Can I Take My Pet on International Flights?

December 15, 2020

Flying with a pet in the United States is pretty easy and quite common but that’s not always the case when traveling abroad.

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I Fly With My Pet in the United States, What’s Different?

Most US airlines allow pet owners to travel with a cat or dog in the cabin when flying domestically. All carriers allow cats or dogs (and sometimes other small pets) for a fee as long as the animal adheres to the following criteria:

  • Fits in a pet carrier under the seat in front of the passenger
  • Is small enough to stand up in the carrier and turn around
  • Is well-behaved

But the US has a law that allows this which is not recognized outside of the country. Each country’s requirements will vary on what they do and do not accept with regards to animals in the cabin or in the cargo hold. 

Service Dogs

Universally accepted service dogs are always welcome on any flight in any cabin for those who require them. These dogs are highly trained (usually $3,000-5,000 each), they are not by nature pets, and they typically support the blind or those with PTSD though other disabilities also quality.

These dogs have specific requirements such as marked vests, extensive paperwork, and serve a legitimate purpose. They are not the same as Emotional Support Animals.

Emotional Support Animals

There’s been a lot of drama around emotional service animals as the exemption to the cost and regulations of bringing a pet onboard have been stretched. Some have brought peacocks, turkeys, even a Shetland pony on board as “emotional support animals.” 

Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are allowed in the cabin without paying a fee to the airline or putting the animal in the cargo hold. Owners that need their animal with them for emotional support must present appropriate documentation, including a doctor’s recommendation for the need which can be obtained online for $30-100. 

This is not a global exemption from cabin pet policies (or lack therein) but rather a law only applying to the United States. Other countries may or may not have similar waivers but they are by no means universal and ubiquitous as they are in the US. 

Service dog
Service dog

Why Regulations Are in Place

Various Departments of Agriculture prohibit the movement of animals due to risks they may pose to the wildlife and agriculture of that country. Bringing live animals into a country (even very clean dogs and cats) can bring foreign bacteria, ticks, and other harmful elements to the destination country. 

How to Travel With Your Pet Internationally to Ireland

However, that doesn’t mean passengers can’t travel with their animals in the cabin. Some countries still accept pets, even within the European Union. To verify the ever-changing regulations, I contacted airline staff at American Airlines. 

The airline had good news, pets with health certificates can travel to Ireland with their animals in the cabin. They will first have to get clearance from Ireland’s Lissenhall Veterinary Hospital ([email protected]) or Vets Direct ([email protected].) American Airlines charges a pet charge of $125 each way; this fee is paid at the ticket counter on the day of travel.

American Airlines A320
American Airlines A320

To qualify, dogs or cats must be at least 12 weeks old, must have had a rabies shot 21 days or longer, must have a veterinarian health certificate (and associated vaccines) to be eligible. Visitors to Ireland can visit for more info.

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