Bringing your pet to Cyprus
We heard the barking as soon as the plane’s engines turned off. On the one hand, after all the worry about how she would deal with the flight, it was a relief to look out the window and see Lunete’s – our dog’s – crate sitting, or rather shuffling, on one of the massive luggage trolley on the runway of Larnaca airport. On the other, it was deeply embarrassing, both because other people on the plane started picking up on the noise and were wondering what was going on outside, and because of the two poor Cypriot baggage handlers looking gingerly at the crate that was rocking back and forth as, in her tantrum, Lunete barked her little head off as ferociously as she could.
Pet Passports & Travel Crates
Afterwards, though, we had to congratulate ourselves on having successfully managed to bring our dog from the UK to Cyprus. The first step was getting her Pet Passport sorted, which was actually very straight forward, and most vets in the UK are well informed about the procedures. And also making sure we complied with the specific accompanying documents and medical requirements for Cyprus. (The Pet Travel Scheme, is available to all EU countries and many other listed countries – there is a handy list online.)
Getting the right travel crate is slightly less straight forward. Be prepared to spend quite a long time frustratingly crouched next to your dog with a tape-measure, wishing their tail was shorter and their ears didn’t stick up so much. Because of the IATA requirements for travel crates, you will end up having to buy a ludicrously large crate for your dog (along with stickers and special bowls). To add insult to injury, travel crates are really expensive and ugly, but you can get some deals of Amazon or try buying used on eBay.
Choosing the Airline
The main stumbling block was actually figuring out how to bring our dog from the UK to Cyprus without having to sell body parts on the blackmarket to book her on our flight, or to get a “pet-transport expert” to ship her over separately. The secret, it seems, is the airline – in this case, Aegean, which provides absolutely the easiest and cheapest way of bringing over your pet from Heathrow.
First off, most airlines won’t even let you book your dog in as excess baggage, and force you to hire a third-party shipper to deal with your dog’s transportation, which means one more – very expensive – bit of admin to deal with when you’ve already got the horror of shipping all your earthly possessions, lining up a place to stay, and planning a way of not starving once you get to Cyprus. To give you an idea, the cheapest quote we found from a third party was around £900.
Second, those airlines which do let you check a dog in as baggage tend to charge an obscene amount to do so: one well-known “budget” airline quoted more than £1,200 for our 20kg dog. That was three times more than the cost of both of our own tickets to Cyprus on the same airline.
So, when we checked on the Aegean website and their pricing guide said it would cost £120 to check in a dog+crate weighing over 25kg (if you’ve got a smaller dog, it’s only £60!), initially, the disparity seemed ridiculous and possibly a mistake. But a quick phone call (don’t be put off by the level of English spoken by most Aegean customer service employees, or the fact that they seem either unaware or dismissive of the possibility of transporting dogs) confirmed that, yes, that’s all it would cost. And – even better – all we had to do was show up at check-in as usual, where we could pay the baggage fee. Aegean got two new flight bookings very shortly afterwards.
A word on the practicalities of it: you don’t actually pay at the check-in desk. You pay at the ticket desk, which is on the front wall of Heathrow terminal 2. And there’s no point getting to the airport super early – as we did to try and get ahead – because the ticket office opens only at specific times, so make sure that you ask what the times are, and that your arrival coincides with those. But if the ticket office will be open, then do get to the airport early, as trying to maneuver one of those luggage trolleys from behind a massive dog crate is pretty difficult, so beating the queues is a good idea.
We stressed out loads about what the protocol at Larnaca Airport would be like, and tried emailing all the various import authorities without getting a clear response.
Don’t be fooled, by the details you might find which say that pets can only be collected between 8.00 am and 11.00 pm; if they’re coming from the EU and you’re travelling on the same flight as them, they will be treated as special baggage (εξαιρετικές αποσκευές), so look for the sign in the far right corner of the baggage reclaim area. You’ll see some double doors, behind which is a massive lift. The baggage attendant will just ask, in a slight panic, whose dog it is and be extremely grateful if you go and help him/her get your crate out of the lift. And that’s it!
A word of caution: stick the crate on your trolley with your bags and wheel your dog out. We made the mistake of walking her out on lead, which resulted in her doing a massive wee right in the middle of customs!