More and more people are choosing to take their pets with them when they travel. This can be a great experience, but it can also present some challenges, especially when it comes to air travel. Here are some tips on what to consider when traveling by air with your pet.

Plan air travel with a pet ahead of time!

An important first step is to visit your veterinarian. When traveling abroad, you may need additional vaccinations or tests depending on where you are traveling. Some countries have stricter entry requirements than others and certain vaccinations may be mandatory or your pet may need to be tested for certain diseases. It is advisable to check early to ensure that all necessary regulations are met.

Another necessary preparation is obtaining the necessary travel documents. When traveling abroad with your pet, you must follow the appropriate entry requirements of the destination country as well as the export requirements of the country of origin. Each country has different requirements for importing pets, including required vaccinations and health certificates. Generally, you will need a valid EU pet passport stating that your pet has been vaccinated against rabies. However, depending on the destination country and the type of pet, other documents and health certificates may be required. For example, some countries require a certificate of parasite treatment, others require a certificate of a specific blood test. Therefore, you should check carefully in advance to make sure that you have all the necessary documents in order to avoid problems when entering the country.

If you are traveling to a country outside the EU, you must also make sure that you have all the necessary customs and entry documents. These documents vary depending on the country and the type of pet. For example, some countries require a certificate of origin for the pet or a permit from the destination country.

In some cases, you will also need a health certificate for your pet. This document certifies that your pet is healthy and has no diseases that could be dangerous to other animals or humans. The requirements for the health certificate vary by country and may also change. Therefore, it is advisable to find out the exact requirements early and apply for the health certificate early.

Observe airline requirements

When flying with your pet, you must also follow airline regulations. Each airline has different policies and requirements for transporting pets. Some airlines only accept certain types of animals or have weight restrictions. Others require certain cage sizes or specific rules for how your pet is accommodated on the plane. Not all airlines accept pets on all flights. Some airlines do not offer pet carrier services on certain routes or during certain time periods. It is important to check early and make sure the airline you plan to fly with accepts your pet and what guidelines to follow.

Make sure your pet is appropriately and safely housed during the trip. If you are traveling by air, you may need to use a special carrier or crate for your pet. It is important to select a transport crate that is large enough and secure enough, and to make sure that your pet has adequate water and food during the flight.

Ask for specifics at the airport

Many airports have their own rules and regulations for transporting pets. For example, at Frankfurt Airport, there is a special area for pets called the Animal Lounge. Here, animals can be accommodated before departure and are cared for by trained staff. There are also special facilities for transporting pets at Düsseldorf Airport. Here, for example, dogs and cats can be accommodated in an animal station

Requirements for transport boxes for air travel

Special transport boxes are prescribed for the transport of pets in the cabin or in the cargo hold. These must meet the requirements of the airlines and IATA (International Air Transport Association). As a rule, the transport boxes are made of sturdy materials such as plastic or metal and are large enough for the pet to stand, lie down and turn around comfortably in them. In addition, the transport boxes must be ventilated so that the animal can get enough air. Most airlines also allow the animal to receive food and water in the transport box so that it is taken care of during the trip. However, it is important to check with the airline in advance about the exact rules and regulations.

The pet as additional hand luggage

Animals can in some cases be taken as additional hand luggage on flights. However, this depends on various factors, such as the size of the animal, the airline and the flight route. Small animals such as dogs, cats and rabbits can usually be carried in a carrier or carrier bag as carry-on baggage as long as the dimensions of the carrier meet the airline’s regulations. Normally, transport boxes for animals in the cabin are limited to a maximum of 55 x 40 x 23 cm, although this may vary depending on the airline.

In some cases, it is possible to transport animals in the cabin without a transport box, as long as they are well behaved and trained. This usually applies to dogs used as companion dogs for people with disabilities or as service dogs for law enforcement or the military.

Bringing larger animals

Animals such as larger dogs, horses or livestock must be carried in the cargo hold. Most airlines have specific rules for transporting animals in the cargo hold, including the size and weight of the animal and the type of carrier. In addition, it is important that the animal be provided with adequate food and water and that it be exercised prior to the flight to minimize stress and discomfort.

Before flying with your pet, check with the airline for their specific policies and regulations. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and documentation, including the EU pet passport and any additional health certificates or vaccinations required for the destination country. It is also advisable to plan ahead and book early, as many airlines only allow a limited number of pets in the cabin or cargo hold.

Health regulations for animals

When traveling by air with pets, veterinary examinations and vaccinations are usually required. This is primarily to protect the pet and other passengers from disease and infection. Again, it is important to check with the airline and relevant authorities about the exact requirements and regulations well in advance.

In addition, specific rules and regulations often apply when traveling abroad, such as a quarantine period or special vaccinations. It is therefore advisable to check with the relevant authorities and veterinarians at an early stage to avoid unnecessary complications and problems when entering the country.

EU pet passport

The EU pet passport is an official document issued by a veterinarian and contains all relevant information about the animal. The pet passport is required if you want to travel with your pet within the EU.

