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The Most Pet-Friendly Airlines in 2023
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Table of Contents
The official rankings
The best airlines for pets, the challenges of traveling with pets, airlines that allow dogs, cats and other pets, recapped, methodology: how we made our pet-friendly airline rankings.
Traveling with a pet can be stressful and expensive, period. And some airlines make it especially so. Some airlines that used to happily ship your pet in cargo will transport them no more. Your emotional support animal likely can no longer fly for free. COVID-19 upended many facets of the travel industry, and flying with pets is no exception.
We analyzed nine U.S. airlines on 12 variables to find the most pet-friendly airlines. We combed through the fine print, fees and policies of all the major airlines to find which ones charge the lowest fees, are the most flexible in terms of what pets you can bring and how well they handle pet transport.
And the reality is, flying with pets is a bleak undertaking with any airline. Airlines were rated on a five-point scale, yet only one scored higher than a four (that’s our winner, Alaska). Only one other airline, Southwest, scored a 3 — and everything else fell below that.
While none are exactly great, here are the best airlines for traveling with a pet.
We analyzed the same nine U.S. airlines that were reviewed as part of NerdWallet's greater Best Of Airlines rankings . There are certainly other, smaller airlines that can often be better for pets ( JSX is a great air carrier for pets ), but they weren't included in our official rankings because they didn't meet all the criteria for consideration (namely too small of a network to be relevant to most people).
NerdWallet's rankings considered factors including whether pets are allowed, the average pet fee and airline safety records to determine what airline is best for pet travel.
Here are the airlines we reviewed and the overall rankings of each:
Which airlines are pet-friendly? The simple answer is Alaska, Southwest and Frontier offer the best overall experiences for flyers with pets, according to NerdWallet's analysis.
Here's a snapshot of some of the data we collected to help you plan for flying with dogs, cats and other pets.
The average pet fee across airlines is $113 — airlines typically charge from $95 to $125 each way per pet. You'll find lower pet fees at brands like Delta, Southwest, Frontier and Alaska.
You might also consider flying semi-private with JSX , an airline that doesn't charge pet fees for small pets that fit in a cabin carrier.
1. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is the best airline for traveling with a pet. It had among the lowest fees and the most flexible pet policy in terms of what types of pets you can bring.
Traveling the main cabin
Alaska has among the lowest pet fees for the main cabin, charging $100 each way per kennel or carrier. Since up to two pets of the same species and similar size may travel in the same carrier, that’s just $50 per pet if traveling with two.
Theoretically, you can fly with up to four pets. The Alaska pet policy lets you bring up to two pet carriers in the main cabin, but that gets pricey as you’ll have to purchase the adjacent seat too. But at least if you’ve got quite a menagerie to transport, it’s possible.
While many airlines restrict main cabin pets to cats and dogs only, Alaska is more flexible, allowing rabbits and household birds, too.
Like most airlines, your pet carrier also counts toward your carry-on bag allotment, so plan to check bags — or pack light.
Traveling in checked baggage or cargo
If your pet is too large to fit under the seat, it can travel in the climate-controlled baggage compartment within the U.S. for $100.
Plus, Alaska will transport not just dogs, cats, birds and rabbits in checked baggage or cargo, but also ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, non-poisonous reptiles, pot-bellied pigs and tropical fish. Fees to transport pets as Alaska pet cargo vary by route and your pet’s size and start at $250.
Lounging before your flight
If you’re heading to an Alaska lounge , your pet can come too — as long as it’s well-behaved. The lounges, which are accessible to passengers with certain levels of elite status or people who purchase a separate membership, accept quiet service animals and pets in carry-on kennels. Only one Alaska lounge is accessible to Priority Pass members, and that's at New York-JFK .
2. Southwest Airlines
While Alaska scored a 4, only one other airline, Southwest, scored a 3. Frontier was the third-place winner. Here’s what it’s like flying on those airlines with pets, why they scored higher than the rest, and the reasons why they still have challenges:
Southwest: Refunds extend to pets, too
Pros: The Southwest pet fee is $95 each way, per pet carrier, which is among the cheapest pet fees you’ll find.
Southwest has long been considered one of the most flexible airlines out there. Even with the cheapest fare class, you can change your flight at no cost (aside from the fare difference). Or, cancel outright and receive travel funds toward a future flight that delightfully never expire.
While you can use your own carrier (assuming it fits within the maximum dimensions), you can be sure it’ll be approved by using a Southwest-branded pet carrier, available for purchase for $58 from Southwest’s store.
(Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines)
Most airlines require you that make reservations in advance, but Southwest makes it especially easy by offering plenty of options to make that reservation, including via phone or through Twitter direct message.
Cons: Only small pets are allowed. Southwest won’t let your pet fly in the baggage compartment or cargo, which means in the main cabin only. And for your pet to fly in the main cabin, it must fit in a pet carrier underneath the seat, with a maximum size of 18.5 inches by 8.5 inches by 13.5 inches.
If your pet is larger than that, you’ll need to fly with another airline.
Learn more about Southwest's pet policy here .
3. Frontier Airlines
Frontier is a great airline to fly for more than just cats and dogs.
Pros: Frontier doesn’t often win many awards, but it does handle pets better than many other airlines. One big reason is that while other airlines will fly cats and dogs only, Frontier accepts rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and small household birds, too (though international flights still limit pets to cats and dogs only).
Pet fees are a nonrefundable $99 per pet, per direction.
Cons: Like with Southwest, only small pets are allowed. Frontier also won’t let your pet fly in the baggage compartment or cargo (main cabin only) and the pet must remain underneath your seat. With Frontier, maximum pet container dimensions are a tad smaller than Southwest’s at 18 inches by 14 inches by 8 inches.
Read the fine print before attempting to travel with pets on a plane.
Even with the most pet-friendly airlines, there are still many restrictions around a pet’s size and how free (or confined to the kennel) they can be when traveling within the main cabin. Some individual routes or aircraft have their own unique limitations beyond the standard airline pet policy. Rules can even vary by state, so your experience flying with the same airlines to another could differ.
Plus, beyond fees, you’ll likely also incur a bunch of paperwork and phone calls before your pet can fly. Here are a few road bumps to watch out for:
You must reserve a spot in advance — so your pet’s travels aren't guaranteed (even if your seat is booked)
Even on the best airline for flying with pets, Alaska, it’s not a guarantee that your pet can fly. That’s because all airlines limit the overall number of pets allowed in the main cabin and cargo. For example, Alaska’s first-class cabin can accommodate only one pet carrier per flight, and the main cabin accommodates up to five.
You’ll generally need to contact the airline to reserve a space for your pet. Always confirm space is available before booking your own seat, as you don’t want to deal with the headache of canceling should there be no room for your pet.
Most airlines force you to pick up the phone and call to reserve your space, which might entail a long hold time. But Southwest scored some extra points in our rankings because it has many ways to reserve your pet’s spot, including via Facebook and Twitter. Southwest encourages sending a direct message on Twitter to @Southwestair or via Facebook private message your confirmation number to reserve your pet’s spot.
Emotional support animals are no longer recognized as service animals
In past years, you may have traveled with your emotional support animal for free. That’s no longer the case. These days, all pets are subject to pet policies and fees on all of the major airlines we reviewed.
That’s due to a December 2020 ruling from the U.S. Department of Transportation that eliminated a requirement that airlines allow emotional support animals free of charge. By early 2021, all of the major airlines announced that they would no longer recognize emotional support animal air travel.
Certified service animals are still permitted at no additional cost under the Air Carrier Access Act.
» Learn more: The latest in travel news
Fewer airlines will transport your pets in cargo or checked baggage
Of the major U.S. airlines, only Alaska, American and Hawaiian will transport pets in checked baggage and/or cargo.
In the early days of the pandemic, United suspended its pet cargo services and has yet to resume them. Other major airlines, including Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines, never accepted pets in cargo.
Other reasons airlines might not let your pet fly
Flying, even on our highly ranked airlines, can be annoyingly uncertain. Other reasons airlines may not let your pet fly include:
It’s the holiday season: Some airlines don’t accept pets in the baggage or cargo compartments during the holidays. On Alaska, pets aren’t accepted in baggage or cargo for the entire period from Nov. 15 to Jan. 10.
Your pet is a certain breed: Most airlines won't transport brachycephalic or "short-nosed" dogs and cats in cargo, though they might still be allowed in carry-on.
“Veterinary experts say that short-nosed animals commonly have abnormalities that can compromise their breathing,” according to Alaska. “Stress associated with flight can make those conditions worse.”
If you’re flying with one of those breeds, which includes pit bulls, Boston terriers and many types of bulldogs and pugs, check the airline’s specific policy.
You don’t have proper paperwork: Most airlines require a valid health certificate issued by your vet, certifying that your pet is fit to fly. Most airlines also require proper vaccines.
Some only require it for cargo, but not main cabin flying. Check with your airline before boarding.
Your pet isn’t behaving: Most airlines will deny boarding to misbehaving pets. The definition of a poorly behaved pet can be subjective, but most airlines outline growling, excessive whining or barking, or urinating or defecating in the cabin or gate area as reasons.
Even if your pet is an angel at home, don’t assume it will behave the same way at an airport. Have a backup plan if there’s any chance your pet will be unpredictable on a plane.
» Learn more: Baffled by points and miles? Let the 80/20 rule guide you
Animal air travel is far from a walk in the park. Sometimes, the fee to store your pet under the seat in front of you (while sacrificing your own precious legroom) is pricier than your own airfare. Before arriving at the airport, expect paperwork to sign and phone calls to make. Upon arrival, there’s a chance you’ll be denied boarding if the gate agent hears or sees any disruptive behavior.
If you must fly with a pet, but the restrictions feel burdensome, consider skipping the commercial aircraft entirely. Some private and semi-private jets such as JSX won’t clamp down on breeds or sizes, and won’t make you wrestle your way through security with a pet in tow.
When it comes to air travel with pets, you don’t exactly have your pick of the litter. Alaska was the best of the bunch, but even animal travel on Alaska has limitations. Know what you’re getting into before planning a flight with a pet. And accept that sometimes a road trip (or even a private jet) might be better.
We gave each airline a score from 1 to 5 across 12 categories. Some categories received more weight than others (e.g., we gave more weight to the number of death, loss and accident reports since safety is paramount compared with saving $10 on a lower fee to fly your pet in cargo).
Here are our complete rankings.
Here are the primary factors we considered:
Cost for main cabin: How much does it cost to bring pets in the main cabin?
Refunds, accessibility and ease: Were pet fees refundable? What sorts of limits are there on allowing pets in lounges? How easy is it to book a space for your pet on the flight?
Number of pets allowed per passenger: If pets were allowed in the main cabin, how many you can bring?
Types of animals allowed in the main cabin: Can you fly with a pet bird? We gave higher points when species other than cats and dogs are allowed.
Allow pets in cargo: Whether pets are allowed to travel in cargo, in any capacity.
Cost for cargo, if even possible: Whether pets are allowed in checked baggage or cargo, and, if so, how much it costs.
Injuries, deaths or lost pets: We looked at Department of Transportation data from June 2021 to May 2022 for reports of deaths, injuries or losses of pets shipped via cargo. We normalized the data relative to overall passenger count to avoid penalizing larger airlines that might have more reports because they transport more animals.
