Flying Lufthansa with an In Cabin Pet!

Flying into Greece – Our first Glimpse!

Ah Lufthansa … I just don’t know what to think.  On the one hand you provided us with some of the best customer service ever and on the other hand … *shakes head*… what a disaster.

Deutsche Lufthansa, known simply as Lufthansa is Germany’s major airline and the largest European airline, both in terms of overall passengers carried and fleet size. It operates in 18 domestic destinations and 197 international destinations in 78 countries. With over 870 aircraft, it has one of the largest passenger airline fleets in the world when combined with its subsidiaries.

So I suppose it is to be expected that, with numbers like that … things will go wrong.  And do they ever.

We flew in an airbus A321 and airbus A319 and they were fine as planes go. My carrier fit under the seats if needed – but I never had to because the crew and staff did not seem to mind one bit that I was there.  As long as I stayed in the carrier, I was welcome to stay on Mom’s lap. That was lovely.

In fact their pet policy is really rather pleasant and easy to understand and follow. In a nutshell you may take your small dog in cabin when:

  • you let them know ahead of time
  • you pay the fee for your pet to fly upon check-in
  • the weight of the animal (including transport container) does not exceed eight kilograms (17 pounds).
  • the carrier measures no more than 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm. You may use your own transport box if it is the correct measurement and is watertight and bite proof. (Not sure what they mean by watertight)
  • Service animals including Emotional Support Animals (ESA) fly free.

And that’s about it… simple.

Safety First! (and how we remember what plane we took for the blog!)

For more information such as cost for your pet and so on; I invite you to go straight to their site. I don’t want to list that information here because it changes too frequently for me to keep up to date. They also have information on how to fly your pet in cargo should you have a larger dog.

Where Lufthansa has us befuddled is in the human element. There was a massive disconnect and extreme opposite in the quality of the services they provide.

We got both amazing customer service from them and absolutely horrid service; often within minutes of each other.

The staff checking us in were without exception rude, unpleasant, un-knowledgeable about options (when flights were delayed or cancelled) and knew little to nothing about checking a canine in cabin.  This is a major pet-peeve of ours.  Worse… one lady even stuck her tongue out a little when the bipeds pointed out that they were travelling with a dog making a “oh yuck” face. This was utterly inappropriate and stressful, since it was hard enough to be dealing with major flight delays and other unpleasantness without having to deal with poor manners.

On the flip side, the crews that worked the “delayed flight counter”, those at the boarding area, and the staff we met while waiting for flights in Munich airport not to mention the stewardesses on the plane were…lovely.

Something – somewhere is off.

I wrote about an incident as we left Sofia for Munich on our way home from our trip. To synthesize the story, one Lufthansa lady checked us in and made a big mess of it. Her attitude problem was such that I believe that my normally passifist bipeds were ready to physically punch her.  On the flip side, her colleague at the gate then fixed it all perfectly and sweetly – going far beyond the call of duty to make things right. You can read the full tale in my blog post on travel plans going belly up.

In carrier on Mom’s lap – All is well!

Are Lufthansa staff that check-folks in not given the same training? Are they hired by the airport rather than the airline? Is it another person that overseas them? If it had happened once we’d not think much of it – but it was a pattern and occurred in more than one airport. As these staff members are Lufthansa’s chance to make a good first impression it seems odd that this would be acceptable to the airline.

So, what’s up with that Lufthansa?

Would we fly with them again? Likely.  Although I am not certain they would be our first choice now.

It’s difficult to trust an airline when you don’t know what you might get. Will we be faced with a cold, stern sourpuss, unpleasant individual that sends our bag only partly through? A person that obviously hates dogs? Or will we find ourselves charmed by a doe eyed and professional young woman or a lovely well spoken and meticulously groomed young man?

Inconsistency is not a good thing for an airline… or any business for that matter. Wouldn’t you agree? Have you flown Lufthansa? Have you had that same issue? Please share in the comments below.

20 Comments on “Flying Lufthansa with an In Cabin Pet!

  1. Oh, dear Monte… I know exactly how befuddled you must have been. About 10 years ago I had a horrid experience with Lufthansa at the Frankfurt airport… I will not go into the details… the ground staff at the check-in counter and in the main lobby, who do the flight bookings, were extraordinarily rude; the whole experience felt like I had been slapped in the face not only once, but twice, and very hard. Then, when we finally boarded the plane, the last flight from Frankfurt to Paris that day, the on-board crew was as wonderful and as charming as the ground staff were horrid. Go figure! To make matters worse, the plane was half empty when they in fact had told us that they had “squeezed” us in, doing us a favour and thus charging us over and above quite a lot of money for the extra tickets. You see, we had missed our connection, due to an LH flight from Bremen that arrived late in Frankfurt, but the staff told us that it was “our” fault. Again, go figure. They, out of courtesy and for good PR reasons, could have simply given us new boarding passes. When I returned to Canada, I wrote a letter of complaint to the LH Head Office for North America in New York, AND… hold on to your seat: The response was, tough luck: you missed your flight. No sorry, apologies, no kind words. I SHALL NEVER FLIGH LUFTHANSA AGAIN… NEVER EVER !! Ah, after all those years, it feels good again to get it off my chest. I can see, Monte, by your report that nothing has changed. Sigh !!

