Flying with Pets

So, moving to Italy isn’t only a fairytale about delicious food, the perfect cappuccino and beautiful art.  There’s the “real” side of what this adventure involves as well.  This is a post about one of the less-glamorous aspects….

It seems that getting our cats to Italy is a bigger project than getting us there!  We have been working on this off and on for the past couple of months, and in earnest for several days in a row.  There seriously aren’t words to convey the exasperation we are both feeling at this point…

Surprisingly, getting the cats “Italy-approved” doesn’t seem to be that big a task (we haven’t done it yet, so I am knocking on wood as I say this, as well as knocking on a table leg [the Italian equivalent]).  They need a check-up, to be micro-chipped (they are), basic shots and a veterinary certificate (and a size-appropriate pet kennel).  What has become a HUGE project is finding a kosher way to fly them there without killing them.  I really can’t go through everything we’ve gone through to try and get the right tickets on a pet-friendly airline – in part because my head will explode if I have to recount the entire ordeal, and in part because I don’t want you to either fall asleep or for YOUR head to explode (depending on your natural tendency).  To sum up:

I had to book my ticket separately from Steve because while his school will reimburse his ticket, they will not reimburse mine, and since they’re running about $1700 right now for the summer, I needed to use my American Airlines air miles.   What I learned, though, was that American does not let cats on board to Europe (despite being told it was okay, booking the ticket, having to cancel the ticket, and so on)  AND you cannot fly with them in cargo (which we didn’t want to do anyway) if the weather IS or IS FORECAST to be 84 degrees or higher (29 celsius) at any point on the trip (which pretty much makes leaving Albuquerque in early August impossible).  To make my VERY LONG story short (well, shorter), after 2 days on hold, online, etc., I finally got the right person on the other end (he rocks!) who told me Iberia air DOES let cats on-board AND they are “one world” partners with American, so I can book with miles (which he did for me).  Of course, there are a limited number of pets allowed on board, so you have to get them reservations as well (175 euros).  So, me and one cat were finally set.

Steve’s ordeal was even longer and more convoluted, and as I write this we have close to $5,000.00 of cancelled airfare on our credit card that supposedly will be credited.  To try and sum up – he tried booking on United (he was doing this after I learned American would NOT work, before I discovered Iberia would), who claims (both online and on the phone) to allow pets on board to Europe; Steve booked the ticket and then called to add the cat, they said he couldn’t, he cancelled the ticket.   Come to find out – and let me help anyone here who ever hopes to fly to Italy with a pet – Iberia air (with a stop in Madrid) is about the ONLY way to get this done.   Seems simple enough once we figured this out (relatively speaking), so Steve calls Iberia, and without rehashing the details, TWICE gets booked (without them explaining) on one of their codeshares with American (who, as you recall, does NOT allow the cat on board).  It is only on Iberia aircraft itself that you can have the pets.  Anyway, three bookings and an entire day of calls and being on hold later, Steve is now booked on 2 of the same 3 legs to Italy as I, and the other cat is welcome (or so we believe at this point – stay tuned).

PLEASE, if you ever know anyone trying to get to Italy with a pet, send them to this post, cause I hate for other people’s heads to have to explode!  Onward and forward…

Leave a comment


  1. What a nightmare! I hope everything goes well when you’re finally on your way there!

  2. textiledznr

     /  May 11, 2012

    Wow, I’m always amazed by the inefficiency that occurs when dealing with issues like this. The amount of time that is spent on hold with this person then that person etc. Systems and information should be better dealt with. Hoping it all goes well!

  1. Once Upon a Passport (with never-before seen photos) | New Mexico to Italy

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