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Flying with Pets In-Cabin to the United Kingdom

July 04, 2018 23 Comments

Flying with Pets In-Cabin to the United Kingdom

Mike and I (Steph) started planning our first pet-friendly trip to London, England a few weeks ago. Mike had just started working for a UK-based company and was going to be traveling to London every few months for his new job. The idea of joining Mike in London with Django was a no brainer. Django and I would fly out on a reasonably priced flight mid-week, spend the weekend exploring London as a family, then fly home on a cheap Monday or Tuesday leg. Django even had an EU Pet Passport from our recent trip to France. Easy, right?

I started skimming one of our popular posts, “International Airline Pet Policies for In-Cabin Travel”, and quickly realized Mike and I had a problem. I could not find one airline that allows in-cabin pet travel to the UK. I immediately called the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and confirmed my suspicion.

The facts: Bringing your pet dog or cat to the United Kingdom

No airlines offer in-cabin pet travel to the United Kingdom from the United States. The UK includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Unless you have a Service or Assistance animal -- and keep in mind Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Animals are sometimes considered assistance animals depending on airline AND departure location, more information below! -- it is impossible to fly together in the cabin with your pet. The UK government is behind this strict rule and enforced it to curb the spread of rabies and better control the transport of animals into the UK. The only time pets can fly in-cabin to England, Scotland or Wales is if you are flying from UK countries, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or the Republic of Ireland. Again, exceptions include service animals and, in certain instances, emotional support animals and therapy animals.

Only certain airlines are permitted to transport pets to the UK in the hold of the plane - you can find the full list of commercial and charter airlines here.

What about Emotional Support Animals and Therapy Animals?

Although emotional support animals and therapy animals are not recognized by UK authorities as Service or Assistance animals, we did a little more digging into this subject and contacted several U.S. airlines. We're happy to report that certain U.S. airlines allow emotional support and therapy animals to fly in-cabin to the United Kingdom. Yes, you read that correctly!

U.S. airlines including Delta, American and United all allow emotional support animals and therapy animals to fly in-cabin to the UK. With this said, there is still work to be done before you can book your flight. Before booking any flight, passengers should always contact the airline to ensure (1) pet policies have not unexpectedly changed (2) the specific flight you are interested in allows and has room for your assistance animal. Once air travel is reserved, passengers must then contact the appropriate 'Animal Reception Centre' at the destination U.K. airport prior to departure to ensure the proper import/customs paperwork is in order before arrival. According to American Airlines' 'Special Assist' department, this paperwork includes an inspection permit that is issued prior to arrival. And don't forget - there are additional documentation requirements to complete at home before you depart on your trip (i.e. getting your pet an International Health Certificate if he or she does not have an EU passport). Here is a great resource detailing the documentation requirements when traveling with a pet to Europe.

What if you do not have a service animal or ESA? Here's how to avoid putting your best friend in cargo.

I’ve flown in-cabin with Django countless times (including two cross-Atlantic flights to and from Europe). Although Django is a frequent and relaxed flyer, I would never put him in the hold of a plane. I’ve heard too many horror stories about what can go wrong when a pet travels via cargo. So I jumped into research mode to determine what alternative travel routes will get Django and I safely and seamlessly into the UK.

The following pet-friendly routes require a direct flight to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Choose from one of these airlines that allow in-cabin pet travel to France. After you arrive in France, there are several options for getting to the UK:

Option 1: Eurotunnel

This is my favorite pet-friendly travel option and the one I’ll choose when we arrange our trip to London with Django. It requires you to fly into Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, rent a car, and take drive-on, drive-off train service to London via the Eurotunnel.

