Any pet shipper reading this story will, we know, nod their heads sagely in complete understanding.

Richard lives in England and works for the Dutch branch of an international company. He’s being posted to Bonaire (part of what used to be the Netherlands Antilles) and wants to take his Flatcoated Retriever, Charlie, with him.

Richard is flying with KLM via Amsterdam and tried to book Charlie onto the same flight.
“Sorry,” said KLM. “Charlie’s too big. His box won’t fit in the cargo hold, so he’ll have to start his journey at Schiphol airport.”

“OK,” said Richard.

So he contacted Animalcouriers who do regular road runs to Amsterdam. We calculated a box size that would give Charlie a comfortable flight and made arrangements to get him to Schiphol where he could rendez-vous with Richard arriving on a flight from the UK.

An aside about travel boxes: KLM prefers plastic boxes; but to conform to IATA standards, Charlie needs a box that’s 93cms tall — taller than the biggest plastic one available. So after a discussion with Richard we settled on a bespoke wooden one that would meet IATA’s standards.

Happy that he could get Charlie to Schiphol, Richard then moved on to the next stage: arranging with KLM to get Charlie onto his flight.

“Can our dog travel as baggage from Schiphol?” asked Richard.

“Possibly,” said KLM.

Two days later, KLM phones back to say, “Yes, Charlie can travel as baggage.” “Wonderful,” said Richard, and gave KLM the box dimensions and weight, and the flight details.

KLM responded, saying “Sorry, no, the box is too tall. We can only fit boxes up to 90cm tall in the hold.”

After much discussion with Animalcouriers, it was decided that, although the biggest plastic box was a little under what the regulations allow, there was no other choice. Richard went back to KLM, gave the dimensions of the new box, and waited…

Next day he heard from KLM: “Sorry no, your box is too wide, and the total external measurements are too big.”

Despite much teeth-grinding, Richard remained patient, and got on the phone to Animalcouriers.

“Well that means Charlie has to travel as cargo rather than baggage,” we told him. We also suggested he spoke face to face with customer services at the airport, but still no joy. So we put Richard in touch with our friends at Schiphol airport, VCK Logistics, to arrange for a cargo shipment.

An aside about the difference between baggage and cargo shipment costs. While baggage costs are around €200+, cargo costs about 10 times that. Cargo is managed through handlers and is charged by the volume in kilograms plus actual weight. Baggage is managed through departures at a set charge against weight only. In both cases, the shipment goes out from the handler’s depot on a trolley and is put in the hold of the plane.

Linda from VCK called KLM customer services on behalf of Richard and Charlie and reported back that KLM would take Charlie as baggage after all. Animalcouriers thanked Linda for her help.

All seemed in order, so Richard went to make the booking…

“You can’t take Charlie as baggage, his box is too big,” said KLM.

Haven’t we been here before?

Watch out for the next instalment in the Richard and Charlie saga…

Charlie, will he go baggage or cargo?!

A helpful suggestion from one of Richard's colleagues for getting Charlie to Bonaire