Flying Swiss With Your Dog, a Review

fly with Swiss with a dog
Here is a review of our experience flying with Swiss Airlines in 2019. We flew with our dog and provide all the information we wish we had known beforehand.

Flying with your dog is an easy task. You have to start well in advance, deal with airline rules and regulations, pay extra fees. That’s one of the reasons why we now look to more premium airlines like Swiss when we fly with our dachshund. Swiss does allow passengers to fly with their dogs in cabin and in cargo. We fly with the dog in the cabin is it weighs less than 7kgs with the bag.

For our trip to Europe this winter (2019), we have chosen Swiss, an airline with a very good reputation and an efficient service to Vienna, our final destination. After our trip last summer with Air Canada, we didn’t want to risk having another awful experience flying with our dog. The big question for us was: will Swiss be a reliable airline for us when we travel with a dog? We share our experience with you after 4 flights with our dog, 2 of which lasted more than 6 hours, on board their planes.

Review of Swiss: Advantages and Disadvantages Flying With a Dog

Here is a quick recap to help you along:

  • The service and staff have been effective and have helped to make our travels less difficult
  • Flights on board the company’s Airbus A330-300s were spacious and pleasant
  • Swiss is not annoying when you fly with a dog in the cabin
  • The price to bring an animal is however quite high in comparison with some competitors

Does Swiss Airlines Accept Dogs On Board?

The answer is YES. Swiss allows you to fly with your dog both in the cabin and in the hold. To do this, you must of course pay an extra charge, provide documents related to your pet’s health, verify that the pet and the bag in which it will fly meet the company’s requirements, and make the reservation by phone. This is quite standard with regular airlines, especially for long-haul flights.

Restrictions Apply When Flying With a Dog

  • You cannot fly with more than two animals in the cabin or in the hold
  • There is a maximum number of animals that can travel in the cabin during a flight
  • The dog or cat must be at least 12 weeks old. If you fly to the United States, this minimum is 16 weeks
  • If you come from one of these countries, your pet will not be able to fly in the cabin: Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Kenya, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom
  • Your cage or bag must be approved by Swiss
  • Other conditions exist for dogs that fly in the cabin

These rules do not apply to assistance or emotional support dogs. The complete list of restrictions can be found here.

Swiss Air Flight With a Dog in Cabin

As mentioned above, Swiss allows you to fly with your dog in the cabin. The company’s requirements for this are quite classic: your small pet must weigh less than 8 kg, including the bag (or “transport basket” to use Swiss terms) in which it will travel.

Bag Policies and Size Requirements With Swiss International Airlines

The dimensions of the bag that will allow you to fly with your dog are precise, they must not exceed 55 x 23 x 40 cm. The agent with whom we made the reservation by telephone ensured that we would comply with this requirement by asking for the exact size of the bag we are using.

Booking Process for a Dog Plane Ticket With Swiss

The reservation can’t be done online. You have to follow this procedure when you fly with your dog aboard Swiss airline:

  • Chose your flights on the company’s website
  • Call into the hotline to know if you can take your dog on these flights. If there’s room for an animal in the cabin, you can go ahead and book your dog’s ticket and then your own on the phone with the agent.
  • If you elect to book your ticket with the agent instead of online, they will book your ticket first and then add your dog to the ticket. It’s not a process that happens in this order for other airlines so just be aware of this easier option made available.
  • Note: you could also not have to pay for your dog immediately. In that case, the staff will ask you for a proof of payment for your dog’s travel at the airport itself. Make sure you have it on you when you check-in, otherwise you’ll have to pay. This happened to us and it wasn’t fun as we were not prepared for it.

Pro tip: always call before make a flight reservation to check if there’s room for your dog in the cabin first.

Swiss has not told us how many animals can fly in the same aircraft in the cabin, but there is a restriction – which must probably vary according to the type of aircraft used. Be sure to check this detail before you buy your tickets.

Other Swiss Airlines Policy Requirements For Cabin Travel

Swiss has other requirements that the company does not hesitate to check almost systematically for a dog to fly with you in the cabin:

  • The animal must be able to stand up and turn around in the bag in which it will fly
  • The dog should remain in the closed bag at all times.
  • Your pooch should be clean and healthy
  • Other passengers shouldn’t be disturbed by your dog or you will have an issue with the airline
  • No pets are allowed in the Business Class cabin of the Airbus A330 or A340 – check carefully before booking if this is the case!
  • You must comply with the animal rules and regulations of the destination country. In our case, this was Austria.

pro tip: the 2 most common requirements for dog travel are proof of a microchip and proof of a rabies vaccine.

On our four flights with Swiss (Montreal to Zurich (Airbus A330-300), Zurich to Vienna (Airbus A320), then the opposite route), we noticed that the company’s staff is more or less strict in applying these rules. For example, we hardly had to show Mocsing’s health papers, although this was systematically requested by Air Canada and Vueling. Some Swiss flight attendants made sure that we kept doggo in her bag for the duration of the flight. Overall, we found them to be much nicer and more enjoyable on this subject than at Air Canada, for example. On the ground, the staff was rigorous and Mocsing’s bag was checked at each check-in. We were also asked for proof of payment for our dog’s travel.

