Everything You Need to Know About Flying With Your Pet!

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Planning your next vacation and don’t want to leave the pet at home?  Or moving and need to get your pet to your new home in another state or country?

Many airlines allow pets to fly too!

However, flying (especially in the cargo hold) is not the safest way to transport your pets.  So only put them on a plane if you don’t have other options.

Everything You Need To Know About Flying With Your Pet

Can’t Resist This Cute Face? You May Be Able to Bring Your Pet With You on Your Next Flight, but It Will Take Some Planning!

I’ll tell you what you need to know if you want to bring your pet along for the ride!

Can Your Pet Fly With You in the Main Cabin?

Most airlines allow service animals to fly with you in the cabin for free as long as you provide the proper documentation in advance of your flight.

For other pets, here’s a look at the airline requirements and how much it will cost to bring your pet on board:

AirlineType of Pets PermittedWeight LimitCarrier DimensionsCost
Alaska Airlines• Cats, dogs, rabbits, and household birdsX• Hard Sided - 7.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 17 inches high

• Soft Sided - 9.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 17 inches high
• $100 each way
American Airlines• Cats and dogsX• Hard Sided - Up to 19 inches long x 13 inches wide x 9 inches high • $125 each way and you may have to pay the fee for each segment if your stop is longer than 4 hours
Delta• Cats, dogs, and household birdsX• Depends on flight, call Delta Reservations for more information• US & Canada - $125 each way

• Virgin Islands - $125 each way

• Puerto Rico - $125 each way

• Outside of US & Canada - $200 each way

• Brazil - $75 each way
Frontier Airlines• Cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, or small household birds

• Only dogs and cats on international flights
X• Up to 18 inches long x 14 inches wide x 8 inches high

• Soft sided recommended
• $75 each way
Hawaiian Airlines• Cats and dogs

• Can NOT carry-on a pet for flights from the continental US to Hawaii
• Pets less than 25 pounds • Up to 16 inches long x 10 inches wide x 9.5 inches high• Intra-Island - $35 each way

• Hawaii to North America - $125 each way

• North America to Hawaii - NOT allowed

• International - NOT allowed

• Flights to and from New York do NOT accept pets in the cabin
JetBlue• Cats and dogs• 20 pounds (carrier + pet)• Up to 17 inches long x 12.5 inches wide x 8.5 inches high• $100 each way

• Pets are NOT accept on flights to Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago
Southwest• Cats and dogsX• Up to 18.5 inches long x 13.5 inches wide x 8.5 inches high• $95 each way and on US flights only
United Airlines• Cats, dogs, rabbits, and birdsX• Hard sided - Up to 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high

• Soft sided - Up to 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high
• $125 each way

• $125 for each stopover of 4 hours or more within the US

• $125 per stopover of 24 hours or more on international flights
US Airways• Cats and dogsX• Up to 19 inches long x 13 inches wide x 9 inches high• $125 each way

• Pets are only accepted for US flights (except Hawaii) and only certain international destinations

• Pets are NOT accepted to or from Europe, South America, the Middle East, Barbados, and Jamaica
Virgin America• Cats and dogs• 20 pounds (carrier + pet)• Up to 18 inches long x 15 inches wide x 8 inches high

• Soft sided carrier recommended
• $100 each way

Note:   American Airlines has 2 pet compartments (like a small closet) for First Class passengers in its A321 transcontinental aircraft only.

And here’s a look at general rules and tips that apply to most airlines (but double check for your flight!):

  • Book in advance because many airlines only allow a few pets in-cabin on each flight
  • Animals must be at least 8 to 10 weeks old (depending on the the airline)
  • Bringing a pet on-board counts towards your carry-on bag limit
  • A health certificate may be required (especially on international flights)

Your pet could feel ill during the flight so it’s suggested you give them food and water ~4 hours before boarding and NOT during the flight.

Everything You Need To Know About Flying With Your Pet

You Can Bring Your Furry Friend on the Plane, If They’re Small Enough to Fit Under the Seat in Front of You

Checking Your Pet

If your pet is too big to fly with you in the cabin, they may still be able to ride in the cargo hold.

