Now that you have prepared the document requirements and tests to get your beloved cat in European Union, the final step is how will you fly them out.
Although I read about pet shipping services, I chose to fly with them in the same aircraft. The first thing I researched is for a reputable airline. Here are some factors I considered when I chose the airline to travel with my pets:
- Choose an airline that has good reviews in terms of pet handling.
- Choose an airline that has more direct route to your destination. In my opinion, I’d rather have them move once to the aircraft, and then disembark only once, rather than have a number of connecting flight which means they will be moved/handled more than once that can cause more stress for the animals. This also makes me paranoid of losing them, like how you lose baggages.
- Choose an airline with a comprehensive pet policy. This was very important for me to see how much documentation they have when flying with pets because this kinda gives me a feeling that the airline really cares and is serious of the safety of your pet while in transit. This gives me peace of mind.
- Be prepared of the costs. The cost depends on the destination. But from Philippines to The Netherlands, I paid $200 per pet.
I chose KLM Royal Dutch Airline because by far, they have good reviews in pet handling, as well as they have the most comprehensive pet policy I’ve found in the web. They even have a video about how they take care of the pet in transit and their pet hotels if you have a long lay over before your next flight. Besides, I’ve been a KLM customer and I’ve never been disappointed by this airline. I was happy with how organized the staff were the moment we stepped in to the airport till our destination.
When you get your airline figured out, make sure you understand their policy to avoid delays. It is very important to read the airline’s pet policy to avoid delays and further stress, so make sure you comply with everything they have stated in their pet policy documentation which should cover everything that you need. Some pointers:
a. Prepare your documents. Photocopy them beforehand. I made 2 copies of each document so that there’s no need to get them photocopied in the airport to avoid delays. Contact your airline for how many copies you need to make things faster when it’s time to fly.
b. Keep your original copies with you. Photocopies are left in a pouch attached to your pet kennel.
It is also important that you call your airline to make the arrangement for your pet prior to your flight. I did the arrangement a month before our flight to make sure that they have a reserved space for my pets. Most airlines have limited slots for pets so it’s better to get them reserved.
Note that there are airlines that allows pet in cabin, and some that doesn’t. If you plan to take your cat in the cabin, check if the airline allows it. Usually, if they allow pet in cabin, the requirement is to have a carrier that can fit under the seat. There is also a weight requirement which should be stated in their pet policy documentation. If your pet is big, you might want to consider checking in your pet as a baggage because it’s not only that the airline will reject the pet in the cabin, but it will also be uncomfortable for your pet to stay in a small carrier for a long flight.
If you are checking in your pets as a baggage, there are also a number of things you have to comply with. To give you an idea:
a. Your kennel/carrier must be made of rigid plastic with a metal door.
b. If your kennel have wheels, you have to remove it.
c. There should be 2 bowls attached in the carrier, or one bowl with 2 compartments for food and water.
d. Your pet must be able to stand with head erected, and can turn around comfortably inside the kennel.
e. You need an absorbent material on the flooring of your carrier such as news paper or a small blanket. I used dry pads (like flat diapers) so in case they pee, it will be absorbed.
f. The door locks must be secured, but padlocks are not allowed.
g. Don’t sedate your cat/dog.
h. 1 pet per kennel.
i. Kennel must be properly ventilated, with small holes on the sides (which normally pet carriers have anyways).
I’m extremely happy that I was able to get all my 6 cats safe and sound to EU. Like I always say, it is indeed a lot of work, but it doesn’t need to be stressful. If you have an ample time to plan, and you are equipped with the information you need, it will go smoothly. All it takes is determination :). As for me, my cats are my family. I love them to death and they are worth all my hard work. I could not imagine myself leaving them behind, get them adopted or whatever, all because I need to move my life some place else. They are part of my family now, and you don’t leave family behind. I’m all they’ve got. We now continue our happy lives in a lovely city, Berlin.