• Almira

Four Legged Flyer


We regularly get asked about pets flying in cabin with their humans. Many of our customers fly from California to Manila, usually on Philippine Airlines. PAL does not allow pets to fly in cabin. When we decided to take our dog, Ash, to the Philippines with us over the holidays, we knew we would not be flying PAL for this very reason. See, our dog is tiny (7 lbs) and he gets scared and anxious during car rides so we know he is not going to do well flying in cargo.

We chose Korean Air because they allow small dogs to fly in cabin with their owners. Asiana has similar rules for pets. Very few carriers to Asia allow pets to fly in cabin.

Here is what we had to go through in order to bring Ash to the Philippines and back.

Required for travel from USA to the Philippines:

  • Reserve/Confirm with your airline for space for your pet. Korean Air only allows a limited number of pets to fly in cabin so as soon as we booked our tickets, we called the airline directly to reserve the space for Ash. The airline needs the following information about your pet: Age, weight including the soft sided carrier, age, breed, color.

  • Make sure your dog's rabies and other vaccinations are current. Call your vet in advance and inform him/her of the trip and they will tell you what vaccinations are needed. Your dog will need to be checked by the vet within 10 days prior to your trip. Having all the vaccinations is not enough. The vet needs to fill out paperwork specifically for flying that you will need to carry with you on your trip.

  • Schedule your appointment at the USDA Veterinary services ahead of time. Closest one to us is in South San Francisco. Your appointment must be within 10 days of you scheduled departure. I did not know that I had to schedule an appointment ahead of time so by the time I had the paperwork from the vet, there were no appointments available and they do not accept walk ins. I had to drive all the way to Sacramento to get my pet's documents reviewed and signed by the USDA. Call the USDA Veterinary Services or go online at least 8 weeks before your trip and schedule your appointment 3 days before your flight. Schedule your appointment with your vet 5 days before your flight, that way you already have your vet's forms ready to go when you go to the USDA office.

  • Obtain an import permit from the Philippines' Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) website and fill out the form. You will need to create an account and log back in to check the status of your application and print your approved permit. This is FREE.

  • If you are going to exit the airport in South Korea, you are required to get the rabies titer test for your pet. It is expensive (it cost me almost $400 for the test and vet fees).

  • Get a rolling pet carrier/backpack. Even if our dog only weighs 7 pounds, it will be hard to carry him around while walking at the airport.

  • Documents DO NOT need to be stamped by the Philippine Consulate.

We checked in 3 hours before our flight. The airline staff reviewed and made copies of all the paperwork, weighed our pet while in the carrier, we paid the fee of $200 (SFO to MNL), and they attached the paperwork to our pet's carrier. It took almost half an hour to get everything completed. We were instructed that we were not allowed to take our pet out of its carrier during the flight. The flight attendants reminded us of this as well. Our dog was so good, not a bark nor a cry during the entire journey. We did feel sorry for him as he was just in his carrier so my husband took him out of the carrier (still attached and secured to it) so he can stretch his legs. We also put a doggie diaper on him to avoid any accidents. Once we arrived in Manila, the customs officers just waived us through and did not even review the documents. Maybe they did not realize we had a dog with us since Ash was in the rolling carrier, it just looked like a rolling carry on bag.

Required for travel from the Philippines to the USA:

  • Your pet needs to be tested by a licensed veterinarian for screw worm within 10 days of your flight from the Philippines to the USA. The vet also needs to provide a health certificate for your dog which states all vaccinations are current.

  • Bring the test results and health certificate to the Bureau of Animal Industry in Quezon City.

For the return flight, we had to have our dog checked for screw worm. The vet checked and wrote a health certificate for the

dog stating that all vaccinations are current and that the dog has been tested and free of screw worm. The form has to state this so you don't have to bring the dog with you when you get the documents signed at the Bureau of Animal Industry office in Quezon City, Metro Manila. We brought all the documents from USA also. The screw worm test and vet certificate from the local veterinarian must be done and dated within 10 days prior to your flight. No appointment is necessary at the BAI but we went super early in the morning and we were the first person in line for this document.

On the day of the flight back to the US, we were at the airport 3 hours before and they checked and made copies of all the documents again and we paid the $200 fee for the return flight. We had a 12 hour layover in Seoul. My husband and daughter took the free transit tour, while I stayed at the lounge with our dog. We could have exited the airport, too, since we had all the paperwork, including the titer test which is a requirement in South Korea but I just didn't want to go through any more trouble of going through all the security checks again. Staying at the airport with our pet was a last minute decision. I walked the dog around the airport on a leash (diaper on) but was politely stopped by one of the security officers and was told I needed to put my dog in the carrier. I walked around the airport, with my dog in his carrier, zippers open so he can stick his head out if he wanted to. At the lounge, he was inside the carrier also with the zippers open so has some freedom to move. He was also wearing his doggie diaper throughout the journey.

Arriving in San Francisco

Despite having global entry, I still filled out a customs form so I can list down the items I was declaring, especially the dog. The US Immigration officer checked the slips printed out by the global entry kiosks and asked if I had filled out a customs form so I handed it to him and he marked it for Agricultural Check. Our luggage was xray'ed, they opened a couple of suitcases, and checked the dog's paperwork. The Customs officer was very stern, maybe to intimidate people, but we have been traveling so much that we are used to the process and confident that we declared everything and had the proper paperwork for our pet. We were at customs for less than 10 minutes and then we were out of the airport.

REMINDER: If you don't have TSA Precheck and Global Entry, what are you waiting for? It only costs $100 for 5 years and you breeze thru security at most US airports using TSA Precheck and Global Entry expedites your US Customs and Immigration process when returning to the USA. You can read all about our post here.

If you are bringing your pet or any type of food item back to the US, write things down as you pack. I know I wont remember everything I put in my luggage so I write them down as I put them in the luggage. I also put these items in 1 luggage if possible so that Customs wouldn't have to open all of our luggage. They will know which bags they should open when they xray the luggage, so if you have all your pasalubongs are spread out into different luggages, all of them will be opened. Pack them in one bag if possible so they only open that bag. Declare all food you are bringing! Ignorance of the law does not excuse people from the law. So if you did not know you were not supposed to bring that chicharon and you did not declare it, that's a $300 fee and a mark on your customs record which means for the next 2 years, everytime you enter the USA, your bags will be checked! I am so paranoid about paying the fee and losing our Global Entry privelage that I always write everything down.

#pet #koreanairlines

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