Here’s what you need to know:

AirlineWeightDimensionsCostOther Details
Alaska Airlines• Up to 150 pounds (pet + carrier)• Up to 40 inches long x 27 inches wide x 30 inches high• $100 each way• If temperatures at origin, destination, or connecting flight exceed certain limits, Alaska Airlines may NOT accept pets for safety reasons
American AirlinesX• Up to 40 inches long x 27 inches wide x 30 inches high• $200 each way, except $150 each way to Brazil

• Connecting flights only allowed through American Airlines hub cities
• Pets are NOT accepted if the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at ANY location on the itinerary

• Pets are also NOT accepted if the ground temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at ANY location on the itinerary
DeltaX• Not larger than 40 inches long x 27 inches wide x 30 inches high• $200 each way• Pets will NOT be accepted if temperature is below 10 degrees Fahrenheit or above 85 degrees Fahrenheit

• Pets are also NOT accepted from May 15 to September 15 and from November 1 to March 31 to certain cold destinations
Frontier Airlines• Does NOT accept pets in the cargo holdXXX
Hawaiian Airlines• Up to 70 pounds (pet + kennel)• Carrier size restrictions are based on the type of aircraft so check the Hawaiian Airlines pet page• $60 each way within Hawaii

• $225 each way outside of Hawaii
• Pets are NOT accepted if the origin, destination, or connection airport is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit or over 85 degrees Fahrenheit

• OR to and from Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Sacramento from April 15 to October 15

• OR to and from New York, except if your pet is a certified Service Animal
JetBlue• Does NOT accept pets in the cargo holdXXX
Southwest• Does NOT accept pets in the cargo holdXXX
United AirlinesX• Up to 40 inches long x 27 inches wide x 30 inches high on most aircraftvaries depending on the weight of the pet + carrier X
US Airways• Does NOT accept pets in the cargo holdXXX
Virgin America• Does NOT accept pets in the cargo holdXXX

Note:  Short-nosed dogs (Pug, Boxer, Bulldog, Pit Bull, etc.) and cats (Persian, Himalayan, etc) are NOT permitted due to health concerns.

For safety reasons your pet will need:

  • A form signed by your veterinarian 10 days prior to travel, certifying that they’re in good health
  • Appear healthy for travel and free of infectious, contagious and/or communicable disease
  • Food and water within 4 hours of delivering them to the plane

It’s NOT recommended you give your pet a tranquilizer before the flight because it may impact their ability to adjust to the pressure changes.  But check with your vet!

Bring your pet to the check-in counter or the area specified by the airline well in advance of your flight.

Are You Traveling to an International Destination?

If you’re traveling internationally, it’s important to read the rules and regulations for importing pets in advance of your trip.  Some destinations don’t allow pets and other require permits and proof of specific vaccinations during a certain time frame.

Everything You Need To Know About Flying With Your Pet

If You’re Headed Outside of the US Make Sure You’re Aware of the Rules in Your Destination in Advance!

PetTravel.com is a great resource for the regulations in various countries.  But I don’t know how often they update the information, so you may still want to contact the consulate for your destination.

What Type of Carrier Should Your Pet Have for the Flight?

Make sure you have a carrier for your pet that meets the airline’s guidelines or they won’t be allowed on the flight.  The dimensions required by each airline are listed in the tables above, but the carrier should also be:

  • Leak proof and have a towel or pads at the bottom to absorb any accidents
  • Not all wire
  • Well ventilated on at least on 2 sides
  • Metal NOT plastic fasteners
  • Should NOT contain toys, blankets or dog beds.

And if your pet is checked their carrier should also have the following:

It’s a good idea to get them acclimated to their carrier in advance of your flight.

Traveling is stressful for pets both mentally and physically, so you should NOT fly them in the cargo hold unless it’s absolutely necessary.  Be sure to read the Humane Society’s tips for flying with your pet.

