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8 Most Dog Friendly Airlines

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The Most Dog Friendly Airlines

If you plan to fly with your dog, you'll need to decide: do you want your pet in the cargo area, or in a cabin with you?

Many airlines allow dogs to fly in the cargo hold, but not the cabin. This mostly depends on the size of the dog and, sometimes, the breed.

Flying in the cabin is much safer for dogs, and less scary. The below dog-friendly airlines all allow pets in the cabin, but only if the dog meets their stipulations.

Note that many airlines won’t allow pets to fly as cargo during certain months, mostly when unsafe temperatures make it dangerous for dogs to stay there.

There may be restrictions based on the country that you are traveling to as well.

Never assume your pet can fly with you just because the airline allows dogs. Call first and explain the situation.

Tell the representative your dog's breed, how much the dog weighs, and which part of the plane you'd like them to stay in. Now let's get into the best airlines for dogs.

Dog Friendly Airlines

Preparing to Fly with Dog-Friendly Airlines

To decrease the level of anxiety in your dog during flight, prepare some pet supplies.

1. Dog Travel Carrier

No matter the size of your dog, you'll need an airline-approved carrier.

Many airlines require that the dog stays in the carrier through the entire flight, so make sure the carrier is roomy enough that your dog can lie down and stretch out in it.

There are plenty of other travel dog crates that will make your dog comfortable; however, not all of them will be accepted by the airline.

Before buying, you can call the airline and confirm their dog crate requirements, or simply go for already pre-approved carriers (link above).

2. Health Certificate and Proof of Vaccinations

You will need to get a current dog's health certificate from your veterinarian, no sooner than 14 days before you travel.

You will also need a copy of your dog’s vaccination records to prove that your pet is current on vaccinations.

Keep a travel folder with multiple copies of all the paperwork that you will need for your dog.

That way you can have the paperwork organized and ready to hand to gate agents, ticket agents, TSA agents, or anyone else that needs to see it at the airport.

3. Book the Tickets Over the Phone

When you’re flying with a dog, book your tickets over the phone and not online. Traveling with a pet requires special accommodations and it’s much easier to get those when you’re talking to an agent.

No matter which of the dog-friendly airlines you choose to book with, they all require either a pet travel fee or to buy an extra seat for the dog.

If you can afford it, buying a second seat is the best way to ensure that you and your pet aren’t bothering anyone else and that you have plenty of room, and are comfortable.

The 8 Most Dog-Friendly Airlines

If you’re flying with a dog internationally, double-check the requirements for traveling with pets in the country that you are traveling to.

Many international airlines allow passengers to fly with pets as long as they abide by certain regulations.

If you are traveling domestically, check the terms of these eight dog-friendly airlines (links included). Book your tickets well in advance, too, because most of them have very limited space for pets.

1. American Airlines

Pet fee: $125 per carrier

Max weight: 20 lbs

American Airlines dog policySee the terms here

American Airlines Dog PolicyAmerican Airlines will allow pets to travel in the cabin only. They don’t accept pets as cargo.

There is a fee of $125 per carrier each way, with a maximum of two pets per ticketed passenger. The combined weight of the pet and the carrier cannot be more than 20 pounds.

Passengers that are traveling with pets must check in with an agent and the pet fee is collected before boarding the plane.

If you are going to fly on American with your pet you must book through an agent and let the agent know that you will be traveling with pets.

American only allows 7 pets on any given flight, so you should book your ticket early and tell the booking agent you are traveling with your dog.

2. United Airlines

Pet fee: $125 per carrier

Max weight: no maximum

United Airlines dog policySee the terms here

United Airlines Dog PolicyUnited Airlines will accept pets traveling as cargo or in the cabin, so if you have a large breed of dog that cannot fly in the cabin United is a good choice for you.

They have a Pet Desk that is staffed 24 hours a day to answer questions and help with any problems that arise during travel.

If you are going to be flying your pet as cargo talk to a United agent about the specific requirements for that type of flight.

If you are going to fly with your pet in the cabin on United airlines there is a $125 fee each way or per leg of the trip.

That is a pretty standard fee that you’ll find on almost every airline. United allows one pet per passenger. There is no weight restriction but the pet and carrier must fit under your seat.

3. Delta Airlines

Pet fee: $125 per carrier

Max weight: 20 lbs

Delta Airlines dog policySee the terms here

Delta Airlines Dog PolicyDelta is a great choice for pet owners looking for dog-friendly airlines. They accept pets as cargo and in the cabin.

