If you are planning to travel with an assistance dog in Europe, you pretty much need to follow the same steps as any other airplane passenger who travels with a pet. For instance, when going to the UK with your assistance dog, you have to comply with all the rules stated in the Pet Travel Scheme. If you fail to do so, you may either not be allowed to enter the UK with your assistant or your dog will go into quarantine until it is proven that it meet the abovementioned rules.
At a European level, this issue is settled in an EU Regulation, i.e. 1107/2006, which concerns the RIGHTS OF DISABLED PERSONS and PERSONS WITH REDUCED MOBILITY when travelling by air. By far and large, the regulation obliges airline from the member states to carry recognised assistance dogs in the cabin of aircraft and compels the airport supervision bodies to offer services for handling these dogs at airports.
Thus, the MANAGING BODY of the airport in charge of making sure that a person who is either an invalid or with reduced mobility will be able to go aboard the plane for which he or she has a reservation. On the other hand, the airport needs to be notified with regard to the need for ASSISTANCE at least 48 hours previous to the time the plane is scheduled to depart.
The notification may be made by the person himself or herself, by the agent or the tour operator. Finally, in case the return ticket is with the same airline, than the NOTIFICATION also needs to include the flight back.
Nevertheless, in case nobody notified the airline company, irrespective of the reasons, the European regulation mentioned above also specifies that the managing body from the airport “shall make all reasonable efforts to provide the assistance … in such a way that the person concerned is able to take the flight for which he or she holds a reservation.”
Even so, everything we have already pointed out is applicable provided that you come for check-in at the at exactly “the time stipulated in advance and in writing” or in case your did not refer to a specific time when informing the company on your assistance needs “not later than one hour before the published departure time.”
What’s more, if you are TRANSITING through an airport to which the Regulation applies, or are transferred “by an air carrier or a tour operator from the flight for which he or she holds a reservation to another flight, the managing body shall be responsible for ensuring the provision of the assistance…. in such a way that” you’ll be able to take the flight for which you hold a reservation. In this case you need to arrive at the airport at the time notified previously and in writing or not later than two hours before the published departure time. You will therefore be provided with all the help you need in order to be able to travel with your best assistant on condition that you notify the carrier before hand. As mentioned previously, keep in mind that if you’re entering the UK with your ASSISTANCE DOG, it needs to comply with all of the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme.
As an assistance dog owner, you may use any air route approved by The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) when you’re planning to go into the UK. On these approved air routes, the assistance dogs are allowed to accompany their owners in the passenger cabin. Besides, the airport managing body is responsible for carrying out PETS checks on service dogs when they arrive.
Consequently, the airports need to have CHECKING FACILITIES that will enable them to carry out these checks. Airlines have to register with AHVLA in order to be allowed to carry assistance dogs travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) into any approved Airport. You may check with airlines and airports are approved by clicking here.
It is however, advisable to call the airline first in order to check whether they may allow recognized assistance dogs on your chosen route. In so far as routes are concerned, there are several transportation companies that will only carry assistance dogs into Great Britain under the Pet Travel Scheme. See the assistance air routes here.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that routes may be modified and new ones may be added. You should check their availability before.