The Eurotunnel, also called the Chunnel or Channel Tunnel, is an undersea roadway linking southern England and northern France. It isn’t possible to drive a car through the Eurotunnel, so you must use ‘Le Shuttle’ train service which operates between Calais, France and Folkestone, England. Le Shuttle is a 35 minute train ride, and onboard passengers stay with their cars in air conditioned carriages. Prices vary based on time of booking and time of day; one way trips currently range from €110-150. If you’re willing to paying 2x more, you can book a ‘Flexiplus’ ticket which allows you to alter the date and time of your journey at any time, subject to availability. Said another way, Flexiplus lets you drive onto the first train leaving, should you arrive in Paris earlier than expected.

The only negative with this option is that you’ll have to reverse your journey and return to France before flying home. UK rental car companies, which offer right-hand drive cars, will not accept a left-hand drive vehicle since they cannot rent it out in their country.

One last tip for Le Shuttle: visit Pet Reception in Calais before you depart. An agent at Pet Reception can review and approve your pet’s travel papers so you don’t have to deal with this once you arrive in the UK. There is also a dog run at the facility.

Option 2: Ferry from Calais to Dover

Similar to Option 1, this travel route requires you to fly into Charles de Gaulle airport, rent a car, and drive to the UK via drive-on, drive-off ferry service. The ferry departs from Calais, France and arrives in Dover, England (just 10 miles north of Folkestone and equal distance to London). The ferry is cheaper than Eurotunnel ‘Le Shuttle’, but travel time is longer (1.5 hours via ferry versus 35 minutes via Le Shuttle). Both Dover and Folkestone are approximately a 1h45m drive to downtown London.

Same as Option 1, you’ll have to reverse your journey with your rental car and return to France before flying home. The other drawback here is that pets must remain in the car during the entire 90 minute ferry ride (passengers usually walk up to the deck). This travel route won’t work on a very hot or cold day unless you stay in your car with your pet and keep the AC or heat running.

Option 3: Pet-Friendly Taxi or Chauffeur

This is a great option for those with a big budget. Several taxi and chauffeur services offer pet-friendly car service between Paris and England. Rather than renting a car yourself, these companies simply pick up you and your pet at Charles de Gaulle airport, then drive you to the UK via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. You can save a few euros and have them drop you off in Folkestone, England where you’ll catch the high speed train to downtown London. Alternatively, you can pay up and have them take you directly to your final destination.

Two companies offering this service are Pet Moves and Folkestone Taxi. We requested a quote from Folkestone Taxi in July 2018. The quote for bringing two adults, two suitcases and a dog from Charles de Gaulle airport to downtown London was £530 plus the cost of the Eurotunnel ticket (normally £79, but pricing varies due to availability). The quote for driving us from Charles de Gaulle airport to Folkestone, England was £395 plus the cost of the Eurotunnel ticket. There are extra fees for congestion, if applicable, and early morning pickups. All in all, you’re looking to spend a minimum of $625-800 for a one way trip, depending on where you are dropped off.

The huge benefit here is that you can fly home from London with your pet. Pets are permitted in-cabin on flights exiting the UK, although the number of airlines offering this service is limited.

As of July 2018, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa all allow in-cabin pet travel from the UK to the US. We spoke to customer service representatives from all three airlines to confirm! With that said, we always recommend calling customer service before booking your flight to ensure (1) the airline hasn't changed their pet policy (2) there is space on the flight for your puppy (some flights limit the total # of pets allowed per flight).

As of mid 2018, these airlines did NOT allow in-cabin pet travel from the UK to the US: Air Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, United, and Wow.

What about the Eurostar train?

Guide and assistance dogs are the only animals allowed on Eurostar, the one and only passenger train between England and France. Emotional support dogs and other animals are not permitted on Eurostar. Although there was a petition a few years back requesting a pet-friendly change in Eurostar’s policy, so far Eurostar hasn’t budged on its rule. Pet owners with guide or assistance dogs must book their dog’s reservation in advance. Here is the link to Eurostar's pet policy.

A safe travel option for larger dogs - sea travel!