If you are flying with a large dog but are nervous about flying your dog as cargo, Delta has a special area for pets that are flying as cargo that is temperature-controlled and pressurized to make your dog as comfortable as possible.

Dogs that are flying in the cabin cannot weigh more than 20 pounds each.

But, two dogs of less than 20 pounds each can fly in the same carrier together and count as one piece of carry-on luggage.

There is a $125 fee per carrier, not per pet. So two dogs traveling in one carrier would incur only one $125 fee.

4. Southwest Airlines

Pet fee: $95 per carrier

Max weight: no maximum

Southwest Airlines dog policySee the terms here

Southwest Airlines Dog PolicySouthwest is a budget-friendly option for traveling with dogs, which is a huge bonus when you're shopping among the most dog-friendly airlines.

The pet fee on Southwest is only $95 per carrier. Two small dogs are allowed to travel in the same carrier. But each passenger can only have one carrier.

So if you have two dogs that need to fly and they are not small enough to fit in the same carrier you will need to have another person travel with you and book one pet under that person’s ticket.

Southwest doesn’t fly pets as cargo. So if you have a large dog that won’t fit in the cabin another airline would be a better choice.

5. JetBlue Airlines

Pet fee: $125 per pet

Max weight: 20 lbs

JetBlue Airlines dog policySee the terms here

JetBlue Airlines Dog PolicyJetBlue does allow cats and dogs on their flights. However, only six household pets are allowed per flight total (not per person).

So, if you want to fly JetBlue you need to book your ticket well in advance and be sure to let them know you are flying with pets.

Because their prices may be cheaper on some flights, they can quickly run out of space for pets.

Only one dog is allowed per passenger. The combined weight of the dog and the carrier cannot be more than 20 pounds, just like with most other airlines' policies. There is a fee of $100 per pet each way.

6. Alaska Airlines

Pet fee: $100 per pet

Max weight: 150 lbs in cargo, no max as a carrier

Alaska Airlines dog policySee the terms here

Alaska Airlines Dog PolicyAlaska Air has a less stringent pet policy than some of the other airlines.

Pets are allowed to fly both in the cabin and as cargo. Pets who are flying as cargo travel in a temperature-controlled and pressurized hold which is much safer and more comfortable for them.

There is a weight limit of 150 pounds for pets traveling as cargo.

The pet fee is $100 each way or each leg of the trip, which is comparable to the fees of other dog-friendly airlines.

Each passenger with a ticket is allowed to have two pets in carriers, but if a passenger is traveling with two carriers that person must buy a second seat that is adjacent to their original seat.

The carriers need to fit under the seat.

Alaska Air also requires that each animal traveling have a health certificate from a vet that was issued no more than 10 days before the flight.

Most other airlines will accept a health certificate that is issued no more than 14 days before the flight.

7. Frontier Airlines

Pet fee: $99 per pet

Max weight: no maximum

Frontier Airlines dog policySee the terms here

Frontier Airlines Dog PolicyFrontier does allow pets to travel in the cabin but does not accept pets as cargo.

The pet fee is only $99 but that is per leg of the trip, so if you have a trip that has multiple stops there is a $99 fee for each one.

Frontier strongly encourages people traveling with pets to call a ticketing agent well in advance of the flight.

Frontier also requires that the carrier be big enough to allow the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position.

But, the dog carrier also has to fit under the seat securely. Be sure to tell the ticket agent the size of your dog so that you can get a seat assignment that will allow the carrier to fit underneath.

According to dog owners that have flown with their dogs on Frontier the customer service agents and flight attendants are very dog friendly and will work with dog owners to make sure their dogs are comfortable and safe.

8. Virgin America Airlines

Pet fee: $100 per pet

Max weight: no maximum

Virgin America Airlines dog policySee the terms here

Virgin America Airlines Dog PolicyVirgin American does not fly pets as cargo. All pets traveling in the cabin must fit into a very specific carrier size.

They do not allow carriers bigger than 18” long, 15” wide, and 8” high. So probably only very small dogs would be comfortable flying on Virgin American.

There is also a $100 fee per segment per pet. So, if you have multiple stops those pet fees can climb high very quickly. Only one pet is allowed per ticketed passenger.