We didn't factor in pet-friendly international airlines, as those policies can also vary significantly.
How to maximize your rewards
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Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
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75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.
Pet-friendly airlines: The best airlines for pets in the US
Looking to take a trip but not sure what to do with your pet at home? Fortunately, many airlines allow dogs and other pets — such as cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters — to fly on board with you.
But not all airline pet policies are created equally. So it's important to book a pet-friendly airline and ensure its requirements work for you and your pet if you want to travel with your furry or feathery companion.
With pricing and rules all over the place, we've put together the following airline-specific pet travel guides for popular U.S. airlines:
- American Airlines pet policy .
- Delta Air Lines pet policy .
- Frontier Airlines pet policy .
- Southwest Airlines pet policy .
- Spirit Airlines pet policy .
- United Airlines pet policy .
But these guides contain a lot of information. So, I recommend starting with this guide if you want a general overview of pet-friendly airlines and the best airlines for pets. In particular, check out the chart below showing the animals that can fly on each airline, the cost and notable exclusions.
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Best airlines for pets
When traveling with a pet, it's important to consider several variables. While all airlines listed below allow small dogs and cats to fly in the cabin, only a select few allow other household pets. Frontier and Spirit offer the most extensive list of animals, including birds, rabbits and several other pet types.
If you're flying internationally, you'll want to consider a different subset of pet-friendly airlines. After all, not all airlines allow pets to fly on all routes outside the domestic United States. Some even exclude certain pets from flying once you leave domestic grounds. Some international airlines may provide better pricing and a wider list of animals that can fly.
You'll also find that airlines have different rules about the type of pet carrier and the size. Some airlines even cap the number of total pets on board — making it important to know the ins and outs when determining the best airlines for pets.
Out of the airlines that allow dogs and other pets, the most favorable pricing is with Delta, Frontier and Southwest. Pet-in-cabin fees for domestic flights on these airlines are below $100. For international flights, on the other hand, you'll find Frontier's pricing to be the best, although destinations are more limited.
Many airlines don't allow your pet to fly with you to any international destination, such as Spirit and Southwest. And if you're flying to Hawaii, Southwest, Delta and United aren't options. So before you book your flight and assume your pet can fly with you, you'll want to look at the restriction for each destination.
Related: The reality of international travel with your dog: How Bandido flew from Vietnam to the US
Airlines that allow dogs
Dogs are one of the most common pets people travel with, so it's no surprise that many travelers are constantly searching for airlines that allow dogs to fly. Fortunately, for any airline that allows pets to travel, dogs are always included in that list. However, most U.S. airlines only allow dogs to fly in the cabin and not underneath the plane in cargo. So you will find it easiest to travel with smaller dogs that can fly in the cabin with you.
Some airlines do allow dog to fly as cargo in certain situations. For example, American Airlines will allow your dog to fly in cargo if you are a member of the U.S. military on active duty or a U.S. State Department Foreign Service employee traveling on official orders.
Even if you do decide to fly with a dog or dogs, however, airlines differ in price and policies. Look at the above chart to see which is best for your trip.
Related: What you need to know about traveling with dogs on a plane
With many pet-friendly airlines available — as long as your pet can fit in a carrier and travel in the cabin — it's easy to take your pet with you on your next vacation.
There's no one specific airline that wins the award of "best airlines for pets" as it comes down to the type of animal you are bringing and your destination. Fortunately, pricing is within the same general range for all pet-friendly U.S. airlines. So pick an airline that works for your particular situation and enjoy the flight.
The Most Pet-Friendly Airlines of 2023
By Sarah Kuta
Jet-setting pet parents know just how heartbreaking it feels to leave a beloved furry friend at home while traveling. Fortunately, there are many pet-friendly airlines that allow dogs, cats, birds, and a handful of other household animals to fly with you to your destination.
Flying with pets requires a little extra leg work, however. Each pet-friendly airline has different—and, at times, confusing—policies about the types of animals allowed on planes, where they can spend the flight, which destinations they’re allowed to travel to, and what time of year they can fly. Airlines also charge varying pet fees for passengers traveling with a pet.
When determining which flight to book, carefully read each airline’s pet rules for non-emotional support, non-service dogs and cats to ensure you and your furry friend have the smoothest experience possible. Also review the pet regulations at your destination, as many international locales, and even some domestic spots like Hawaii, have strict rules and procedures for bringing pets with you.
Ahead of your next trip, consider these pet-friendly airlines that allow dogs, cats, and other animals onboard.
Which airline is the most pet-friendly?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to flying with pets. The most pet-friendly airline for your journey depends on the type of animal you have, your pet’s size, where you’re traveling, and whether you’d like your pet to fly in the cabin or in the cargo hold as checked baggage.
What airlines allow pets as carry-ons?
Many airlines allow pets to fly in the cabin as a carry-on, so long as they stay inside a carrier that’s small enough to fit under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight. Southwest , Alaska , United , American , Delta , Hawaiian , Spirit , and Frontier are some of the airlines that allow pets as carry-ons.
Can I buy a seat for my dog on an airplane in 2023?
Most pet-friendly airlines do not permit travelers to buy their dogs a seat on a plane. Small dogs can typically accompany you in the cabin, however, most airlines require them to remain inside a kennel tucked under the seat in front of you for the entire flight.
JetBlue , for example, requires travelers to pay for a second seat (and pay a second pet fee) to bring two pets onboard the plane at the same time. And even though you’ve paid for a second seat, you still need to keep your dog inside a carrier for the whole flight. Similarly, Alaska Airlines allows travelers to bring up to two pets with them in the cabin if they buy two seats next to each other on the flight.
Pet travel in the cabin: For $100 each way (or $105 for flights departing from Canada), Alaska Airlines allows passengers to bring dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds in the cabin. There are no breed restrictions for pets to travel in the cabin, however, Alaska Airlines requires carry-on dogs and cats to be at least eight weeks old and able to eat solid food. Travelers must be at least 18 years old before traveling with a pet in the cabin.
Each passenger can bring up to two pet carriers with them in the cabin, as long as the traveler purchases two seats next to each other on the plane. Additionally, up to two pets of the same size and species can fly together in the same kennel, so long as they fit comfortably.
Pets must stay in their carrier, with all doors and flaps secured at all times, while onboard the plane, as well as in the boarding area. Travelers must stow the kennel under the seat in front of them during taxi, takeoff, and landing. The pet carrier counts toward the passenger’s carry-on baggage allotment, and travelers flying with pets cannot sit in the emergency exit or bulkhead rows. Alaska also limits the number of carriers onboard per flight: three in first class and eight in the main cabin.
Pets in cargo: Alaska Airlines allows a more diverse selection of pets to fly in its climate-controlled cargo hold for $100 each way: dogs, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, household birds, non-poisonous reptiles, pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, and tropical fish. Regardless of the type of animal, travelers must provide a valid health certificate for each pet.
Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and able to eat solid food. Alaska Airlines only allows one dog or cat of any size that’s six months or older to travel in a kennel; the same rule applies for pets that weigh more than 20 pounds and are between the ages of eight weeks and six months old. However, two puppies or kittens may travel together in the same kennel if they weigh less than 20 pounds, are between eight weeks and six months old, and are similar in size.
There are also restrictions based on outdoor temperatures in certain destinations Alaska Airlines flies to, as well as limits on pet cargo travel on certain flights during the holidays. Alaska also has rules around when pets can fly to Hawaii , which experiences strong headwinds during some months.
Pet travel in the cabin: Southwest Airlines permits small, vaccinated dogs and cats that are at least eight weeks old to fly with travelers in the cabin for a $95 pet fee each way. Furry friends cannot travel in the cabin on international flights, nor on flights to Hawaii.
Each passenger may only bring one pet kennel with them into the cabin. However, Southwest Airlines only allows six total carriers on each flight, and those spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Travelers must make a pet reservation with Southwest Airlines over the phone. Then, on the day of the flight, travelers must go to the ticket counter at the airport to check in their pet and pay the fee.
Pets that travel in the cabin must remain inside their carrier for the whole flight (and the kennel must be stored underneath the seat in front of you), as well as in the gate area and during boarding and deplaning. Up to two pets of the same species may travel together in a carrier, but they must be able to stand up and move around while inside. A kennel counts as either your personal item or a carry-on bag. The airline sells Southwest-branded pet carriers for $58, but travelers can also bring their own.
Even though Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy for passengers, travelers with pets may not sit in the emergency exit seats or in rows without under-seat storage in front of them, such as the first row. Unaccompanied minors cannot bring pets with them into the plane.
If your four-legged friend passed away recently and you want to bring her cremated remains on the flight, you’ll need to bring them as a carry-on item—Southwest Airlines does not allow cremated pet remains in checked luggage. The airline recommends a temporary plastic or cardboard container so that the remains can pass through X-ray screening at security with ease.
Pets in cargo: Southwest Airlines does not have a pet cargo or shipping program, so the only way to bring your pet on a Southwest flight is by flying in the cabin.
Pet travel in the cabin: United Airlines only allows dogs and cats to travel in the cabin. The United carry-on pet fee is $125 each way. You’ll pay an additional $125 for each layover that lasts four or more hours for U.S. flights, or 24 or more hours for international flights.
United doesn’t have any breed or weight limitations for pets flying in the cabin. However, the animal must remain inside a carrier, with the door closed, underneath the seat in front of you for the entire flight. The animal must have room to stand up and turn around inside the kennel, and United only allows one pet per kennel.
Each passenger may only bring one animal in the cabin. However, United also caps the total number of pets that can ride in each cabin (premium or economy) based on the type of plane.
Passengers traveling with a pet cannot sit in an emergency exit row, a United Premium Plus seat, or the front row of each cabin.
Pets in cargo: United does not allow pets to fly in the cargo hold. The airline suspended its pet shipping program, PetSafe , in 2018 and has not announced when (or if) it will resume.
Pet travel in the cabin: American Airlines only allows dogs and cats to travel in the cabin. Animals can travel on most flights that are 12 hours or less to certain destinations: within the 48 contiguous U.S. plus Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. The fee is $125 each way, plus an additional $125 for U.S. flights with more than a four-hour voluntary stopover.
Pets flying in the cabin must remain in a kennel under the seat in front of you for the whole flight. Because of a lack of under-seat storage, American does not allow carry-on pets to fly in first or business class on some planes.
On American Airlines flights, the company allows seven total carry-on kennels. On American Eagle flights, the airline only allows five total carry-on kennels, including one in first class.
Hard-sided carry-on kennels on mainline American Airlines flights can measure up to 19 by 13 by 9 inches, while those on regional American Eagle flights can be up to 16 by 12 by 8 inches. Soft-sided carriers, which are what American Airlines recommends, can be 18 by 11 by 11 inches or slightly larger, so long as they fit under the seat in front of you without collapsing too much. No matter the type, pets must be able to stand up and turn around inside while it’s closed. The kennel with the pet inside cannot weigh more than 20 pounds.
The kennel counts as your carry-on bag, meaning you can only bring one small personal item in addition to your pet.
American Airlines will not accept carry-on pets that have been tranquilized or sedated.
Pets in cargo: American Airlines only allows active-duty U.S. military servicemembers and U.S. State Department Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders to check their furry friends. Those individuals may check up to two pets to fly in the cargo hold, so long as they meet the destination’s age and health requirements.