How Much Does it Cost to Travel With Your Dog in Cabin on Swiss?

Prices vary according to your destinations: from 50 euros for a flight not leaving Switzerland to 110 euros for a long-haul flight. Details of the prices can be found here. It is not the cheapest airline since we paid 100 CAD per flight on Air Canada. But once again, this price is in line with the company’s premium service. Again, it seems possible to pay these fees at check-in and we strongly recommend that you keep proof of payment for your flights, as it will be requested from you.

Can You Travel With a Dog in the Hold on Swiss?

Of course, Swiss also accepts your dog in the hold. This is the option you will have to choose if it is more than 6-7 kg or simply too big. We have not had to go through this, so we will not be able to share our experience in this regard.

What Are the Restrictions for the Cargo Hold?

Swiss’s requirements for this are relatively simple:

  • Your dog must be “clean, healthy and non-hazardous”, just like in the cabin requirements.
  • Pets must travel in a cage with sufficient water and food for the flight, and is suitable for hold travel
  • All details regarding the cage to be used are explained by Swiss.

How Much Does it Cost to Fly a Dog in the Hold with Swiss Airlines?

Surprisingly, it’s more expensive to fly a dog in the hold than in the cabin. The price goes from 80 euros for intra-Swiss flights to 190 euros for long-distance flights. Again, these are not the most attractive rates on the market.

Our Travel Experience With Swiss + ?

Arrival at the Airport

The Swiss ground staff proved to be very efficient and friendly, whether in Montreal, Zurich or Vienna. As we have already mentioned, the two elements to which he has paid the most attention regarding our dog are the bag and the comfort of the dog in the breast, as well as the payment of the fees related to this service.

Mocsing’s health papers have hardly been checked. In short, the experience was relatively pleasant on the ground.

In the Swiss Air Cabin With our Dog

We were given priority boarding each time, which was very appreciated as it is easier to prepare without the plane being full.

The flight experience with Swiss was particularly good on long-haul routes (Montreal to Zurich, then Zurich to Montreal), as we were each time on board an Airbus A330-300. This aircraft has the advantage of having a row of two seats on the sides. From what we were told by a company ground crew member, passengers with a dog in the cabin – and who fly in pairs – are systematically placed in a row of two. This was our case and it was very good! We were not so lucky with Air Canada, despite the fact that our two flights with Mocsing with that airline, took place on board Boeing 767-300s offering the same advantage as the A330s in question.

Swiss’s Airbus A320 flights (Zurich to Vienna, then Vienna to Zurich) also went well. Although less comfortable, they were smooth.

As mentioned earlier, the Swiss staff was really not annoying. The only problem we had during this whole trip was on our first flight. From Montreal to Zurich, we had the misfortune to end up behind a very agitated (probably intoxicated) passenger who never stopped provoking us. This unpleasant experience had nothing to do with Swiss and was only due to our misfortune.


27 thoughts on “Flying Swiss With Your Dog, a Review”

  1. Hello, thank you so much for writing about your experience. I am trying to bring my dog with to Switzerland in August. What was your experience going through Customs in Switzerland with them?

    • Hello Michele,

      We went to Switzerland several times with our dog and had no issue what so ever. Just make sure to have all your papers in order.
      Good luck!

  2. Thank you for this review! We are considering travelling to Europe this Christmas and since we’ll be gone for a month, taking our pup with us is a must. I am really nervous, since we’ve never done this before, but your review is really really helpful.

    We’ll be flying from Boston to Zurich and then to Ljubljana. We were looking at Delta, but after reading this, I think we should stick to Swiss. Btw, were there any pet relief areas in Zurich? That’s my biggest worry… plus ear popping. Also, our boy is part dachshund, so I was wondering, do you have any recommendations, which carrier is good for longer pups?

    It’s August and I am already freaking out lol. Thank you again! 🙂

    • hello Teya, i will have the same route this Christmas with my chihuahua and i would really apreciate if you could tell your experience. It is my first time traveling with a dog and i’m trying to prepare best i can. How was with finding a spot for potty? I thought about putting pad down in toilet as Augustin suggested. Hope this message finds you 🙂

  3. Hi,
    I have been reviewing the information regarding the transport bag for carrying a dog in-cabin. on their website it is specified as you mentioned (55-40-23), but in other sections it just says that length + width + height must be no greater than 118cm. I am having trouble finding an adequate carrier to meet all these requirements (ie – most that are slightly larger are 50-30-28 (and therefore, while they are less wide, they are slightly higher. Could you share which transporter bag you have (and what dog do you have)?

  4. Hello, Augustin,

    I appreciate your information; it is very helpful. I do have a question, and I’ve had a lot of difficulty getting the answer from Swissair.

