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Taking To The Skies With Your Pet

At A Glance

Alaska Airlines is considered among the most pet-friendly airlines for dogs, with American Airlines coming in a close second. While all airlines have varying policies on flying with pets, generally:

  • You may bring your cat, dog, rabbit, or household bird with you as long as they fit comfortably inside a carrier stowed under the seat in front of you.
  • Larger animals and unique pets may be checked in cargo, but you’ll have to check with your carrier to confirm the types of pets they accommodate.
  • Service animals are welcome on most airlines, as long as you have the necessary paperwork for them.

Flying with a dog or any other pet can be stressful. Airlines have very different policies when it comes to flying with pets, so it’s important to do your research before booking a flight. Some airlines are more pet-friendly than others, and some have strict regulations about flying with pets.

So, how do you make the experience hassle-free for you and your canine buddy?

By ensuring you go through the pet policy of your chosen travel partner before your flight.

You’ll also want to prepare your pet for the trip, so they’re less stressed
during the experience.

Ohio-based veterinarian Susan Lippy suggests crate training, as well as getting your pet used to airplane sounds. “You will need to prepare the pup to tolerate being left alone in the crate for long periods. Acclimate them to airplane sounds in advance as well”, shares Lippy.

With a bit of preparation and planning, flying with a pet can be a breeze, especially if you happen to be moving long distance.

So, which are the most pet-friendly airlines? Read on to find out.

Alaska Airlines

With the lowest fees and most flexible pet policies, Alaska Airlines leads the pack among the most pet-friendly airlines worldwide, with pets allowed into the main cabin. And while the charges may be steep at $100 one way per carrier or kennel, the airline does allow two pets of the same species and size to travel in the same carrier. That works out to just $50 per pet.

While you can travel with up to four pets, you can bring only two pet carriers into the main cabin, if you also purchase the adjacent seat.

“I have done most of my animal airline travel with Alaska Airlines”, shares Alaska-based dog trainer Josh Brown who has also used Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa.

Your pet carrier is typically considered part of your carry-on baggage, and it’s no different with Alaska Airlines. So, factor that in before check-in or pack light.

What I love about this airline is that it also allows rabbits and household birds into the main cabin, unlike most airlines that restrict main cabin pets to just cats and dogs. Your pet can also accompany you to an Alaska lounge as long as it is well-behaved or in a carry-on kennel.

Also, arriving early at the airport is important since check-in for in-cabin pets begins earlier. Alaska offers “Fur-st Class Care”, which includes a notification card once your in-cargo pet has gone on board and a personal travel representative to answer any questions you may have.

Airline Price Per Pet Allowed in the Cabin Allowed in the Cargo Size Restrictions
L x W x H
Alaska Airlines $100 Yes Yes Hard-sided: 17" x 11" x 7.5"

Soft-sided: 17" x 11" x 9.5"

American Airlines $125 Yes Yes Hard-sided kennel: 19”x 13” x 9”

Soft-sided kennel: 18" x 11" x 11"

Delta $75 - to/from Brazil

$95 - to/from
U.S./Canada/Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands

$200 - International

Yes Yes 18” x 11” x 11”
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines $74 - $396 Yes Yes 18" x 11" x 9"
JetBlue $125  Yes No 17" x 12.5" x 8.5"
Hawaiian Airlines Cabin: $35 - within State of Hawaii

$125 - between Hawaii and North America

Cargo: $60 - within State of Hawaii

$225 - between Hawaii and North America

Yes Yes 16"x 10" x 9.5"
United Airlines $125 Yes Yes Hard-sided kennels: 17.5” x 12” x 7.5”

Soft-sided kennels: 18” x 11” x 11”

Frontier Airlines  $99 Yes No 18" x 14" x 8"
Lufthansa Airlines Cabin: $72 - within Europe

$120 - intercontinental routes

Cargo: $115 - within Europe

$437 - on intercontinental routes

Yes Yes 22" x 16" x 9"
Air Canada $50 - within Canada and Canada/U.S. (except Hawaii)

$100 - international

Yes No Hard-sided: 21.5" x 15.5" x 9"

Soft-sided: 21.5" x 15.5" x 10.5"

American Airlines

They are second place on our list of pet-friendly airlines 2022. Pets are allowed on American Airlines flights, but there are a few restrictions. Only small cats and dogs are allowed in the cabin, and they must be able to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you. Pets must also be kept inside their carriers for the entire duration of the flight.

According to the their pet policy, larger animals must travel as cargo, which can be arranged through American Airlines’ PetEmbark program. They also have temperature restrictions in place to ensure your pet is comfortable while in transit.

Service animals are allowed on American Airlines flights free of charge, as long as they are fully trained. You’ll also need documentation to prove your service animal is healthy, well-behaved, and fully trained.

Emotional support animals and service animals that haven’t completed their training are considered pets.

The airline levies a fee for traveling with pets, which varies depending on the animal’s size and the destination. Typically, cabin and cargo charges for pets cost around $125 to $500, depending on the animal’s size.