Delta Air Lines
Pet travel in the cabin: Delta allows dogs, cats, and household birds in the cabin to and from certain destinations. Regardless of the type of animal, it must be able to travel in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. All pets must also be at least 10 weeks old for domestic flights, 16 weeks old for flights to the U.S. from another country, and at least 15 weeks when flying to destinations in the European Union.
Delta’s carry-on pet fee is $95 each way for flights to and from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The carry-on pet fee for flights to and from Brazil is $75 each way; all other international flights are $200 each way.
Delta Air Lines only allows one pet per carrier, with a few exceptions. The airline allows two pets of the same size and breed between 10 weeks and six months old to fly together in the same kennel (and charges them as one pet), so long as they get along and can fit into a single kennel. Additionally, travelers can bring one female dog or cat with her un-weaned litter, as long as the animals in the litter are 10 weeks to six months old.
Your pet’s carrier counts as your carry-on, meaning you can only bring an additional small personal item. The animal must stay inside its kennel, with the door closed, while on board the aircraft, as well as in the boarding area and in any Delta airport lounges. Travelers with carry-on pets cannot sit in certain areas, such as the emergency exit rows and bulkhead seats, as well as in specific rows on certain planes.
Delta’s allowable kennel dimensions vary based on the type of plane, but the airline recommends a soft-sided kennel that measures 18 by 11 by 11 inches. Also, your animal must be able to move around inside and fit comfortably, without protruding from or touching the sides.
Pets in cargo: Delta suspended its pet shipping program, Delta Cargo , in April 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and has not yet brought it back.
Pet travel in the cabin: For $125 each way, passengers can bring small dogs and cats, safely secured inside a carrier that fits under the seat in front of them, on all domestic JetBlue flights .
JetBlue allows up to six total pets per flight. However, each passenger is only permitted to bring one animal with them while flying in the cabin. The carrier, with your pet inside, must weigh 20 pounds or less and will count as your personal item.
Pets are not allowed in Mint , which is JetBlue’s premium cabin. Members of TrueBlue , the airline’s reward program, can earn 300 extra points for each segment their pet flies with them in the cabin.
Pets in cargo: JetBlue does not accept pets in cargo.
Pet travel in the cabin: Dogs and cats can travel in the cabin on Hawaiian Airlines flights that go from Hawaiian island to island, as well as between the Aloha State and most destinations in North America. Pets are not permitted on flights to or from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The carry-on pet fee is $35 one-way for flights within the state of Hawaii, and $125 one-way for trips between Hawaii and North America. Bringing a pet in the cabin does not count toward your carry-on allowance with Hawaiian, meaning you can bring a bag and a personal item, in addition to your pet. Together, your pet and his kennel must weigh 25 pounds or less.
Hawaiian Airlines only allows one adult dog or cat per carrier, but up to two puppies or kittens of the same breed or litter that are between eight weeks and six months old. Each guest can bring one carrier onto the plane.
If you’re traveling between Hawaii and North America, you need to obtain an animal health certificate from your veterinarian within 14 days of travel. Some routes also require a permit from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
Pets in cargo: Hawaiian Airlines accepts dogs, cats, and household birds as checked baggage for $60 one-way on flights within the state of Hawaii and $225 one-way on flights between Hawaii and North America.
Pets are not allowed as checked baggage to or from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Boston Logan International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Beyond that, pets are not permitted to fly as checked baggage from April 15 to October 15 on flights to or from San Jose International Airport, Sacramento International Airport, Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
The airline does not ban any specific breeds, however, it strongly discourages travelers from checking pets that are short-nosed, or brachycephalic.
Hawaiian allows one adult dog or cat per kennel, or up to two puppies or kittens of the same breed or litter that are between eight weeks and six months old. Two adult household birds can travel together in the same kennel, as long as they are at least two weeks old. With your pet inside, the kennel cannot weigh more than 70 pounds.
Pets can only travel as checked baggage if the temperature anywhere along the route is between 85 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, if temperatures are between 45 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll need to supply an acclimation certificate from a veterinarian from within 10 days of travel.
Pet travel in the cabin: For a $125 one-way pet fee, travelers can bring dogs, cats, household birds, and small domestic rabbits that are at least eight weeks old in the cabin on Spirit Airlines routes throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Guests can bring up to two pets per carrier, but may only bring one carrier on the plane. With the pet inside, the carrier must weigh 40 pounds or less. Spirit Airlines only allows six total pet carriers per flight, so it’s best to add a pet to your reservation as early as possible.
Travelers flying with pets can sit anywhere onboard the aircraft except for the first row and the emergency exit rows. Pets need to stay inside the carrier for the entire flight, and the kennel counts toward your carry-on allowance. Spirit only allows soft-sided carriers for pets flying in the cabin and they may be no larger than 18 by 14 by 9 inches.
Pets are not allowed on international flights, and birds and rabbits are not permitted to fly to or from Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Dogs and cats traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands need a health certificate from a veterinarian; pets going to Puerto Rico must have a rabies vaccination certificate.
Pets in cargo: Spirit does not transport pets in cargo, so pet parents with larger dogs are out of luck with this airline.
Pet travel in the cabin: For $99 each way, pets may travel in the cabin on Frontier Airlines flights. Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old before flying in the cabin, and these types of pets can accompany travelers on domestic trips, as well as flights to or from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and household birds can also accompany passengers in the cabin, but only on flights within the U.S.
Passengers traveling with a pet cannot sit in the emergency exit rows or the first row of the plane. Pets must remain inside a carrier for the entire flight. Frontier Airlines also asks travelers not to provide water or food to their pet within four hours of departure, nor during the flight.
Pet kennels count toward your carry-on allotment, and Frontier Airlines recommends travelers bring soft-sided models. They must be able to fit under the seat in front of you (the maximum dimensions are 18 by 14 by 8 inches) and allow your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position.
Pets in cargo: Frontier Airlines does not transport pets as checked baggage.
A Guide for Budget Travel With Pets
Budget travel with pets requires some homework. Pet travel is one of those subjects that deserves some research--not only to save money but to provide the best possible situation for your pet.
Pet Transport: Airlines and Buses
Pet travel on airlines falls into two categories: carry-on and luggage. As you might imagine, both methods for transporting your favorite pet are getting more expensive.
Fees of at least $100 USD one-way are now commonplace. It's one of those airline fees that might have existed in some form for years. Expect these fees to slowly increase with time.
Much like baggage fee schedules, travelers must dig deeply into the sitemaps of their favorite airline websites to find pet fee information . For example, the pet fees for United are under a drop down menu for "travel information." In order for your domesticated pet to travel with you in the cabin, reservations are required on flights with cabin pet space available. If space is available, there is a $125 one-way fee and an additional $125 for each stopover longer than 4 hours.
Early reservations are essential when you travel with pets, so you might miss out on last minute deals .
Pet owners argue that since they have paid for leg room as a part of their fare, placing a small animal carrier under the seat should not necessarily incur another charge.
But airlines need revenue to survive, and they are becoming quite good at finding new ways to raise money, charging for blankets, snacks and soft drinks on some flights.
Shipping larger pets as cargo can become extremely expensive. US Airways won't do it at all, citing the high temperatures in hub cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix.
For budget travelers, sometimes there is good news on the pet front. Fees on some carriers have tumbled in recent years.
The New York Times , for example, reported some time ago that Delta had lowered its pet fees from $275 to $175, and the charge is now $125 one-way for pets that are carried onto a domestic flight, down from $150. For international flights the fee is $200.
But each airline approaches this issue with a variety of philosophies.
Frontier once would not accept pets in their cabins—only as cargo. A spokesman called that policy a "customer service issue" because some passengers have allergies or simply a low tolerance of other people's pets. But Frontier now allows certain domesticated pets in its cabins. The Frontier pet policy is quite specific and bears a careful reading before you head for the airport.
Most major bus lines in the U.S. do not allow the transport of animals other than service dogs. Since budget travelers sometimes take the bus, this isn't good news. Plan accordingly.
Pets and Hotels
Many otherwise reasonably priced hotels will add a pet charge. The reason that "pet-friendly" rooms need constant attention, and this costs money. Most places will also hold you liable for any damage your pet does to carpeting or other furnishings. If your dog barks at night and causes another guest to check out on the first day of a planned three-day stay, expect to hear about it and pay compensation for the loss.
Other places, of course, will not allow pets at any price.
To get a better handle on these lines of acceptance, check out PetsWelcome.com . They claim to have a database of 25 thousand hotels, B&Bs, ski resorts, campgrounds, and beaches that are pet-friendly. Don't automatically assume that your intended hotel prohibits pets if it isn't on their list. Use this resource as a starting point for pricing hotels that will accept your pet, along with noting any additional charges.
Another handy feature on PetsWelcome.com is an international database that includes pet policies in dozens of countries.
Pets and Trains
Amtrak has a limited pet policy. Cats and dogs weighing less than 20 pounds traveling on journeys shorter and 7 hours are allowed aboard for a $26 fee. While it's an improvement on Amtrak's former policy, pets aren't allowed on all train lines. Service animals accompanying passengers with disabilities are also accepted.
It's a different picture aboard most trains in Europe. The heavily traveled lines in France, Germany, and Italy usually allow pets, as do trains operated by national rail in England. For a nice directory of train policies and prices, check PetTravel.com .
Other Helpful Pet Travel Links
BringFido.com offers a list of "pet-friendly destinations" and dog travel considerations, including 10 tips for flying with Fido .
GoPetFriendly.com offers a database of service providers across the U.S. Pet sitters, kennels and veterinarians are all within a few clicks for many popular destinations.
PetTravel.com supplies a helpful list of what airlines expect in terms of size and construction of pet carriers. Here you can shop for a carrier that fits your budget and your airline's requirements. With that in mind, PetTravel offers links to airline rules for carrying pets .
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Flying with pets
Protecting your pets when traveling
Big, small, short, tall – no matter what size your pet, traveling with your furry friend can make your getaway that much more special, but there’s no doubt that traveling can be a nervous experience for both of you. Before you size up cages and prepare your animal’s must-haves for flying, stop and consider the essentials of traveling with pets.
- Does your pet have all its shots?
- Is your pet used to travel? Or, will you need time to train your animal on being crated for a period of time?
- Are you aware of all the rules and regulations surrounding pet travel?
The US Department of Transportation offers comprehensive reports from veterinarians, airlines and the government that detail the specifics of flying with your pet. Make sure you read the list of laws and follow the suggested rules from airlines to ensure your pet arrives in pristine condition.
There are varying rules for domestic and international travel with pets. Your best bet is to contact the airline before you travel to ensure you’re up to date on all the necessary travel requirements before bringing your pet to the airport.
Tips for air travel with a pet
Keep your pet happy in-flight with these tips (Image: Blog Tyrant )
Whether you’re bringing a dog, cat or other beloved pet, these tips will help you create a smooth flying experience for you and your pet.
- Book early. The earlier you can book your travel plans, the more flexibility you’ll have in booking adequate seats and securing your pet’s spot on the plane.
- Talk to your vet. Your pet’s veterinarian can examine your pet before your trip to ensure he or she is fit to travel. Your vet can also issue a health certificate for your pet, which may be necessary depending on the animal regulations in your destination. Your vet can also offer advice on how to best keep your pet calm and relaxed during travel.
