Which Airlines Are the Most Pet Friendly? The Pet Travel Policies of 8 Popular Airlines · The Wildest

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8 Popular Airlines’ Pet Policies—So You Can Jet-Set Together

We broke down the details so you don’t have to.

by Sio Hornbuckle
May 17, 2024
Woman on plane with her small black dog.
Luis Velasco / Stocksy

Wherever we go, we want our pets to come with us. Obviously. They make everything better. But travel can be stressful, and traveling with an animal — especially by airplane — can be even more complicated. It doesn’t help that every airline seems to have a totally different set of rules for bringing your pet aboard… not to mention, different price points.  

If your head’s swimming with pet travel fees and carrier requirements, we have you covered. Check out our list of some of the most popular airlines’ pet policies. Keep in mind that the following details apply to travel within the U.S.; for international travel requirements, which can be more involved, read the airline’s individual pet policy pages linked below. (Where applicable; unfortunately, not all airlines will take your pet abroad). 

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has one of the most pet-friendly policies out there. Pets who fit in an under-seat carrier can travel along with their pet parents in the cabin for a fee of $100, and larger pets can travel in a baggage compartment for $150. Two pets can travel in the same carrier, and two carriers are allowed. In other words, up to four pets can tag along (as long as they fit). The pet’s carrier can be either soft or hard. And unlike most airlines, Alaska doesn’t limit animal companions to just dogs and cats — rabbits and birds are allowed, too.

One quick caveat: Brachycephalic (or flat-faced) dogs aren’t allowed to travel in the baggage compartment. And keep in mind that your pet will count as your carry-on bag.

Check out Alaska Airlines’ international pet travel policies and recommendations. 

American Airlines

Pet parents everywhere rejoiced when American Airlines recently announced they’re relaxing their pet travel policy. A carry-on pet who can fit under the seat can hop aboard for $150 per kennel — and unlike on many other airlines, you can still bring an additional carry-on along with you. Soft-sided kennels are recommended, but hard kennels that are smaller enough to fit under the seat work, too. 

Larger pets can be transported through American PetEmbark, part of American Airlines Cargo; rates differ by size and can be calculated with their online rate calculator. But there’s a catch — American Airlines Cargo has a pretty long list of breed restrictions. Affenpinscher, American Bully, American Staffordshire Terriers, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Brussels Griffons, Bulldogs, Cane Corsos, Chow Chows, Dogue De Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniels, Japanese Chins, Lhasa Apsos, Mastiffs, Pekingeses, Pit Bulls, Presa Canarios, Pugs, Shar Peis, Shih Tzus, Staffordshire Terriers, and Tibetan Spaniels are not allowed in cargo. 

American Airlines only allows pet travel within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. 

Delta Airlines

Delta allows dogs, cats, and birds to travel as a carry-on if they fit under the seat in front of you. Like Alaska Airlines, Delta allows two pets to travel for the price of one if they can fit into the same carrier. Keep in mind that the carrier must be soft-sided. And the price isn’t too bad: A carry-on pet costs $95. Larger pets are out of luck, though; shipping a pet as cargo is currently only available for active military members traveling with change of station orders.

Check out Delta Airlines’ international pet travel policies and recommendations. 

Frontier Airlines

Pets can travel on Frontier Airlines for $99 per pet, per direction. Pets can’t fly as cargo or checked baggage, so they have to be small enough to fit under the seat in a carrier. There’s another Frontier perk besides the decent price, too: Frontier allows rabbits, small birds, guinea pigs, and hamsters to travel. A soft-sided case is recommended.

Frontier airlines does not allow pets on international flights. 

JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue allows dogs and cats to travel in the cabin as a carry-on. Like Frontier, larger pets aren’t allowed aboard, and there’s no cargo option. If you purchase an additional seat for your pet, they can travel in their carrier beside you, instead of under the seat, as long as the plane isn’t taking off or landing. Two pets are allowed per flight, as long as a second seat is purchased. The JetBlue pet fee is $125.

Check out JetBlue’s international pet travel policies and recommendations.

Spirit Airlines

Dogs, cats, small birds, and rabbits who are under 40 pounds can fly Spirit Airlines. One soft-sided carrier is allowed, and two pets are allowed in one carrier. The pet fee is $125.

Spirit Airlines does not accept pets on international flights. 

Southwest Airlines

Small dogs and cats are allowed to travel as a carry-on for a fee of $125. One hard or soft carrier is allowed, but two pets can use the same carrier. Pets can’t travel in cargo, so large dogs and cats will have to choose another airline.

Southwest does not allow pets on international flights. 

United Airlines

Pets who fit under a seat can be brought aboard as a carry-on. Pet parents can bring along two pets but must purchase an additional seat for a second pet. Hard-sided and soft-sided carriers are allowed.

Check out United Airlines’ int ernational pet travel policies and recommendations.

Honorable mention: Bark Air

Although it’s way out of budget for the average pet parent, and the location possibilities are super limited, we have to give a shout-out to Bark Air, a new airline catering specifically to dogs. Unlike every other airline out there, Bark Air offers a crate-free experience for pups; they just have to be on leash during take-off and landing, or if turbulence is expected.

Each flight is equipped with beds, toys, treats, and blankets — and there are no size or breed restrictions. The bad news? Bark Air currently only offers flights between New York and Los Angeles and New York and London — and they’re for a hefty price of $6000 to $8000…one way. But hey, there’s no pet fee. 

Some final tips

It can’t be overstated: When you’re flying with your pet, plan ahead. Most airlines have very limited space for pets, even if they’re just going to be under the seat in front of you. The earlier you book, the better.

Be sure to double check the airline’s policies when you book, since fees and requirements sometimes change. 

Some airlines require that your pet is up to date on rabies vaccinations for domestic flights, and they may have more vaccine and microchip requirements for international travel. Plus, some individual states have documentation requirements for visiting pets. Packing a pet health certificate from your veterinarian — which will list your pet’s breed, age, weight, vaccinations, surgeries, disease status, and other health history — is your safest bet. 

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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