When picking a dog for you and your family, among other things you can take into account how convenient he is for airline travel. No really! The author of this blog did just that and the decisions made were good – my lovely Tibetan Spaniel boy Gimli is around 8kg including the canine travel bag which makes him fit the airline regulations on pet in cabin just perfectly. 😉
The thought of pet traveling on a plane fills many dog parents with dread. It doesn’t need to though – it’s very much doable and with a bit of planning and zen mind you can absolutely take your dog to Croatia as well and it might be even easier than taking a human baby. Over the almost six years of flights between Vienna/Budapest/Prague and Helsinki we have acquired a lot of practical wisdom with Gimli and today we have a couple of tips for you that will help you to have a smooth flight experience.
1. Learn the rules and adhere to them as much as possible
One of the main reasons why airline travel with a pet seems so scary is the investment made into it and how final it feels once you take off. We missed our flight just twice but it was devastating for our morale and my account balance!
Each airline will have a (often quite hidden) section on its website dedicated to travelling with a pet on board (PETC) and in pet hold (AVIH) and the fees you will pay for it. Our preferred airline Finnair has this section here. Our second preferred airline Lufthansa has all the information over here. Whatever is written there is the Word of God, amen!
2. Make sure you own the right bag for your furry traveller
Our favourite travel bags are from Trixie because they are affordable and sturdy. This brand is unfortunately not so widely stocked in Finland but you can buy their bags for example at Zooplus.fi, sometimes in Musti ja Mirri and often in Faunatar shops.
Make sure the bag is not too small for your pet but in the same time, its size must fall within the maximum dimensions specified by each airline. As the pet must be by your feet in the bag ideally during the whole flight (as the rules say) and minimally during take-off and landing (as the Finnair cabin crew sometimes let’s me do ;)), your dog must be as comfortable as possible in the bag, even though it’s quite a claustrophobic arrangement. The easiest way to tell if a bag is absolutely correct for airline travel is to check if it is IATA approved. You can usually find this information on the dog bag’s tag.
3. Book your dog in advance
This goes without saying, but don’t wait for 1 day before the flight (unless you booked your airticket so last minute) – the airline will need to send a request for your dog either as PETC or AVIH and then they must get a confirmation about it that will be attached to your specific booking reference code. The maximum number of pets on board is usually two so if you’d like to take your dog with you, grab one of the two spots fast 🙂 With Finnair, you can send this online booking form for your dog after you’ve made your own airticket reservation. Most of the other airlines require that you call about your furry companion in advance to the customer service.
Information the airline needs from you: your booking reference code, dimensions of the bag, weight of the dog including the bag, which flight (There? Also back? Both ways?) and whether you wish to pay over the phone or on the airport in person
4. Triple check all documents – especially the pet passport
Your doggy must have a valid rabies vaccination, a valid microchip and – in case of travelling to Finland, though it’s rarely controlled – also a recently taken de-worming pill, in order to minimise taking certain diseases to our pristine forest country 🙂 You should also not forget your passport because while EU travelleres flying with only small in-cabin luggage within the Schengen area can get their boarding pass to their phones and can basically board the plane without showing anyone their passport, us travellers with furkids will be asked about it.
If you are travelling out of European Union (or into it), you will also need a stamped and signed confirmation from your vet that your doggy is healthy and fit for travel. There is a special section for these confirmations in your dog’s passport.
Helpful tip: When flying from Helsinki, go directly to one of the Finnair’s Service Counters at T2. They will need your passport and your dog’s passport and they will process the dog’s “airticket” payment here. The boarding pass automats won’t work for you because you have a “special baggage”, meaning your dog. This saves you some hassle. 🙂
6. Minimise friction at the security check
This means to dress in as simple way as possible – no belts, no keys in pockets, no metal anywhere (jewelry is okay). Prepare everything in such a way that you won’t be fishing for stuff in your bag while also having to handle your dog.