- Make sure your pet can be identified. Identification tags for your pet’s collar, as well as their carrier, should clearly present your pet’s name, your name and your contact information. A microchip (an implantable identification device) is also a smart way to ensure your pet can be identified and returned to you in case of emergency.
- Get up-to-date on vaccines. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what shots your pet needs before traveling. You should also check your destination’s regulations on vaccines to ensure your pet is in compliance.
- Look for off-peak, direct flights. Traveling outside of the busiest times increases your chances of a less crowded plane, meaning there will be fewer potential stressors for your pet. Direct flights also allow you and your pet to avoid the hassle of layovers, switching planes and longer travel times.
- Get a comfortable carrier. A comfortable carrier that your pet is familiar with can help ease the stress of travel. Your carrier should be just big enough for your pet to be able to stand, lie down and turn around in, and there should be plenty of ventilation holes to ensure your pet gets a steady stream of fresh air. Introduce your pet to the carrier well in advance of the flight so they are comfortable and familiar with the carrier come travel day.
- Avoid sedatives. Unless prescribed by a veterinarian for air travel, tranquilizers should be avoided during the flight. Combined with the change in altitude and air pressure, these medications can interfere with your pet’s breathing and equilibrium.
- Pack your pet’s favorite toys. These can bring your pet a bit of comfort during the flight.
- Check in early. Give yourself a few hours to check in when traveling with a pet. This allows you plenty of time to go over the necessary paperwork and ensure your pet is properly loaded onto the aircraft.
- Contact the airline directly. Before traveling, contact the airline directly to confirm the airline’s travel policies for pets and ensure your pet is booked on the flight.
- Familiarize yourself with the locations of pet relief stations in the airports you’re flying in and out of. Check out our guide to in-terminal airport pet relief stations for more info.
Pick a comfortable carrier for your pet (Image: 50-phi )
Choosing a destination
Wondering where to go? Check out these dog-friendly destinations in the U.S. including San Diego , Calif. and Key West , Fla.
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Leaving your furry friend at home
Can’t travel with your animal friend this time around? These tips for leaving pets at home while on vacation will ensure your best friend is safe and happy while you’re traveling.
Unlike the Chihuahua who unsuccessfully tried stowing away in her person’s suitcase, your friend will most likely be flying in a carrier. Here are the pet carrier size requirements for some popular airlines:
(Main image: dryfish )
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Pet Friendly Airlines, Pet Travel Checklist & Safest and Cheapest Fares
by admin | May 10, 2019 | Ask A Vet | 1 comment
On this page we’ll get into which airlines allow it, what their requirements are and what they cost.
But hold your horses…er…dogs!
Let’s take the pet travel decision one step at a time…
- Is it safe for your dog?
- Cabin or cargo?
- Pet travel preparation checklist
- Points to consider for interstate or international travel
- Finding the best and lowest fare for you and your dog
- Travel Tip: Saving money on hotels and cars by bidding the “right price”
Is Flying Safe for Your Dog?
First things first. Your dog should NOT fly if they are:
- In heat or are pregnant
- Under 8 weeks old or are not fully weaned (required by federal law)
- Boston Terrier
- Brussels Griffin
- English Bulldog
- English Toy Spaniel
- Japanese Pug
- Japanese Spaniel
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
You should also think twice if your dog is old or in poor health. These are loose terms, but use your and your vet’s best judgment here.
If none of the above applies to your dog, bring ‘em along! Depending on your plans, your dog could make the trip much more fun. Plus you won’t be constantly worrying about how they’re doing back home.
A quick note about sedatives…
It may be tempting to sedate your pet with a pill during a cargo flight, but most holistic vets warn against it. A sedated dog’s body has a more difficult time regulating body temperature, which could pose a problem during loading and unloading in hot and cold weather.
If your pet is especially rambunctious when confined to a crate, get your vet’s opinion about whether sedatives will be safe.
Pet Friendly Airlines – Cabin or Cargo?
In other words, will your dog fly under the seat in front of you (wink) or in the special cargo compartment down below?
In order to fly in the cabin of pet friendly airlines, you must be flying with your dog. In addition, most airlines only allow a certain number of pets to travel in the cabin of each flight.
Generally, the combined weight of your pet and kennel cannot be more than 15 pounds (6.8 kg) and the carrier must fit underneath the seat in front of you.
Two small pets of the same species are usually allowed to share a kennel as long as they can fit comfortably.
While you will not pay for your dog’s ticket until you arrive at the ticketing counter on the day of the flight, you still need to reserve a space for them with your airline (we have their contact info further down the page).
Regardless of whether your pet travels in the cabin with you or in cargo, most pet friendly airlines will require them to remain in their carrier or crate for the entire journey.
If you know you want your dog with you in the cabin (for small dogs under 15 pounds only), click one of the following to jump down the page:
- Flight preparation checklist
- Selecting the best and lowest fare for you and your dog
Otherwise, let’s move on to cargo…
Pet friendly airlines cargo will be your only option if your pet cannot fit comfortably into a carrier that will fit underneath the seat in front of you or if their weight (including the carrier) exceeds 15 pounds.
During our research, our first cargo concern was with the level of comfort for our dogs.
Are they just tossed in with the other luggage? How is the temperature regulated? Will they have access to food or water?
You’ll be happy to know that federal law, enforced by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service , has several requirements for both you and the pet friendly airlines in order to keep your pet as safe and comfortable as possible during their trip.
Here are some of the federal requirements for pets traveling in cargo, as paraphrased directly from the federal web site (if you just want to take our word for it, click here to jump down the page):
- Drop off the pet no more than 4 hours before the flight (up to 6 hours if appropriately coordinated with the airline)
- Sign documents stating you offered the pet food and water during the 4 hours before delivery to the cargo desk (unless directed otherwise by a licensed vet)
- Provide the airline with a health certificate from a licensed vet that was completed no more than 10 days prior to departure
- Reasonably be expected to safely and comfortably contain the dog without causing suffering or injury
- Have handles that allow the container to be kept level and allow the handlers to move the container without direct contact with the animal (in other words, no fingers grabbing the cage and getting bitten)
- Have a leak-proof bottom
- Be able to be opened easily in case of emergency
- Contain proper ventilation and labeling, including “Live Animal” tags
- Be cleaned and sanitized by dog owner before each use
- Be large enough to allow pets to turn around normally while standing without touching the sides of the container
- Airline animal holding areas must meet temperature and animal comfort and safety guidelines.
- Be designed, constructed and maintained in a manner that at all times protects the health and well-being of the animals
- Ensure the animals’ safety and comfort
- Prevent the entry of engine exhaust
- Have a supply of air that is sufficient for normal breathing
- Be heated or cooled as necessary to maintain an ambient temperature and humidity that ensures the health and well-being of the animals
- Be pressurized
- Observe the dogs or cats no less than once every four hours or upon landing and departing to ensure that all of the minimum standards are being met
- Offer food to the animals at least once every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours
- If necessary, arrange veterinary care as soon as reasonably possible
There are pages and pages of requirements on top of this summary, but I think you get the point.
We have transported our dog both in the cabin (when she was a puppy) and in cargo (after she was too big for the cabin) of pet friendly airlines and had absolutely no problems.
Pet Travel Preparation Checklist for Pet Friendly Airlines
Now that we’ve explained the basics of which pets should not travel and considerations for cabin and cargo accommodations, let’s get into the preparation checklist…
- Ensure that it is safe for your pet to fly (review the “ Is it safe ” section above).
- Make an appointment with your local veterinarian WITHIN 10 days of pet travel to confirm that it is safe for your pet to fly and to obtain a travel health certificate (don’t worry, your vet will be very familiar with this request). Most pet friendly airlines will require you to present this certificate at check-in for cargo. Some also require it for cabin travel. The certificate must be dated no sooner than 10 days before the trip.
- Review the “ Cabin or Cargo ” section above and decide which is best for your dog.
- Purchase the best plane ticket for you and your dog. (More on this below ).
- Purchase the right carrier or kennel based on the federal and individual pet friendly airline’s guidelines, along with the necessary items that will go inside…
- Train your dog to be comfortable with the carrier or crate they will be traveling in. If your small dog will be in a carrier, allow them to spend time in it frequently for at least a couple of weeks before the trip. This is especially effective when in your car. Give them their favorite organic dog treat when they are in the carrier and acting calmly.If your dog will be in a crate, allow them to spend at least a few nights in it before the trip. Place the same blanket and toy in the crate that they will be flying with.
- Take a photo of your dog. While very unlikely, if the pet friendly airlines lose your pet a photograph will help to find her.
- Buy a collar for your dog that has 2 tags. On one tag, write your pet’s name, your name, address and home phone number. On the other, include your destination contact, address and phone number. Breakaway tags can be purchased to ensure that the collar will not snag on the crate during travel.
- Unless you enjoy poop-scented fur, do not feed your pet a large meal during the 12 hours before your flight. Federal law requires that you offer your pet food and water within 4 hours of dropping off your pet.
- When preparing the carrier or crate, include your dog’s favorite toy or blanket (as long as there is enough room in the carrier).
- Clip your pet’s toenails so they do not get stuck in the crate doors or windows during the trip.
- Exercise your pet well just before they leave for the trip. This will help make them naturally tired to encourage sleep during the trip and will help to stimulate a nice pre-flight bowel movement.
- Most airlines require that your dog be dropped off at least 3 hours in advance, but federal law requires no more than 4 hours.
- Prepare ice before you hit the road for the airport. Fill the water bowl in the cargo crate with the ice before leaving your dog.
- Just before putting your dog inside the carrier or crate for the flight, try to get them to pee and poop one last time.
- Remember that you will have to pay for your pet’s airfare when you check in (cabin) or drop your dog off (cargo). You usually cannot pre-pay because weather conditions or inappropriate preparations (i.e. forgotten health certificate) may prevent the pet friendly airlines from accepting your dog.
- Make sure that the attendant at the pet friendly airlines cargo desk carefully tapes all necessary documents to the kennel, including your contact information, destination information and the health certificate.
Drop Off & Pick Up for Cargo
For cargo flights, you will typically drop your dog off at the cargo desk of the pet friendly airlines. This is often at a location that is completely separate from the passenger terminal, so be sure to get the address for and directions to your pet friendly airlines cargo desk.
It also often takes at least an hour after arrival to get your pet from the plane to the cargo desk. Ask the airline the arrival details so your contact knows where to be and when!
Points to Consider for Pet Friendly Airlines Interstate or International Pet Travel
Even if you’re traveling with your pet in the cabin, many states and foreign countries require a health certificate. Additional requirements may also apply.
Click one of the following for more info…
- State Regulations (excluding Hawaii)
- Hawaii Regulations
- Foreign Regulations
If you are traveling internationally, failure to comply with all requirements may result in your pet being refused entry, placed into quarantine or returned to the origin at your expense.
It’s always safe to contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate General office for each country on your itinerary at least four (4) weeks before you leave.
