How to deal with Transatlantic travel with a dog

Transporting a pet from Paris to London is not an easy task… You could see the extent of the task in one of my previous reports about my cross-Channel move.

But crossing the Atlantic is much less simple. My wife and I looked for all the possible options to move with our dog, a Golden Retriever of 25kg, 2 years and a half, named Muffin.

Pet in cabin

Traveling with a pet in the cabin is not an easy task. In any case, with a dog like a Golden Retriever, it was not possible.

The regulations do not specify anything regarding the transport of animals in the cabin, and it is a matter of regulations that are specific to each airline.

A simple search on the Internet will allow you to find out if the airlines you wish to fly with allow pets in the cabin or not.

Example of a dog and its carry bag allowed to travel in cabin

The British airlines, British Airways or Virgin Atlantic, do not allow the transport of animals in the cabin, except for service animals, i.e. accompanying travelers with disabilities and having a particular action to help them during their trip.

Continental European and American airlines do allow small animals to be carried in the cabin. In general, these animals must fit into small bags and weigh less than 8 or 10 kg. This is true with Air France, Lufthansa and American Airlines.

Pet in the hold

Traveling with a pet in the hold is now even less common than traveling in the cabin, but for us it was one of the only possibilities given the size of our dog.

Here again, the regulations do not specify anything regarding the transport of pets in the hold, and the decision depends solely on the airline and the health regulations of the country of origin and destination of the flight. Again, neither British Airways nor Virgin Atlantic allow pets to be carried in the hold.

Our Muffin and its IATA certified crate, before our flight to Boston, in Paris Charles-de-Gaulle

But this time, American airlines do not allow it either, unless they are active military personnel.

Therefore, only continental European airlines, such as KLM, Air France or Lufthansa, allow it.

This is the solution we will choose, since we absolutely wanted to be on the same flight as Muffin.

Air Freight / Air Cargo

Air freight is the third and final option for fast & commercial transportation. This is the solution that is recommended by British airlines, but also proposed by all European or American airlines.

At the beginning, we had considered this solution which allowed us to take a direct flight from London. But the timeframes proposed by the carrier recommended by British Airways were too long, leaving us separated from our dog for a period of time that seemed unacceptable.

Finally, the proposed quote is absolutely insane: here is for example the estimate which was sent to us for the transport of our dog:

E-mail quote from the estimate sent by the Freight carrier recommended by British Airways

Private Jet

More surprising, now, the solution of the private jet. If the personal private jet seems out of reach, for an amount between 60k€ and 100k€ for the transatlantic crossing, some carriers offer special flights for pet owners, allowing the transport of pets in the cabin without any restriction.

Some advertisements are pushed on the Internet to promote this type of flight. The ticket price is about 10 000 € per passenger, including the dog. The scheduling of these flights did not allow us to choose this option, and in any case it was outside our moving budget.

Example of a private jet company offering shared pet transportation

Transatlantic Cruise

Another surprising option is the transatlantic cruise. The choice is very limited, since only Cunard operates routes between Europe or the United Kingdom and New York.

Here, pets are allowed, but there is a catch: these animals are not allowed in the public areas or in the cabins of the ship, in this case, the Queen Mary II, but only in crates, located in one of the lower decks of the ship.

Queen Mary II offers transantlantic cruises that allow pets onboard

While this option is convenient for many people, it is not for us, and I find it slightly inhumane to have pets traveling alone for 23 hours a day, while their owners are in cabins a few feet above.

If dogs can be allowed in hotel rooms, I don’t understand why they couldn’t be allowed in boat cabins…

Moreover, even if we had chosen this option, the waiting list for the crates can sometimes reach one year, at least that’s what Cunard told us when we inquired.

Great marketing by Cunard on their website… I don’t buy it!

Finally, my wife and I suffer from seasickness, and I am not at all sure that a transatlantic crossing in February is calm.

Bottom line

We finally opted for the pet in hold with Air France. This required us to take a Pet Taxi from London to Paris. Not ideal, but the only acceptable option for us.

Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier Delestre-Levai
Olivier has been into airline blogging since 2010. First a major contributor to the FlyerTalk forum, he created the FlyerPlan website in July 2012, and writes articles with a major echo among airline specialists. He now co-runs the TravelGuys blog with Bertrand, focusing on travel experience and loyalty programs.

Trending posts

Recent posts