If you have a medium or large-sized dog, you may have trouble finding an airline that allows your pup in the cabin. Most international airlines have weight restrictions for in-cabin pets - these usually max out at 20 lbs. Even emotional support animals are required to be “seated in the floor space below your seat” and cannot take up space in the aisle.

We found one last alternative to putting your larger pup in the hold: sea travel.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the only ship that allows the transatlantic transportation of dogs from New York City to Southhampton, England. There are 24 kennels that are overseen by a “Kennel Master” who walks, feeds and cleans the pet area. The kennels are open throughout the day, so pet owners can visit and walk their dogs as often as they’d like. You can find more about the kennel arrangements by calling Cunard at (800) 728-6273.

The downside to sea travel is the time commitment, usually 7 days at sea. The price will also be higher than economy air travel, especially once you account for the cost of your pet’s care. With that said, this is a very safe travel option for anyone going to the UK with their larger dog – and the only way to avoid putting him or her in cargo.

Additional Resources

Hope you found all of this information useful! Please let us know about your own experiences traveling to the UK below.





23 Responses

DJANGO
DJANGO

June 11, 2019

@NAOMI Hey there! Thanks for reaching out to us! That’s great you’re visiting London with your Jack Russell this summer! Regarding dog food, here’s a great resource for you:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/personal-food-plant-and-animal-product-imports#food-from-outside-the-eu-details-of-restrictions

Assuming your pup has no dietary restrictions or medical issues, I recommend bringing a small sealed bag or 2 of dry dog food on the plane with you (i.e. enough for 2-3 meals a.k.a. just enough to last until you arrive at your hotel). Then simply purchase a bag of dog food upon your arrival in London from a local pet store. Assuming you’re staying downtown, you shouldn’t have any issues finding a pet store in your neighborhood. This will save you the hassle of dragging a bag of dog food across the pond! This is what we (Mike and Steph) did when we flew with our dachshund Django to France.

Naomi
Naomi

June 11, 2019

Hi. We are excited to visit London with our Jack Russell this summer. Are we allowed to bring dog food from US to the UK?

DJANGO
DJANGO

June 05, 2019

@ANA S. Hello and nice to hear from you! UK pet travel is definitely a tricky issue, especially compared to other international pet travel. As we highlight above, the main reason for this is the UK Pet Travel Scheme which limits all pets except service animals from entering the UK via in-cabin airline travel.

Regarding pet travel TO the USA from the UK, the great news is that there is no UK policy prohibiting in-cabin travel. With that said, some airlines like Delta still do not allow in-cabin pet travel from the UK. I can’t explain why they do this… perhaps it’s simply easier for them internally to have one UK pet policy that extends for all travel routes.

In any case, you can definitely fly your kitten in-cabin to Boston Logan assuming you book with the right airline. I know for a fact that Lufthansa and United allow in-cabin pet travel from the UK to the US. While I can’t tell you every other airline that will work, we have a great resource that will help your search:

DJANGO: International Airline Pet Policies for In-Cabin Travel
https://djangobrand.com/blogs/news/international-airline-pet-policies-for-in-cabin-travel

We also link to the article above under “Additional Resources”!

You can see that several airlines do not permit in-cabin travel at all regardless of destination (i.e. British Airways), so you can at least cross these off your list! I’d recommend seeing what airlines have flights that meet your timeline and budget, checking the article I linked to to see if they allow in-cabin travel, then giving them a call to confirm your kitten can fly in-cabin.

One last thing to keep in mind… how old is your kitten? Many airlines have minimum age requirements. You can also see those on the article I linked to above!

Hope this helps! Let us know which airline you ultimately go with!

 Ana S.
Ana S.

June 05, 2019

Hi! I have been looking all over for an answer to what I thought was a simple question and Google pointed me to your website—it’s great!

I would like to travel from London Heathrow to Boston Logan with a kitten in cabin with me and was given mixed answers to whether or not this is possible. Would you know whether we can travel from Heathrow with a pet in the passenger cabin to Boston? And if that is indeed possible, which airlines allow this? I contacted Air France and they said no pets in cabin as this is a general UK rule and not an airline limit, while United said yes. So I am really confused. Thank you so much for any help you can give!

