Top 5 Pet-Friendly Airlines

Traveling with your beloved pet can be a heartwarming experience, but finding the right airline that accommodates your furry friend can also be a daunting task.

Fortunately, there are several pet-friendly airlines that allow dogs, cats, birds, and even other household animals to fly with you to your destination.

Pet-Friendly Airlines: An Overview

In a hurry? We’ve put together a quick overview of the most important things to know about choosing a pet-friendly airline.

  • Choosing a pet-friendly airline is not just about transportation; it’s a commitment to creating a safe, stress-free, and inclusive journey for your beloved pet. There are various factors you need to consider, such as the airline’s pet policies, pet fees, and travel duration.
  • Some of the best pet-friendly airlines are Delta, Southwest, and Alaska.
  • Before your pet travels with you by air, it’s important to make sure that they’re familiar with their crate.
  • You also have to make sure that all your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • The only legally guaranteed way to fly with an animal is to fly with a legally valid service animal.

Why Choose a Pet-Friendly Airline?

Opting for a pet-friendly airline ensures that your furry friend can accompany you on your journey, providing comfort and companionship during travel. Pets are considered part of the family, and being able to bring them along can alleviate the stress and worry of leaving them behind.

Additionally, traveling with your pet eliminates the need for alternative accommodations or pet sitters, making your trip more convenient and enjoyable.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pet-Friendly Airline

When selecting a pet-friendly airline, it’s crucial to consider various factors to ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for you and your pet. Here are some key considerations:

  • Pet Policies: Each airline has different pet policies regarding the types of animals allowed, where they can travel in the cabin or cargo hold, and any breed or size restrictions. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific policies of the airline you choose.
  • Destination Restrictions: Some international and domestic destinations have strict rules and procedures for bringing pets. Research the pet regulations at your destination to avoid any surprises or complications.
  • Pet Fees: Airlines charge varying pet fees for passengers traveling with pets. Consider the cost of bringing your pet and factor it into your travel budget.
  • Travel Duration: If you have a long flight, consider your pet’s comfort during the journey. Choose an airline that offers pet amenities, such as designated pet relief areas or onboard facilities.
  • Temperature Restrictions: Airlines may have temperature restrictions for pet travel to ensure the safety and well-being of your pet. Check if there are any temperature limitations during your travel dates.

Creating a Safe and Stress-Free Journey for Your Pet

When it comes to traveling with pets, there are certain risks and challenges that pet owners need to be aware of.

Stress and Anxiety in Pets

One of the main concerns is the stress and anxiety that pets may experience during flights. Being confined in a small space for an extended period of time can be overwhelming for our furry friends.

Health Concerns During Flights

Not only can the stress and anxiety affect their mental well-being, but it can also have a negative impact on their physical health. Pets may become restless, agitated, or even develop symptoms of motion sickness during flights.

It is important for pet owners to understand these potential health concerns and take necessary measures to ensure their pets’ comfort and safety. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is a reputable organization representing veterinarians and providing authoritative information on various aspects of pet health and care. Their resources can be valuable for understanding the health considerations and best practices associated with pet travel.

Regulations and Restrictions

Another challenge when it comes to traveling with pets is navigating through various regulations and restrictions imposed by different airlines or countries. Each airline has its own set of rules regarding pet travel, including size restrictions, breed limitations, and documentation requirements. Moreover, different countries may have specific health regulations that need to be followed before bringing a pet into their territory.

Pet owners must do thorough research and planning ahead of time to ensure compliance with these regulations. Failure to comply can result in delays or even denial of entry for your beloved pet.

While risks and challenges are associated with traveling with pets, proper preparation and understanding can help mitigate these issues. By taking necessary precautions and seeking advice from veterinarians or professional pet travel services, we can ensure a safe journey for our furry companions while keeping their well-being our top priority.

Top Pet-Friendly Airlines

Flying with pets is an experience that has become significantly more accessible, thanks to the commitment of several airlines to prioritize the well-being and comfort of four-legged passengers. Among the top pet-friendly airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta Airlines stand out for their comprehensive pet policies and dedicated services.

1.  Delta Airlines

Cost: Delta’s pet fees vary based on the travel destination and the size of the pet. The fees for in-cabin pets are generally around $125 each way, while cargo hold fees range from $200 to $375, depending on the destination.

In-Cabin: Cats and dogs.

Cargo Hold: Cats and dogs. Certain brachycephalic (snub-nosed) breeds may have restrictions.


  • In-cabin pets must be at least 10 weeks old and fit comfortably in an approved carrier.
  • A health certificate issued within 10 days of travel is required.
  • Certain breeds and snub-nosed dogs may have restrictions.

Delta Airlines has consistently earned praise for its commitment to pet-friendly travel. The airline offers both in-cabin and cargo hold options for pet transport. Delta’s climate-controlled, pressurized pet cabins in the cargo hold provide a safe and comfortable environment. They also have a stringent Pet Travel Program with detailed guidelines to ensure the safety of pets during the journey.

2. Southwest Airlines

Cost: Southwest Airlines offers one of the most budget-friendly pet fares, with a flat rate of $95 each way.

In-Cabin: Cats and dogs only.

Cargo Hold: No.


  • Pets must be at least eight weeks old.
  • Only small cats and dogs in an approved carrier are allowed in-cabin.
  • The carrier counts as the carry-on item, and only six pets are allowed per flight.

Southwest Airlines is renowned for its straightforward and accommodating pet policy. Allowing small pets to travel in-cabin with their owners, Southwest maintains a pet fare that is considerably lower than those of many other airlines. The airline also follows a first-come, first-served policy for in-cabin pet spots, making it convenient for passengers to plan their travels with their furry companions.

