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The convoluted ways pet owners fly with dogs into the UK

Queen Elizabeth and the royal family’s pet Corgi terrier board a plane at London on August 3, 1961 for a flight to her castle of Mey and a holiday in the country
Associated Press
The Queen Mother waits for no one — except her first-class corgi
  • Amanda Shendruk
By Amanda Shendruk

Visual journalist

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

When a small pet leaves the UK it can fly with its owner in the passenger cabin. When it comes back, however, the Brits force it to ride as cargo. That’s a deal breaker for many pet owners.

Instead, a detour through France is a round-about way to bring small pets (specifically cats, dogs and ferrets) into the UK. The diversion allows for air travel while avoiding a pet in the cargo hold. Paris is the closest major city to the UK that allows furballs to arrive by airplane cabin. After landing, there are multiple options for getting to, and crossing, the English Channel.

Enter the UK with your small pet via car

The train through the Euro tunnel will zip you and your pet to the UK in 35 minutes, while sitting in your own vehicle. For a more scenic journey, most ferries allow pets, but they must stay in the car.

Enter the UK with your small pet without a car

For those without a vehicle, trains in France allow pets onboard for a small fee. The Eurostar, prohibits animals, however local trains through the channel tunnel do not.

Taking a train to Dieppe allows travelers to use the only ferry route that allows walk-on travelers with pets. It sails to Newhaven. Animals on the route must stay in a kennel on the car deck, and visits to them may be restricted. There are also pet taxis that allow you and your animal to travel in the car together through the tunnel. Interested in ignoring all the fuss? Pet chauffeurs offer airport to tunnel to UK door service.

These roundabout journeys only work for small pets—on Air France, for example, any pet weighing more than 8 kg (17 lbs), including its container, must travel in the hold. Airline and train rules are different for guide dogs, and many airlines don’t take snub-nosed breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, regardless of their size.

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