You’ll be happy to hear that flying with cats and dogs in continental Europe is super easy, since in 2023, most European airlines are pet friendly. So, if you’re planning a European travel adventure with your pet, you’ll find a plethora of European pet friendly airlines to ponder! Since the EU Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) and the Pet Passport were introduced in Europe in 2001, travelling between member states is very simple. Don’t worry if your cat or dog doesn’t have an EU Pet Passport, as you can use an Animal Health Certificate too. The rules for each airline vary, but, in general, cats and dogs weighing up to 8kg can usually travel in the cabin of a European airline. However, some airlines allow pets weighing 10kg, including their travel carrier. In addition to flying in the passenger cabin, many airlines in Europe allow pets to fly as checked baggage or cargo in the hold. Keep reading to find out more about the pet friendly EU airlines that fly cats, dogs and other animals in the cabin and hold across continental Europe in 2023. You can also check out our recommendations for 10 Pet Friendly Airlines in the EU!
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Table of contents
Rules for Pet Travel in Europe in 2023
First of all, if you’re travelling with a cat or dog in mainland Europe, you must adhere to the rules of the EU Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).
Subsequently, your cat, dog or ferret must have:
- Great Britain (GB) – Scotland, England & Wales (share land borders)
- United Kingdom (UK) – Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland
- Ireland – EU member state, not part of GB or UK, shares land border with Northern Ireland
- UK & EU – Both in continent of Europe
Following Brexit, in order to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland (NI) and Ireland, NI remains subject to the rules of the EU Pet Travel Scheme. Ireland is still a member of the EU, as it’s an independent country that isn’t part of the United Kingdom. However, Ireland shares a land border with Northern Ireland which complicated Brexit agreements between, including pet travel between the UK and EU.
Pet travel schemes in the countries that form Great Britain (Scotland, England & Wales) are in line with the UK Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Check out the post Brexit travel rules for taking a pet from Great Britain (GB) to the EU & NI, and also for travelling with pets from the EU & NI to GB.
Although UK issued EU Pet Passports are still accepted for cat, dog & ferret arrivals in the UK, the EU Pet Travel Scheme no longer accepts Pet Passports issued by a UK country.
So, you need to obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) when flying to EU member states from the UK. If you frequently travel between GB and the EU, you may wish to arrange an EU Pet Passport at a local veterinarian whilst on holiday in the EU.
As an interim measure, NI pet owners can contact their veterinarian, who will update their UK issued EU Pet Passport to allow travel. A new style UK (NI) branded EU Pet Passport will then be distributed to veterinary practices in due course.
Following UK government announcements in September 2021, no checks are being carried out on pets travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, while pet travel terms are re-negotiated with the EU.
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
When flying with pets in Europe in 2023, you also have to abide by the Live Animal Regulations (LAR) set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This includes calculating the minimum IATA permitted inner crate dimensions, whether your pet is flying in the cabin or in the hold as cargo or checked baggage, within the EU.
The travel carrier or crate for your cat or dog must be IATA compliant, so check the specifications for flying with a pet in the cabin and hold. We’ve selected the best 8 IATA compliant pet travel carriers for flying with cats and dogs in the passenger cabin.
Be aware that no airline pet travel carriers are approved by the IATA, nor do they endorse any specific brand or model for cats and dogs on planes. But, an airline travel carrier or crate cat be IATA compliant. This just means that the travel carrier meets the minimum standards set by the IATA LAR, in terms of safety and space for your cat or dog.
All international airlines must comply with the LAR set by the IATA, to ensure pets travel safely on planes.
Flying Snub Nosed Pets in Europe
If your furry travel companion is a snub nosed cat or dog breed, such as a Boxer, French Bulldog, Pug or Persian cat, be aware that ethical airlines don’t fly snub nosed pets in the hold. Due to their anatomy, snub nosed cats and dogs can encounter serious, and sometimes fatal, respiratory issues when flying in the hold of a plane.
So, if you’re flying with an affected breed in Europe in 2023, your cat or dog will have to travel in the passenger cabin. As most European pet friendly airlines operating in the EU only allow cats and dogs, in their travel carriers, weighing up to 8kg in the cabin, you may find this difficult. However, there are some airlines in the EU that allow a combined pet and travel bag weight of up to 10kg.