Delta

Next on our list of dog-friendly airlines is Delta, which also happens to be cat-and-bird-friendly.

However, keep in mind that there are still some restrictions when traveling with pets on Delta. Only small cats and dogs can travel in the cabin, and they must be able to fit comfortably inside an airline-approved carrier. Pets that do not fit in an airline-approved carrier may be checked in cargo.

For safety reasons, only one pet carrier is allowed per passenger, and it must be stored under the seat in front of you. Flying with pets on Delta is also budget-friendly, with prices ranging between $75 to $200, depending on your destination.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Another pet-friendly airline, and they allow small dogs and cats to travel in the economy cabin on most of their flights. Your pets are also allowed in business class for travel within Europe.

KLM has a comprehensive travel policy for pets and recommends making pet reservations via the phone to address any issues before you take off. The airline also advocates making your pet’s reservations at least 48 hours in advance.

Trained service dogs can fly with you on KLM, provided you’ve submitted the necessary documentation at least 48 hours before your flight. Travelers to and from the United States may also travel with psychiatric support animals. Prices vary based on your flight’s destination and whether you’re flying your pets in the cabin or as cargo.

Kathryn Berck, a dog mom from Texas, has a great tip for fur parents with pets in cargo: “Whenever my dog/s have had to stay overnight somewhere in transit, I would tape a large note on the top of the kennel asking, in two languages, that the dog be walked if possible; and that the leash was in the small container on top of the box.”

black dog sitting in the plane

JetBlue

JetBlue’s mission to bring humanity back to air travel also extends to its four-legged passengers. With some of the most pet-friendly airline policies, it is no surprise why pets and their parents love JetBlue.

Small cats and dogs, including service animals, are welcome in the cabin. JetBlue’s pet benefit program JetPaws features “petiquettes” and other helpful travel guidelines. And that’s not all! The airline also has a TrueBlue program that allows pet parents to earn up to 300 TrueBlue points on every flight segment when traveling with pets. This is in addition to the points they already earn for the flight.

Cats and dogs should fit inside the airline-provided carrier and be placed under the seat in front of you. If your pet is too large to travel in the cabin, it can fly as cargo with JetBlue’s partners. Unfortunately, JetBlue doesn’t allow pets to fly as cargo or checked-in baggage, so you’ll need to look for a travel partner that does.

Flying with your pet will also cost you an extra fee of $125 each way, plus an additional charge per extra seat and carrier occupied by a second pet. Service animals can fly with you at no extra cost and can stay on the floor or sit on your lap for the duration of the flight.

Hawaiian Airlines

Next on our list of most pet-friendly airlines is Hawaiian Airlines, which welcomes small cats and dogs in-cabin on most of their flights.

Pets must remain in their carrier for the entirety of the flight and placed under the seat in front of you, similar to other airlines. If your pet is too large to fly in-cabin, it can be transported as cargo with Hawaiian’s Pet Safe program.

The price to fly with a pet in-cabin on Hawaiian Airlines starts at $125 while flying with your pet as cargo starts at $225. If you’re flying to Hawaii, traveling with a pet will require an additional quarantine period costing $185, in compliance with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

dog sitting in the plane

United Airlines

They accept up to two dogs to travel with you in-cabin, as long as they can fit comfortably in an approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. All service animals are also welcome on board.

The fee to fly with your pet starts at $125 and may be higher depending on the length of the flight and destination. If your pet is too large to travel in-cabin, you might need to consider another airline or book a pet transport service, as United Airlines no longer takes pets as cargo.

In addition, certain breeds of dogs are not allowed to fly in-cabin due to safety concerns. These include short-nosed breeds and snub-nosed dogs such as Pugs and French Bulldogs. The company recently changed its policy following several incidents involving these breeds being transported in the cargo hold.

Short-nosed breeds tend to have difficulty breathing at high altitudes, so it’s important to consider your pet’s health and safety when flying.

“If your dog is short-muzzled (French bulldog, English bulldog, pug, boxer, etc.), it may experience breathing difficulties on the aircraft”, shares Mexico-based dog owner Karla Pacheco.

That being said, they are still one of the top choices for in-cabin pet transport, owing to its supportive staff and overall pet-friendly policies. “United has a good record with transporting animals, in spite of the bad press put on them”, shares U.S. airline captain Scott Kinder.

Frontier Airlines

Another pet-friendly airline that welcomes furry (and feathery) friends. Small dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, rabbits, and guinea pigs are welcome to fly in-cabin with their owners on domestic flights, as long as they can fit comfortably in an approved kennel under the seat in front of you.

Service animals are also allowed to board at no extra cost. However, on international flights, only dogs and cats are allowed to fly in-cabin. The fee to fly with a pet in-cabin starts at $75.

Presently, Frontier does not accept pets as cargo.

dog in a carrier

Lufthansa Airlines

This airline also makes it to our list of pet-friendly airlines since it allows travelers to bring their dog, cat, or rabbit in the cabin on most flights. Lufthansa also allows service dogs to travel free of charge as long as they occupy only the foot space of your seat and are fastened with the safety belt supplied by the airline.

