Flying To Spain With Your Small Dog Or Cat

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Travelling to Spain with your pet is a subject that crops up a lot on the various online forums and groups. One of the most common questions is, can I take my small dog or cat in the cabin with me on a flight?

Getting accurate answers to that question is not the easiest, as while many flight operators advertise they allow the carrying of pets, they don't make the hard facts easy to find. And when they do, they often change them! Plus, you have to take into account that with a lot of flights, the airline you book with isn't always the one you travel with, so it can be a grey area as to whose rules apply.

A great example of this is Iberia. They advertise that you can travel with your small dog or cat in the cabin with certain conditions in place. But, if you want to travel from, say, Dublin to Madrid, the flight might be operated by Aer Lingus, who operate a no animals policy. So, suffice it to say. It can be confusing!

And it was just such a situation that led me to do some research on travelling that exact route with one of my dogs, Ollie the Chorkie*. This is what I discovered.

Note: Most of the info below is taken from various websites, but crucially, I contacted the companies in question and had everything confirmed, either in writing (email) or in person (phone call.)

This information was correct as of February 2024. It might change at a later date, so do your own research.

The Flight

Iberia is a Spanish airline that flies all over the globe. They have a lot of routes into Spain from hundreds of cities around the world. Personally, I was interested in the Dublin to Malaga route. Sadly, though, there is no direct flight. But are are several flights a day from Dublin to Madrid. And from Madrid, it's a stunning 3hr train ride to Malaga.

Iberia will allow you to travel in the cabin with your small dog or cat (or fish or tortoise!) with the following restrictions...

  • They must be in a suitable waterproof bottomed carrier measuring no more than 45x35x25.
  • The combined weight of the pet and the carrier must not exceed 8 kg.
  • Dogs must not be of a certain type or breed, namely "snub-nosed" or dangerous breeds.
  • They must have all their paperwork and proof of various vaccinations.
  • You can not sit in an emergency exit seat.
  • Your pet can not be removed from the carrier for the duration of the flight
  • You can not book a seat for your pet. They must go under the seat in front or on your lap.

You can't book your pet onto a flight when booking a seat online. So, the process is to book it all with the Iberia customer service team over the phone. Or first book your seat online, then add on your pet by calling the customer service team afterwards.

On average, the cost of adding a pet to the flight is about â‚Ŧ60.

This doesn't just apply to the Dublin to Madrid flight. It was confirmed to me that all flights operated by Iberia will allow pets. So it's very likely you'll be able to fly from your local (ish) airport to the airport you want in Spain, or one with good train connections.

This facility is available on all flights operated by Iberia. If your flight is operated by another airline, you might be restricted by their rules. So, in the case of my trip (Dublin to Madrid), as long as I book a flight operated by Iberia, I can travel with my dog. But, if it's operated by Aer Lingus (as about 30% of the flights are), it's questionable whether the dog will be permitted.

In light of this, I'd suggest always booking a flight operated by Iberia.

The Train

Renfe is the national train carrier in Spain. I have no experience using it, but all I've ever heard from those who do is good things. The service is reliable, fast, clean and affordable.

Renfe advertises 12 trains a day from Madrid to Malaga at an average cost of â‚Ŧ40 per person. The journey takes about 2h 45m. Small pets are allowed, with much the same conditions as Iberia and will typically add about â‚Ŧ10 to the price. There is no need to pre-book (although it's advised). What I haven't been able to ascertain, though, is the booking process. Whether you can book the pet at the same time as yourself or if, like Iberia, you need to do that afterwards. So you'll need to do your research on this.

The buses in Spain are generally excellent in this regard. Alsa, my local bus operator when I'm in Spain, has an excellent app through which you can book yourself a seat and add a pet. So I assume Renfe are much the same.

And so, in a nutshell, that's that. OK, it might not be possible for you to travel to and from your preferred airports, but with the Iberia network of routes, it's more than likely you'll be able to get close, with only a train trip at the Spanish end of the journey to get you to where you need to be.

You can check out Iberia flights here. And Renfe trains here.

Good luck, and enjoy taking your small dog or cat (or fish or tortoise!) to Spain on your next trip.

*Chorkie: A Yorkshire Terrier Chihuahua cross.

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