British Airways is joining a number of other airlines in allowing people to take their dogs or cats on holiday.

The scheme begins on Monday (25 June), initially with a six-month trial period on flights to and from Rome, Barcelona and Bermuda out of Gatwick.

Amanda Allan from BA explains: “We have chosen Rome and Barcelona as they are two of the busiest airports and the hub of travel in Europe. Bermuda has many ex-pats who are keen to take their animals back and forth.”

However, as only one passenger will be allowed to take their pets on any one flight so it’s advisable to book early.

Pet owners are advised to plan their journeys in good time. The process of vaccination against rabies and other health checks takes about seven months.

Pets will travel as cargo and will be attended by trained staff.

“The animals usually settle down quickly because the lights are off, so owners would need to speak to their vet about whether sedation is necessary,” says Amanda.

“The scheme could be extended to other countries if it’s successful – but we want to make sure it’s 100 % effective,” she says.

Pets from western Europe with “passports” have been permitted to travelto the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme since last year.

The scheme was extended to include 30 other rabies-free islands in January this year.

For more details visit: www.britishairways.com or (tel:0845 7733377).

A nation of animal lovers

Further proof that the British are still one of the top nations of animal lovers.

According to a survey by the trade journal, the Grocer, we are spending £1billion a year on food and healthcare for our pets.

Animals are also being treated to pet creches, insurance and dental care.

The amount of snacks and treats has risen to £130million.