    Swissair is very specific about the size of the travel bag for pets: 55X40X23 cm.
    So, the total size that must not be exceeded is 118cm.
    However, nowhere do they specify if the 55X40x23 is an “example” of dimensions or if the bag has to be those exact dimensions.

    Basically: Swissair does not indicate which measurement is length, width, or height.
    Assuming that 23 cm (around 9 inches) is the width, what if my bag measures, say, 26 cm wide but still falls below the overall 118 cm size?

    It has been difficult for me to locate a bag with the exact dimensions of 23cm wide, and that would be somewhat small in width for my pet, so I was wondering what your experience was. I’ve asked Swissair by phone and email and Facebook, “what happens if my bag fits the overall dimensions but exceeds your example by length or width” and all they do is copy and paste the info from their website. Any help you can provide is appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hello Jimmy,

      Sorry for the late response.
      It is a real issue indeed (figuring out the dimension instructions because they are often not clear) and finding a bag matching them.
      Our recommendation for the first issue: checking other airlines for references, since they are often quite similar. Also, you can call the airline, they should have the answer.
      For the bag, unfortunately, the only real solution is to find the bag with dimensions which are as close as possible to what the airline requires. It is sometimes difficult, but we don’t have a choice.

      Good luck!

  5. Hello! We want to bring are 7.5kg dog in the cabin from Singapore to Zurich! We have a month and a half for her to loose weight!!! Any suggestions on if they check the weight or are super strict?

  6. Im so glad to have found this place!!!
    We are booked on Swiss Air for a flight from NY to Zurich, then onto Florence via Helvética Airlines…
    I’ve been searching pet carrier dimensions for hours and hours…
    We’d like for it to be on that converts to a backpack and, if possible, has wheel we could detach (altho not bad if they don’t detach)…
    I see I’m not alone in the frustrating search for Swiss Air compliant dimensions~ if anyone could offer a suggestion it would be sooooo very appreciated! Many thanks, Beth

  7. We brought our cat from Canada to Switzerland and got very stressed about the carrier dimensions. We couldn’t find one that exactly fit the airline’s requirements. Before we flew, we took the carrier we bought into the airport and asked if it was okay at the ticket desk. There was a nice pet lover there who told us to relax. “No one’s going to measure your carrier, unless it looks way too big.” It was slightly bigger than the requirements stipulated, but it was fine. This was, by the way, an Air Canada flight.

    • Hello Alexandre,

      No, normally not. Your dog should be able to turn around and stand up in the bag. Some airlines check during check-in.

      Good luck

  8. Hi Augustin,

    thank you for all the info, but i have a question, because Swiss does not specify, they keep answering me the same, 50x40x23, how is it possible the height to be 23cm and still asking for the animal to stand inside the carrier? i am flying with a very small cat, and still 23cm can’t be the height. Maybe the height is the 40cm then? and 23cm is the width? which was the hight of your carrier?
    thank you in advance!

    • Hello Meri,

      I think 23 cm is the width. We didn’t fly with them for a little while, so I can’t confirm 100%.
      23 cm can’t be the height, the bag that we use for our dog, and that we flew with with Swiss is higher thant that.

      Thank you

  9. What you failed to address is the poor person who ends up one row away from you with a severe dog allergy and absolutely no warning this was going to happen. Currently sitting in business class on a fully booked Zurich to SFO flight with a dog directly behind me. I have my inhaler and Epipen and the woman has already taken the dog out 2X and we haven’t left yet. Flight ruined! I have a dog and pay for a pet sitter!!

    • Hello Lynn,

      Sorry to hear that. This is the airline responsibility to make sure every passenger spends a good flight. If you have allergies and that there is a pet, you unfortunately need to mention it to the staff and they need to find a solution.
      Also, we’re not supposed to take the dog out during the duration of the flight, this is a big no no.

      Good luck

  10. Hallo,

    Great info. Did you need to contact authorities for a vet to be at the airport when you transferred in Zurich?

  11. Hello
    I plan to fly with Swiss air with my 2 cats from New York to Bangkok Thailand and transit at Swiss ( I don’t know what’s airport name). Do I have to show any special extra documents ( I have all documents prepare by USDA and veterinarian) while transit there ?

    • Hello Pattie,

      You are probably going to transit through Zurich. You normally don’t need anything since you are not stopping in the country.

      Enjoy your trip in Thailand (such an amazing country!)

  12. hello, i have question really urgent im frak out, i plan to travel by swiss airlines on 22 december from Hurghada to Warsaw with transit in Zurich but in required documents written about some “transit document” i dont understand that meaning, if i really need that document? if yes so where should i get it?

    • Hello Julia,

      I am not sure what documents you are talking about, but from my understanding (we try to avoid transits with our dog, so we have limited experience with that), the final destination is the one that matters, that’s where you need to comply with requirements. We flew with Swiss multiple times with our dog, transiting via Zurich, and never had to provide anything there. It was several years ago though…


  13. Do you have Swiss Air phone number? I tried to call them multiple times, but no one is answering. The phone keeps ringing!


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