Selecting the Best and Least Expensive Pet Friendly Airlines Fare for You and Your Dog
We have a few more important comfort and safety tips to discuss before moving on to choosing the right airline for you and your dog…
- Comfort, safety & price range
- Major domestic airlines
Comfort, Safety & Price Range
By law, the pet friendly airlines must make the flight comfortable and safe for your dog according to federal regulations. However, you can do a couple of things in addition to what we discussed above to ensure that your pet’s trip carries the lowest level of stress possible.
First, try to book direct flights or at least the flights with the fewest connections. The shorter the trip and the fewer the takeoffs, landings and air pressure changes the better. If that means that you or the person picking up your pet has to drive to an airport that is further from home, it may be worth it.
Second, try to book take-off and landing times when the weather will be the most pleasant. Remember, even though the cargo is air-conditioned, your pet will still be outside during loading and unloading.
Pet friendly airlines (and federal regulation) require that the outside temperature at any destination including layovers/stops to be no more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4 C) and no less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 C) in order for your pet to travel, but you can take it one step further…
If traveling to/from cold places, book the take-off/landing in the middle of the day when it is warmest. Similarly, if it is hot, book the trip time in the mornings or evenings or at night.
The fares for pets range from $69 to $175 for the cabin and from $100 to over $1,000 (depending on airline and dog + kennel weight) for cargo.
Major Domestic Pet Friendly Airlines
If you are traveling on the same pet friendly airlines flight as your dog, your air fares will range wildly as any seasoned traveler knows.
We have found the best process with the lowest fares to be a combination of priceline.com for you and direct booking with the airline for your pet. Here is how we do it…
- Go to priceline.com.
- Input your desired itinerary (flights, hotels, rental cars, vacation packages, etc.).
- You will be presented with the options that fit your desired itinerary. Find the lowest fares and prices with the best itinerary for your dog, but don’t do anything with them yet .
- KEEPING THE PRICELINE WINDOW OPEN, open a new browser window.
- Using the links below, go directly to the animal transportation pages of the pet friendly airlines for the flights you found on priceline and review their pet travel policies (Note: The following prices are subject to change – check with each airline to confirm)…
Assuming you are okay with your selected airline’s requirements and fees, call them to make sure that the flight you want has room available for your pet. Be sure to specify cabin or cargo. If you want the cabin, you may need to book your own ticket first.
- If there is room on your selected flight for your pet , go back to the open priceline.com window and purchase the fare of your choice. If the airline required you to book your ticket first, contact them immediately after reserving your flight to secure a space for your pet.
This is the easiest way to search the most flights for the best schedules and fares while ensuring that you will be on the same flight as your dog.
Travel Tip: Saving on Hotels & Cars by Bidding the “Right Price”
If you are interested in booking a hotel or car at your destination, priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” tool can save you money at some of the nicest hotels in town. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense to use this tool for flights because there is no way to know if the flight you “win” will have room for your pet.
Priceline.com’s Name Your Own Price Tool
If you’ve never used this tool before, go to priceline.com then click on the “Name Your Own Price” section to see how it works. Long story short, it allows you to input a low (but realistic) price that you are willing to pay, then it goes out to all vendors in an area and attempts to get that price for you.
For example, let’s say you want to book a four-star hotel that is charging $200 a night. Through priceline, you may be able to get that or a similar 4-star hotel in the same area for as low as $100 per night.
The trick is to pick the lowest possible price that will be accepted , because if you go too low you will have to wait a while or change your parameters to try again…
We learned a neat trick to help you figure out the lowest bid that will have the highest likelihood of being accepted…
- Go to www.biddingfortravel.com.
- Scroll down the page until you find the state and city that you are interested in and click on it (be sure to read any special comments below the city and state link).
- Search through the listings to find a hotel and price that looks attractive. Click on the link to review other people’s experiences. It will usually lead you to the lowest bid possible.
- Cross-check the biddingfortravel.com price with the price that priceline is showing (click here to re-open priceline.com if you don’t still have it open from the previous section).
- Go back to priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” tool and input the lowest of the two prices.
It may take a little reading and experimenting, but before long you’ll be a priceline/biddingfortravel pro and will be saving a ton.
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Pet Travel on Delta
Embark on a journey with your favorite furry companion. Depending on their size, some pets can travel as your carry-on. Need to travel with your service animal? Explore our guidelines and requirements for trained service animals .
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- Carry-On Kennel Requirements , Go to footer note
- Checking In With Your Pet , Go to footer note
- Carry-On Pet Fees , Go to footer note
- Carry-On Pet Exceptions , Go to footer note
Military Pet Travel
International pet travel, carry-on pets.
Small dogs, cats and household birds can travel in the cabin for a one-way fee that is collected at check-in. The pet must be able to fit in a soft-sided ventilated pet kennel that will go underneath the seat directly in front of you.
Please review the following requirements to ensure a safe and healthy flight with a small pet traveling as a carry-on:
- Your pet must be at least 8 weeks old for domestic travel.
- Your pet must be 16 weeks old if traveling to the U.S. from another country and at least 15 weeks old when traveling to the European Union.
- 1 female cat or dog may travel with her un-weaned litter if the litter is between 8 weeks and 6 months of age. There is no limit on the number of animals in the litter as long as they can fit safely in the kennel.
- 2 pets of the same breed and size between the ages of 8 weeks and 6 months may be allowed to travel in 1 kennel, as long as they are small enough to fit into a single kennel and are compatible. If the pets are allowed to travel in 1 kennel, they will be charged as 1 pet.
Pets in kennels will count as your 1 carry-on item. In addition to the kennel, you are permitted to bring 1 personal item on board the aircraft.
Seating With Your Pet
Customers with carry-on pets may not select seats in the following areas:
- Bulkhead seats
- An emergency exit row
- Seats designated as “no stowage”
- Flat-bed or Delta One seats
- Rows 46-51 on the A330-200 aircraft
- Rows 54-59 on the A330 -300 aircraft
- First Class seats and Delta Comfort+ ® seats on the B737-900 (73J only)
- Center seats on the B757-200 aircraft
Booking Your Pet
To ensure the comfort of all customers, we have a first-come, first-serve policy for pets in the cabin, with a limit on the total number allowed on each flight. If your pet meets the above requirements and you have a reservation, please contact Delta Reservations as soon as possible to book your pet. We also ask that you have your pet’s kennel dimensions (length, width and height) available when you call.
Please note that we are unable to accommodate an additional pet in the cabin if you are already traveling with a trained service animal .
Carry-On Kennel Requirements
Be sure to check the aircraft dimensions of your flight to ensure your pet’s kennel will fit underneath the seat directly in front of you.
Your pet and kennel must also adhere to the following requirements:
- Your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel with the ability to move around without touching or sticking out from the sides.
- The kennel must fit underneath the seat directly in front of you.
- The soft-sided kennel must be leak-proof and have ventilation openings on 3 sides for domestic travel and 4 sides for international travel.
- The maximum carry-on kennel dimensions are determined by the aircraft dimensions of your flight, as the under-seat space varies by aircraft. Delta recommends a soft-sided kennel with maximum dimensions of 18” x 11” x 11” since this fits most aircraft types.
- Your pet must remain inside the kennel with the door secured while in a Delta boarding area, during boarding and deplaning, while in a Delta Sky Club® and while on board the aircraft.
Checking In With Your Pet
When you arrive at the airport, you will need to visit the Special Service Counter to check-in with your pet. At check-in, a Delta agent will ensure your pet and kennel meet the necessary requirements for your trip and collect the required pet fee. Remember to allow extra time at check-in for us to ensure your pet is ready for take-off.
Once you are checked in and have your cabin pet tag, you are ready to go through the security checkpoint where you are required to remove your pet from their kennel.
After the security checkpoint, your pet must remain in their kennel while at the airport, unless they are in a designated relief area.
Delta Sky Club® Pets
Carry-on pet fees.
CAD amount will be charged to exit Canada, while EUR amount will be charged to exit Europe. These fees are established by the contract of carriage in effect at the time of ticket issuance.
Carry-On Pet Exceptions
For any travel to or from the following destinations — with the exception of service animals — pets must travel as cargo and are not permitted in the cabin:
- Pet travel is not allowed for pets originating in Brazil/Colombia
- Pet travel is not allowed on flights to Hawaii
- New Zealand
- Republic of Ireland
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United Arab Emirates
Household birds are only permitted on domestic U.S. flights excluding flights to Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. Review pet travel restrictions based on your destination or connecting flights.
The CDC has an ongoing, temporary suspension , opens in a new window that prohibits the entry of dogs, including trained service animals, into the United States from countries that are at high-risk for rabies. During the suspension, options for bringing dogs that have been in a high-risk country for rabies , opens in a new window within the past 6 months will depend on where the dogs’ rabies vaccinations were administered, and the number of dogs being imported. Dogs from high-risk countries must appear healthy, be microchipped and at least 6 months of age. For dogs with a travel history in high-risk countries, please review the CDC’s guidance on importation. , opens in a new window
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9 most pet-friendly airlines in America
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Flying by yourself can be a stressful experience for some people. Many people think that when you add a pet to the mix, it can lead to even more headaches! It’s why lots of travelers may opt for traveling on a train with their pet instead of flying.
But flying with your pet doesn’t have to be difficult, and there are plenty of airlines that go out of their way to make it a quick, easy process. Let’s look at what you can do to cut out any headaches or surprises when flying with your pet, and some of the best airlines to choose from. You can even get pet fees reimbursed if you have the right travel credit card !
Most pet-friendly U.S. airlines
- American Airlines: Best for West Coast travel
- United Airlines: Best for East Coast travel
- Delta Airlines: Best for small pets
- Southwest Airlines: Best for cheap pet fees
- JetBlue: Best for pet amenities
- Allegiant Air: Best for pet check-in process
- Frontier Airlines: Not really the best for anything
- Alaska Airlines: Best for unique pets in checked baggage
- Hawaiian Airlines: Best for inter-island flights in Hawaii
Comparing airline pet policies
Is flying safe for pets.
We’ve all seen the tragic headlines circulate every now and then talking about how a pet was injured during air travel. And while those accidents are truly unfortunate, it tends to paint the image that flying with a pet is dangerous.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you look at the statistics, it is actually VERY safe to fly with your pet. According to the Chicago Tribune , ~507,000 animals flew on U.S. commercial air carriers last year, and only 24 of those animals died while in transit. That’s only ~0.0048%! United Airlines has the highest rate of pet deaths, although it could be linked to the fact that until recently, they had allowed short-nosed breeds to fly. Now, with a new policy banning these breeds from flying on all airlines, the rate of pet injury should reduce significantly.
That said, there are still a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure that you and your pet remain safe and comfortable during your flight.
Tips for pet safety while flying
For starters, certain breeds of dogs with short-snouts are not allowed to fly on planes because of respiratory issues that may make it particularly difficult for them to breathe. If you’re an owner of one of these breeds, you may want to consider traveling by train instead :
- French Bulldog
- Japanese Chin
- Neapolitan Mastiff
- Brussels Griffon
- English Toy Spaniel
You’ll also want to make sure that your dog is in good health, while also considering their age. Dogs who are too young or old may be particularly susceptible to the stresses of air travel because of things like changes in air quality, air circulation, temperature, cabin pressure, and other environmental issues.
If you’re worried about your pet’s health and don’t want them flying in checked luggage or cargo, double-check the requirements and restrictions with your airline to ensure your pet will be allowed to fly with you in the cabin and avoid any last-minute surprises at the airport.
