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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

Does anyone have experience traveling with a dog on AirFrance? When we move to France in May, our dog will need to travel as baggage, since she's too big to go in cabin. AirFrance does not have an embargo on pet travel during the summer, and they are the only carrier who flies non-stop from Atlanta to Paris.

The other alternative is to book (the same) flight with Delta (they are partners), but Delta does have an embargo, so our dog would go as cargo. The only difference seems to be the price... AirFrance charges $200 to travel as baggage, Delta charges $600 for cargo. I'm just very nervous about her flying at all, but I can't leave her behind for 18 months.

We are hoping to take the Queen Mary 2 back to the US in ~20 months, but they didn't have any kennel space until 2013!

Erin
 

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Erin,
Have you been able to indentify the differences between the cargo and baggage set up?
We flew with our kitties last January but they were in cabin with us.
If the flight is direct, I would definitely not stress as much. I would think it is less dangerous given that it will really only be very hot in Atlanta, at the beginning of the trip . Once you arrive in Paris, it should be hot but not crazy hot like in Atlanta. Isn't there a way to make sure he has water.
Now, I am super interested in that Cruise idea! Can you give me more details? we fly from Marseille and the connection with 2 poor kitties is hell (connection in germany, onto chicago, then 5 hour drive to family in Wisconsin)
As an fyi, we tried a few things to calm the kitties down before flying. Because they are super stressed kitties the vet ended up prescribing xanax for before, during and after the trip. Not the best, but it helped for us. I would not say it is advisable in all conditions, AND it definitely should be discussed with a vet. But it is something to consider. Your vet might be able to help you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can't tell if there are important differences between baggage and cargo... my dog ends up in the same place on the plane, as far as I can tell. The Delta website claims that the cargo people know more about transporting pets than the baggage people, which is why they allow dogs as cargo, but not baggage at certain times of the year, but they are very non-specific. Maybe she gets loaded a bit later? Also, I think I have to pick her up from the cargo facility instead of at a baggage counter at the airport, which would be more inconvenient. I am mostly worried that she won't be allowed on the plane at all, since it's not unheard of for Atlanta to be above 85F in May... but there's nothing I can do about that!

As for the cruise, the Queen Mary 2 (on Cunard) is the only cruise line to allow dogs. They have space for up to 12 animals (dogs and cats), and it seems like they treat them very well! You can visit many times a day, but can't bring your pets to your cabin. They have a couple transatlantic crossings each month (one each way), leaving from New York and Southampton. The prices are actually reasonable... it's about the same as a plane ticket ($1000-1200 for the cheap room most times of the year), and that includes a week of food. Of course, getting to New York and Southampton have to be managed as well if you choose the cruise! And they seem to book the kennels quite early, so plan ahead!
 

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I flew on Air France with my dog in late December so obviously, hot temperatures weren't much of a concern for me. Regardless, I was extremely worried about her as well, but everything turned out to be just fine. On cargo vs. baggage, I was never able to tell the difference either. Pets always go in the front of the plane where it's climate controlled. If Air France says they don't have an embargo on flying pets in May, you shouldn't have an issue. I would make a few calls to both Delta AND Air France to see what they say. Find out what they do during the summer months. Do you hold the pets in an air-conditioned indoor area and board them at the last minute? That's typically what should happen in all cases anyway, and I assume they'll say just that... but it will make you feel better to have someone confirm.

Just make sure you make a BIG fuss over your dog at every step. While at the ticket counter, I tipped the guy who was going to be in charge of her. He was great in that he waited with her outside of security, and as we were going through security, he brought her through so we could see her as long as possible. Before I got on the plane, I asked the boarding agent to verify that she had been loaded/status check. Once I got on, I made sure to tell the pilot that she was in the belly of the plane to ensure he turned on the climate controls for her. I also talked to a flight attendant. After everyone was on, the boarding agent was so nice in that he found me in my seat to give me a complete update. Yeah, I sound like a complete pain in the ass, but I think they understood :)

One more thing, before actually booking any tickets, make sure you call Air France to find out if they even have room. My little one was the only doggie flying that day so it was no problem. They're going to ask you for the dimensions of your crate as well. As for documentation/regulations, I bought this packet online and found it to be VERY helpful. It comes with everything you can possible need to fly your dog. The food containers are wonderful and better than anything you'll find at PetCo/Petsmart etc:

Pet Airline Kit Live Animal Labels-Carrier Kennel Liner-MD | DryFur®

p.s. The only time I would sedate an animal is if he/she were flying IN the cabin. You'll have no idea what's going on below. Any type of serious sedative can depress the respiratory system. I gave my dog a 25 mg tablet of Benadryl 2 hours before the flight, and that was it.
 

