When dogs fly


On my Mom’s property in Southern Pines

As promised, here is the entry on getting Shiva into Finland, and it was not an easy route. I’ll pare it down and add it to her page in case anyone comes across a practical need for the information.

As mentioned, I was in North Carolina to visit family, and most importantly, to escort Shiva back to her new home in Finland. I have had the airline reservations for months, and have been calling them every so often to make sure that notes were in the system and so on. Hah. That worked out so well. </sarcasm>


At the Charlotte airport, with all that luggage!

First, the United States portion. This was mostly on me. I got the Annex II form that USDA had sent me, and on Wednesday, drove the 2+ hours up to Raleigh to have her see the vet at Banfield there, get her health certificate done, and then take it to USDA to get endorsed (all in the same day). Would have been perfectly fine, except I did a space cadet and when the vet asked me, “I see you haven’t gotten her tapeworm treatment done yet, do you want me to do it now?”, I was like, “Sure, dunno why I had it scheduled at the other Banfield for Friday, so go ahead.”

Then my husband reminded me, after the fact, that the reason was so we would fall within the 5-day time period prior to travel. Duh. When we were on our way back to Southern Pines. Edit: My husband wanted me to point out that he was out walking Shiva when the vet asked her question about the shot, so he didn’t know about it until it was done and we were on our way back. He said he wanted no part in that screw-up!

We had arrived at USDA, and the agent there said it was all filled out wrong, but went ahead and endorsed it, told me what had to be corrected, called the vet and told her, and then sent us back to get the signatures. At least I didn’t have to go back to USDA. That same day, that is.

So we get home, Thursday comes and we have turkey and all the trimmings, then head to Banfield in Aberdeen, about 10 minutes from my mom’s house. I tell them that I need the tapeworm treatment readministered, as I had done it too early, and had received an answer from Evira that said that our arrival of December 2 would be outside of the 5 day (120 hour) limit. I even printed out a new page for the vet to fill out and sign.

Papers to fly!

Papers to fly!

Go to pick up Shiva (who was also having her teeth cleaned at the same time), and looked at the paper, only to see that the vet had erroneously put the date as 26.11.2014, instead of 28.11.2014. And so they used white out and corrected it. I slept on that, but by Sunday had decided that the white-out made me nervous, so printed out a new sheet, and just had her sign it with the correct date. Done.

Oh, but then I tossed and turned all Sunday night, as it occurred to me that the new sheet didn’t have the endorsement embossing on it, as all the sheets had been stamped. Of course, no one was open to answer the question if that was going to be an issue, so I made the executive decision that we would go by Raleigh on the way to Charlotte (which is really not ‘on the way’) and stop by USDA and hope that they could endorse the new page.

Got there, the agent laughed, said sure, and then also told me that as long as I had the last page with the endorsement stamp on it, that’s the main one. He just stamps all of them to be thorough. Thanks. Now on to Charlotte.


Business class cabin!

Shiva was very good the entire time, and we boarded Charlotte to Chicago without any real issues. In Chicago, American then decides to check all the paperwork, and they think that it all looks right. No one had a clue. So we board. A bit over 7 hours and she slept most of the way. She was so good! As we are getting ready to get off the plane, we are met by a nice gal from the City of London Animal Reception Centre. And here’s where it gets fun. The front page of the Annex II form had her chip number typoed. The number was correct on all the other sheets, but the front sheet was not. Fortunately, the vet had listed her second chip on there, and it was correct. So that was just a hiccup.

Then, because Shiva is not a trained service dog, she has to pay an entry fee to get in to the UK. Even though we were only connecting through London, that was still charged: £350, which comes out to around $500. Ouch. And she said that American should be responsible for the charge, as they should have told me about it, and that they shouldn’t have even let me on the plane without a letter from City of London Animal Reception giving me permission to do so. She also said that the airline should have given me the contact information for Animal Reception when I made the reservation, so that I could have already been in communication with them. I’ll email AA, but I’m not holding out much hope for any sort of refund. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

This is what Shiva thought of their £350 fee!