Always be sure to consult with your vet before traveling (most airlines even require that you do!) to make sure your furry friend is ready to fly!
Best U.S. airlines for pet travel
Each airline has different policies for traveling with a pet, although almost all airlines require the carrier to allow your pet enough space to stand up, turn around, and lie down, and must fit underneath the seat. And if flying in checked luggage, the carrier should have proper ventilation on both sides.
Many airlines also restrict the number of pets flying in the cabin per flight, so you’ll want to follow each airline’s policy for reserving your pet’s spot. We’ve rounded up a list of some of the best airlines for traveling with a pet.
Types of pets allowed: Small pets at least 8 weeks old, and combined weight may not exceed 20 lbs.
More need-to-knows: Prior to your flight and as soon as you can, you’ll want to contact American Airlines customer service to reserve a spot for your pet. Pets flying with you in the cabin must remain in their carrier under the seat for the entire duration of the flight. Note that American Airlines does not allow pets to travel in the cabin if you are flying to/from Hawaii, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, or on any transatlantic/transpacific flights.
Types of pets allowed: Cats and dogs
More need-to-knows: United Airlines only allows two dogs in the cabin for most of their flights, so you’ll want to call ahead as soon as you can to confirm your pet can travel with you. The pet carrier must fit completely under the seat. If your pet cannot fly with you in the cabin, you can use United Airlines’ pet transportation service, PetSafe. The airline has partnered with American Humane to improve their pet shipping processes, so it’s a very safe way of making sure your pet arrives at the destination safe and sound!
PetSafe is temporarily suspended.
Types of pets allowed: Dogs, cats, and household birds for domestic U.S. flights
More need-to-knows: Like many other airlines, Delta limits the number of animals that fly in coach, business class, and first class. So you’ll want to call and reserve your spot to ensure you can fly with your pet in the cabin. Pets are allowed to fly with you in the cabin as long as they remain in their carrier and can fit underneath your seat.
Types of pets allowed: Small vaccinated dogs and cats on domestic flights only
More need-to-knows: Southwest allows a maximum of six pet carriers per flight on a first-come-first-served basis, so you’ll want to call and make your pet reservation as soon as you finalize your travel plans. Your pet carrier must be small enough to fit underneath the seat, and Southwest is one of the few airlines that does not require formal documentation for your pet to fly but does ask that they’re up-to-date on vaccines.
Types of pets allowed: Small dogs and cats are allowed
More need-to-knows: If you’re brand new to flying with a pet, you’ll be happy to know that JetBlue has an exclusive program called JetPaws , designed to give owners the tips and tools they need for a smooth trip with their pet. It’s a free program, and you’ll also earn 300 JetBlue points on each flight segment you fly with your pet!
JetBlue allows four pets per flight, so it’s important to book your flight and reserve your pet’s seat as soon as possible. You can call JetBlue and let the agent know you are traveling with a pet so that they can reserve your spot for the flight. Although exceptions may be made, generally speaking only one pet is allowed per person, and the pet carrier must fit underneath the seat.
If flying to or from Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, or St. Lucia, JetBlue says “You are urged to begin the import process at least 30 days prior to travel to prepare your dog or cat to travel.” Head to this page for the pertinent links.
Types of pets allowed: Cats and dogs if flying within the contiguous 48 U.S. states, San Juan, and Puerto Rico
More need-to-knows: If you’re looking for easy, hassle-free pet travel within the U.S., you can book a flight on Allegiant. They do not require any health certificates, and you can reserve your pet’s spot at the same time you book your own plane ticket online! In other words, there is no need to make a separate phone call for your pet.
Types of pets allowed: Dogs and cats only in the cabin
More need-to-knows: While Frontier does not specifically require a health certificate for your pet, you may need one depending on the state you will be flying to. If you will be traveling internationally, however, you will definitely need a health certificate.
Types of pets allowed: Dogs, cats (both at least eight weeks old), rabbits, and household birds in the cabin. Dogs, cats, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, household birds, non-poisonous reptiles, pot bellied pigs, rabbits, and tropical fish as cargo.
More need-to-knows: If you have some unique pets but are not able to take them with you in the main cabin, Alaska Airlines is a great choice as they allow a wide variety of pets to fly in checked baggage. And with their Fur-st Class Care program , you’ll receive a notification confirming your pet has made it safely aboard the plane.
Otherwise, the first class cabin can only accommodate one pet, and the main cabin can accommodate five at most, so you’ll want to reserve your pet’s spot as soon as possible. Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old, and each passenger may travel with no more than two pets. And certain short-nosed animals may not be allowed to travel in cargo but may be permitted to travel in the cabin.
Types of pets allowed: Small dogs and cats in the cabin and in cargo
More need-to-knows: As with other airlines, you’ll want to reserve a ticket for yourself and your pet as soon as your travel plans are finalized and you book your ticket. Each person can travel with one pet carrier. Pets are not accepted on international flights to or from New York-JFK, Boston, Orlando, or Austin. And certain short-nosed pets are not allowed to fly at all on Hawaiian Airlines.
How to prepare your pet for travel
Pets are like family and flying with them requires just as much preparation as flying with children! Once you know you’ll be traveling with your pet, try to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian about a week or so before your flight. Your veterinarian will be able to examine your pet and give them a travel health certificate so you’re sure your furry friend is all set to fly. Your pet will also need to be in a carrier the entire time you’re flying, so if they aren’t used to being in a crate, you might want to practice with them by putting them in for an hour or more each day leading up to the trip, especially if you’ll be on a long flight.
On the actual day of your flight, make sure your pet has all of the food, water and toys they need! Double-check you have all the necessary paperwork and get to the airport with extra time to make sure your pet is settled in before the flight.
Flying with a service dog
On most airlines, flying with a service animal is a little bit different than flying with a pet. If you want to bring a service dog on your flight, you’ll likely need to submit to the airline: a medical/mental health professional form verifying the need for a service dog, a veterinary health form showing your service dog is up to date on vaccinations and an animal behavior form. It’s best practice to submit these forms no later than 48 hours before your flight, but once they’re approved by the airline, you’ll be all set to bring your service dog on the flight. Typically, service dogs have no additional fee.
Additionally, most airlines require service dogs to be seated on the floor below your seat or in your lap, so be sure to book a seat that has enough room for your dog to fly comfortably and safely. Check your airline restrictions before booking, because some don’t allow service dogs in the exit row.
Flying with an emotional support animal
Registering an emotional support animal to fly is largely the same process as flying with a service dog. It depends on which airline you’re flying, but almost all require doctor authorization, vet documentation and an animal behavior form. With an emotional support animal, you’re responsible for making sure your pet doesn’t climb on the seats, relieve itself on the plane, and is overall under your control at all times.
Do note that all above airlines are no longer accepting emotional support animals.
FAQs about flying with pets
What is the safest airline for pets.
There isn’t just one airline safest for pets, there are just some that are better suited for some pets than others. It’s always the responsibility of the owner to ensure their pet is in good health to fly with a visit to the vet before the flight, but as long as your pet is given the all-clear, it’s up to you to decide the best airline.
Due to coronavirus, some airlines, like Delta and American, are not allowing pets as cargo. That means those airlines might not be best or safest for larger animals. JetBlue is best for pet amenities, so it might be best for a pet that likes to be spoiled. You know your pet best, and you’ll know what’s safest for them!
What documents do I need for my pet to fly?
For all pets: A certificate of veterinary inspection to travel and in some cases, an acclimation certificate which you can also get from your veterinarian.
For service animals: A certificate of approval from a medical/mental health professional, a veterinary inspection to travel and an animal behavior form.
What are some of the new airline pet restrictions after the pandemic?
Again, because of increased flight changes as a result of the pandemic, some airlines are not allowing pets as cargo. Besides this, most airlines have not changed their restrictions for pets much because of the pandemic, but it’s always good to double-check the airline website for the most up-to-date information before flying!
How to fly with your pet for free
All airlines charge some kind of fee for flying with a pet. But did you know that having the right travel credit card can get some (or all) of those fees waived?
A handful of credit cards offer an airline incidental credit or some other form of travel credit, replenished every single year you keep the card. Here’s an example of cards that will pay for your pet fees:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Up to $200 annual airline credit for incidental expenses (like pet fees) on your selected airline (enrollment required)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Up to $200 annual airline credit for incidental expenses (like pet fees) on your selected airline (enrollment required)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Annual $300 credit to be used towards travel (should absolutely reimburse pet fees)
- Citi Prestige® Card: Annual $250 credit to be used towards travel (also should reimburse pet fees)
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.
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Traveling with Infants & Children
We want to help make your flight smooth and comfortable for your little ones. Find out some tips and resources to help make your trip as enjoyable as possible!
- Bring a well-stocked carry-on bag, including diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, a sippy cup, a book or two, and some quiet toys. If the child is old enough, download a couple of educational videos onto an iPad. This is a great attention-holder.
- If you're bringing electronics for your kids, make sure they are charged and ready to go before your flight.
- Comforting toys are great but keep other passengers in mind. Leave the noisy toys at home.
- More leg room for you and extra space for toys is always a good thing on a flight with kids. Our stretch seating is a great way to get the space you need.
- Babies and young children do not know how to clear their ears to reduce the pressure during takeoff and landing so unless your child is asleep, you will need to help them. We suggest a bottle for infants and gum or hard candy for older kids.
- We offer snacks, and beverages for sale on most flights (something to consider if the toys aren’t working or you run out of snacks)!
- If you opt for packing your own snacks, bring along a Ziploc bag for wrappers and other garbage. This will come in handy throughout your flight with kids.
Safety and Policies
We know you want to make your child's trip easy and safe. There are some federal rules we need to follow to ensure the safety of infants and children.
- Infants can travel for free, sitting on your lap from seven days old up to his/her second birthday. Please Note: A birth certificate may be requested for age verification purposes if the infants' age appears questionable.
- Lap children may not sit in any seat that has an airbag seat belt installed which includes row 1 on most aircrafts.
- Two adults with two lap children cannot sit in the same side of a row because there are only four oxygen masks per every three seats.
- Only one child is allowed per adult lap. If you are traveling with two infants and you are the only adult in your party, you will need to purchase a ticket for them and have an approved car seat for the second child.
- You may choose to purchase your little one his/her own seat and use an approved car seat on the plane, this is the safest way, if you can, we encourage you to do so . Our seat widths vary depending on the size of the aircraft. Minimum seat widths on the A319 and A320 are 17.4” and on our A321 minimum seat widths are 16.5”.
- Car seats cannot be placed in emergency exit rows, in the rows directly in front of or behind emergency exit rows, or in the very first row. We also suggest placing car seats in window seats so they do not impede access to the aisle by other passengers.
- If you're bringing a stroller, you can take it to the gate but it must be checked from there.
Pssst... Frontier Tip: Make sure your car seat is approved by the FAA. Look for the label on it that states, “This restraint device is approved for motor vehicle and aircraft use.” Use of the FAA-approved AMSafe Aviation C.A.R.E.S. child harness device is also allowed.
- We fully support a woman’s right to breastfeed on our flights. Breast pumps are also welcome aboard.
- We consider a breast pump to be a medical device. View the Frontier medical device policy under Sports Equipment and Special Items .
