The Malta Independent 10 April 2020, Friday

Passport - check. Tickets - check. Pet? Check! Air Malta’s ‘travelling with pets’ services

Giulia Magri Wednesday, 26 February 2020, 11:01 Last update: about 2 months ago

Because of this, pet owners go through the hassle of finding a pet sitter, or trying to find a suitable person who can take care of their cat or dog while they are on holiday. But for those travelling with Air Malta, this is no longer the case. Since 2012, Air Malta has provided the option for passengers to travel with their pet, be it a cat, a dog or even a rabbit!

Air Malta provides three options for taking a pet on an Air Malta flight: pets carried in the passenger cabin (PETC), pets as Accompanied Checked in Baggage (AVIH - which stands for live animals in hold), pets in cargo and Assistance dogs.

Giulia Magri talked to Charlene Camilleri, Head of Ancillary Revenue, and Stephen Gauci, Head of Corporate Communications, regarding what is involved when you take your pet on holiday.

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Charlene said that the services have become extremely popular, and many people actually take their pets abroad with them. "Over the years it has become extremely popular, and we see people travelling with their pets for various reasons," she said. Some Erasmus students have used the service to take their cat or dog with them for the duration of the months they are abroad. "Even people who go to Sicily for the weekend sometimes take their pets with them," says Charlene.

 

Have you ever had a sleeping cat under your flight seat?

Charlene explained that the PETC service allows passengers to bring a small cat or dog (up to 10kg, including the container) in the cabin on the aircraft. "It is important that the container can fit under the seat in front of you without blocking passage to the main aisle of the aeroplane," she explained.

She said that for safety and security reasons, passengers carrying a pet cannot be allocated a seat next to a wing, a main exit or restricted seats, and will always be allocated a window seat. "This is also applicable for passengers travelling in Business Class carrying a PETC; the first row must be free of any obstruction, hence pets sit in Row 2 and behind," explained Charlene. She said that it is a very popular service with passengers, and many are happy that they have the choice of travelling with their pet.

The Pet in Cabin service only applies to small cats and dogs, and the service is offered on Air Malta's network - including UK routes, and Charlene explained that the service is only applicable out of the country. "With regard to UK routes, a person cannot take their pet to the UK, but they can travel with their pet when they are leaving the country."

Charlene highlighted the fact that pets should be at least 15 weeks old and must have been weaned for at least five days before travelling. The pet must remain in the container throughout the duration of the flight and the container must be big enough to allow the pet to stand up, turn, lie down and essentially be comfortable. "These pets often fall asleep during the flight, and passengers will not be aware that there is a sleeping cat or dog underneath the seat!" she said. The container itself must be collapsible and comfortable for the pet.

 

You can now travel not only with your cat or dog, but with your rabbits, hares, ferrets and birds: AVIH services

If your dog or cat - including the container - weighs more than 10kg, your pet's flight will be booked as 'Accompanied Checked-in Baggage' or 'AVIH'. "The pet will not be in the cabin, but in the hold and the process is extremely easy, just as it is with luggage." Charlene explained that, on arrival at the airport, the passenger hands over the pet in its container at check-in, along with the rest of the passengers' baggage. Ideally, these passengers should arrive at the airport early. "When you have reached your destination, you can collect your pet, along with the rest of your luggage, from the Arrivals Hall at the airport."

Charlene explained that it is important to register the pet's flight details at least five working days in advance to ensure that there is enough space in the plane's hold. "It is important the pet's crate has enough space around it and is not crowded with other cargo." Once again, it is important that the pet's crate is large enough for the pet to be comfortable and to be able to stand, sit and lie down.

Pets in Cargo hold

Unlike PETC or AVIH services, pets and their crates that exceed 60kg in volumetric weight do not travel in the aircraft cabin but must travel as cargo. The drop-off and pick-up points are in the cargo warehouse rather than the airport. "It is important that you take your pet to the cargo warehouse a minimum of three hours before your flight, allowing sufficient time for your travel arrangements to the airport," explained Charlene.

Unlike the other services, all pets can travel as cargo, and the maximum crate height size is up to 110cm. Charlene explained that all the necessary paperwork must be done in advance.

For all services, pets must be checked by a licensed veterinarian before travelling and have the appropriate Pet Passport or health certificate. It is also important that the animal is in good health and able to cope with the flight. 

 

Fees

Pets carried in the passenger cabin (PETC): A single payment of €70.00 per segment (non-refundable) is applicable per container the passenger carries to the cabin.

• Pets as Accompanied Checked in Baggage (AVIH): charged accordingly;

1. Small AVIH: weight 1-10kg: €70

2. Medium AVIH: weight 11-20kg: €100

3. Large AVIH: weight is 21-32kg: €150

• Pets in Cargo: Passengers need to contact Air Malta’s Cargo Reservation Department for pricing details on 22473750, 22473700 or email: [email protected]


This article was first published in It's an Animal's World Supplement  and sponsored by Air Malta
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