After revising what I intended to write for my Olmsted Series, I’m going to pass on a couple of topics and combine some into a post. Originally, I was going to have an entire post dedicated to dental screening, but it’s a pretty straight-forward process. Just have a check-up with your dentist and have them sign page 3 of the NAVMED 1300/1. See, easy-peasy!
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. This one’s a lengthy one, but we’ve learned so much from this stressful process. And I think we’re better prepared for when we have to head back to the States.
Holy crap … flying our dog was definitely one of our most stressful things we had to do this PCS. And I was just about terrified with the thought of putting him on a plane for nearly 9 hours. Let me give you a little rundown of the issues that we ran into while trying to figure out how we were going to go about this.
Before we even decided to adopt our dog, we had to be 100% sure that we wanted to do all that we had to do to fly him to another country. We thought on it for quite some time and of course, we both agreed and now we have our little furry guy, who we absolutely love. Once that was decided the research began and it was reassuring when you know people that have gone through the same process. I’ve had a few long and extremely detailed conversations with a friend about how it all works.
I knew from the beginning that I wanted our dog to fly on Lufthansa*, they’re an AMAZING airline to use whenever you want to fly animals. From what I’ve seen and heard, they genuinely care for the animals. Google their animal lounge in Frankfurt, it’s amazing! We wish we could have flown our guy there, but it was a little too far from our final destination.
* this post is not endorsed in anyway, all opinions are my own.
Since we first got him, we kept taking him to an affordable vet clinic that had amazing service, but once we got closer to our moving date, we moved him to Ft. Belvoir Vet Clinic, since we knew they handled the paperwork for overseas travel. It’s better to stick with vets who know how the process works and have done it before, it makes for a much smoother process.
Once we finally had our orders, our flight itinerary came in and naturally it was a flight that we didn’t necessarily want nor did we want to put him on. We’d be flying from Dulles International to Paris, with a 6 hour layover, and then onto Ljubljana, Slovenia. We wanted to avoid putting our dog on 2 flights because that’s just pure torture! So we would have needed to pay 2 separate pet fees, pick up our dog after landing in Paris and take him to a different airline to be loaded onto their plane. All of this didn’t sit well with me at all.
The cost for all this would have been well over a grand, so we searched into switching flights and finding one through Lufthansa. We were booked on the infamous United and Air France.
United charges a whopping 800 dollars (ridiculous!) to have your dog in the hold, as their site says, they do offer a military discount, but that is no longer the case. We’ve spent quite some time on the phone with a customer service agent and her manager. All they could offer was zero tax.
As we were looking for different flights for us through Lufthansa, our options were limited and we’d have to fork over 3k to cover the difference in costs to switch our flight. So THAT was quickly off the table for us. And that’s when we decided to send our dog unaccompanied.
Lufthansa Cargo works with three pet forwarding companies, which was weird to us, but that’s how they do it, so we couldn’t exactly question it. We ended using Pet Action Express and he pretty much set everything up for us. A and I flew out on a Saturday and Hala’i would fly out on the following Monday. He stayed with our good friends for a couple of days and then met up with our pet forwarding guy at the airport. From what they told us, it was a smooth and simple process. And it made us wonder why we had to work with a pet forwarding company, to begin with, but I have a feeling that it’s just easier for Lufthansa to manage instead of dealing with customer after customer. It’s better to leave in the hands of these companies that do this all the time and are completely familiar with it.
Overall, we paid roughly 800ish$ total to fly our little guy, which is was less than paying over a grand.
Getting the correct paperwork is crucial! We actually ended up taking him to the vet twice and all I have to say is thank goodness they were able to get us in. I was out of town and dealing with pregnancy symptoms when it came around to book his last appointment for his health certificates. So, I asked A to do it, but he didn’t know that it needed to be scheduled within 10 days of our flight (this is an absolute must). When we took him in, they said the airline would probably deny him because his paperwork would be invalid. Thankfully, they rescheduled us for the week after, phew crisis averted.
The whole health certificate process is pretty simple, you essentially just sit there with your dog and the vet does everything. So simple.
So where did you pick him up?
There’s pretty much zero direct flights to Slovenia (kind of gives you an idea of the small country we live in), so we flew him to the nearest place we could and then rented a car to get him. And that place was Vienna, Austria, which is about a 3.5 hour drive.
When it came to actually picking him up at cargo, A took care of that. We’ve heard some stories, but I think we had a less painful experience. A dealt with not knowing exactly where and who he had to see first. It’s a process, to say the least, but huzzahhhhh, we successfully got our dog! Safe and sound.
Here’s a quick checklist of what needs to be done before flying:
- Check your country’s animal requirements
- The European Union is pretty simple, thank goodness, he just needed a 15 digit microchip and recent rabies shots
- Once you know your flight itinerary, book your dog ASAP. Most of the time you’ll need to make a reservation for your dog
- Check the airline requirements to fly your dog: we needed a travel crate suitable for air travel, water, and food bowls that attach to the crate
- Get all the paperwork for each country your dog will travel to during this flight process, just to be safe. We had paperwork for Austria and Slovenia. You just never know what you’ll face during border crossings, but there was no one stopping us on the way back to Slovenia.
We probably did a bit of an overkill with doing some of the extra things we did, but it was better safe than sorry. You never know what you’ll run into.
We’re so happy to have our little guy with us, it took him a couple of weeks to adjust to the change, but he’s getting along with Slovenia quite swimmingly.
Safe to say, we won’t be forcing our dog on an airplane until we move back to the states! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.