Minky's relocation with Singapore Airlines - Hong Kong to The UK
Many travelers will tell you Singapore Airlines (SIA) is one of the world's best airlines and one of our customer's experiences held testament to this.
Our interest was piqued when a customer in HK ordered our Batik SIA-inspired Bandanas, mentioning it was for her dog's flight! Rachel Yeung moved Minky, her rescued poodle, earlier this year from HK to The UK via Paris and we decided to chat on her experience.
What caught many of our attention was that she flew SIA and Minky got to fly in the front of the plane, not in a crate in the cargo hold. Needless to say, there were many factors at play to allow this to happen, which included Minky's size and flying business, but it did throw light on the fact that when it comes to traveling in style, you can bet on the SIA experience even for your pooch! Read on more...
LD: We understand that Minky is a Hong Kong rescue. How old is she and what's her back story? Was this her first relocation?
Rachel: Minky is now 13 years old. Sadly I don’t know her back story except that she was abandoned at age 11 at AFCD HK (HK's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) and the dog rescue shelter Hong Kong Dog Rescue saved her.
It was 29 March 2020 when I went down to the shelter and this sounds cliché but I was immediately drawn to her. Maybe it was because she was lazing in her bed and I resonate with that energy! I’m not too sure if this was her first flight or if she was flown into HK as a puppy, but it’s her first relocation with me.
LD: You relocated in April 2022, when the Covid-related restrictions were still in play in many parts of Asia. Can you run us through the process you had to follow, once you decided to take Minky along with you from HK to the UK via Paris. An idea of the timeline and pre-travel preparations will be great.
Rachel: I started planning end of January and was aiming to leave by the first week of April, it did take around 3 months to get all the pieces together partly because there was hardly any information out there and it kind of felt like wading in the dark.
I used an agent in Hong Kong to prepare these documents:
· EU Health Certificate
· GB Health Certificate
· Vet Certificate showing tapeworm treatment for entry into the UK
· Dog license with ISO Microchip
Other documents I prepared myself:
· Transfer of Relief for animals (not too sure if this is a must but the agent did advise to apply so you don’t get taxed in the UK. Nobody asked though.)
· Emotional Support Animal letter for the dog to fly in the cabin
· SQ Acknowledgement letter for ESA dog to fly in the cabin
I booked the flight first about 2-3 months out, then one month before the flight I sent them all the pet documents and they confirmed the ESA animal on board pretty quickly. I volunteered to be responsible for another dog (who was booked under my name as check-in baggage) they took a lot longer to confirm as it depends on their flight schedule so I got a confirmation for this one only 1-2 weeks before the flight.
LD: Did you do any special training with Minky to get her comfortable with the travel?
Rachel: Nope! Just prepared lots of treats and her food to keep her entertained (the only thing she cares about is food and sleep).
I did however keep telling her that we were going to fly to the UK (haha) not sure if that made any difference.
LD: How long was the journey and how was she during the flight?
Rachel: From door to door Hong Kong to the UK it was 34-36 hours!
We went from HK > transit in Singapore > flying to Paris > driving to the UK. Reason is because they don’t allow dogs in commercial planes (ESA or check in) for UK so a lot of people fly to Paris first and drive over. Or fly to Amsterdam and take the ferry. She was totally fine during the flight. Really well behaved and just ate and slept and enjoyed many treats along the way.
LD: What was the general reaction of other fellow passengers and the crew?
Rachel: The crew were so welcoming and kind to her! As soon as we boarded, they asked if she needed water and throughout the flight when serving food they would always stop to say hi to her.
The passengers loved her too! She got many compliments and even in the airports, lots of people were pleasantly surprised and happy to see a dog.
LD: Did you have to complete any formalities and paperwork once landing in Paris? Any Covid-times protocol to follow?
Rachel: Unlike in HK, the rest of the world seems to have gone back to normal. No Covid protocol for transit in SG, landing in Paris or entering the UK. They didn’t even check paperwork for Minky or the check-in dog when I left customs at Paris CDG airport. The only place they checked was at the Eurotunnel between Paris and the UK.
LD: Your top tips for anyone looking to travel with their fur friend in flight?
Rachel: Do you mean in cabin? Bring pee pads to place on the floor and I also brought pee pads and Minky into the bathroom with me (although she never went until we arrived in Paris). Pack lots of snacks, and make sure to give them water regularly as we all know how dry plane air is; they get dehydrated too! I also packed her bone with peanut butter inside as that kept her entertained for longer.
An extra tip here though is to bring a jacket for them if you’re moving from a tropical country because when we landed in Paris she was freezing and shivering so I’m glad I did pack one for her.
LD: How is life for Minky living in the UK compared to Hong Kong?
Rachel: For some reason, it never crossed my mind that dogs would have jet lag too! The first week back she was in a deep sleep a lot of the time during the day, and she slowly readjusted after a week. It also took a while to get used to a new pee and poo routine.
Apart from that, I believe she’s really happy here! It's been about six months since we moved to The UK and Minky is definitely a lot more relaxed and happy here as life in Hong Kong was pretty noisy and hectic.
She's been on a couple of countryside weekend trips with me where she gets to come on hikes and enjoys lots of fresh air and greenery.
LD: Did you use a pet relocation company or do everything on your own?
Rachel: I used an agent in Hong Kong, Ferndale, to handle the paperwork for me. Planned everything else myself.
LD: Would you mind sharing some idea of the costs for our readers.
Rachel: I spent about 25K HKD on Minky for flight, agent fee, and ESA letter. Pet taxi was about 18K HKD from Paris to 2 locations in the UK (we’re further north so it was a 9-hour drive, it’ll be considerably less to London). Check-in cost for the other 36kg dog was 13K HKD
Extra info I’d love to share:
It was such a smooth journey, it was very stressful during planning as it’s not a very common thing to see but I can honestly say that it went very well and I encourage people to consider doing it this way instead of leaving pets behind. I would be more than happy to answer any questions or share more info that anyone needs if this would help them!
Even if you’re not traveling with a pet, there are always lots of people trying to get their pet overseas (especially from Hong Kong right now) and there is always an option of volunteering to help someone else by letting them check in their dog as your excess baggage. Absolutely does not require much extra work on the passenger’s end as the agent will drop off the pet and handle all the paperwork, all they need is a plane ticket to fly on :)
Thank you for sharing details of your story, @therealrachyeung and @minkythepoodle ! We wish you lots of love and fun on your adventures together.
Resources for our readers:
Pet relocation companies in HK:
For more information on Moving with your pets, read here
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this blog are of the individual interviewed. Prices and information quoted may change with time and the reader is advised to do their or search for the most up to date information and costs. The resources and links provided are for reference and have not been audited by Loyal.D