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Adding onto the paperwork part, which was messy for us and our 2 cats. Call you vets well in advance, check they know how to do the international paperwork, and Call them at least 3 month in advance because in some case you might have to get them retagged, new shots and all so time is your best ally. I did not buy the form I just went onto the usda vet website, they had a page per country wit the forms. Make sure you have them in english/french. FYI, you absolytely need them to fly but NO one looked at them :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mecheli, I'm glad to hear you had a good experience with AF! I also remembered that the flight I'll be on leaves at 11:30 pm, so hopefully it will be cool, and it definitely won't be sunny when we leave! I will make sure to bother all of the people associated with my flight, so that I can worry as little as possible :)

kirikara, yes, I have been doing a lot of paperwork for it! Our dog had to be re-microchipped, since her previous microchip didn't meet the international standard. And then, had to be revaccinated, since EU only considers the vaccines done after the microchip. We plan to take her back to the vet a few days before the flight to get final paperwork, then go to the USDA office to get them to sign off on everything.

Thanks for your help!
 

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Hi Erin,

I actually work with the animals which are imported into the UK, I strongly suggest that you do not use any type of sedative on your pet. This can be extremely dangerous and animals have died as a result of being sedated during air travel.

Tips I would give you to ensure your animal has a comfortable and as stress free journey as possbile would be:

Buy your travelling kennel well in advance and get your animal accustom to it, so that its a nice happy place for them to be and not something unknown and scary.

Make sure your travelling kennel is up to IATA regulations and has ventilation on all sides including the rear.

Put a bed in the kennel with them and something that has your scent on it.

Do not feed them directly prior to the flight or put food in their kennel with them as this may lead to them defecting during the flight and having to travel in a soiled kennel for the rest of the journey

I hope you found this helpful. Any other questions feel free to send me a message. :)
 

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Erin, just be sure to check that you'll be able to get a flight that's actually operated by Air France, not just code-shared with Delta. Delta has been taking over some of the Air France routes lately, e.g. between Paris and Seattle used to be an AF flight but has become a DL flight. (*sigh*)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So, I have booked my flight. I chose the 11:30 pm flight, so that hopefully temperature should not be a problem (unless there is a random heat wave in France). This flight is AirFrance run; I used the AirFrance phone number to book it. Then, in my e-mail, I got a confirmation from Delta! No mention of AirFrance besides the flight number... so, I called Delta, and they assured me that the flight was still run by AirFrance, and that I was subject to AirFrance regulations. So, my dog will be travelling as baggage (for $200).

Irish_mel, we do not plan to sedate our dog. I have heard that it can be quite dangerous. Also, we have had her travel crate for almost a month now (with another month until the flight). We've left the top half off, so she can get used to it. Her bed is there, so she sometimes goes in on her own... we will put the top on in a couple days, and I expect she won't like it as much!

Thanks for all your help everyone; I will let you know how it goes.
 

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How was your experience?

Hi There,

May I ask you how your experience was? We are about to move from Denver, Colorado to Nice, France with 1 dog and 3 snakes. For our dog, we have been researching Air France and Delta. I'd LOVE to know how your trip went for yourself and your pup as I'm pretty stressed about it and safety.

Thank you!!!

So, I have booked my flight. I chose the 11:30 pm flight, so that hopefully temperature should not be a problem (unless there is a random heat wave in France). This flight is AirFrance run; I used the AirFrance phone number to book it. Then, in my e-mail, I got a confirmation from Delta! No mention of AirFrance besides the flight number... so, I called Delta, and they assured me that the flight was still run by AirFrance, and that I was subject to AirFrance regulations. So, my dog will be travelling as baggage (for $200).

Irish_mel, we do not plan to sedate our dog. I have heard that it can be quite dangerous. Also, we have had her travel crate for almost a month now (with another month until the flight). We've left the top half off, so she can get used to it. Her bed is there, so she sometimes goes in on her own... we will put the top on in a couple days, and I expect she won't like it as much!

Thanks for all your help everyone; I will let you know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Cerelia,

I thought I posted a followup somewhere on here, but I can't find it... Anyway, things went great! We actually ended up changing the flight to June 27, and our flight left ATL at 9:30 pm. But, the heat was not an issue at all, luckily. AirFrance was officially the carrier, although they seem pretty integrated with Delta, they have slightly different policies -- for example, Delta does not accept animals in cargo during the summer at all.

At the airport, they put tons of stickers on our dog's crate, and then we took her through a special security line so they could check her crate. Everyone was very nice. Once we were on the plane, we asked one of the flight attendants to make sure she was on board and that the temperature controls were set properly in cargo... He came back a few minutes later and assured us everything was fine. The flight was a bit turbulent, but when we arrived in Paris, our dog was just fine. She was very happy to see us, but didn't seem traumatized at all. She came out on the oversized baggage conveyor belt, a couple minutes after all the other luggage from the plane had showed up, and a decent while after we has passed passport control at CDG.

I was really worried too, and I know bad things can happen... overall our dog is pretty chill and adaptable (though she does suffer from random freakouts occasionally). But, I think problems are relatively rare. Just make sure you do everything you can to give your animals a safe environment, and be advocates for them by asking about their condition on the plane. I don't know about the snakes; they may have different requirements for comfort and safety/not escaping than the doggy. Good luck!!
 

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Oh erin85, you just made my day!

It's great to know you had such a wonderful experience. We are trying to decide between Air France and Delta. It seems that even though Delta has a large pet travel department and has flown many pets, responses about Air France and pets seem generally more positive. Thanks so much for your feedback :)
 
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