Sincerely,
Ana

DJANGO
DJANGO

May 23, 2019

@MICHELE BLUMENTHAL Hello and thanks for your question! When your husband and your dog arrive in Calais, France, and before getting on Le Shuttle, he and your pup MUST stop by Pet Reception so your dog’s health certificate (or EU Pet Passport) can be reviewed and approved before boarding. This is mandatory. It is our understanding that Pet Reception in Calais, France can review and approve of your pup’s paperwork so you do not have to be slowed down once you arrive in the UK.

And yes, all dogs traveling to the UK must have mandatory tapeworm treatment administered by a vet between 24–120 hours before arrival in the UK. Customs officials can refuse travel if your dog’s tapeworm treatment is not administered in time or correctly documented by a vet.

Here are two additional articles that will help you out in advance of your travels:
HOW TO TAKE YOUR DOG TO EUROPE: https://djangobrand.com/blogs/news/how-to-take-your-dog-to-europe
DOES MY DOG NEED A PASSPORT: https://djangobrand.com/blogs/news/does-my-dog-need-a-passport
EUROTUNNEL LE SHUTTLE – PETS: https://help.eurotunnel.com/hc/en-gb/sections/201913709-Pets

Safe travels to your husband and your frenchie Domingo!

michele blumenthal
michele blumenthal

May 21, 2019

Hi! I have a question regarding the travel of Frenchie from Paris to UK. My husband will bring the dog from LAX to Paris on Air France and then do the shuttle service over to Folkstone. Will there be a customs check of the dog when he arrives in Folkestone from France? Or, does he just hop on the train directly from shuttle service (Folkestone Taxi). Will we be needing the tapeworm certificate, etc?

Thank you in advance for your help. Your website is most helpful.
Thanks,
Michele and Frenchie (Domingo)

DJANGO
DJANGO

May 03, 2019

@PAT BOON Hello! We’re so glad you found our article useful. When you ask if there will be a “problem with British immigration”, do you mean once you arrive in the UK via Option 1 above (Eurotunnel)? Assuming you completed all the proper documentation and assuming your pet is healthy (i.e. not displaying any signs of illness or disease at the time of travel), there is no risk that your pet is quarantined. Regarding Pet Reception, it is our understanding that they can review and approve of your papers while you are still in France so you do not have to be slowed down once you arrive in the UK.

And no, you do not have to be an EU citizen in order to travel via these options!

Pat Boon
Pat Boon

April 28, 2019

Thank you so much for posting this. It’s like a light at the end of a dark tunnel! :) I was wondering if it is going to be a problem with the British immigration? Or will the Pet Reception take care and approve of everything? The last thing I want is for my dog to go into quarantine :( Also, do you have to be an EU citizen in order to be able to travel via those options? Please let me know as it would help me so much! XX

DJANGO
DJANGO

April 22, 2019

Hi Cary! Thanks for your comment and question. Yes, you’re right that driving a left-hand drive vehicle in a right-hand drive country is not easy or even enjoyable. And you’ll have to ultimately return the car to its rental company in France. As for whether you should stay in the UK with the car for a little while or instead head back to Europe immediately… that is entirely up to you! We don’t have personal experience driving in the UK with a left-hand drive vehicle so unfortunately can’t tell you how easy or difficult it is!

One more option you have is to drop off your sister and her cats in the UK, immediately return the vehicle to France on your own, then go BACK into the UK via EuroTunnel (and pet free) so you can meet back up with your sister and spend time with her there before ultimately flying home. Obviously this option isn’t ideal, but it’s one way to give you more time with your sister in the UK without the headache of a left-hand drive vehicle!

Please let us know what you ultimately end up doing! We’d love to hear how your experience goes.

