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IAG Cargo is the parent company of British Airways and BA are one of the most frequently used airlines to carry pets out of UK. BA has the most departures from Heathrow, many departures from Gatwick and their facilities are excellent. At Heathrow, there is a dedicated check-in area for pets so that the pets can be accepted, security screened and then have their own haven away from the noise and bustle of the busy cargo warehouse.
British Airways will only accept a booking from an agent up to 6 weeks before the flight - they then confirm the space has been requested and “pencilled in”. Around 2 weeks before the flight, once the planes have been scheduled on that particular route, the British Airways specialist sales team will confirm the flight to us. Obviously, there is an issue relating to the fact that humans can book their own flight many months in advance, however most people want to be on the same flight as their pet - the ideal scenario is to get the pet booked and confirmed first and then the person gets on the same flight.
Often, someone will book a flight and ask for their pets to travel on the same flight, but that flight is not available for whatever reason (leaves too early to be cleared, lands too late to be cleared at the destination, the aircraft is not suitable for pets, leaves or lands on a weekend etc.) However, we understand that people generally like to book their flights early in order to secure the best prices, so we ask that you talk to us before booking your flight so that we can advise you on how to increase the likelihood of you and your pet being on the same flight.
British Airways operate an odd, but sensible, policy called “OK to forward”. Essentially, British Airways want to speak to the consignee (the person receiving the pets) to ensure that they will be at the airport to collect the pets. This is a superb time for the client to chat to the local handling team about the requirements, such as the fee for customs clearance, how close any customs office is and how long after the flight lands does the collection process begin. You can also find out about an address for collection.
All pets travelling need an “OK to forward” completed, and once the destination airport team has spoken to the consignee, they will then put a note on the file which alerts the team in London that the contact has been made and the pet can fly. Unless this contact is made, British Airways will not allow the pet to leave the UK. PetAir UK can arrange and plan all aspects, but often, the collection at destination is done by the owners, their representatives, or an agent. It's recommended, however, that you double check your pet isn't going to be left at the airport, especially after they've been on a flight for a long time.
Please do contact us for more information on travelling pets with British Airways. PetAir understand that organising a flight for your pet can be stressful and so we're here to help every step of the way. Call us on +44 (0)1725 551124 or send us an email.