KLM gives added dimension to the expression “pet friendly.” Their Variation Live program guarantees that “all live animals are transported in optimal conditions of safety, comfort and hygiene.” That’s exactly what you want when your beloved four-legged family members are going to be traveling by air. And there’s more.
When your precious Prince or Princess arrives in Amsterdam – or should they require a layover there of more than two hours -- KLM assures they will receive “royal treatment” at their 24-hour Animal Hotel. Yep, they really do have such a thing, located at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. It’s the only airline-owned facility of its kind in the world. Transiting pets are given larger kennels, walked, fed and watered. Hotel staff are extensively trained in animal care.
Who wouldn’t give all that a resounding woof (or purrrrrr) of approval? KLM flies to many global destinations, so Prince or Princess needn’t be headed to Amsterdam to get royal treatment focused on care and comfort.
In-cabin travel is available to cats and small dogs.
If your pet weighs less than 18 lbs. including their carrier, they are welcome in Economy Class (but not Economy Comfort zone) on most KLM flights. They can also accompany you in Business Class on most KLM flights within Europe, though not on intercontinental flights. Reservations are required at least 48 hours in advance, with only a limited number of pets allowed in-cabin on any given flight.
Pets must stay in their carrier, under the seat in front of you, the entire time. Maximum dimensions (in inches) for carriers are 18Lx11Wx9.5D. Hard-sided carriers can be only 8” tall.
Most pets may fly as checked baggage.
This option is available on all KLM flights, including Cityhopper flights that are 2 hours or shorter. Between November 1 and March 31, no pets are allowed as checked baggage on Fokker aircraft, due to heating issues.
To ride in the plane’s hold as checked baggage or as cargo, your pet must have a kennel that meets International Air Transport Association guidelines. Although these guidelines allow flexibility regarding some details, KLM does not. To fly KLM, your pet’s crate must be:
- Constructed of either rigid plastic or fiberglass.
- Without wheels. If there are wheels, they must be removed or retracted and duct-taped in place.
- Fitted with a door that has a central locking mechanism which fastens at the top and bottom of the door. Locking pins and the door hinge must extend into the extruded body of the crate at least 5/8”.
- Fastened with bolts where the top and bottom fit together.
You must make reservations at least 48 hours in advance, though earlier is better because space in the hold is limited. Up to 3 pets may accompany you. KLM recommends you allow three hours before your scheduled departure time to check in, because the agent will go through a detailed checklist with you. You can expedite the process by downloading and completing the pet transport form ahead of time.
Cargo is also an option (KLM calls it “freight”).
KLM, Air France and Martinair jointly provide international pet cargo service. The goal here is also to ensure pets receive royal treatment. Prince or Princess will have to fly as cargo if:
- You are not booked on their same flight.
- He or she is a very big boy or girl, weighing more than 165 lbs. with their kennel.
- Their kennel is more than 115” (length+width+height). Some KLM aircraft can only take kennels totaling of 97” measured this way.
It is especially important to note that some countries require incoming pets to arrive as cargo, regardless of airline policies. It is equally important to note that if your pet will be shipped as cargo, KLM requires you to use an international pet transport company. You cannot make these arrangements yourself.
KLM does not allow “dangerous” breeds. English and French bulldogs, pugs and Boston terriers are only allowed to fly in-cabin. Other snub-nosed breeds such as boxers, Pekinese dogs and Persian cats may fly in-cabin (if they’re small enough) or as cargo, but not as checked baggage. These restrictions protect your pet’s ability to breathe comfortably.
KLM has special rules for animals trained to assist rescue teams or provide personal service to individual passengers with disabilities. You should call and ask about this.
Every country around the world has its own requirements when it comes to pet travel documents, health certifications and importation restrictions. KLM recommends you contact the embassy of your destination country to learn their rules. If you’re departing from the United States, the Department of Agriculture can also help you with this. Learn what you’ll need early, because assembling the required documents can take weeks or even months.