While many “discount” airlines such as WOW air have been offering great deals between North America and Europe lately, sadly none allow pet transport. Interesting exception you should know (and take advantage of!)- SATA Airlines International (aka Air Azores, based in Portugal) A small company that uses same fleet as Air Transat, only flying out of select East Coast cities (Boston, Toronto, Montreal) as well as Oakland, but if you happen to be able to take advantage of these airports, the airline is by far the easiest to fly with pets in order to get to Europe. All pet bookings are confirmed online via a simple e-mail (and surprisingly, they are great at responding to any of your requests!), the cost is abysmal compared to some of the larger carriers, 100$CAD/USD, one-way, payable at the desk. Their requirements are standard, pets under 8kg, maximum pet carrier dimensions are 45x28x20 cm.
My experience with them: We took the direct flight to Azores, overnight from Montreal. Upon arrival at the airport (you cannot pre-check in online with a pet for any airlines as they need to verify the weight), so we proceeded to the check-in desk, with no lines at all. The staff was very relaxed, joking with each other. They were already aware of the pet reservations, so they asked me to put the carrier with my Zayah on the scales, verifying the total weight with carrier was under 8 kg. Then they’d asked me for the paperwork for Portugal, which I’d had filled out perfectly, but they barely glanced at it, as they could tell I was probably over-prepared (read more on what’s required to bring your pets to Portugal).
Once on the flight, since it was a mid-week one, many seats were available, so we’d spread out, taking a 3-seater section for each person, once we were safely in the air I took the carrier from under the seat in front of me and placed it on the seat next to me, so I could soothe my pet and give her some food and see if she needed anything. None of the stewards paid any attention to me, which was great. Zayah was given a calming aid, but they don’t seem to work too well, so she was a bit anxious the whole 5-hour flight. However, being able to pet and monitor her gave me a huge relief and was much appreciated.
Upon arrival at the Ponta Delgada, we proceeded to the little desk with the vet, who’d glanced over the paperwork, checked for a microchip and put her stamp on the landing page of the document. Now, this is important info: you can actually travel between member EU states with these papers for 4 months, without having to get another health certificate again.
Leaving Ponta Delgada to fly direct to Lisbon with SATA, we were advised the pet charge is per kg, the process is relatively simple again, you go up to the check-in desk , they weight the carrier with pet inside, write down how much you should pay, then you go up to another kiosk with Sata’s credentials where you can pay the charge (in our case, it was only 24 euro! the cheapest I’ve yet to find), by credit card or cash. They then give you a receipt you can show to the flight attendant if asked. Once you land in Lisbon, since it’s still Portugal and EU, and if you’ve already done the vet check in Ponta Delgada, you can just proceed to the baggage and you’re good to go.
Overall both flights were incredibly easy, laid back, straightforward in their communication and I would gladly fly with SATA again!