3. Alaska Airlines

Cost: Cost: Alaska Airlines’ pet fees vary, with in-cabin fees around $100 and cargo hold fees ranging from $150 to $300.

In-Cabin: Cats and dogs.

Cargo Hold: Cats and dogs. Certain brachycephalic breeds are restricted.


  • In-cabin pets must be at least eight weeks old.
  • A health certificate issued within 10 days of travel is required.
  • Only certain breeds are allowed in the cargo hold.

Alaska Airlines has earned a reputation for its welcoming approach to pet travel. The airline offers both in-cabin and cargo hold options, providing flexibility for pet owners based on their preferences and pet’s needs. Alaska Airlines also maintains a Pet Connect program, allowing owners to track their pet’s journey and stay informed about their well-being throughout the travel process.

4. United Airlines

Cost: United’s PetSafe program, which includes both in-cabin and cargo hold options, has varied fees. In-cabin pet fees are generally around $125, while cargo hold fees range from $389 to $969, depending on destination and pet size.

In-Cabin: Cats and dogs.

Cargo Hold: Cats and dogs. Certain brachycephalic breeds are restricted.


  • In-cabin pets must be at least 16 weeks old.
  • A health certificate issued within 10 days of travel is required.
  • Only certain breeds are allowed in the cargo hold.

United Airlines has implemented a comprehensive PetSafe program designed to prioritize the safety and comfort of pets during air travel. The airline provides options for both in-cabin and cargo-hold transport, ensuring flexibility for pet owners. United Airlines offers climate-controlled transport in the cargo hold and has specific guidelines for pet carriers to enhance the safety of the journey.

5. Frontier Airlines

Cost: Frontier Airlines charges a fee of $99 each way for pets traveling in-cabin.

In-Cabin: Cats and dogs only.

Cargo Hold: No.


  • In-cabin pets must be at least eight weeks old.
  • Pets must be in an approved carrier that fits under the seat.
  • Health certificates are not required for in-cabin pets.

Frontier Airlines distinguishes itself as a pet-friendly carrier by allowing small pets to travel in-cabin. The airline has a straightforward pet policy with reasonable fees, making it an attractive option for pet owners. Frontier Airlines also emphasizes clear communication with passengers, ensuring they are well-informed about the travel process for their pets.

These top pet-friendly airlines have recognized the growing demand for pet-inclusive travel and have taken substantial steps to ensure a positive and secure experience for pets and their owners. Whether it’s Delta’s comprehensive Pet Travel Program, Southwest’s budget-friendly pet fare, United’s PetSafe initiative, Frontier’s in-cabin options, or Alaska’s commitment to transparency, these airlines exemplify the industry’s evolution towards more pet-friendly practices.
dog in aircraft cabin near window

Tips for Pet Owners

When it comes to air travel with your furry friend, there are a few things you need to consider. In this section, we will provide you with some valuable tips on making the journey as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your beloved pet.

Choosing the Right Airline

First and foremost, preparing for air travel with your pet requires careful planning. Be sure to research different airlines and their policies regarding pet travel. Not all airlines have the same rules and regulations, so it’s important to choose one that suits your needs and ensures the safety and comfort of your furry companion.

Crate Training and Familiarization

Crate training is an essential part of preparing your pet for air travel. Familiarize them with their crate well in advance, making it a comfortable and secure space for them. Gradually increase the duration of time they spend inside the crate to help them adjust better during the journey.

Health Check and Documentation

Before embarking on any trip, scheduling a visit to your veterinarian is crucial. Ensure your pet is in good health by getting a thorough check-up. Additionally, make sure all necessary vaccinations are up-to-date, as some airlines may require specific documentation. ASPCA sheds more light on travel safety tips for your furry pets as they accompany you on your exciting endeavors.

What to Pack for Pet Travel

When packing for your pet’s travel needs, remember to include essentials such as food, water bowls, medications (if applicable), toys, or comfort items that will help keep them calm during the journey. It’s also wise to pack familiar bedding or clothing with scents from home; this can provide a sense of security in an unfamiliar environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I book a direct flight for my pet, or do layovers pose additional challenges?

It’s generally advisable to choose a direct flight when traveling with pets. Layovers can increase the overall stress for pets, especially if they require transfers between different planes.

Are there age restrictions for pets traveling on airlines?

Most airlines have age restrictions for in-cabin travel, typically requiring pets to be at least eight to twelve weeks old. For cargo travel, the minimum age requirement may vary, and specific guidelines depend on the airline.

What should I do if my pet has a medical condition or requires special care during the flight?

If your pet has a medical condition or requires special care, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian before the journey. Additionally, inform the airline in advance to ensure proper accommodations and to address any specific needs your pet may have.

Can I feed my pet during the flight, and how should I manage bathroom breaks?

Feeding your pet during the flight is generally not recommended, especially for short journeys. However, ensure they are well-hydrated. For bathroom breaks, in-cabin pets may not have access to a designated bathroom area, so consider scheduling a bathroom break before the flight.

Do airlines provide any amenities or services for pets during the journey?

Some airlines offer amenities such as pet-friendly kits, blankets, or even special treats. However, the availability of these amenities can vary. Check with the airline in advance to understand what services and comforts they provide for traveling pets.

Embracing Pet-Friendly Skies

By following these tips and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure that air travel with your beloved pet is a smooth experience filled with happy memories. So buckle up (or should we say leash up?) because together, you’re about to embark on unforgettable adventures!