Lufthansa allows up to two pets in the same carrier, as long as they’re small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. The fee to fly with a pet in-cabin is €55-100 and may be higher depending on the destination. Lufthansa also offers the option to transport your pet as cargo, ranging between €70 to €400, depending on the travel route and the size of your pet’s crate.

Lufthansa has a comprehensive pet policy that outlines the size and type of pet carrier allowed on board and the specific routes where pets are not allowed. The airline also has specific guidelines for flying with snub-nosed breeds and fighting dogs.

Air Canada

Another great choice for flying with your pet in-cabin, as they allow small cats and dogs on most flights. The fee to fly with a pet starts at $50 and may be higher depending on the length of the flight and destination.

Air Canada also offers the option to transport your pet via Air Canada Cargo, whether you’re flying with a cat, dog, or even “hatching eggs, insects, and tropical fish.” However, since the cargo hold is unheated, cold-blooded animals such as reptiles are not allowed to fly as cargo on Air Canada flights.

In any case, Air Canada encourages pet owners to contact them to check whether or not they can accommodate your pet’s transit safely. Cargo fees range from $120 to $320.

Service animals are also allowed to board Air Canada flights free of charge, as long as they are properly harnessed and have the necessary paperwork. Pets flying through Canada can relax at Air Canada Cargo’s Pet Stop at Toronto Pearson Airport, where they may rest overnight, have a small meal, and stretch their legs.

dog at the airport with his cute luggage

Things To Remember

Here are a few things to remember to ensure your pet has a smooth and stress-free air travel.

Feed Your Pet

“It is advisable not to feed your pet for at least 12 hours before the flight and not give it anything to drink 4 hours before the flight”, shares Roseanne Sherman, a dog mom from Cyprus. Watching your pet’s food and water intake before the flight will help prevent in-flight accidents and make your pet feel more comfortable during the flight.

File for Proper Paperwork

As a rule of thumb, ensure your pet has all the necessary vaccinations and a veterinary health certificate. This document is required by most airlines, but if you’re in doubt, it’s best to check with the carrier in advance.

Any special needs or requirements should also be indicated on the health certificate. For instance, the U.S Department of Transportation rules that animals may not be exposed to temperatures lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, if you have a certificate signed by a veterinarian stating your pet is acclimated to lower temperatures, the airline may be able to make an exception. This is especially applicable to reptiles and other cold-blooded animals.

You should also check if there are any entry requirements for the country you’re visiting. In some cases, you may need to obtain an import permit or quarantine your pet on arrival.

Pick The Right Kennel Size

Investing in a pet carrier approved by the airline will help make the flying experience smoother for both you and your pet. Ensure the pet carrier is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you but large enough for your pet to move around comfortably.

Factor in the following points to ensure you pick a carrier that’s perfect for your pet:

  • The type of pet you have
  • The airline’s specific size requirements
  • Whether you plan to use it for future travels

If you’re unsure of the dimensions of the pet carrier, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and consult your airline provider. Most airlines have specific requirements for the size and type of carrier allowed on board.

Reserve Your Pet’s Spot In Advance

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recommends reaching out to the airline you have chosen to ensure they allow pets on your selected day and flight.

Once you have confirmed this, go ahead and make a reservation for your pet. Some airlines will require you to make a reservation for your pet when booking your own seat, while others will allow you to do it closer to the travel date.

In any case, doing so in advance will give you and the airline ample time to make any necessary arrangements.

dog with luggages and pet carrier

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Airline Allows Dogs In The Cabin?

All the airlines listed in this guide allow dogs, including cats, other pets, and service animals, to fly with their owners in the cabin as long as the animal can fit comfortably inside a carrier.

Is It Safe To Travel With Pets?

In general, yes. However, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before making any decisions. They will be able to advise you on whether or not your pet is healthy enough to travel and provide any necessary prescriptions for the journey.

As long as you’re prepared for the trip and have the necessary documents, there’s no reason why traveling with your pet can’t be a fun and enjoyable experience.

What Documents Do I Need Before My Pet Can Travel?

The most important document you’ll need is a veterinary health certificate. This is required by most airlines to verify your pet is up-to-date on all their vaccinations and is in good health.

You may also need to secure additional paperwork for service animals or emotional support animals. Oregon-based veterinarian Letrisa M Miller also reminds pet owners of TSA rules regarding carry-on pets: “Everyone should be aware that pets going through TSA security must be removed from their carrier and go through the metal detector or x-ray separate from their carrier.”

Is It Possible for My Dog to Travel Internationally Under My Seat in a Kennel?

Yes, but you will need to check policies and procedures specific to the airline. Further, each country has its own import/export rules regarding animals, so it’s important to research in advance. You may need to obtain an import permit or quarantine your pet on arrival.

You must also factor in your pet’s size and breed. Larger dogs are usually not allowed to fly in-cabin and must travel as cargo.

Next Article

Happy Trails, Happy Feet, And Happy Paws

Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.