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Old 20.05.2015, 03:36
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Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Hello!

My husband and I are moving next month to Bern from Chicago with our two cats ,and we are flying Swissair. We've reserved our seats in the cabin (economy) on the phone and were told that people with pets in the cabin can only sit in a few pre-selected seats. These seats aren't near each other and are also aisle seats. From my experience, aisle seats have smaller leg room, so this confuses me.

Does anyone else have experience flying Swissair overseas with more than one pet? Were you able to sit together or are you really limited to these specific seats with pets? Any idea why they do not let passengers flying together sit together when you're carrying on more than one pet?

We were also told on the phone to expect an 88 CHF fee per cat at customs in Zurich (in addition to the additional 100 CHF/cat cabin fee). We don't mind paying this but I was also taken aback because I had not read about an additional customs fee for pets here on the forum or anywhere else... can anyone confirm this customs fee?

Thanks for your help!

Elizabeth
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Old 20.05.2015, 03:45
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Re: Flying with pets on Swissair -- Special seats + customs fee?

Sorry, the airline is Swiss and not Swissair! Sorry I can't edit the original post and post title to reflect that. Argh!
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Old 20.05.2015, 08:47
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Re: Flying with pets on Swissair -- Special seats + customs fee?

Swiss and the customs are 2 different entities, what either charges is of no concern to the other !

There may also be Cantonal veterinary fees to pay.
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Old 20.05.2015, 09:33
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

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From my experience, aisle seats have smaller leg room, so this confuses me.
What you wrote confuses me as planes generally don't have staggered seats - so an aisle seat will have exactly the same leg room as a window seat.

As for the customs fee. Almost everything in Switzerland that's optional (such as importing pets) will have a fee so that will be something you'll have t get used to here!
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Old 20.05.2015, 09:48
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

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What you wrote confuses me as planes generally don't have staggered seats - so an aisle seat will have exactly the same leg room as a window seat.
And people often prefer aisle seats as they can stick their legs out into the aisle ( at risk of tripping up a passing hostess) and gain a bit more leg room. My OH always chooses an aisle seat for this very reason.
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Old 20.05.2015, 11:30
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Information from Swiss

Information from the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office


Query page of FSVO
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Old 20.05.2015, 12:49
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Maybe what is meant are those seats facing a bulkhead?... or those by the emergency exits? They have extra legroom, maybe good for putting the cage thing of small animals instead of having it on ones lap?
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Old 20.05.2015, 13:03
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

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Maybe what is meant are those seats facing a bulkhead?... or those by the emergency exits? They have extra legroom, maybe good for putting the cage thing of small animals instead of having it on ones lap?

Are you being serious?
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Old 20.05.2015, 13:15
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

My chihuahua did not really like the food in business class at Swiss.
For that reason, we make him fly first class now.
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Old 20.05.2015, 13:53
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Swiss Eco, depending on the type of plane has the seat media box on the rh aisle of the middle row.
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Old 20.05.2015, 14:18
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Why SWISS has the policy on cabin animals I don't know, but I believe it. I'm also not surprised they have a cabin animal fee, but I am surprised at how low it is.

The 88CHF is paid at a customs once you arrive. After you get off the plane, you have to go to the vet at the freight terminal at the airport, who will review and approve the records for your animals, and then take those to customs to pay the fee to legally import your animals.

At some point reasonably soon, you then need to register your pets, and their chips, with the ANIS database - this is done by your vet. Your commune will expect you to do this as part of your registration.

If it makes you feel better, I had to pay 700 USD to have my pets shipped in the cargo hold, another 450 CHF on the Swiss side at the freight terminal for their handlign of our animals (really, just holding them for two hours), and then the 88 CHF customs fee. And my dog is not much bigger than a cat, actually.

Anyhow, you are not being taken advantage of with the fees that are listed.
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Old 20.05.2015, 14:34
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

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Why SWISS has the policy on cabin animals I don't know, but I believe it. I'm also not surprised they have a cabin animal fee, but I am surprised at how low it is.

The 88CHF is paid at a customs once you arrive. After you get off the plane, you have to go to the vet at the freight terminal at the airport, who will review and approve the records for your animals, and then take those to customs to pay the fee to legally import your animals.

At some point reasonably soon, you then need to register your pets, and their chips, with the ANIS database - this is done by your vet. Your commune will expect you to do this as part of your registration.

