Air Canada

Testimonial: flying with your dog

To the point Meriem and Clément share their very first experience of air travel with their dogs Pim's and Gwada.

The couple flew on Air Canada to Europe from August 29 to October 15, 2023, with their five-month-old baby and two dogs.

On this occasion, Pim’s, a Beagle, made his first flight in the company of Gwada, a Creole shepherd originally from Guadeloupe, who successfully completed his second flight.

Leaving them in Montreal all that time was not an option. When we travel, we’re much more stressed away from them. It’s an absolute joy to be with your dogs! Besides, they’re miserable without us.

The merry band left for Nice aboard an Air Canada A330-300 that offered six places for pets in the baggage hold, according to the couple.

Book checked-in seats

Seats for the dogs were reserved well in advance by telephone with an Air Canada agent. Payment was made at the airport check-in counter on the day: for each dog, the couple paid around 550 CAD for a round trip between Montreal and Nice.

We booked our tickets online and then, within 24 hours, reserved our dogs’ hold seats over the phone.

What’s the best way to reserve hold seats? The airline recommends that you register your pet by telephone within 24 hours of booking. On this occasion, you’ll need to indicate the cage dimensions, weight and breed of the animal.

If your pet cannot be accepted for the flights and dates you have selected, your tickets will be refunded free of charge.

After 24 hours, the airline indicates that any changes to your reservation will be subject to the applicable change and cancellation fees.

Pets not registered in advance will not be accepted at the airport.

Preparing in advance

The couple explains that there are many parameters to take into account for dogs in the hold:

  • Choose the right time to leave, avoiding periods with travel restrictions due to heat, cold or traffic;
  • Please note the restrictions for certain international destinations;
  • Check weight and height restrictions;
  • Make sure you have enough time to get the vaccinations you need, such as rabies;
  • Make sure you have a transport cage that meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards.

Each airline has its own conditions and regulations can change rapidly. Space in the hold is very limited, and some aircraft do not offer this service for pets.

For more information on sanitary requirements to the European Union, click here.


Before the big departure

You’ll also need a health certificate, valid for 10 days from the date of signature by the vet.

The Canadian government specifies that this period is reduced to five days for dogs returning to Finland, Malta, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

For health certificate instructions, click here.

There’s so much to think about, and you’re stressing out with a lump in your stomach before the start. The best thing is to focus on the finish and think about how happy you’re going to be with them.

Being well surrounded also makes all the difference when it comes to stress. The couple set off with friends who had had great experiences with their dogs on airplanes.

It reinforces the positive feeling. We didn’t dwell on the anxiety part, thanks to their support.

For stressed animals, it’s best to train them in the transport cage before the flight.

Airport recommendations

Air Canada suggests arriving at least 30 minutes before the recommended check-in time. Next, it is imperative to contact a registration agent.

The couple had no particular problems at the airport. However, traveling with two dogs and a baby calls for some “serious organization”. It’s important to have help on hand, because “if you don’t, you don’t have enough hands”.

For your pet’s well-being, Air Canada recommends :

  • Feed him four to six hours before departure;
  • Give him water until the time of travel;
  • Leave the empty water container in the cage, so that an agent can make it drink in case of prolonged waiting;
  • Place an absorbent material in the cage, such as a blanket;
  • Do not lock the cage in case of emergency.

Tranquilizers and other medications are not recommended for pets on board Air Canada.

Note that if you’re planning to enjoy the Maple Leaf Lounges, you’ll need to show your credentials: these places only accept small dogs.

On the plane to paradise

You’re finally there! It’s the beginning of the great journey with your hairy loves. How can you relieve the pressure and find out if your pets are in the hold? Just ask on board!

Meriem and Clément checked that their dogs were indeed on the plane. For added reassurance, they also used Air Tags, placed in their dogs’ crates.


On arrival in Nice

We had to be patient at Nice-Côte d’Azur airport. The couple explain that they had to wait a long time – due to customs controls – before finding their dogs, who were a little stressed in their cage.

If you’re a dog lover like us, don’t hesitate to try this experience. They’re memories for life!

A dream experience

Their trip lived up to their expectations. Pim’s and Gwada even took the ferry from Italy to Greece.

The experience was so enriching that the whole troupe returned to Europe a second time, in February and March 2024. On the program: Nice, Sardinia and Corsica. This time, the family flew to Marseille on Air Transat.

Once again, we opted for Italy. We find that dogs are really well accepted in this country and adored by Italians! We went everywhere with them, even inside restaurants and in some supermarkets.

pim's resto

Save with points

On their first trip with Air Canada, Meriem and Clément paid for their tickets with their Aeroplan points.

In economy class, the flight starts at 35,000 points for a one-way trip between Montreal and Nice, according to the points predictor.

predicteur vol

For hotels, they used their Marriott Bonvoy points and booked at the Westin Excelsior hotel in Rome, and the Grotta Giusti thermal spa resort Autograph Collection, in Tuscany.

When it comes to loyalty programs in Canada, Marriott Bonvoy is the most attractive for free hotel nights.

In fact, there are two Marriott Bonvoy credit cards issued by American Express that allow you to collect points quickly.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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