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Everything You Need to Know About Traveling with Pets on Major Airlines

Pet Travel Requirements for Major Airlines

When it comes to traveling with your pet, it’s essential to know the policies of the airline you’re flying with. Each airline has different rules and regulations regarding pet travel, so it’s best to do your research before booking your flight.

We have compiled a list of current regulations for each major airline. But before we dig into the airline pet travel policies, let’s examine the different options for flying with your pet.

Transport Options for Flying with Your Pet

Carry-On Pet Travel

Carry-on pet travel is when your pet remains in its carrier with you in the aircraft’s cabin. This is different from cargo pet travel, where your pet travels in the aircraft’s cargo hold.

Carry-on pet travel is typically used for small pets to fit in an airline approved pet carrier under the seat in front of you. Many owners prefer to travel with their pets as a carry-on because they can help keep the pet happy and relaxed during the flight.

Cargo Pet Travel

Cargo pet travel is when your pet travels in the aircraft’s cargo hold. Cargo pet travel is typically used for pets that are too large to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you.

The most significant benefit for pets who travel in the cargo hold is that they generally have more room to move around. Because the kennels can be larger than the ones used for carry-on, your large pet can join you on your next trip.

American Airlines Pet Policy

Information regarding pet travel was obtained from American Airlines’ website. Please visit the American Airlines pet policy page for additional information.

American Airlines Carry-on Pets Policy

  • Depending on animal breed and size, they can travel as a carry-on. Carry-on pets are limited to cats and dogs that meet the size, age, and destination requirements.
  • On flights with American, you can bring 1 airline approved pet carrier as your carry-on bag if:
    • You pay the carry-on pet fee.
    • Your pet stays in the pet carrier and under the seat in front of you the entire flight.

American Airlines Pet Cargo Pets Policy

American Airlines only accepts checked pets for active-duty U.S. military and U.S. State Department Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders. Up to 2 pets may be checked, and they must meet the destination’s minimum age and health requirements. Since capacity is limited, they accept checked pets on a first-come basis.

  • Temperature Restrictions
    • Heat: You cannot travel with a pet if the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary. Pets not traveling in the cabin cannot travel to/through/from Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, or Palm Springs from May 1 – September 30.
    • Cold: You cannot travel with a pet if the ground temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary. American Airlines may waive the cold temperature restrictions if you have a written letter from a licensed veterinarian. If the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet cannot be checked even with a letter from your veterinarian.
  • Checked Animal Restrictions
    • American Airlines do not accept brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs or cats of any ‘mix’ as checked pets.
    • Dogs must be at least 8 weeks old when traveling within the U.S. and Puerto Rico. If you’re traveling into the U.S., your dog’s age and vaccine requirements depend on the risk of dog rabies where your trip starts. Dogs arriving from high-risk countries need to be at least 16 weeks old and have their rabies shots before traveling into the U.S.
    • Due to Federal Regulations, you’ll need to provide written certification that:
      • Your pet has been fed and offered water within 4 hours (with the specific time noted) before you deliver them to the airplane.
      • Is securely and visibly attached to the outside of the airline approved pet carrier.
      • Has your signature with the date and time you signed it.
      • You’ll also need to provide feeding and watering instructions for a 24-hour period. Unless specified by a vet, you cannot leave instructions saying ‘no food or water.’
  • Sedation
    • As recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Airlines does not accept pets that have been sedated or tranquilized. Pets that have been given sedatives or tranquilizers are at a higher risk of respiratory and cardiovascular problems at high altitudes.

American Airlines Pet Travel Fees

  • Carry-on
    • $125.00
  • Cargo
    • Fees vary
  • Service Animals
    • No charge
  • Checked pets for Active-duty U.S. Military and State Department personnel
    • $200.00 per kennel
    • $150.00 to/from Brazil

Delta Airlines Pet Policy

Information regarding pet travel was obtained from Delta Airlines’ website. Please visit the Delta pet policy website for additional information.

Delta Airlines Carry-on Pets Policy

  • Small dogs, cats, and household birds can travel in the cabin for a one-way fee. They must be able to fit in a small, ventilated airline approved pet carrier that fits under the seat in front of you.
  • The following requirements when flying with a small pet as a carry-on:
    • Your pet must be at least 10 weeks old for domestic pet travel.
    • Your pet must be 16 weeks old if traveling to the U.S. from another country and must be at least 15 weeks old when traveling to the European Union.
    • One pet is permitted per airline approved pet carrier with the following exceptions:
      • One female cat/dog may travel with her un-weaned litter if the litter is between 10 weeks to 6 months of age.
      • No limit on the number of animals in the litter.
      • 2 pets of the same breed and size between the age of 10 weeks and 6 months may be allowed to travel in 1 pet carrier as long as they are small enough to fit into a single pet carrier and are compatible – they will be charged as 1 pet.
  • Pets in cabin airline approved pet carriers will count as your one carry-on item. In addition to the pet carrier, you are permitted to bring one personal item onboard the aircraft.