Cary Stearns
Cary Stearns

April 19, 2019

Hey! Thank you for posting this! I’m helping my sister move to the UK and she has two cats and we were desperate for info on what to do. We’ll be taking the eurotunnel from France, I guess, but we’ll have to have a rental car since no companies seem to be able to ferry with pets and passenger only. I was wondering if you would have any advice on what to do with your car after taking the eurotunnel? I wouldn’t really be too interested in driving a left sided car on a right sided road (you know what I mean), should I just drop my sister off with the cats and immediately turn around and take the eurotunnel back to drop the car off in France? Thank you!

DJANGO
DJANGO

March 19, 2019

@CAROL Hello! So long as the UK is still part of the European Union, the paperwork requirements for going to France and England are largely the same. Your cat will (1) need microchip identification (2) a new rabies vaccination after microchip implantation, if applicable (3) wait 21 days after rabies vaccination, if applicable (4) Get an International Health Certificate from an Accredited Vet (5) Get the International Health Certificate endorsed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Our article “How to Take Your Dog (or Cat) To Europe” outlines the whole process. Please know that Step 6 (Tapeworm Treatment) only applies to dogs traveling to the UK, not cats.

DJANGO: How to Take Your Dog (or Cat) To Europe:
https://djangobrand.com/blogs/news/how-to-take-your-dog-to-europe

Carol
Carol

March 16, 2019

Trying to find a way to get my cat from USA to UK ship was my first choice but a 2 year waiting list for a kennel. I’m getting all the paperwork together for the UK requirements, will the same paperwork get us into France and also into the UK if we tried to fly from Paris to England?

Gaston Daviron
Gaston Daviron

February 19, 2019

Good luck renting a car that you can drive from France to England! I have yet to find a rental company that will allow you to do that. The insurance is different, and Brexit will not facilitate the process.

However, you can lease a TT car. Look at ttcar.com. You have to take a Renault, a Citroen or a Peugeot. The prices are good, however.

DJANGO
DJANGO

January 22, 2019

Michelle, hello! Thanks so much for reaching out. Although we are not experienced with the travel requirements for rabbits when flying to/from the UK, I have a few ideas you may or may not have considered… First, have you looked into flights from London to Boston, MA? These flights are typically slightly shorter in duration than flights departing from Edinburgh; or flights heading to NYC’s JFK. I see several London-Boston flights under the 8 hour duration limit. Obviously your daughter would have to break up her trip in two flights (first to London, then to the US), but this may be the only option to successfully circumvent the 8 hour flight duration max.

Second, has your daughter looked into making her rabbit an emotional support animal (ESA)? From what I understand, all domesticated animals may qualify as an ESA. Although certain airlines may limit ESA allowances to dogs and cats, this definitely is still worth looking into. If you can find an airline that welcomes rabbit ESAs, the 8 hour flight duration limit should no longer apply to your daughter’s rabbit.

Hope this helps! Good luck to your daughter, and congrats on her move back to the US!

Michelle
Michelle

January 22, 2019

Do you have any advice for flying a rabbit out of the UK. My daughter lives in Scotland, is moving back to the USA and has a 9 year old floppy earred bunny. She is adamant about not putting her in cargo. I have researched airlines that allow rabbits in cabin and it seems the flights must be 8 hours or less, which precludes most flights from Europe to USA.

DJANGO
DJANGO

December 06, 2018

@SARAH WRIGHT I’m so glad you found this useful! Please let me know if any questions arise as you’re planning your move abroad! I’m happy to help in any way I can. And a huge congrats on your upcoming move to London! So exciting :)

Sarah Wright
Sarah Wright

December 03, 2018

Thank you so much for this info! We’re moving to London with two kitties and I was so anxious, specifically about bringing one of my kitties with a heart condition, on Cargo. This is such a HUGE relief! I am definitely going the through-Paris option. Thanks!