At the security, they will ask you to remove the collar/harness and leash from your dog and you will have to hold him in your hands, pass the security gate, wait for your luggage, wait for your dog’s bag and his collar/harness, pack everything, not go sweaty and crazy and manage to not let your dog run away to the duty free shop and steal some gourmet salami. It’s quite a task, really…so be prepared: Cosmetics in a clear bag. Laptop reachable and easy to take from the bag and into the bag. Harness/collar that’s easy to take on and off. Strong arms to hold your dog. Nerves of steel. Congratulations, you did it! 🙂 It gets better from now onwards, really.
Pro tip: Have a tiny bowl (we prefer steel) in your bag. After the security hassle you can refill your water bottle or buy a new water bottle in the duty free shop and give your dog (and yourself!) water to drink. Don’t give him too much to drink though, because there are no outdoor places to pee once you are in the after-security area.
7. Keep calm and FLY on
If this is your first flight, you will be nervous – and so will be your dog! That is normal and understandable…however, try to keep a calm demeanor, because dogs are sensitive towards us humans and seeing you all jittery won’t help the situation. If you are worried that your doggy will be really nervous, you can try giving him calming herbal-based pills before the flight. There are also calming sprays for pets and though we hadn’t tried it yet, we think that the special vests used for dogs during fireworks and other stressful situations might be also helpful.
In case you are flying with a cat too, DO NOT give her the same canine herbal calming medication as you are giving to your dog as cats are very sensitive towards certain components in herbs and can even die if they are administered something unsuitable. It’s best to consult cat-friendly supplements with your vet a couple of days before the flight and also whether the canine spray can be used in the vicinity of a cat.
If you are on a longer flight, it’s good to have your small steel bowl nearby and ask the cabin crew to fill it with water – here and there your dog might be thirsty. Some dogs are too excited to drink though, so you might find out that your doggy will become very thirsty only after you land. 🙂
8. After the flight
Hopefully all went well with your flight and you have landed safely – well, from now onwards it goes smoothly! When you exit the plane, you can put the leash on your dog and let him out of the bag. He will be so happy to stretch his paws and wag tail on the strangers at the airport!
If you have luggage to take, take it swiftly and then leave the airport so your dog can have a small 5 minute walk and pee on some bush nearby. It’s alright even if your “walk” is actually the walk to the garage or the bus – everything counts! Once you are at your final destination, you can take your furry traveller for a proper walk, give him water and food in bigger bowls and beam with pride at how well you managed. Congratulations!
We hope these tips were helpful and useful for you. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve ever flown with your dog or if you are planning to…and if you have more tips, we will be happy to hear them too!
MICHAELAN OHJEET LYHYESTI SUOMEKSI:
SELVITÄ HUOLELLA KAIKKI MAHDOLLINEN ETUKÄTEISTIETO MITÄ LENTOYHTIÖ SIVUILLAAN TARJOAA LEMMIKIN KANSSA LENTÄMISESTÄ.
HANKI HYVÄ KULJETUSLAUKKU – MICHAELA SUOSITTELEE TRIXIEN LEMMIKKILAUKKUJA.
VARAA LEMMIKILLE PAIKKA AJOISSA! LENTTOYHTIÖ TARVITSEE SINULTA TIETOJA MM KOIRAN PAINOSTA.
TARKISTA KOLMESTI KAIKKI TARVITTAVAT DOKUMENTIT – ET HALUA ETTÄ MITÄÄN PUUTTUU, KUN OLET KIRJAUTUMASSA LENNOLLE. LEMMIKIN PASSI ON OLEELLINEN- VARMISTA, ETTÄ KAIKKI TARVITTAVAT ROKOTUKSET JA VASTAAVAT OVAT KUNNOSSA.
PUKEUDU JA VARUSTAUDU NIIN, ETTÄ KIRJAUTUMINEN JA TURVATARKASTUS SUJUU MAHDOLLISIMMAN JOUHEVASTI. kOIRAN PANTA LAITETAAN MYÖS LÄPIVALAISUUN, SEN TULISI SIIS OLLA HALLINNASSASI SEN AIKAA ILMAN PANTAA. OTA MUKAAN PIENI ASTIA VETTÄ VARTEN. SAAT OSTETTUA PULLON VETTÄ LÄHTÖPORTTIEN PUOLELTA KUN OLET MENNYT TURVATARKASTUKSEN LÄPI.