Effective November 1, 2018, Frontier Airlines will no longer accept children traveling alone under the age of 15 yrs of age. Any child under the age of 15 must be in the same reservation as an accompanying adult.
Traveling with Pets
Pets are like family. That’s why we’re committed to keeping your dogs, cats, hamsters, and more safe and sound on their trip. If you would like to take your critter on your next trip, there are few things you need to know first.
Need to add pets to your reservation during initial booking? Or add them on to an existing reservation? Learn how here .
- A one-way, directional charge will apply and may be paid in advance during booking. If you do not pay in advance, you’ll need to pay when you check-in your pet. In addition to the travel container for your pet, you are allowed either a personal item (8”H x 14”W x 18”L) OR a carry-on bag (10”H x 16”W x 24”L). An additional fee will apply for the carry-on bag.
- We do not allow pets to be checked as baggage.
- Be sure to look into the applicable laws, customs, and other governmental regulations, requirements or restrictions of the country, state or territory to which your animal is being transported. This is your responsibility. Also remember to obtain your pet’s required health documents.
- We recommend that pets have no food or water within four hours of departure.
Pssst... Frontier Tip: Make your trip a little smoother by checking what the state requirements of your destination are regarding animals - some require health certificates, others don’t!
- Only certain animals are allowed in the cabin:
- Domesticated dogs and cats must be minimum 8 weeks of age.
- Domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, or small household birds may be carried on flights within the United States.
- The following species are never accepted : Large birds (e.g. parrots, macaws, cockatoos, birds of prey), rodents (including mice, rats, squirrels), beavers, ferrets, reptiles (including snakes), amphibians, spiders, and insects (and please, no lions, tigers, or bears).
- Only domesticated dogs and cats may be carried to or from international destinations.
- Pets are allowed in the cabin on all domestic Frontier flights, and on international flights to/from the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
- You may not sit in row one or an exit row when traveling with a pet.
- For safety reasons, your pet must remain in the travel container at all times. If your pet is disruptive, it’s up to you to soothe him/her without taking him/her from the pet container. Please Note: While it might be tempting to help comfort your pet, most veterinarians advise against sedating pets for travel since the effects of tranquilizers on animals at higher altitudes are unpredictable.
- We ask that you do not provide food or water to your pet while traveling on the aircraft. The stress of traveling, the motion of the aircraft, and other factors could make your pet uncomfortable.
- Please Note: No oxygen will be administered to a pet in the event of an emergency.
- Your pet needs to be harmless, not disruptive, odorless, and require no attention during flight.
- The travel container must be large enough for the pet to stand, turn around, and lie down in a natural position (you want your pet to be comfortable, don’t you?). The carrier must also fit underneath the seat in front of you. There may be certain seats that cannot accommodate your pet container, but we'll work with you to get a seat assignment with space.
- Maximum dimensions for a pet container are 18" length x 14" width x 8" height.
- We recommend the container be a soft-sided case.
- Your pet must stay in its container at all times.
Pet Health and Wellness
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the transport of pets within the U.S. While we do not require a health certificate for pets carried in the cabin traveling within the U.S., upon arrival, a certificate may be required by the specific state in which you are landing. For clarification, please call your veterinarian or see the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Services.
For international travel, a health certificate is required. Each country may have vaccination requirements beyond the requirements listed here. Consulates can provide more information regarding other diseases for which your pet must be vaccinated.
- Must be dated based on country on entry:
- Within 30 days of entry into Puerto Rico
- Within 10 days of entry into the U.S.
- Within 15 days of entry in the Dominican Republic
- Within 14 days of entry into Costa Rica
- Within 5 days of entry into Mexico
- Must include:
- Name and address of the owner
- Animal species
- Country of origin/destination
- Immunization against rabies within 12 months for: adult pets 3 months of age or older for all destinations except Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. Costa Rica defines adult pets as 4 months of age and older. Puerto Rico also defines adult pets as 4 months of age and older and requires immunization against rabies within 6 months. Please Note: The immunization must be administered no more than one year and no less than 30 days prior to international travel. If a pet received a rabies booster less than thirty days before an international flight, proof of the prior rabies shot is required.
- Additional requirements by country
- Mexico and the Dominican Republic require a statement on the health certificate that the pet is free from parasites and has been treated for parasite prevention.
- The following vaccinations are recommended: hepatitis, PIP and leptospirosis.
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The 9 best airline-approved pet carriers, according to reviews.
Find the purr-fect travel carrier for your favorite furry travel companion.
The 9 Best Airline-Approved Pet Carriers
Ensure your four-legged friend flies in comfort and style with an airline-approved pet carrier. (Getty Images)
Flying with your pet requires its share of homework. Regulations on bringing your pooch or feline aboard an airplane include providing updated paperwork as well as picking a pet carrier that adheres general baggage requirements and size restrictions . (For other things to consider when flying with a pet and advice from animal experts, jump to the tips section .)
If you plan to bring your cat or dog with you on your next flight but aren't sure which pet carrier is best – or allowed – U.S. News is here to help. Start with this list of the top airline-approved pet carriers for your jet-setting four-legged friends.
The Top Pet Carriers for Air Travel in 2023
- Best Overall Pet Carrier: Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier – Medium
- Best Soft-sided Pet Carrier: Henkelion Pet Carrier – Medium
- Best Expandable Pet Carrier: Petsfit Expandable Pet Carrier – Medium
- Best Convertible Pet Carrier: Natuvalle 6-in-1 Pet Carrier – Small
- Best Pet Carrier Backpack: PetAmi Backpack Pet Carrier
- Best Luxury Pet Carrier: Away The Pet Carrier
- Best Light-blocking Pet Carrier: Sleepypod Air
- Best Carrier for Dogs Traveling in Cargo: SportPet Rolling Plastic Kennel
- Best Carrier for Cats Traveling in Cargo: Petmate 2-Door Kennel
(Note: Prices were accurate at the time of publication; they may fluctuate due to supply chain issues.)
Best Overall: Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier – Medium
Carrier dimensions: 17 x 11 x 10.5 inches | Pet weight limit: 16 pounds
What sets this carrier apart: Beyond a patented, crash-tested flexible wire frame that keeps your little buddy safe, Sherpa provides a Guaranteed on Board program that offers a refund for your flight and airline pet fee if you're denied boarding because of the small or medium sizes of this carrier. This mesh and polyester bag is an industry standard with good airflow. The front and top entries have locking zippers, and this collapsible carrier also features a removable (and machine-washable) faux-lambskin liner, a rear pocket for storage, and a seat belt safety strap that doubles as a luggage strap.
Travelers appreciate: This Sherpa carrier is renowned for its reliable functionality and amazing value. Recent travelers say the medium carrier fits well under the seat and keeps their pet comfortable in transit.
Price: $34 or less for medium Shop now: Amazon | Chewy | Petco
Best Soft-sided: Henkelion Pet Carrier – Medium
Carrier dimensions: 17 x 11 x 11 inches | Pet weight limit: 15 pounds
What sets this carrier apart: Designed with airline approval in mind, the medium size of this carrier accommodates cats or small dogs with its spacious interior. Mesh panels zip open on the side, front and top, ensuring a well-ventilated bag. The outer material is lightweight and durable, while a removable woolen mat makes the inside comfy for your pet. There are connectable loop handles and a padded shoulder strap, and this carrier bag folds up when you're ready to store it away. Note that this carrier is not machine-washable.
Travelers appreciate: Users appreciate the plush mat, saying it helps their furry friends feel cozy enough to nap inside the bag even when you're not traveling.
Price: $28.99 or less for medium Shop now: Amazon
Best Expandable: Petsfit Expandable Pet Carrier – Medium
Carrier dimensions: 17 x 11 x 11 inches | Pet weight limit: 13.2 pounds
What sets this carrier apart: This Petsfit carrier's medium size adheres to most airline requirements (as does the small carrier), but one of the mesh windows unzips to form an extra compartment, expanding the carrier to 20.4 x 17 x 11 inches. This product is a great option if you need your carrier to be able to fly but still want your pet to enjoy a bit more space to stretch out when not tucked under the airplane seat. The sturdy solid wire construction ensures the bag won't collapse but is flexible enough to tuck into a small space, though you may need to remove the rods on either side if the carrier is too tall to fit easily underneath. There's a side pocket for storage, self-locking zippers and a water-repellent inner cloth.
Travelers appreciate: Recent air traveling pet owners say their pets appreciate the extra room that the expansion panel gives.
Price: $59.99 or less for medium Shop now: Amazon | Petsfit
Best Convertible: Natuvalle 6-in-1 Pet Carrier – Small
(Courtesy of Natuvalle)
Carrier dimensions: 16.5 x 11.4 x 9 inches | Pet weight limit: 16 pounds
What sets this carrier apart: For travelers seeking versatility, this Natuvalle cat or dog carrier can be used like a backpack, shoulder bag, tote with carrying handles or even – if worn on your front – a baby carrier. This convertible choice can also be used as a car seat crate with built-in seat belt loops, and you have the option of using it either in the upright or side position. Other features include zipper locks, mesh panels, reinforced stitching, two walk-through doors and a photo ID tag. The carrier is foldable and even has reflective stripes for night travel.
Travelers appreciate: Pet owners like the versatility of this bag; some travelers say the carrier fits best under the seat when on its side, as the upright position can be too tall.
Price: $119.90 or less for small Shop now: Natuvalle
Best Backpack: PetAmi Backpack Pet Carrier
(Courtesy of PetAmi)
Carrier dimensions: 16.5 x 12.5 x 10.5 inches | Pet weight limit: 18 pounds
What sets this carrier apart: Go hands-free with this PetAmi backpack-style carrier. A sturdy frame maintains its shape while you traipse through airport terminals, with chest and waist buckles for extra support. Four-sided access makes loading easy, and a rollaway mesh top means your furry friend can stick their head out the top when you're not in the air. The safety strap and buckle are designed to thwart even great escape artists, and a sherpa-lined bed entices fur babies to relax. The backpack carrier color options include red and purple.
Travelers appreciate: Pet owners like the easy carrying this style provides, though they advise that you'll need to store this bag on its side in the plane cabin, and it won't fit on every airline.
Price: $39.99 or less Shop now: Amazon | Chewy
Best Luxury: Away The Pet Carrier
(Courtesy of Away)
Carrier dimensions: 18.7 x 10.8 x 10.75 inches | Pet weight limit: 18 pounds
What sets this carrier apart: It's a splurge, but this cat and dog carrier is made by Away, a popular luggage brand known for its sleek design and functionality. The same applies to this nylon and leather tote, which comes in black or a coast blue. The water-resistant lining is paired with sherpa bedding and exterior pockets that can hold a phone, keys or waste bags. If you already have an Away suitcase, this carrier will fit seamlessly over the handle with its trolley sleeve.
Travelers appreciate: Recent traveling pet owners like that the bag is roomy, saying their pets seem comfortable inside. This carrier fits pets up to 18 pounds but is a bit on the larger side of an airline-approved carry-on, so be sure to research your airline's policies before taking it aboard.
