet flights, and the international flight duration has an impact on where pets are permitted to travel on the plane. Read on for full details of a magnificent 7 transatlantic pet friendly airlines, for cats and dogs flying between the UK & Europe and the USA & Canada.

If sailing floats your boat, the world’s only pet-friendly cruise ship, The Cunard Queen Mary 2, offers crossings between Southampton, England and New York, USA.

transatlantic pet friendly airlines cats dogs usa uk europe eu planes in cabin international in hold

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Will I have to Quarantine my Cat or Dog?

When flying with your pet internationally between Europe and North America, provided that you meet the requirements of the appropriate Pet Travel Scheme, your cat or dog won’t have to be quarantined. However, be aware that if you’re taking your pet to Hawaii, quarantine may be required.

Otherwise, as long as you have prepared your pet with the necessary documentation and treatments stipulated in your destination’s Pet Travel Scheme, the dreaded quarantine is avoided.

Check out the following pages for more information on the pet travel requirements in the UK, EU, USA and Canada:

Can I take my Pet in the Cabin on a Transatlantic Flight?

There’s good news and bad news about whether your cat or dog can fly internationally in the cabin on a transatlantic pet flight:

Good News

Pets can fly to EU countries, as well as Canada and the USA in the cabin of a plane. We’ve listed some of the pet friendly airlines that allow cats and dogs to fly in the cabin, although others only allow pets to travel as checked baggage or cargo.

In general, if an airline accepts pets in the cabin on a transatlantic flight, your cat or dog’s weight combined with their travel carrier can’t exceed 8kg. However, some airlines allow a maximum weight of 10kg for your cat or dog inside their airline pet carrier.

Bad News

As mentioned, only small cats and dogs can fly in the cabin with pet friendly airlines, and this is the case on both domestic and international flights. But, when flying your pet on a transatlantic crossing between the USA or Canada and the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Wales), be aware that you CAN’T enter the UK with a pet in the cabin of a commercial aircraft. Subsequently, all cats and dogs flying to the UK must be transported in the hold as cargo.

Your preferred pet friendly airline may have their own cargo arm to handle the transport of your cat or dog, or an independent pet cargo courier may be required. When flying a cat or dog to the UK, IAG Cargo is a popular choice by airlines, and is the cargo arm for Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

What Type of Pet Carrier or Crate Do I Need for a Transatlantic Flight?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets Live Animal Regulations (LAR) for all animals, including humans, flying on a plane.

So, both pet friendly airlines and pet owners must adhere to the IATA LAR, to ensure your cat or dog is transported safely. This means that you must purchase an IATA compliant pet carrier to fly your cat or dog in the cabin or the hold. The IATA LAR stipulates the types of accepted pet carriers and crates, whether they are soft or hard, so you must always ensure your cat or dog’s airline carrier is IATA compliant.

Be aware that the IATA doesn’t approve or endorse any pet carriers, crates or kennels, therefore if a manufacturer claims their product is IATA approved, this is false. Airline pet crates can only be IATA compliant.

In order to transport your pet on a transatlantic flight, you need to calculate the minimum inner crate dimensions permitted by the IATA. You can then check these dimensions against the maximums allowed by each pet friendly airline for cats and dogs flying in the cabin or hold. So, the pet travel crate must have the minimum inner space defined by the IATA calculation, and it then must fit the maximum allowed on board in the cabin or hold by our chosen airline

In the USA, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) also stipulates requirements for flying with pets, and these rules are followed by American based airlines. Also note that some American airlines have agreements with certain pet carrier manufacturers to guarantee your cat or dog will be accepted on board.

For the pros and cons of selected airline pet carriers and kennels, check out 4 IATA Compliant Pet in Hold Crates and 8 Purr-fect Pet in Cabin Carriers.

Will My Pet Be Safe on a Long Flight?

Rightly so, many pet owners fret about the safety of their cat, dog or other animal when flying on a plane, particularly in the aircraft hold. In recent years, due to increased airline incidents with snub-nosed cats and dogs, such as French Bulldogs, Pugs and Persian Cats, ethical pet friendly airlines don’t fly snub-nosed breeds in the hold. This is the case for domestic, international and transatlantic pet flights.

But, most pets travel safely on planes, whether in the cabin or in the hold as checked baggage or cargo. To safeguard your pet’s wellbeing, if they’re flying in the hold, most airlines will stipulate the maximum length of time your cat or dog can travel on one flight. This might be if :

  • The first leg of the route is seven hours or more and includes a connection
  • The connection time between connection flights on the same day is three hours or more, and no airport pet reception centre is available
  • A same day connection isn’t possible
  • The itinerary is longer than 24 hours

Connecting International Pet Flights

If your transatlantic pet flight includes a connection of more than the time permitted by your chosen airline, a cat or dog flying in the hold will usually have to spend time at the connecting airport’s pet reception centre.