RELATED: 18 Best Dog-Friendly USA Hotels That Will Welcome Your Pup

Common Questions About Pet-Friendly Airlines

In addition to the above information, you may have some additional questions about flying with your dog. The following should help clear up your concerns.

Are There Any Pandemic-Related Restrictions for Dogs Flying?

Yes, some of the above airlines have temporarily limited or completely paused the ability to bring dogs on domestic flights or international flights.

At the time of writing, there is currently a national ban on dogs on international flights from “high-risk” countries.

Because of this, some airlines found it easiest to pause their offerings for domestic flights as well or for all international flights.

As such, you should always contact the airline directly before planning travel with your pet. This is always a smart idea, regardless of the current health situation. After all, airlines regularly change their policies.

That being said, all of the above information is accurate at the time of writing.

It is also worth noting that some airlines restrict pets on flights during peak times, such as the winter holidays.

What Airlines Allow Dogs on the Plane?

Any of the above airlines allow dogs on the plane. So, you can book travel with American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Air, and more.

Always confirm the policies before making assumptions. For some airlines, dogs are only allowed in the cabin and not in the cargo area.

Others have an opposite policy. Yet others allow pets in either location.

Does Federal Law Allow Dogs on Airplanes?

Airlines are legally allowed to restrict the pets allowed on their flights to just service animals. This does not include emotional support animals.

This means that airlines must legally let passengers with service animals on the plane.

While this is the minimum, most airlines allow more than just service animals on their planes.

Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a Flight?

No, all airlines require your dog to be in a pet carrier during your flight. The pet carrier must be stowed under the seat that is in front of you.

Can Pets Fly Alone?

Most airlines offer the ability for dogs to travel in pet carriers in the cargo area. Daily, hundreds of pets fly without their humans without any problems.

Expect there to be extra restrictions on the types of pet carriers and documents required if your pet is flying alone.

Is It Safe to Travel with Your Pet?

Yes, it is usually very safe to travel with your pet on a pet-friendly airline.

The concern stems from the fact that although pet deaths are rare, they tend to make headlines.

However, one estimate from the Chicago Tribune found that only about 0.0048% of the about 507,000 animals that flew in a given year died in transit.

That being said, some breeds should NOT fly. The above rate includes dogs with short snouts, which are much more at risk of health problems while flying.

This comes from the fact that they are prone to respiratory issues.

You should look for alternatives to pets flying if you have a pug, bulldog, French bulldog, Neapolitan mastiff, Japanese chin, Lhasa Apso, Brussels Griffon, Pekingese, Shih Tzu, Affenpinscher, or English toy spaniel.

These short-snouted breeds have a higher risk of health concerns.

What Should I Do Before Flying with My Dog?

Before you fly with your dog, always confirm whether your chosen airline will accept checked pets or your dog can fly in the cabin.

Make sure to contact the airline to confirm you are bringing a dog and pay the pet fee.

About a week before you fly, make an appointment with your dog's vet. They will confirm that your pup is in good health and is safe for air travel.

You also need to make sure to buy a pet carrier that meets the airline's rules. These vary depending on the airline and whether the dog is in the cargo or cabin.

So, pay close attention to the requirements of your chosen airline.

It is also smart to get your dog used to be in the crate if they are not already. To do so, have them spend an hour or so in the crate each day before the flight.

On the day you travel, gather your paperwork and dog and head to the ticket counter. Make sure you give yourself extra time at the airport.

Is Flying with Service Animals Different?

There is typically no pet fee for bringing a service animal. Although, you will likely need to submit paperwork showing your need for the service animal.

You should also expect to submit paperwork showing your service dog is vaccinated.

Can I Fly with an Emotional Support Animal?

You are unlikely to be able to fly with an emotional support animal unless you follow the same procedures you would for any other dog.

Most airlines only offer two categories of animal travel: pets and service animals.

If you do find one that lets you bring an emotional support animal as an ESA, expect them to require documents from your doctor and your dog's vet.

8 Pet-Friendly Airlines: Final Thoughts

To finish up, if you are going to bring your dog with you to your destination, these are the most pet-friendly airlines that you should choose from.

It's always a great experience, I know it was for me when I brought my babygirl Belle with me to North Carolina.

Make sure you plan ahead to find a pet friendly hotel and restaurants unless your dog is trained to be fine when left alone in new places.

We hope you enjoyed this list of the best airlines for dogs, and comment and share your story if you have used any of these airlines or others you all would recommend!