• Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

10 Most Pet-Friendly Airlines in the US (2023 Update)

Bynewsmagzines

Jun 17, 2023
pomeranian on a carrier travelling by airplane

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pomeranian on a carrier travelling by airplane

Traveling with pets requires paying attention to additional rules and regulations. As a general rule of thumb, service animals are allowed to fly for free if they meet the airline’s requirements, and most airlines allow small cats and dogs for in-cabin flights.

While many US airlines have pet travel accommodations, they have different rules and fees. Some only allow cats and dogs on their flights, while others will include other small pets. It’s also important to look up the cargo policies for each airline because not all airlines allow pets to board as cargo.

We’ve researched 10 US airlines that provide accommodations for pets. Here’s what you need to know about each one.

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A Quick Look at the Best Pet-Friendly Airlines (2023 Update)

Airline Animals Allowed Price (One-way) In-Cabin Weight Restrictions
United Airlines Cabin: 1
Cargo: N/A
$125 None
American Airlines Cabin: 2
Cargo: 2
$125 None
Delta Airlines Cabin: 1
Cargo: 2
$125 None
Southwest Airlines Cabin: 2
Cargo: N/A
$95 None
JetBlue Cabin: 1
Cargo: N/A
$125 Pet and carrier can’t exceed 20 lbs
Hawaiian Airlines Cabin: 2
Cargo: 2
$125; $30 for travel within Hawaii Pet and carrier can’t exceed 25 lbs
Alaska Airlines Cabin: 2
Cargo: 2
$100 None
Allegiant Air Cabin: 2
Cargo: N/A
$50 Pet and carrier can’t exceed 20 lbs
Spirit Airlines Cabin: 2
Cargo: N/A
$125 Pet and carrier can’t exceed 40 lbs
Frontier Airlines Cabin: 1
Cargo: N/A
$99 None

The 10 Most Pet-Friendly US Airlines

1. United Airlines

United logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs
💲 Price (One-way): $125
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: 2 in premium cabins, 4 or 6 in economy (depending on type of plane)
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: Hard-sided: 12”W x 17.5”D x 7.5”H

Soft-sided: 11”W x 18”D x 11”H

United Airlines offers in-cabin pet transport services for cats and dogs only. While United doesn’t have a weight limit on pets, your pet must be able to fit comfortably inside a carrier and be able to stand and turn around in it. Only one pet is allowed to board per passenger, and United doesn’t allow two small pets to share one carrier.

You can add your pet as in-cabin cargo when you’re booking your tickets. The maximum number of pets per flight varies per flight, and allowance is given on a first-come, first-serve basis. United will transport your pet on any flight for $125, and you must pay an additional $125 for each layover. Pets can fly international flights as long as the country allows dogs from other countries to enter.


2. American Airlines

American Airlines

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs, small pets
💲 Price (One-way): In-Cabin: $125

Checked: $200; $150 to/from Brazil

✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: 7 kennels
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: Hard-sided: 13”W x 19”D x 9”H

Soft-sided: 11”W x 18”D x 11”H

For commercial flights, American Airlines allows pets to board with check-in and one carrier per passenger. Only active-duty US military and US State Department Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders can bring up to two pets in cargo.

If you have a larger pet, it can’t board on commercial flights, but you can use American Airlines Cargo’s PetEmbark program. PetEmbark has weather restrictions, and fees will vary depending on the flight route.


3. Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs, small birds
💲 Price (One-way): $125
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: 2 in first class; 4 in economy
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: 11”W x 18”D x 11”H

Delta allows small cats, dogs, and birds to fly in-cabin. One pet is permitted per kennel, but nursing cats and dogs with an unweaned litter can travel together in one kennel. Pets can travel internationally, but additional fees apply to each connecting flight.

Delta has different maximum pet capacities for each cabin class. Two pets are allowed for domestic and international first-class flights. International business class flights allow two pets, while pets aren’t allowed on domestic business class flights. Up to four pets are allowed in the main cabin for domestic and international flights.

Only approved pets of the US Military and US State Department Foreign Service personnel are allowed to travel with cargo on commercial flights. All other large pets must travel through Delta Cargo flights.


4. Southwest Airlines

Southwest airlines logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs
💲 Price (One-way): $95
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: 6
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: 10”W x 18.5”D x 9.5”H

Southwest Airlines permits small pets to travel in-cabin for domestic flights. Pets aren’t allowed on international flights, and Southwest doesn’t offer cargo space for pets. Most Southwest flights allow up to six kennels per cabin, but the maximum capacity can be fewer or more depending on the size of the plane.

Pets can travel to Puerto Rico, but they can’t fly to or from Hawaii. Another convenient feature Southwest offers is pet fees are refundable should you cancel your flight or reservation.


5. JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue Airways logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs,
💲 Price (One-way): $125
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: 6
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: 12.5”W x 17”D x 8.5”H

JetBlue only offers in-cabin flights for small cats and dogs. Passengers are allowed to bring one pet. JetBlue will fly pets domestically and internationally but excludes pets from traveling to and from Trinidad and Tobago and London.

While both hard-sided and soft-sided carriers are accepted, JetBlue recommends soft-sided carriers. If you don’t have an approved carrier, you can purchase one from JetBlue at the airport ticket counter for $55. However, quantities are limited and may not always be available.


6. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian airlines logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs, small birds
💲 Price (One-way): $125 from North America to Hawaii; $35 within the State of Hawaii
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: N/A
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: 10”W x 16”D x 9.5”H

Hawaiian Airlines allows pets to travel in the cabin or cargo for flights to and from North America and between the Hawaiian Islands. However, pets cannot travel to and from JFK, BOS, MCO, or AUS airports. Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t provide international flights for pets for both in the cabin and with checked luggage.

You can bring one adult cat or dog or two kittens or puppies of the same breed for in-cabin flights. Household birds can’t fly in-cabin, but they’re allowed with check-in. The maximum weight capacity for checked pets is 70 pounds with the pet and kennel. If they exceed the weight limit, they must be referred to Hawaiian Airlines’ cargo department. Checked pets have more expensive fees. It’s $225 for flights to and from Hawaii and North America and $60 for travel within Hawaii.

It’s also important to remember that Hawaii is a rabies-free state, so it has stricter rules for pets traveling to and from it.


7. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs, some exotic pets
💲 Price (One-way): $100
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: None
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: Hard-sided: 11”W x 17”D x 7.5”H

Soft-sided: 11”W x 17”D x 9.5”H

Alaska Airlines will fly pets in both cabin and cargo. Passengers can travel with up to two pets, and both pets must fit inside one carrier. Cats, dogs, rabbits, and small birds are allowed to fly in-cabin. Only cats and dogs are allowed on flights to Hawaii.

Pets can also travel in climate-controlled cargo compartments. Animals that can fly in cargo include cats, dogs, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, household birds, non-poisonous reptiles, pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, and tropical fish.

Alaska Airlines will not allow any brachycephalic dogs and cats to fly in cargo. It also has summer heat restrictions and will not fly pets in cargo in extreme weather. It also will not transport pets in cargo during the cold winter months from November 15 to January 10.


8. Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant Airlines logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs
💲 Price (One-way): $50
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: None
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: 16”W x 19”D x 9”H

Allegiant Airlines allows cats and dogs to fly in-cabin and up to two pets per passenger. However, both pets must fit comfortably inside one carrier. Pet must be at least 8 weeks old to board.

Allegiant allows both hard-sided and soft-sided carriers but strongly recommends soft-sided carriers for its flights. Allegiant will transport pets only within the contiguous 48 US and will not board pets on any international flights or flights to US territories.


9. Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs, small household birds, rabbits
💲 Price (One-way): $125
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: 6

Spirit Airlines allows small pets to board on in-cabin flights and doesn’t transport pets in cargo. It applies a weight restriction on flight and the combined weight of the pet and carrier can’t exceed 40 pounds.

Spirit doesn’t accept any pets on international flights, except for service animals. Cats and dogs are allowed to board flights to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. It’s best to make travel plans with pets well in advance as Spirit only allows six pets per cabin.


10. Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines logo

🐶🐱 Animals Allowed: Cats, dogs, small pets
💲 Price (One-way): $99
✈️ Max. number of pets in cabin: None
🧳 Cabin Carrier Dimensions: 14”W x 18”D x 8”H

Frontier Airlines allows cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, and small birds on its in-cabin flights. Exotic pets, including reptiles, amphibians, insects, spiders, ferrets, and large birds, aren’t allowed. While there isn’t a limit for pets on planes, only one pet per passenger is allowed.

Frontier will fly all eligible pets to all domestic locations, but only cats and dogs are allowed on international flights to the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Not all of Frontier’s cabin seats have spaces large enough to fit a carrier underneath. So, make sure to book flights as soon as possible to get a seat that can accommodate pets.

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Flying Safely With Your Pets

It’s best to start making travel plans as soon as possible because airlines require advanced notice and paperwork for pet travel. Most airlines require health and vaccine records that have been approved by veterinarians. So, make sure to get a list of all the documents that are needed for your pet to be approved to board a flight.

Domestic travel has a simpler process, while international travel often requires more thorough paperwork and documentation. Before booking an international flight, make sure that the country you’re going to, as well as any layover stops, allows foreign pets to enter.

Once your pet is cleared and has a reservation on your flight, you can purchase a crate that fits the airline’s requirements. The dimensions of the crate vary, so make sure to check your airline for specific measurements. There are crates approved by the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), but just make sure that their dimensions fit your airline’s requirements.

Keep in mind that pets must stay in their carrier throughout the whole flight. So, make sure to familiarize yourself with pet relief areas in airports so that you can take your pet there close to your boarding time. It’s helpful to exercise your pet on the morning of the flight to reduce restlessness. You can also include cozy blankets and fun toys in the carrier and give your pet a calming supplement before the flight.

Just note that most airlines don’t allow sedated or tranquilized pets on their flights due to discouragements from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

cat in a carrier bag ready to board an airplane
Image Credit: MarinaTr, Shutterstock

Flying With Service and Emotional Support Animals

Airlines allow approved service animals to fly for free and outside of carriers. If you have a service animal, make sure to ask your airline what documentation is required for their travel.

Emotional support animals (ESA) don’t receive the same treatment as service animals. They’re treated as regular pets and must follow the same rules. So, they can’t get out of their carriers and sit with you during flights. They also can’t fly on flights that have already met their pet cabin capacity.

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Conclusion

The best way to ensure your pet can travel with you is to call and make a reservation for your pet far in advance of your travel date. Make sure that your pet’s health and vaccine records are updated, and fill out any additional paperwork that the airline requires. Familiarizing yourself with the airline’s pet policy will make traveling with pets a smoother and less stressful process.


Featured Image Credit: nadisja, Shutterstock

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