Flying with Fluffy: pet air travel in SA

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 6 February 2019

For many of us, our pets are more like furry extended family members than animals, and when we relocate or go travelling it’s a huge relief when we’re able to bring them along.

The travel industry has evolved and advanced to such a degree that we can now bring Fluffy and Rover along for the family holiday, while resting assured that they will be comfy and well cared-for.

Now your pets can be a lot more comfortable than this

A few of our local airlines and services that accommodate pets:

South African Airways

As with many airlines, SAA doesn’t allow accompanying pets in the cabin, but animal companions may board the craft as ‘checked baggage’. Accompanied pets and their containers are not included in the free baggage allowance, and normal excess baggage rates apply.

Rules are different as applies to guide dogs for blind and deaf passengers, and service dogs are allowed to board for free.


Mango aircrafts can only accept a maximum of two pet transportation containers, so booking in advance is essential. Up to two pets are allowed per passenger, provided there is space in the cargo hold. The maximum weight for containers here is 32kg, and the containers must be leak-proof, safe and humane.

Kulula no longer accepts domestic pets and live animals at check-in counters, with the exception of service dogs.

FlySafair has not yet expanded its passenger service to accommodate pets, but both it and Kulula are making use of the Pet Lounge, a BidAir Cargo carrier pet-care service.

BidAir Cargo – Pet Lounge

BidAir Cargo, a cargo airline company that’s part of the Bidvest Group, founded the Pet Lounge – a stress-free, specialist luxury airport travel facility designed specially to cater to animals. It understands that busy and noisy airport environments can be stressful for pets, and have dedicated Pet Lounges in Cape Town, Joburg, Port Elizabeth, Lanseria and George. The company is quite active on social media platforms and its website, and you can follow their news blog to find about their most recent furry fliers – from seals and penguins, to lizards and baby baboons.

Global Paws

Global Paws is a professional pet travel company that specialises in animal transit and care. It started out as a small family-run kennelling business in 1986, and three years later Global Paws was founded in Johannesburg, with another branch later added in Cape Town in 2008. Global Paws’ founding members were the first South Africans to join the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA).

Today, the company assists in transporting mainly cats, dogs and birds via air or road. It manufactures wooden crates and its site is a great resource for when you’re planning your next trip with Snowy.

Global Paws also offers a Traveller Comfort Pack, consisting of natural products like calming gels and collars for cats and dogs as well as high quality, non-toxic pet travel bedding. They even provide travel crate training to help pets feel more at ease in the uncommon and confined crate and cargo environment during their transit.

It also has kennels and board facilities for when you have to jet off alone, as well as a pet travel insurance package it calls the Pet Protection Plan.

Your best friend can now join you and the family on holiday. It’s a dog’s life.

Popular international airlines for SA flyers:

British Airways & PetAir UK

BA’s sister company IAG Cargo has recently upgraded its pet travel experience by partnering with PetAir UK, a British pet logistics company owned and run by vets. The company works with other top airlines and South Africa is one of its prime destinations among many first world countries. The company has recently taken its pet care services to new heights by improving the online booking experience and introducing custom pet travel crates and a special meet-and-greet area at Heathrow Airport in London, so that pets can be as comfortable as possible while jet– or pet-setting.


As with many airlines, Emirates does not permit animals in cabins, apart from service dogs, with the unique exception of falcons on flights between Dubai and certain destinations in Pakistan. Dogs, cats, pet birds, and falcons may be transported via regular flight routes and itineraries are kept in the cargo hold, provided that the flying time doesn’t exceed 17 hours.

Excess baggage charges apply for animal transit as long as the weight of the cage doesn’t exceed 23 kilograms, and its dimensions measure a maximum of 150 centimetres.


Qantas does not accept wire crates for animal transit. The airline also has its own ‘no-fly’ list when it comes to animals, including certain mastiffs and certain terrier dogs, and then strict restrictions when it comes to certain animal types and breeds. and Qantas Freight services can also transport your pet.

There’s no need for goodbyes and puppy dog eyes, you can take your pup with you

Always check your airline’s requirements and the destination’s animal policy when planning your trip.

Here are some general points to consider when you’re planning on flying with pets:

– Vet or inoculation booklets may be required for your pets to be allowed to fly

– Rabies inoculations are compulsory worldwide

– If you want to travel on the same flight as your pet (accompanied) then you need to book well in advance and arrange this with the airline

– Accompanying pets may need to be checked in hours in advance before the flight, and pre-booking is advised

– Puppies and kittens may generally only fly after eight weeks

– Pregnant pets often require clearance from a vet to fly

– Consider getting your pet acquainted with their travel crate weeks before travelling for a less stressful flight

Featured images from Unsplash

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