Delta Airlines Cargo Pet Policy

Pets are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. If your pet meets requirements, contact Delta Reservations in advance to arrange to bring your pet on board. For flights operated by Delta’s airline partners, please check with the operating carrier for their policies regarding bringing animals into the cabin on international flights.

Delta Airlines Pet Travel Fees

  • Carry-On
    • U.S/Canada/Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands: $95.00
    • International: $200.00
    • Brazil: $75.00
  • Cargo
    • Contact Delta for pricing

United Airlines

Information regarding pet travel was obtained from United Airlines’ website. Please visit the United Airlines pet policy website for additional information.

United Airlines Carry-On Pets Policy

No weight or breed limitations exist for pets traveling on United Airlines; they must travel in a hard-sided or soft-sided airline approved pet carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. There can only be one pet per carrier, and they must be able to stand up and turn around while inside.

If you’re traveling domestically in the U.S. with your pet, United asks that you get a health certificate for pet travel from your veterinarian within 30 days of your trip.

  • Service Animals
    • Service animals are accepted in the cabin free of charge for qualified individuals with a disability. A service animal is a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is:
      • Over the age of 4 months.
      • Individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
      • Qualified individuals with a disability are permitted to travel with a maximum of only two service dogs.
    • If you’re traveling with a service dog, the dog should sit in the floor space in front of your assigned seat and cannot extend into adjacent travelers’ aisles or foot space. Exit row seating is prohibited. You may use an airline approved pet carrier for smaller dogs provided its use meets stowage requirements.
    • Everyone traveling with a service animal must complete certain forms by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • Service Animals in Training
    • Only individually trained service dogs traveling with a qualified disabled person are allowed on United flights. Service dogs training to assist disabled travelers can fly with their trainers for free.
  • Therapy & Emotional Support Animals
    • Therapy animals are pets trained and registered by a therapy organization to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other facilities; they are not considered service animals. Standard pet-related regulations and restrictions will apply when traveling with a therapy animal.
    • United does not transport emotional support animals.

United Airlines Cargo Pets Policy

Members of the U.S. Military on current Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders and State Department Foreign Service Personnel (FSP) on current reassignment are permitted to transport their personal pets (dogs and cats only) as checked baggage on United flights between Guam and Honolulu only under specific conditions. For more information, visit United Airlines’ website.

United Airlines Pet Travel Fees

  • There is a $125.00 fee each way for traveling with your pet.
    • There is a $125.00 fee for each layover of more than four hours for flights within the U.S. and more than 24 hours internationally.
  • Service animals are accepted in the cabin free of charge.

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

Information regarding pet travel was obtained from Southwest Airlines’ website. Please visit the Southwest Airlines pet travel website for additional information.

Southwest Airlines Carry-on Pets Policy

  • Southwest Airlines allows small, vaccinated domestic cats and dogs in airline approved pet carriers in the cabin on domestic flights. Southwest airline pet carriers must be stowed under your seat.
  • For customers traveling to Puerto Rico, specific requirements may apply.
  • Southwest does not accept pets on flights to or from Hawaii.
  • Southwest Airlines asks you to make a reservation in advance for your pet. They will accept pets on a first-come, first-served basis until they reach their six-carrier capacity.
  • Service Animals
    • A fully trained service animal is individually trained to perform tasks or work for a person with a physical and/or mental disability. Dogs are the only trained service animals Southwest Airlines accept onboard.
    • If you’re traveling with a trained service animal, you must check in with a Ticket Counter or Gate Agent and present the required form. To accept an animal as a trained service animal, airlines must determine that the customer seeking travel is an individual with a disability and that the animal is trained to perform a task(s) or work related to the disability.
    • Present a completed Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation form at the ticket counter or gate on your day of travel. It should be dated on or after the date you purchased your ticket. If it’s incomplete or missing, the animal may be denied transport. A service animal vest, harness, ID card, or registration will not be accepted in place of the form as the sole indication an animal is a trained service animal.
    • Southwest accepts fully trained law enforcement dogs and search-and-rescue dogs for transportation, without charge, when accompanied by their respective handlers on official business. If you’re traveling with a law enforcement or search-and-rescue dog, you must present a copy of the animal’s certification to a government official at the airport.
    • Learn more about Southwest Airlines’ policy on service animals.

Southwest Airlines Cargo Pets Policy

Southwest airlines do not allow pets in cargo.

Southwest Airlines Pet Travel Fees

The Pet Fare is $95 each way per airline pet carrier.

For more in depth information regarding Southwest Airlines’ rules and regulations regarding pet travel visit their website.

Searching for pet travel items to make your trip a breeze? Make sure your pet is comfortable and safe during your travels by outfitting them with the right accessories. Check out some of our favorite products to help you travel with your pet:

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