Airport Pet Reception Centres allow comfort breaks for cats and dogs in transit in the hold. Dogs will usually be walked before the get their next flight, and most pets will be given water and food. Each Airport Pet Reception Centre also handle pets arriving in the hold at their final destination country, ensuring pet import requirements are met and that your cat or dog is healthy.

The maximum time permitted between connecting flights, before your pet must visit the airport centre, varies across pet friendly airlines, and can be anywhere from 2 hours – 7 hours.

Also, it’s important to be aware that if any connecting flights are operated by different airlines, your cat or dog will be subject to the individual travel policy of each airline.

Are any Dog Breeds Banned from Planes?

As well as snub-nosed cat and dog being unable to fly in the hold for safety reasons, some dog breeds defined as dangerous by either an airline, or country, may not be permitted to travel. For example, Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is in place in the UK, and many European countries.

Due to BSL, you can’t enter a UK country with the following dog breeds:

  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Pit Bull Terrier

Many European countries, and airlines also have specific policies for flying with dangerous or fighting dogs. Check out our post that covers everything you need to know when Flying with A Dangerous Dog Breed.

Cost of Flying a Cat or Dog between the USA & Canada and the UK & EU

Of course, the cost of flying your cat or dog on a transatlantic pet friendly flight varies by airline. In addition, the price quoted by each airline is per leg of the trip. Therefore, if you have a couple of connecting flights, you’ll pay the pet in cabin or hold fee for each individual flight. So it’s best to aim for a direct flight if possible when travelling between the Europe and North America. In fact, this is the case for all pet flights across the globe, as airlines charge the pet rate for each segment of the flight itinerary.

With connecting flights, as mentioned, a fee may also be charged if the layover exceeds the time stated by each airline, and your cat or dog has to spend time at the Airport Pet Reception Centre.

In general, pet flights for cats and dogs travelling across the Atlantic in the hold costs between €190-300 per flight, while pets in the cabin is usually around €50-110.

Be aware that flying a pet as cargo is always more expensive that transporting your cat or dog in the cabin, or in the hold as checked baggage. However, this can’t be avoided in many cases, such as if:

  • your destination only accepts pets arriving as cargo (eg. the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland) and Ireland
  • your dog weighs more than the airline allows to fly as checked baggage in the hold
  • you’re travelling on a different flight from your pet
  • your dog is classified as a dangerous breed by your chosen airline

Which Airlines Don’t Allow Pets on Flights between Europe & North America?

While there are plenty of airlines that welcome pets on board flights across the Atlantic Ocean, unfortunately, some airlines don’t provide this option. Airlines that don’t allow pets to travel either in the cabin, or in the hold as checked baggage or cargo, include:

Flying Across the Atlantic with an Assistance or Service Dog

While there are restrictions in airline pet policies for flying pets between the US & Canada and the EU & UK, registered and trained Assistance & Service Dogs can travel in the cabin free of charge.

However, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are no longer recognised by American and European airlines. In fact, ESAs have never been approved as service animals in the UK. Therefore, if you plan to travel between Europe and North America with an Emotional Support Animal, they’ll be subject to the airline’s standard pet policy.

Following the ruling about ESAs by the US Department of Transport (USDoT) in March 2021, a new regulation was introduced for Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSVDs). If your PSVD is trained to perform a specific task, or tasks, for your mental wellbeing, and your dog meets the PSVD criteria, they can usually travel under an airline’s Assistance & Service Dog policy, free of charge in the cabin.

1. KLM & Air France

The Air France and KLM group offers international cat and dog friendly flights in Europe, and between the the UK, EU, USA and Canada. KLM and Air France permit cats and dogs weighing up to 8kg to fly in the cabin with you. On intercontinental pet flights, you can only take a pet in the cabin in Economy Class due to space underneath the seat. Therefore, pets aren’t allowed in the cabin with KLM and Air France on intercontinental flights if you travel Premium Comfort Class or Business Class. So, you’ll have to go basic!

Pets between 8kg-75kg are welcome to travel in the hold as ‘checked baggage’. Each passenger is allowed up to three cats or dogs in the hold, and three animals of the same species can travel in the same crate, provided that they don’t weigh more than 14kg each.

The cost of flying a cat or dog with KLM and Air France on a transatlantic route will cost up to €200, depending on whether your cat or dog travels in the cabin or hold, and the planned itinerary. An additional €150 is payable if your pet is flying in the hold and there’s a layover of more than two hours at Amsterdam Airport, as they’ll visit the KLM/Air France Amsterdam Airport Pet Reception Centre between flights.

Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane
Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage
Pets flying in Cargo Hold
Assistance Dogs in Cabin
Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin
KLM/Air France Pet Policy 2022

2. Lufthansa

Lufthansa is a pet friendly airline from Germany and a member of the well-known Star Alliance group, along with 25 other airlines, including:

Like the other airlines we’ve mentioned, pets of up to 8 kg, combined with their carrier, can fly in the Lufthansa cabin. However, Lufthansa differs from many other EU pet friendly airlines as they permit 2 pets per passenger! Their prices are also quite low in comparison to other airlines, you’ll pay around €190 for pets in the hold on transatlantic flights.

So, Lufthansa is an excellent choice if you’re hoping to hop a transatlantic pet flight with more than one cat or dog!

Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane
Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage
Pets flying in Cargo Hold
Assistance Dogs in Cabin
Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin
Lufthansa Pet Policy 2022

View the pet travel policy for Lufthansa for 2022.

3. British Airways (BA)

If you’re travelling between the US and UK with a cat or dog, British Airways (BA) operates pet friendly flights over the Atlantic. However, BA doesn’t accept cats and dogs in the cabin on any flights, except of course Assistance & Service Dogs.

Your cat or dog will travel as cargo on BA operated pet flights, and for all flights to the UK, BA uses their sister company, IAG Cargo. Flights from the UK to the USA for cats and dogs are managed by Pet Air UK, which is managed and owned by licensed veterinarians.

Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane
Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage
Pets flying in Cargo Hold
Assistance Dogs in Cabin
Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin
British Airways Pet Policy 2022

Read the full British Airways (BA) pet policy.

4. Iberia

Spanish airline Iberia also accepts cats and dogs weighing up to 8kg in their travel carrier (there’s a definite trend here!). If your pet weighs more than 8kg, and up to 45kg they can fly in the hold of the plane on a transatlantic cat and dog friendly flight.

Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane
Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage
Pets flying in Cargo Hold
Assistance Dogs in Cabin
Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin
Iberia Pet Policy 2022

Read the full Iberia pet policy.

5. Tap Air Portugal

We’ve flown with Tap Air Portugal on a few occasions with Django and Arya in the cabin, and found them very pet friendly. An EU airline based in Portugal, Tap Air Portugal offers various options for flying with cats and dogs in the cabin or hold on international transatlantic flights. A fee of up to €300 is charged if your cat or dog is flying between North America and Europe in the hold.

Again, cats and dogs weighing up to 8kg may fly in the cabin, while pets of up to 45kg can travel in the hold of the aircraft.

Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane
Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage
Pets flying in Cargo Hold
Assistance Dogs in Cabin
Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin
Tap Air Portugal Pet Policy 2022

Read the full Tap Air Portugal pet policy.

6. Aegean Airlines

Now, over to Greece, where Aegean Airlines offers pet friendly travel in the cabin for cats and dogs up to 8kg, of course!

While a one pet per passenger rule is in place for the other EU pet friendly airlines listed, except Lufthansa, Aegean Airlines allows two pets of the same species to travel in the same travel carrier in the cabin, as long as their combined weight doesn’t exceed 8kg. But, if you’re flying with an infant, you can’t take a pet in the Aegean Airlines cabin.

If your feline or canine weighs more than 8kg, they must travel in the hold in accordance with the Aegean Airlines pet policy. Aegean Airlines accepts pets in the hold of Airbus 319, 320 and 321 aircraft only.

The cost of flying a cat or dog one way with Aegean Airlines is up to €190 in the hold on international routes.

Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane
Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage
Pets flying in Cargo Hold
Assistance Dogs in Cabin
Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin
Aegean Airlines Pet Policy 2022

Read the full Aegean Airlines pet travel policy.

7. Air Canada

From the other side of the Atlantic, Air Canada has an impressive pet friendly international travel policy. Air Canada is one of the few airlines that flies cats and dogs in the cabin from the UK on international flights. Pets may also travel in the hold as checked baggage or cargo. Of course, when entering the UK on an Air Canada flight, or with any other airline, your furry friendly is only accepted as cargo in the hold.

Pet carrier sizes permitted in the cabin vary depending on the aircraft model used for your flight. But, for those flying in the hold as checked baggage, a maximum linear pet crate (L + W + H) of 292 cm (115″) is allowed. For cats and dogs to be transported as checked baggage, the weight of your pet plus their carrier mustn’t exceed 45 kg (110 lb). However, larger pets, or those flying without their owner, are accepted to fly as cargo.

From 1 July to 31 August each year, your pet can’t fly as checked baggage with Air Canada to Greece or Italy due to high temperatures in the baggage hold.

Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane
Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage
Pets flying in Cargo Hold
Assistance Dogs in Cabin
Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin
Air Canada Pet Policy 2022

Read the full Air Canada pet policy.

Always remember to protect your cat or dog against vector-borne diseases when travelling internationally on a transatlantic pet flight. And remember to leave us a review for your selected pet friendly airline!

Have a happy and safe transatlantic pet adventure!

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