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Reader’s report: Flying with an in-cabin dog on TAP between Switzerland and Portugal

Remember reader Meg, whose Jack Russell Terrier puppy named Cooper was featured in a Photo Friday not too long ago? (Here he is again, because I can’t get enough of this picture.) She wrote to me initially because she was planning a trip with him, on Portugal’s TAP airline, from Geneva to Lisbon. She was kind enough to send a follow-up report, and here it is:

Regarding the flights, both went very smoothly. Cooper was above the weight limit [TAP’s maximum weight for an in-cabin dog plus carrier is 7 kg, or 15 lbs.] and on the first flight the check-in guy asked us to weigh him — I almost had a panic attack. But I think that because Cooper is small and the carrier bag was within the required size he didn’t say anything, he just charged us for the maximum weight.

On the flight back it was even better — it helps when the people at the check-in like dogs. There were two free check-in counters and I chose the one where the guy was just beaming looking at Cooper. His first question was: “That’s the dog from ‘The Mask,’ right?” He didn’t even weigh him — he just asked us for Cooper’s weight and I said in a faint voice “7 kg” and he replied “You said 5 kg, right?” So I even paid less…

On the flight to Lisbon there were at least three dogs on board and one cat. Everyone at TAP was really nice, one of the air hostesses even came and petted Cooper! We were even allowed to have the bag slightly open during the flight so he could pop his head out… Too bad in Portugal dogs can’t go anywhere…as opposed to Switzerland where dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere (shops, restaurants, trains, buses…).

I know very little about European carriers, aside from the ones that are imported to the U.S. (PetEgo is the foreign brand I see the most), so I was interested to learn about the carrier Meg chose for Cooper:

I couldn’t find the carrier bag you recommended [I had recommended the large SturdiBag], so I bought this one instead: http://www.qualipet.ch/shop/nylon-tragtasche-divina-gross-rot.html. The carrier didn’t seem as comfortable as yours, but it’s very light, so it helps for the weight limit. It was the only one where Cooper could fit in and we just bought it the weekend before travelling (as Cooper is a puppy and still growing we decided to buy at the last possible moment…though I hope he won’t grow much more).

Cooper could easily turn inside the bag, and sleep lying on his side, so he was quite comfortable. We also had the pleasant surprise of finding out, after we had made our decision to buy it, that it was the cheapest one: CHF 39 (around 40 USD).

Thanks so much, Meg! I suspect it will be a while before I travel on TAP or visit Portugal, so I’m really grateful to learn about your trip, and hear about your experiences.

3 comments

  • Sonja

    FABULOUS information! especially as I visit Europe ALL the time (we are off to Florence in September) and I do love Switzerland and how dog friendly they are … I did not know Portugal wasn’t. Mental note? check.

  • Isn’t it useful? So pleased for you and your upcoming Florence trip — do please let us know about the getting there and back, and the stuff you guys do together while you’re there!

  • Meg

    Hi Mary-Alice!
    It’s Meg here. Great post 🙂
    Just a comment: to be fair, Portugal is not as dog-friendly as Switzerland, but people do love dogs – everyone was so nice at the airport (x-ray line, airport shops, etc..) Cooper only had to get inside the carrier one minute before boarding.
    And if you really want to you can pretty much smile your way into a shop holding a cute puppy- as I did, twice. But unfortunately there is a government agency that pretty much forbids dogs everywhere – shops, restaurants, even sitting outside in a coffee shop’s terrace in front of the ocean 🙁 The non-dog-lovers must all work there I guess…

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