A Guide to the Pet Policies of Major U.S. Airlines

2012-airline-guide

Plan in advance to comply with airline pet policies for flight.

Flying with a pet can be a daunting experience. Which airline should you take? Does it allow your breed? How much will it cost? What if you have a service animal?

We checked out the most active airlines to find exactly those answers. Below is a list of the major U.S. airlines and their airline pet policies in 2013.

Don’t miss our list of flight reminders at the end to make sure you are fully prepared before booking you and your pet on your next flight.

AirTran Airways

Air Tran logo1-800-247-8726 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 1 per person, 6 total animals allowed on board per flight
Price: $75 each way
Advance reservations: Required
Allowed animals: Cats and dogs
Carrier maximum size: 8.5″H x 17″L x 12″W without weight restrictions
Service animals: Free, allowed regardless of total flight pet maximum. Emotional support animals require medical documentation.

Alaska Air Group (also Horizon Air)

Alaska Air & Horizon Air1-800-252-7522 | Website

Price: $100 each way (Cabin or Baggage)
Advance reservations: Pets can be booked up to 24 hours prior to departure
Allowed animals: Cats, dogs, rabbits, birds
Carrier maximum size: 7.5″H x 17″L x 12″W up to 150 pounds (larger carriers and additional animal types allowed in baggage)
Service animals: Free, allowed regardless of total flight pet maximum. Service animals must be wearing an identifiable harness. Emotional support animals require medical documentation.

  • Fur-st Class Care is an animal flight program with the airline that provides a $10 discount at Banfield for a health certificate.

American Airlines (also American Eagle)

American Airlines and American Eagle logo1-800-223-5436 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 7 per flight, 1 per person (2 per person for baggage)
Price: $125 each way (Cabin), $175 (Baggage). Prices are per kennel each way.
Advance reservations: Required
Allowed animals: Cats, dogs
Carrier maximum size: 9″H x 19″L x 13″W up to 150 pounds (larger carriers allowed in baggage)
Service animals: Free, allowed regardless of total flight pet maximum. Emotional support animals require medical documentation.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines logo1-888-750-3284 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 8 per flight, 1 per person (2 per person for baggage)
Price: $125 each way (Cabin), $200 (Baggage)
Advance reservations: Recommended
Allowed animals: Cats, dogs, birds
Carrier maximum size: Not specified for cabin, baggage 40″L x 28″W x 30″H baggage, larger allowed as cargo
Service animals: Free. Emotional support animals require medical documentation.
Weather restrictions: Animals cannot fly when temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. No pets are accepted for travel during May 15 – September 15.
Breed restrictions: No snub-nosed dogs or cats allowed

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines logo1-800-432-1359 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 10 per flight, 1 carrier per person
Price: $75 each way (Classic and Economy fare), $125 (Basic fare)
Advance reservations: Recommended
Allowed animals: Cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters
Carrier maximum size: Varies by plane model
Service animals: Free, must remain harnessed
Weather restrictions: Animals cannot fly when temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (baggage). Note: Pets are no longer allowed to fly in baggage as of November 1, 2012.

Hawaiian Airlines

hawaiian airlines logo1-800-367-5320 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 3 per flight (baggage), 1 pet and carrier per person in cabin
Price: Cabin: $35 (neighboring island) $175 (North America, cats and dogs only). Baggage: $60 (neighboring island) $225 (North America, cats, dogs and birds only)
Advance reservations: Recommended since max animals per flight depends on airplane type
Carrier maximum size: 16″L x 10″W x 9.5″H and 25 pounds (Cabin), 70 pounds (Baggage)
Service animals: Free, health certificate required within 14 days (check for quarantine requirements)
Weather restrictions: Animals cannot fly when temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (baggage)
Breed restrictions: Snub-nosed dogs and cats require a waiver to be signed

JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue logo1-800-538-2583 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 1 pet carrier per person
Price: $100 each way
Advance reservations: Recommended
Carrier maximum size: 17″L x 12.5″W x 8.5″H and 20 pounds for pet and carrier total weight limit (Cabin)
Service animals: Free, can bring more than one service animal

  • A service called JetPaws includes a bag tag, welcome email, pet etiquette guide and earns you 300 TrueBlue frequent flyer points per flight for each pet. PDF Download

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines logo1-800-435-9792 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 5 carriers per flight, 1 pet carrier per person with up to 2 animals of the same species. Pets are not accepted as baggage.
Price: $75 each way
Advance reservations: Required with in-person payment at the ticket counter
Carrier maximum size: Varies by seat location
Service animals: Free, does not count toward flight maximum

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines logo1-800-772-7117 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 4 carriers per flight, 1 pet carrier per person with up to 2 animals of the same species
Price: $100 each way
Advance reservations: Recommended
Service animals: Free. Emotional support animals require medical documentation.