If it makes you feel better, I had to pay 700 USD to have my pets shipped in the cargo hold, another 450 CHF on the Swiss side at the freight terminal for their handlign of our animals (really, just holding them for two hours), and then the 88 CHF customs fee. And my dog is not much bigger than a cat, actually.

Anyhow, you are not being taken advantage of with the fees that are listed.
Registering only applies to dogs, not cats. You have to pay a yearly licence fee to the commune for a dog, but cats don't count. Though getting them registed on ANIS is a good idea in case they get lost in future.
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Old 20.05.2015, 14:59
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Hi there,

I can confirm it is true that Swiss has designated seats for pets. I fly with Swiss twice a year with my dog to Canada and back. They have 2 or 3 seats in the plane (depending on the model) that are for pets. Unfortunately since you have two pets, you will have to sit separately. They are quite strict about this, as I once had a glitch in the system with my ticket and it ended up that my seat was given away because they thought I wasn't on the plane. When I went to board, I almost wasn't allowed to board because the 'pet' seats were all occupied. Eventually I was allowed on the plane once they moved people around to make sure I was in a 'pet' seat. It's due to security reasons (this wasn't clear to me) and also out of respect for allergy sufferers who are placed far away from these seats (made more sense).

Why they are aisle seats is beyond me, in most cases there is usually less space, plus the person beside you must step over your kennel when they would like to get up. It's not ideal at all.

As already mentioned, the 88 franc fee is normal - and paid just the one time. It's quite expensive for a pet import fee compared to other countries - just consider it your introduction to how expensive Switzerland is
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Old 20.05.2015, 15:47
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Thank you everyone for the replies!

Thanks everyone for the comments regarding fees. I did even more digging on the forum and it does seem like a routine fee so thank you for confirming it. I was just taken aback because the person I was speaking to already confused me with the seats and there was a slight language barrier. Reading the forum in more detail it seems that the customs fee is supposed to start at 88 CHF/cat but it is somewhat arbitrary -- that some people were able to be pass through without paying, while some paid 88 CHF for both, and even others had to pay more because their cat appeared purebred and the customs agent thought it was "worth more." We'll see what happens with us and I'll report back!

Tom1234, I was also confused by the person on the phone. I agree, if a seat were to have more leg room, the whole aisle would seem to have it as well. But she insisted that there were pre-selected seats for traveling with pets in different aisles, and we couldn't sit together. I was hoping someone could confirm that was a mistake (had flown with two cats while seated next to each other) or confirm it was correct.

Belgianmum, generally we prefer aisle seats too for the reasons you list but, from our experience, the space in front of the seat to stow your carry-on is smaller for aisle seats, which made it even more confusing that we had to sit in those seats when we have animals with us.

prof. taratonga, thank you for those links. Those are definitely helpful and we've been using them.

smoky, the carrier must be under the seat in front of you rather on your lap. Yes, I was wondering if there was something specific to those seats that made them better suited for carrying on animals, but like others have noted, generally if one seat has more leg room the entire aisle would, so it doesn't make as much sense that the seats are not together.

k_and_e, lucky chihuahua!

dmay, thank you for the info! I was also surprised at how low it is because older posts on here show the fee as closer to 200-250 CHF/cat for in cabin. But in cabin fees are cheaper than in the hold which can reach 400 CHF: http://www.swiss.com/ch/en/prepare/s...g-with-animals

jezzie.m, thank you for confirming that!!! That's so bizarre but thank you for the explanation. I'll call again to verify if we can request seats that aren't aisles since that wasn't your experience.
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Old 20.05.2015, 15:54
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

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Hi there,

I can confirm it is true that Swiss has designated seats for pets. I fly with Swiss twice a year with my dog to Canada and back. They have 2 or 3 seats in the plane (depending on the model) that are for pets. Unfortunately since you have two pets, you will have to sit separately. They are quite strict about this, as I once had a glitch in the system with my ticket and it ended up that my seat was given away because they thought I wasn't on the plane. When I went to board, I almost wasn't allowed to board because the 'pet' seats were all occupied. Eventually I was allowed on the plane once they moved people around to make sure I was in a 'pet' seat. It's due to security reasons (this wasn't clear to me) and also out of respect for allergy sufferers who are placed far away from these seats (made more sense).

Why they are aisle seats is beyond me, in most cases there is usually less space, plus the person beside you must step over your kennel when they would like to get up. It's not ideal at all.