Cat & Dog Friendly EU Airlines Permitting Pets over 10kg in the Plane Cabin
While the majority of airlines in mainland Europe allow pets of up to 8kg in the cabin, the following offer an allowance of up to 10kg for cats & dogs plus their travel carrier:
- Air Europa
As well as Cats and Dogs, you can fly with Aquarium Turtles, Fish, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Rabbits and Small Birds (excluding birds of prey).
- Air Malta
- TUI Fly Belgium
Birds (excluding birds of prey), Fish, Turtles and Tortoises can also fly in the Vueling cabin, in addition to Cats and Dogs.
Flying with ‘Dangerous’ Dogs in Europe
Whether you’re flying to the UK or EU, many airlines and countries have a ban on particular dog breeds, including all types of Pit Bulls. So, it’s important to be aware if your dog is accepted in both of the following circumstances:
- To fly with an individual airline
- Be imported to your destination country
The types of dogs banned by airlines and countries vary, but Pit Bulls and Mastiffs are on many of the dangerous or fighting dogs lists. Scoot over to our post about Flying with Dangerous Dogs for more information.
Flying with Psychiatric Service Dogs or Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Europe
On 1 March 2021, the US Department of Transport (US DoT) implemented new rules for service animals travelling on planes. This resulted in the removal of the special policy in place to allow those with psychological disorders to fly with an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).
When flying with an ESA, individuals only had to produce a letter from a registered psychologist to travel with their pet in the passenger cabin. However, this resulted in a wide range of animals travelling amongst passengers on planes, such as pigs, peacocks and small horses!
Consequently, US DoT set new regulations for flying with a service animal, and now only dogs are permitted. In line with US DoT rules, airlines in the EU permit registered Psychiatric Service Dogs to fly in the cabin on flights to and from the US. A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) can be any dog breed, but they must be trained to carry out a specific task, or tasks, for the wellbeing of their owner.
You can fly with a PSVD with most EU pet friendly airlines, provided that you complete the US DoT application form in advance, and submit it to the airline.
Be aware that the UK has never recognised ESAs, and due to the strict pet import laws in the UK, you can only fly there with a trained and registered Assistance or Service Dog. In this case, your Assistance or Service Dog must be trained by one of the following organisations:
Pet Friendly Airlines in Europe for Cats & Dogs
Click the links to view the pet travel policies for airlines in your countries of origin and destination in 2023. There’s plenty to choose from when it comes to European pet friendly airlines!
You can also check out the pet travel rules for each country listed here, in addition to the pet policies for each of the airlines.
|Country||European Pet Friendly Airline|
TUI Fly Belgium
|Czech Republic||Czech Airlines|
Sun-Air of Scandanavia
French Bee Airlines
Sky Express Airlines
|Holland (The Netherlands)||KLM|
Tap Air Portugal
Binter Caniaras Airlines
|Switzerland||Swiss International Airlines (SWISS)|
(Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland)
However, be aware that flying in the EU and Europe really have two different meanings when it comes to flying with cats and dogs. While the UK and Ireland are in Europe, and Ireland is also a member of the EU, budget airlines such as Ryannair and Easyjet don’t accept any pets on flights, except trained and registered Assistance & Service Dogs. Read our detailed information on flying from the UK to the EU and flying from the EU to the UK for the specifics on taking cats and dogs on planes between these locations.
While it’s a little more difficult to fly with pets to and from the UK, in continental Europe, it’s a lot easier. For starters, you can have a look at our guide to 10 European Pet Friendly Airlines for popular airlines in Europe with pet friendly travel policies.
Whichever cat and dog friendly European airline you choose to fly your cat or dog in Europe, always protect your pet against vector-borne diseases. And remember to leave a review to tell other pet travellers what you think of your selected airline’s approach to pet travel!
Whether you fly your cat or dog with a pet friendly European airline, or travel by rail, road or sea to Europe, always remember to protect your pet against dangerous vector borne diseases.