United Airlines

United Airlines logo1-800-864-8331 | Website

Maximum number of pets: 4 carriers per flight
Price: $125 each way (Cabin), $75-250 based on size and weight (baggage), variable price for cargo
Carrier maximum size: Varies depending on carrier type
Service animals: Free. Emotional support animals require medical documentation.
Breed restrictions: Snub-nosed dogs mention extra care, some breeds require reinforced crates

US Airways

US Airways logo1-800-428-4322 | Website

Price: $125 each way (Cabin only)
Carrier maximum size: Varies depending on carrier type
Service animals: Free. Emotional support animals require medical documentation.

Additional Airlines

One trend seems to be emerging. In our research, we noticed that most airlines are forgoing breed bans (BSL) and opting to adopt restrictions on snub-nosed dogs and cats on their flights. It’s important to check out these requirements before you book your flight.

Pet Flight Considerations

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Find out your airline’s pet policies before you get to the check-in desk.

Many other factors can affect your pet’s ability to travel with you on an airline. We recommend always checking with the airline first to discuss all of their pet requirements and restrictions before booking your travel.

Here’s a list of things that you might need or incur when booking or traveling with a pet.

  • Some animals may be allowed to travel during inclement weather with a Certificate of Acclimation or other documentation from your veterinarian. Some airlines allow a little wiggle room, while others stick to the posted temperatures.
  • Some airlines will not allow pets to be booked or checked in online. Additionally, some airlines may require you to pre-pay for the pet’s travel; keep in mind on most flights this fee is non-refundable.
  • Pets may need proof of vaccination against rabies and/or the parvo virus even when traveling within the United States.
  • Government-approved health certificates may be required depending on your departure and arrival locations.
  • Some destinations will require your pet to be quarantined. If this is an issue for your service or emotional support animal, check out the requirements of your destination in advance.
  • There is a possibility of veterinarian inspections and related fees at your destination. These are more common when traveling internationally, but even Hawaii mentions an animal quarantine.
  • Ages of animals allowed to fly do vary. Some airlines prefer 8 weeks old, while others ask for 10 weeks or older. Some airlines also specify that all traveling animals must be weaned.
  • Always register your pet at the time of booking your flight. This gives you a chance to ask questions and find out what is required when transporting an animal. Some airlines allow pets in the cabin and baggage areas while others only allow small pets in a carrier within the cabin. Know what to expect before you arrive for your flight so both you and your pet can arrive comfortably at your destination.
  • Many airlines will count your pet carrier as your one allowed on-board item, and additional fees may apply for other carry-on luggage.
  • Carriers should always be clearly marked with “Live Animals.”
  • Depending on your destination, a Live Animals Handling Declaration may be required to be completed.
  • Carrier materials may vary when it comes to restrictions. For most airlines, we’ve found that hard carriers have a specific size limit, while soft carriers are allowed to be a bit larger.
  • Expect earlier check-in times. This is as good for you as it is for your pet. The earlier you arrive, the more time you will have for water, snacks and potty breaks before your pet flies. Book your reservation early and specify that your pet is traveling with you. Some airlines have a limited number of animals or carriers allowed per flight and if you don’t list your pet when booking your reservation, you might be denied boarding with your best friend.
  • Many airlines will not guarantee oxygen availability for your pet in the event of an emergency. Additionally, most airlines will not allow you to sit in an exit row when traveling with an animal.
  • Also from Pets Adviser: 10 Air Travel Tips for Dogs.

There are a lot of factors that can affect the experience of traveling with your pet. Contact your preferred airline in advance to make sure you have everything covered that they require. Airline pet policies can change, so visit the airlines’ websites listed above for the most current information.

Last updated: January 24, 2013. Photos: Global Jet (top), Grant Wickes/Flickr

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