As already mentioned, the 88 franc fee is normal - and paid just the one time. It's quite expensive for a pet import fee compared to other countries - just consider it your introduction to how expensive Switzerland is
jezzie.m, could you share what kennel/carrier you use? We purchased the Sherpa Original Deluxe Carrier in medium.
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Old 20.05.2015, 19:03
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

I use that exact one - it's really great, fits well under the seat in front of me on all my SWISS flights so far.
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Old 02.07.2015, 17:34
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

We flew with our cats on Wednesday night from Chicago Ohare in the cabin with us on SWISS and arrived yesterday in Bern. Here are two updates answering my original questions incase someone else reads this thread later on and has the same questions --

1) It is not possible to reserve two seats next to each other on SWISS when flying with cats in the cabin. We tried and tried and even the booking agent we worked with in person the day we arrived at the airport was confused that she was unable to place us together. When we got on the plane, we found that the seats are not special in any way to accommodate a cat (no extra leg room, not able to place the carrier below your seat, etc.) In fact, they were worse, because, being aisle seats, they had a smaller place to put the cat carrier in the space in front of your feet (not smaller depth wise, but smaller width wise). And because the seats are so spaced apart, we had to board at different times since we were in different sections. No big deal, but not ideal.

In the end, the person sitting next to me by the window offered her seat to my husband so we were able to sit next to each other with the cats. The flight attendant noticed (since we also registered vegan meals ahead of time - which was GREAT but that's another topic) and she wanted to make sure "the cats know each other." So after all of this, we finally found out the reason for the separation; she explained the only concern is that two cats will be near each other who do not get along or do not know each other and will make noise. Yes, that is the (only) reason for the assigned separate seats for cats. When we explained that the cats live with each other and knew each other very well, she was 100% fine with it. So, if we were to do this again, we think we'd try our luck from the get-go with the first agent we booked the flights with and emphasize that yes, the cats know each other, and they would even be calmer when near each other.

2) Going through customs at the Zurich airport proved to be one of the easiest things for us. In fact, the cats and everything about taking the cats with us on the trip was really easy even though we thought they'd be the hardest part. At customs there was no line (We were the only ones in fact?? Pretty ridiculous but great) and the agent was able to scan our cats without taking them out of the carriers (although at this point, they had just given up on life and would've let us manhandled them all we wanted). The carrier we used had the top opening as well as the side, so we just unzipped the top opening, he scanned, and it was done. He checked the paperwork we completed with our vet, stamped it, and it was done. It was a little harder going through the paperwork declaring all the stuff we were moving (we decided to do that then as well), but, again, the cats were the easiest part. We also were NOT charged the 88 CHF per cat as expected and quoted to us on the phone and online. He didn't mention it and we didn't bring it up. I'm not sure if it's because it's clear that our cats are not purebred (they are older stray cats with ear tips and scars, etc.), but I assumed the fee would be 88 CHF for any cat and then be more for a "fancier" breed. My husband thinks we were not charged the fees because we listed our two cats on our list of personal belongings that we were bringing in as a relocation or move to CH, and since items brought in (purchased more than 6 months ago) as part of a relocation can be brought in duty-free, he thinks the cats were not subjected to that fee. So, there's a tip then that can't hurt -- list your cats as item #1 on the list of items you're importing duty-free for your move and you might be able to avoid the customs fee.

Hopefully this helps someone else. Be assured that moving will be tough, but moving with the cats doesn't have to be.
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Old 02.07.2015, 19:17
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

Ref your narrow seats.....Were your seats middle row section on the rh side?
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Old 02.07.2015, 19:41
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

I took my pedigree Siberian on Swiss from LHR, and was also not charged the custom fee. But it was very clear that I was relocating with 3 suitcases and the cat, I don't know if this makes a difference

Security at Heathrow and customs at Zurich were both great, and really friendly with my cat. I was even able to take him out on his lead near the gate, and he was my guest in the Senator lounge and was able to sit on my lap

All in, a really pleasant experience. Now if he hadn't been such a whiny fusspot on the flight and meowing all through (poor thing)!
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Old 03.07.2015, 19:29
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Re: Flying with pets on SWISS -- Special seats + customs fee?

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Ref your narrow seats.....Were your seats middle row section on the rh side?

Hi Rob1, no, the two assigned pet seats were both aisle seats. Both were on the left side of the plane with only one seat next to them (on the left near the window). The two seats were spaced out about 20 rows apart. When the woman next to me switched sweats with my husband, we had no one sitting next to us (he was the aisle and I was the window) so that worked out well since the carriers extended beyond the space and required us to step around and over them when we got up.
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