This is what Shiva thought of their £350 fee!

In any case, they took my money, and we took her outside to do her business, then back in to the lounge, where we waited the four hours for our flight. We hung out in the Kids lounge, as it was glassed in and away from everyone. We figured that if any kids showed up, we’d leave it to them, but it was nice to give her a little bit of time off the leash.

Sacked out

Sacked out

This time on British Airways, who informed me (once we were on the plane), that she should have a car harness and be buckled in, but on the floor. Huh? In any case, the attendant allowed me to buckle the seat belt through her harness lead, and she got down on the floor for take-off, and then sat in the seat for the flight, then back down for the landing.

On my BA flight!

On my BA flight!

Going through Customs in Helsinki was a breeze. Heck, I could have just continued to walk out with her, but they just glanced at the paperwork, checked her microchip and sent us on our way. And it has just occurred to me as I type this, that I didn’t get any sort of receipt from them, and I’m pretty sure she needs to be registered in the city. Not sure what they might need. Another round of research!

8 thoughts on “When dogs fly

  1. How did you manage to board him on the plane?? I might be moving overseas with my pooch as well and I’m worried about caging him to fly with luggages. :/


    • I’ll send you an email with more details (tomorrow), but for the U.S. portion of the flight, she was classified as an ESA (Emotional Support Animal). As mentioned in the blog, it got tricky going in to London. Avoid London at all costs. I was told Amsterdam was much easier to fly through. But the take-away from this is that you have to check each place where you’ll touch down, as they have their own regulations. And you may want to do that before you confirm your reservations, in case you have to change plans based on the information you get back. Good luck!


  2. I always wondered about the process for flying animals somewhere. I guess I didn’t know they could be in the cabin, I always imagined them systematically in some special holding bin with the luggage, as conta said. It sounds like a grueling process!


    • If it had been a short flight between states, I might have considered it. But the thought of her being in a crate for nearly 24 hours (and they don’t walk them due to liability issues) was just cruel to me, and I couldn’t do it. I labeled her an ESA which is sort of a ‘service dog light’, and I will admit, an abused term. It still cost me money in the end, but it wasn’t really the cost that motivated me, but the idea of her in the hold.

      Most airlines have different rules, and they vary from country to country. Canada won’t allow any type of dog, service or not, in the cabin, so I couldn’t bring her when I first flew here, since I came through Toronto. American Airlines didn’t ask for any sort of paperwork, and I could have flown within the US without any problems. British Airways wanted her to have a car harness and be strapped in, and would have required me to buy an extra seat; someone dropped the ball there, and we were just fortunate that the seat next to us was empty. I hear that Delta and United are very pet friendly.

      If I had flown through Amsterdam, there would have been no entry charge. Because we connected through London, it was the city, not the airline, that charged it. It’s pretty lame, but because they have the power to confiscate your animal, we pretty much had to pay it.

      But in the end, it was well worth it. 🙂


  3. Hi
    I´m following your blog already for some time and I enjoy it very much. About your travel with Shiva I have a question. How were you able to take her with you in the airplane? Has she less than 6 kg? I´m question it because I have a female boxer and she always has to go in the cargo…poor girl!​


    • Where are you flying to/from? If she is quiet and well-behaved, you can have her classified as an ESA (Emotional Support Animal), and take her on the plane. She’ll have to lay at your feet, unless you get lucky enough to have an empty seat next to you. You’ll need to inform the airline that you have an ESA with you, and she’ll need a harness and all that. You MIGHT have to buy her a seat, depending on the airline, but certainly call. It’s much easier to do in the States, although be aware that if the animal is disruptive (barks, snaps, won’t lay at your feet, etc.) they can deny you boarding. If she is an anxious dog, she might simply do better in cargo. I was very fortunate in that Shiva was very calm through the whole thing. I think I was more nervous than she was!

      Also, thanks so much for following my blog! It’s my first one and I’m still working on finding my rhythm with it. I have a GoPro camera and dog harness and hope to start adding some ‘canine perspective’ of Helsinki to it soon!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s