If you need a new carrier or other pet supplies for you trip, you can save 5% to 6% by purchasing PetSmart or Petco gift cards at office supply stores or grocery stores with certain cards:

Don’t forget to check shopping portals for more bonus points or cash back!

Bottom Line

Some airlines allow pets to fly with you on the plane or in the cargo hold.  But there are restrictions and guidelines you must follow.

And if you’re flying internationally you’ll need to know the rules for importing pets to your destination.

No one wants to leave their pets home alone when they go on vacation, but flying can be traumatic for them, especially in the cargo hold.  So be sure that bringing your pet on the plane is the best thing to do.

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7 responses to “Everything You Need to Know About Flying With Your Pet!

  1. Leave your stupid freaking pets at home! They are not your children, they are animals. They don’t need to go with you everywhere. The last flight I was on with a dog, it had diarrhea. Right in the aisle was a stinky runny mess. Three of hours of that where several people actually threw up because of the smell. You’re little fru fru is not cute to everyone.

  2. Why would you encourage people to bring their smelly, parasite-infested, germ-ridden animals into a small sealed aluminum tube containing people who seriously dislike and/or are extremely allergic to them. Probably because you are a morally flexible pet owner like most who think because they “love” their animals everyone else simply must, regardless of allergies, phobias (I personally was mauled twice as a child), noxious odors, and incessant barking. I find that virtually all pet owners are extremely inconsiderate of others and could not care less about anyone else’s discomfort as long as they and their beloved animals get to do whatever they want. The “service animal” scam being perpetrated on the world by these same selfish, arrogant types is one of the most morally reprehensible things I have seen in recent years.

  3. You had a note about short nosed dogs, but was that for all airlines or just Virgin America, the last one? Was that just for cargo holds? I have a Frenchie and he helps with my anxiety, but he’s not certified (yet). I could go the flight itself without him, but the trip… depends how long it is.

  4. Wow, 2 posts by 2 different bloggers (Gary Leff) on the same subject in the last few days. The pictures are also the same breed of dog. What are you guys lobbying for? Collusion?
    As I mentioned on Gary’s blog, I support either putting the animal in the cargo hold or better yet, leaving the pet at home.
    Sorry Cori, but your anxiety or loneliness is not an excuse to subject your fellow passengers with real, actual allergies to life threatening situations. I know this isn’t PC, but it’s probably best that you stay home until you can cope without traveling with your pet.

  5. Although I grew up with pet dogs and am a current dog owner in which I love my dog dearly and treat as my fur baby, dogs should not travel long distances, especially not on a plane. Dogs are not people and cannot appreciate the scenery or the places seen. Travel stresses most animals. They are much better off with a dog sitter or boarded.

  6. We flew our 2 puggles(pug/beagle mix) from LA to London a few years ago. The quarantine demands were much stricter back in 2009, 6 months after the initial rabies shots and blood test but we could do this at home before flying them over, now I believe it’s much shorter. We went with BA for the flight over, they had to be in each their own kennel which were large enough for me to get inside and I’m just under 6 foot tall. There was shredded newspaper on the bottom of their crates, access to water via a little bucket with ice inside it. When we were finally reunited at the animal control area they were clean and on leash after being inspected by a vet and all their paperwork was checked out. On our return to the US years later we came home on Virgin and they allowed a blanket, supplied by Virgin for the bottom of their crate, we also fashioned the little bucket with ice in it that we kept from the flight over. Getting them through animal control here in LA was a tricky as we had to get from the arrivals area to the Virgin Cargo location, pick up the paperwork and drive over to customs location a few miles away, wait there for a bit to get it signed off then back to Virgin Cargo. Once we got the dogs they were still locked in their crates we got them out and walked them right out front. Both BA and Virgin were terrific with handling our dogs. They came out both ends pretty good, like nothing happened.

  7. Thank you for the post, Daraius. Much to the chagrin of the narrow-minded Jack and Jim, pets are kind of an important part of people’s lives and we would prefer to bring them on a cross-country move than to have them walk 2000 miles.