This was originally sent to me as an e-mail message by a reader named Carole, who lives in Spain and Turkey (but has also lived in the U.S. and other locations, and has traveled extensively, as you’ll see). I have long wanted a second Cavalier King Charles Spaniel — I’ve even chosen her name (Flora, after the heroine of Cold Comfort Farm). Until now, I’ve hesitated because my husband has long legs, and needs every inch of under-seat space he can find. After reading this post, I have more reasons to hesitate!
We have two small dogs, each 11 pounds, that we take everywhere with us. They were born in the US but later traveled by air to France, to Italy, to Turkey, to Mexico and to Spain, always in-cabin on different airlines.
The biggest problem is that the airlines do not have a standard policy. Worse, whatever policy they have they keep secret from employees! From experience we can say for sure that Turkish Airlines allows only 1 dog in the entire plane. Not just 1 pet per passenger, 1 dog per plane. In the past, my husband and I have had to take separate flights due to this restrictive policy.
Just recently an Alitalia employee in the Istanbul airport informed me (I think incorrectly) that Alitalia has the same policy, at least flying out of Istanbul to Rome: Only 1 dog/cat per flight.
Be prepared to be told one thing on the phone by airline employees, only to arrive at the airport to be told something different.
Through a bad experience with Iberia, the Spanish airline, we ended up recently paying 500 euros and enduring a 2-day delay because of wrong information given to us by Iberia employees. We learned the hard way that Iberia allows 1 pet in business class and 2 in economy. We had been told by Iberia employees in both Miami and in Istanbul that our 2 dogs were reserved on our flight from Istanbul to Madrid, no problem.
On departure day we drove 3 hours to Antalya airport, then flew to Istanbul intending to board the flight to Spain but we were denied boarding because we were holding 2 business class seats and no coach class seats were available for the next two days (only one dog was allowed in business class). We had then to find a pet-friendly hotel in Istanbul (very difficult – took several hours and about 20 phone calls) where we stayed with our dogs for 2 days awaiting an available seat in economy class.
The airline websites do not specify the allowable number of pets-in-cabin. It is true that it depends on the type of plane. It is nearly impossible to get a consistent and correct answer. Therefore, we have decided in future to travel separately, me and one dog, my husband and the other dog on separate flights. This is the only sure solution.
At the end of her message, Carole emphasized that “reservations are ALWAYS required now. If you turn up with a pet without a reservation, your pet will not be able to board with you.”