  2. When I get to my laptop tomorrow, I’m going to tweet and Google + this blog post with the #Lufthansa. (It’s 10 p.m. yesterday where I am). The U.S. carriers seem to closely monitor social media. I wonder if Lufthansa2 does also. I guess we’ll find out.

  3. Oh Monte! How distressing for your bipeds. It is hard enough to travel these days and when there are rude customer service people… well, it just gets harder.

  4. Hi Sonja

    So glad I came across your blog! It’s adorable and really useful info, thanks for this.

    I’m actually relocating to Berlin and taking a cat in the cabin with me on an airbus A321. My cat is actually quite a bit bigger than your Monte though!

    I was wondering if you had any tips on where to store the pet in the plane and what would be the best place for the pet carrier space – aisle, middle or window seat?

    Any tips would be super appreciated. Thanks!

    • You don’t have much choice you MUST store the pet carrier under the seat in front of you like you would a bag. So keep that in mind when you pack. Whatever other small bag you take with you will have to go in the bin overhead. 🙂

      The only advice I could give you is that you can’t sit in the seats near the wings … you know the nice ones with extra leg room – often near the toilets mid plane? People with long legs like them since there is no row of seats in front BUT because you must have a spot to store your cat – you will not be allowed to sit there. Also … go on that seat app … and see if your seat has the Audio Visual equipment stored in front of you. You can’t sit there either. Let them know when you check in – they know not to put a person with a pet in those seats.

      Get your cat use to the carrier. Make sure it’s happy and comfy and not crying. Do small laps around the block. Or a car ride or two. See how it does. if your cat is super anxious talk to your vet BUT do note that it’s not particularly sage to give a sedative. Please read my post on that.

      I have lots of tips here.

      • Thanks for your quick response and tips, I shall avoid the spots you mentioned and get my cat used to his new carrier before we hit the plane. I’ll have a look at the post about sedatives but my cat is generally more anxious than the average pet as he is an indoor cat 90% of the time. Fingers crossed!

        Also, spoke to someone at Lufthansa over the phone and they suggested aisle as slightly more legroom than the middle of window seats. Thanks again.

        • Please check with the airline ahead of time if you plan to sedate your cat. Some airlines refuse to take sedated animals.

        • Hi Liz, how did the flight with your cat go? I need to take my cat to France and am just wondering if you have any tips. I am scared because it seems like, in all the different kinds of planes I’ve flown in, there is barely enough room under the seat let alone a cat carrier…

          • Correction: barely enough room under the seat for a bag, let alone a cat carrier.

          • Let them know when you book your spot that you have a pet in a carrier. They will make sure you don’t get the wing seat or the one with the AV system under.

  5. Thanks for sharing such great post about cats. The social adaptations of cats and humans are similar enough that dogs can live perfectly happy lives surrounded by humans and vice versa. Pets are pampered with the best of food and medical care, frequently have a rest in their owners’ comfortable beds.Do you have any other articles about dogs?

  6. Hi. Can I take 2 cats in the cabin? Maybe in business class on first class are they alowed 2 cats? Because in economy class is alowed just one. Thank you.

    • Sadly no. It’s only one pet per person and each flight also has a limited number of pets allowed on board. The reason is that the pet carrier replaces your carry on allocation and you are only allowed one carry on per person. You could ask Lufthansa what they recommend you do – but you can’t put two cats in one carrier. You’ll need another person flying with you (they do have nannies for this – I know breeders use them but that’s expensive) or … one or both will need to go cargo. I am sorry but I have never heard of one person with two pets flying in cabin UNLESS both pets combined are SO small that BOTH pets PLUS the carrier is less than 20 pounds.

  7. Pingback: Our Thoughts on the Dog Dying on United Flight in Overhead Bin

  8. On United’s website they state that soft carriers that are over their recommended dimensions are allowed, as they know that they can be squished down to fit under the seat. Is that the case with Lufthansa, or are they strict about those dimensions? Thanks!

  9. Im looking to fly air canada and Lufthansa from Phoenix to Romania. Air Canada’s age limit for pets in cabin is 12 weeks and Lufthansa’s pet policy is 16 weeks. With that being said my pup will be 15 weeks at time of travel. How does an airline actually check the age and when?

    • The paperwork required to enter another country has date of birth. You may want to call ahead to see if they will make an exception and get that in writing.

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