The EU pet passport contains the following information:

  • Microchip number of the animal
  • Date and result of rabies vaccination
  • Name and address of the pet owner
  • A description of the animal, including breed, sex and age
  • Date of treatment against ectoparasites (e.g. fleas and ticks)

The pet passport serves as proof that the animal has been vaccinated and is in good health to travel. Rabies vaccination is usually the most important requirement for entry into another EU country. However, it is also advisable to check with the relevant authorities in the country of travel for other requirements and restrictions.

It is important to always carry the pet passport with you when traveling with your pet. If you are unable to present the pet passport upon entry, your pet may be quarantined or even have to be returned.

Costs for animal accompaniment

Bringing pets on air travel usually comes at an additional cost. Exact prices vary by airline and airport.

To find out about the specific rules and regulations of the various airlines and airports, travelers should visit the relevant internal pages of the airports. There they will find detailed information and frequently asked questions about pet transportation on air travel. It’s also a good idea to contact the airline being flown with in advance to find out the exact regulations and fees.

Which pets are better left at home?

There are some pets that are not suitable for air travel due to their behavior or characteristics. These include:


Birds are very sensitive animals that can experience high stress levels on flights. They are also susceptible to disease, which increases the risk of infection.


Reptiles usually require a special environment to survive and face difficulties due to the climatic conditions in the cargo hold. In addition, they are also susceptible to disease and may need to be provided special needs such as a heat source.


Rodents are also often susceptible to disease and usually require a special environment to stay healthy. Flights cause stress to these animals, so unpredictable behavior may result.

Exotic animals

Exotic animals such as monkeys, snakes or crocodiles are not only difficult to transport, but are also dangerous under stress should they break out of their transport box.

Animals with breathing problems

Animals with breathing problems such as bulldogs or Persian cats often have difficulty breathing in the transport box due to their flat muzzles. This can cause problems during the flight.

Nervous animals

Animals that are easily stressed or become nervous are also likely to be very restless and anxious during air travel, leading to unpleasant experiences for the animal and other passengers.

Animals that are not used to being in transport crates

Animals that are not used to being in a transport crate will be uncomfortable and anxious during the flight. They may become out of control during the flight.

Animals that are sick or injured

Animals that are sick or injured should not be taken on air travel as it will affect their recovery and cause them additional stress and pain.

Aggressive animals

Aggressive dogs or animals that tend to bite or scratch when stressed or frightened are also not suitable for air travel. Such animals can endanger not only themselves but also other passengers. In such cases, it is advisable to choose an alternative to air travel or to place the animal in experienced hands to care for it during the trip.

Each species and each animal has individual needs and behaviors. Therefore, before planning air travel with their pet, travelers should carefully consider whether such travel is appropriate for their pet or whether the pet is better left at home. It is advisable to speak with a veterinarian or animal behavior expert before booking air travel to get an assessment and consider alternative transportation or care options, if necessary.

Allow sufficient time buffer when traveling to the airport

One of the most important considerations when planning air travel with a pet is having sufficient time buffer to get to the airport. Passengers with pets should arrive at the airport early to allow enough time for the pet to check in and go through security. Exact requirements and procedures vary by airline and airport, so it is advisable to research all necessary information in advance and check directly with the airline or airport if necessary.

It is recommended to be at the airport at least 2-3 hours before departure to allow enough time to complete all the necessary steps. However, if you are traveling with a pet, allow even more time to ensure you have enough time to transport your pet safely and comfortably.

In some cases, it may be wise to plan an overnight stay before you leave, especially if you have a long trip to the airport or are flying early in the morning. An overnight stay at a hotel near the airport can help avoid stress and hassle, and give your pet a chance to rest and prepare for the trip ahead.

It’s also important to have all the necessary documents and paperwork on hand for the pet, including health certificates, vaccinations and passports if needed. It can take some time to gather and prepare these documents, so start early and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork with you when you travel to the airport.


Air travel with pets requires careful preparation and planning. In addition to veterinary exams and vaccinations, special transport boxes and documents are also required. It is important to check with the airline and airport in advance about the exact rules and regulations to avoid unnecessary complications and problems during the trip. It is also important to have a sufficient time buffer when traveling to the airport in order to have enough time for all necessary preparations.

Not all animals are suitable for air travel, and it is important to consider the animal’s behavior and characteristics to determine if air travel is reasonable for the animal. Anyone who is unsure if their animal is suitable for air travel should consult a veterinarian or animal expert early on to make the best possible decision for the animal.

Ultimately, it is important to pay attention to the animal’s well-being during the trip and respond as necessary. For long distance flights, regular breaks should be taken to let the animal out of the carrier and give it water. Care should also be taken to ensure that the temperature in the cargo hold or cabin is comfortable for the animal.

Anyone planning to travel by air with their pet should do enough research beforehand to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for the animal. With proper preparation and planning, air travel with pets can be quite a pleasant and memorable experience.