DJANGO
DJANGO

September 27, 2018

Hi Eric! Thanks for your question. It sounds like you have the most difficult and confusing parts of your travel plans sorted – specifically departing China with the correct paperwork and arranging transportation to the UK. That’s great news.

Regarding your arrival in France, I can only let you know what my experience was last summer. My husband I traveled to Paris from New York with Django, our long-haired dachshund. Surprisingly, we did not need to visit any animal/vegetation/agriculture customs specialist upon our arrival. We simply went through passport control as usual and made our way out of Charles de Gaulle airport. No one asked to see Django’s paperwork at any stage (including passport control). When we arrived back in New York a few weeks later, I had to show Django’s paperwork to a special JFK customs employee in the baggage claim before leaving.

Interesting enough, I did a quick google search and found another person saying the same thing – that no one at CDG checked the dogs before airport departure. With that said, I would definitely keep your cats’ up-to-date health papers in hand just in case protocol has changed.

Eric Forbes
Eric Forbes

September 24, 2018

I am bringing my three cats to the UK from China, with Air France via Paris Charles de Gaulle in November.

So far I have sorted, at great expense an agent to handle all the paperwork and procedures required to depart China and enter France.

I am also going to book transport to the UK with one of the pet transport companies, which is pretty straightforward.

However, I am quite confused about the process of arrival in France and clearing customs/immigration with the cats.

My Chinese agent informs me that I should use an agent to handle all this, but I have read stories that suggest it is a very simple process, which as long as you have the correct paperwork.

Any feedback on this would be appreciated.

Eric

DJANGO
DJANGO

July 20, 2018

Hi Kylee! Thanks for your question and congrats on your upcoming move overseas! Unless your dog is a registered service animal, it will be difficult finding an airline that allows him in the cabin given his size. Most international airlines have weight restrictions for in-cabin pets; these usually max out at 20lbs. Even emotional support animals are required to be “seated in the floor space below your seat” and cannot take up space in the aisle.

You bring up a great alternative route – sea travel. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the only ship that allows the transatlantic transportation of dogs from NYC to Southhampton, England. There are 24 kennels that are overseen by a “Kennel Master” who walks, feeds and cleans the pet area. From what I understand, the kennels are open throughout the day so pet owners can visit and walk their dogs as often as they’d like. You can find more about the kennel arrangements by calling Cunard at (800) 728-6273.

The downside to sea travel is the time commitment (7 days at sea). The price will also be higher than economy air travel, especially once you account for your pet’s care.All that said, this may be a really great option for you and your larger dog – and the only way to avoid putting him in cargo.

Let me know what you end up doing and good luck to you guys!

Link to the Queen Mary 2: https://www.cunard.com/cruise-ships/queen-mary-2/

KyLee
KyLee

July 20, 2018

Thank you for all the information. We are being relocated from the U.S. (SLC) to London for work. We have one dog who is much larger than Django (about 50 lbs) and one cat. I am, like you, trying to find any way to avoid putting them below the plane. I am curious if you can share any helpful tips on how I can fly with my dog in the cabin? The cat should be easier because she is so small, and yes we plan to fly into Paris rather than England… I am even considering trying to find a way to get to New York and then maybe take a boat or something to Paris!? I don’t even know… but any guidance would be appreciated!!

DJANGO
DJANGO

July 14, 2018

@RUTH LEWIS Great to hear you had a seamless experience getting to the UK with your two pups via an Air France flight to Paris! Mike and I (Steph) plan to take Django to London later this year and will be following your same travel route :)

RUTH LEWIS
RUTH LEWIS

July 13, 2018

I took my 2 small dogs to the uk 2 years ago (& am doing so again this year) we flew into Paris with airfrance then took the train to Calais where we met with a family member who drove us home via the tunnel. It was a long trip but worth it! The only place our paperwork for the dogs was checked was before we got on the channel tunnel in Calais. Airfrance charged $200 each dog & they traveled in the cabin with us

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