Price: $225 or less Shop now: Away
Best Light-blocking: Sleepypod Air
Carrier dimensions: 22 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches; compresses to 16 x 10.5 x 8 inches | Pet weight limit: 18 pounds
What sets this carrier apart: The Sleepypod Air is designed to compress to fit under the seat during takeoff and landing; when the seat belt sign is off, your pet can enjoy slightly more room (but be aware that it doesn't hold its reduced size in a freestanding position, only when tucked into a small space). This unique carrier employs sturdy luggage-grade ballistic nylon for its base, with a panel of mesh running along the front, top and back. A removable privacy panel can be slid over part of the mesh. Available in multiple colors, this crash-tested model also has a seat belt strap, a trolley sleeve and a comfortable shoulder strap for carrying it.
Travelers appreciate: Users like the carrier's many features and say it's a good option especially for larger cats traveling by air, but some pet owners felt there was not enough airflow (especially with the privacy panel) for longer flights.
Price: $249.99 or less Shop now: Amazon | Rover | Sleepypod
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Best for Dogs Traveling in Cargo: SportPet Rolling Plastic Kennel
Carrier dimensions: Six different sizes offered | Pet weight limit: Varies by carrier size
What sets this carrier apart: Any furry friends larger than about 20 pounds will likely have to travel in the cargo hold if they're not a service animal. You'll want a very sturdy dog crate for the journey that meets every regulation, and SportPet's kennel passes the test for many travelers. This carrier meets International Air Transport Association guidelines with two snap-on water dishes and four stickers that indicate a live animal is inside; a "floor gutter" contains messes for easy cleanup. The durable plastic frame is connected with metal nuts and bolts and features airline-required tie holes for bungees.
This travel crate comes in six sizes, from small up to XXX-large, so be sure to determine the right size for your pet. A cushioned bed is not included and costs extra. For more information on pets traveling in cargo, consult the FAQ section at the bottom of this page.
Travelers appreciate: Pet owners like the sturdy construction and the compliance with airline regulations, but the traveler-favorite feature is the removable wheels, which are included with the carrier (except with size small).
Price: Starts at $63.99 for small Shop now: Amazon
Best for Cats Traveling in Cargo: Petmate Two-Door Kennel
(Courtesy of Petmate)
Carrier dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 10 inches (for 19-inch carrier) or 24.05 x 16.76 x 14.5 inches (for 24-inch) | Pet weight limit: Up to 10 pounds (19-inch) or 15 to 20 pounds (24-inch)
What sets this carrier apart: This option made of hard plastic and steel wire is tough enough to protect your cargo-contained cat, according to recent travelers. (Keep in mind that airlines do not recommend hard-sided carriers for in-cabin travel, and this kennel is too large to fit under airline seats.) The two front and top doors assist with entering and exiting, and color options like hot pink or blue will make this kennel easy to spot. The carrier comes in small (24-inch) and extra-small (19-inch) sizes, so choose accordingly based on the measurements of your cat. As with most hard-sided crates, you will have to purchase a plush bed separately.
Travelers appreciate: Recent traveling pet owners express that they are happy with the quality of the kennel and find it easy to assemble.
Price: $44.99 or less for 24-inch Shop now: Amazon | Chewy | Tractor Supply
How to choose the best pet carrier
There are a few major points to consider when choosing a carrier that will serve as your pet's safe space during a flight:
Size: Selecting the right carrier size for your pet is essential not only for your pets' comfort but also for their safety, according to Sara Hogan, hospital manager at Clarendon Animal Care in Virginia. "Please ensure the measurements for your carrier meet a standard that allows for your pet to comfortably turn around AND lay down," she says. But be aware that if the carrier is too large for your furry friend, they could end up injured in transit. The best way to determine the right size is to take measurements of your pet; to be as precise as possible, use the IATA's formula .
Keep in mind that only carriers able to fit under the seat in front of you are allowed in the plane cabin – a space that will vary by airline. Consult the next section on airline policies for more information.
Airflow: Don't underestimate the importance of adequate airflow. "Carriers and crates really need to have proper ventilation for short or long-term travel," Hogan says. "There IS a difference between taking your pet down the street to a friend's house or the vet and taking your pet on a trip with any sort of additional time involved."
Stability: Check the quality of all the zippers and materials − you want this to be an escape-proof carrier, and any malfunction can put your pet at risk. "If something has previously broken or fallen off the carrier or crate look to replace the piece or the entire crate/carrier," Hogan advises.
Soft-sided vs. hard-sided: If your pet is small enough to fly in the cabin, most airlines highly recommend a soft-sided carrier, which gives the most flexibility. Airlines are often slightly more lenient with the dimensions for soft-sided carriers in the cabin as long as they are able to fit underneath the seat without blocking the aisle of the airplane. Another bonus: Soft pet carriers often come with removable fleece bedding for extra comfort.
Note: Crates and carriers destined for the cargo hold of the plane must be hard-sided. Find more details on carrier specifications for the cargo hold in the FAQ section at the bottom of this page.
Airline pet policies
Each airline sets its own specifications and safety rules for pets in the plane cabin with you, so be sure to check with your intended airline for dimension limits, breed restrictions and other guidelines. Be aware, too, that most major airlines based in the U.S. do not offer an option to transport animals in cargo.
Use the links below to find more information on the specific pet policies for the following U.S.-based airlines:
- Alaska Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Sun Country Airlines
- United Airlines
How to prepare to fly with a pet
Help your pet acclimate.
When preparing to travel with your furry companion, planning ahead is key, especially if your pet isn't used to being confined in a crate or carrier. "I recommend buying the carrier as far in advance of travel as possible to allow your dog to become comfortable relaxing in the carrier in a familiar home environment before traveling," says Amanda Farah, CPDT-KA, national training and behavior coordinator for Best Friends Animal Society.
Some pets are sensitive to loud noises, so one way to prepare them for the journey is by playing recordings of sounds they might encounter in transit, Farah says. "I'd say a good general rule is that because so much they encounter during air travel will be new and potentially stressful, you should familiarize them to many factors as possible in the weeks or even months leading up to travel."
Book your travel far in advance
Keep in mind that airlines limit the number of pets allowed on a flight, so book early and try to secure a direct flight to cut down on travel time.
Familiarize yourself with your departure airport
Before you set off on your journey, familiarize yourself with the airport you're departing from – such as where to find a pet relief area – and how to go through security with a pet in tow. For example, you must never place your pet on the security conveyor belt (only the empty carrier goes through the X-ray tunnel).
Research your destination
This is a crucial step. Some countries will not allow pets in at all, while other destinations (such as Hawaii) may have strict rules about rabies vaccines or require all animals to travel in cargo. Christine Barton, a veterinarian with The Vets , recommends checking the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website to learn about requirements for health certificates, vaccines and more.
Other considerations will depend on what type of vacation you're planning; if it involves hiking or camping with your dog, Barton suggests checking the expected weather, making a small emergency kit for you and your pet, and considering a GPS tracker for remote areas. Wherever you're headed, locate the closest emergency animal hospital just in case and make sure to book pet-friendly accommodations .
Consult your vet
Once you've done your research, your veterinarian can help ensure your pet has everything you both need to travel, such as microchipping, required or recommended vaccines (and proof of them), testing, and health records, Barton says. A vet can also address any health concerns. "Doctors can discuss risks, precautions, and things to monitor while traveling," Barton explains, adding that you should make sure your pet is up to date on needed preventive medications, such as treatment for fleas or heartworm.
If your furry friend struggles with anxiety, your vet can prescribe them a medication to make the journey less stressful for both of you. "Talk to your veterinarian before administering any sort of medication to your pet, but definitely consider it for future travel," Hogan says.
Flying With Pets: Frequently Asked Questions
A carrier being "airline-approved" typically means it adheres to the airline's size requirements, is leakproof, provides adequate airflow and keeps your pet securely inside.
You can find a pet carrier on wheels, such as the Snoozer 4-in-1 Roll Around Pet Carrier or the SportPet Rolling Plastic Kennel , but keep in mind that most wheeled pet carriers are too large to fit under the seat on most airlines, even with detachable wheels. Wheeled options can make your furry friend easier for you to transport, but they also tend to make for a bumpy ride for your pet, so consider carefully whether a carrier on wheels is right for your cat or dog, especially if they're easily frightened.
Most major airlines in the U.S. do not allow pets to travel in cargo; some, like American Airlines, only offer this service for active military or diplomatic personnel. Of the major U.S. airlines, only Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines currently accept animals in the cargo hold, so keep that in mind if you have a medium or large dog – or if your intended destination does not welcome in-cabin pets.
Most animals who fly in the cargo hold are fine, but there's still a risk of your pet being killed, injured or lost, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The most common dangers are excessively hot or cold temperatures, poorly ventilated crates, and rough handling. Be sure to follow all IATA guidelines for cargo crates to ensure your pet's safety. Before you book a flight, you may also want to research the airline's history with companion animals in the cargo hold.
The kennel you choose for cargo travel must allow your pet enough room to stand, sit upright, turn around while standing and lie in a natural position, according to the IATA. Carriers must made of rigid materials and include a solid roof, a leakproof base, a door with well-maintained hardware, working handles and ventilation on all four sides. Labels that say "Live Animal" and "This Way Up" are also required by the IATA.
A water dish must be securely affixed to the inside of the carrier, with open access for your pet to drink and for someone to refill it from the outside without opening the crate. A food container can either be inside the carrier if it's sealed or attached to the outside.
A pet carrier usually counts as either a personal item or a carry-on. Depending on the airline policy, you may be able to bring either a personal item or a carry-on bag (not both) in addition to your carrier. Check your airline's carry-on luggage allowance and pet policy to see what you can bring.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires puppies and kittens to be at least 8 weeks old to travel, but airlines may impose their own age restrictions on top of that. On Delta, for example, companion animals must be at least 10 weeks old for domestic flights. United Airlines says your pet should be at least 4 months old for international travel to comply with rabies vaccine requirements.
Your furry friend will incur certain fees for flying, but the cost will vary by airline. American Airlines, as an example, charges a $125 service fee for a carry-on pet, while Allegiant's fee is $50. Cargo fees may depend on trip details: Hawaiian Airlines charges $60 in fees for domestic flights and $225 for flights between Hawaii and North America, while the cargo fee on Alaska Airlines is $100. Service animals typically fly at no charge as long as they meet the airline's requirements.
It depends on your pet, according to Hogan. "If they're quite anxious you may want to offer food with a bit more advanced time prior to the flight to avoid vomiting in the carrier or on themselves, however, not too much time where they'll be hungry throughout the travel day," she advises. "Water is important to offer as often as possible in any setting. Access to using the bathroom more than once prior to travel is also advised so as not to miss an opportunity for output!"
Conveniently, some airports may have pet relief areas your dog can use either before or after you go through security, but that's something you'll have to research beforehand.
Why Trust U.S. News Travel
Catriona Kendall is a frequent traveler and longtime cat owner who knows the importance of a sturdy and secure pet carrier. Her cats haven't managed to damage or escape from the Henkelion and Petmate carriers she's owned for years (despite their best efforts). She also recommends this pop-up Pet Fit for Life carrier for road trips. Kendall compiled this list of airline-compliant carriers using her experience as a pet owner, advice from animal experts and extensive research.
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Top attractions in elektrostal, electrostal history and art museum, statue of lenin, park of culture and leisure, museum and exhibition center, popular airlines flying to moscow.