TUE KOIRAA RAUHOITTAVILLA VALMISTEILLA – SE REAGOI JOKA TAPAUKSESSA VÄHINTÄÄN SINUN VÄISTÄMÄTTÖMÄÄN JÄNNITYKSEESI. JOS KÄYTÄT LUONNON UKAISIA YRTTITUOTTEITA, TARKISTA ETTÄ NE TODELLA SOPIVAT KYSEISELLE ELÄIMELLE. VOIT PYYTÄÄ. HENKILÖKUNNALTA LEMMIKILLESI VETTÄ.
LENTOKONEESTA POISTUTTUASI PÄÄSTÄ KOIRA NOPEASTI JALOITTELEMAAN. hAE MATKATAVARAT JA KÄY KOIRAN KANSSA PIENELLÄ PUSKANHAISTELU JA PISSAKIERROKSELLA. kUN PÄÄSET MAJAPAIKKAASI, TEHKÄÄ KUNNOLLINEN, RENTOUTTAVA ULKOILU.
Michaela Istok – Introduction – Esittely
Hello! My name is Michaela, and I am the only finnified Slovak in the KoiranLuonto team. In the team I am mostly creating visuals and illustrations but as I also really enjoy writing, here and there you can read a blogpost from me as well.
Michaela Istok on uusi upea Koiran Luonto-tiimin Kroatian vahvistus! Ehkä olettekin jo kiinnittäneet huomiota muutamiin Michalean kuviin – ne ovat ihastuttavia! Michaela myös kirjoittaa – ja Koiran Luonto julkaiseekin vastedes silloin tällöin Michalean englanniksi kirjoittamia tekstejä.
I have a long career in the biggest Slovak animal rights non-profit Sloboda Zvierat (‘Freedom of Animals’) where I went from volunteering on infokiosks and helping in shelter to working on our nationwide campaigns as the art director and graphic designer. Occassionally I still do work for Sloboda Zvierat – just recently we wrapped up a pre-Christmas campaign on compassion to carps, which have the sad honor of being the Slovakia’s preferred Christmas food and now I am working on the complete website redesign of the NGO.
Michaela on pitkään työskennellyt eläinoikeusjärjestössä nimeltä Sloboda Zvierat – Vapautta eläimille. Se on Kroatian suurin eläinoikeusjärjestö. Hän on toiminut sekä vapaaehtoisena järjestön valistustoiminnassa, että toiminut kampanjoiden visuaalisena vastaavana. Viimeksi hän on ollut kampanjoimassa karppien oikeuksien puolesta. – ne kun ovat suomen sikojen tapaan suosittua kroatialaista jouluruokaa.
In the meantime I’ve also worked in three creative agencies in Helsinki, got a Tibetan Spaniel son from Czechia, started writing a book for kids about life with a Tibbie, opened up a dog-themed Society6 shop and so on. My dog love is central to me and very present in my creative work!
Lisäksi Michaela työskentelee Helsingissä graafikkona ja hänellä on tiibetinspanieli Gimli, josta hän kirjoittaa myös lastenkirjaa!
Michaelalla on oma putiikki Society6 – nettikaupassa.
Rakkaus koiriin on läsnä kaikessa Michaelan tekemisessä.
Besides design, illustration and dogs, I also love food, tea, nature, architecture, art, traveling, hiking our Slovak mountains, our Persian cat Tuhka, reindeer, Lapland and the turquoise sea of Croatia and Greece. 🙂 You can see my work here: http://www.misul-do.com
Michaela rakastaa designia, kuvituksia, koiria, ruokaa, teetä, luontoa, taidetta, matkailua sekä vaelluksia Slovakian vuoristossa, perheensä persialaiskissa Tuhkaa, poroja, Lappia, Croatian ja Kreikan turkoosia merta.
Käy Michaelan sivuilla: