The 10 Best Airlines for Traveling with Dogs

AirfareWatchdog and ThePointsGuy teamed up to review how different airlines handle traveling with a pet in the cabin. Here are their picks.

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Man’s best friends need to travel, too. No matter if you’re flying cross-country or just one state over, it can be tough to think of sending your pet in the belly of the plane. AirfareWatchdog and ThePointsGuy teamed up to review how different airlines handle traveling with a pet in the cabin. They checked airline policies and fliers’ reports from the Department of Transportation as part of the study. In addition, the two sites surveyed their readers to determine which airlines treated travelers pets the best. In the process, the sites found that the most popular animal to fly was, of course, dogs—78 percent fliers who flew with a pet brought their pup. If you’ll be flying with Fido soon, you’ll want to book with one of these 10 airlines.

10. Hawaiian Airlines

This island carrier has strict policies in place that prohibit dogs as checked cargo on inter-island flights and for any travel at all from Honolulu to New York JFK. Otherwise, inter-island travelers can bring their pet in the cabin for a one-way $35 fee as long as it fits in the approved carrier—the dimensions are 16 inches x 10 inches x 9.5 inches—and it weighs less than 25 pounds. If you’re taking a pet on a flight outside of Hawaii, the fee jumps to $175. Given the fragility of the island state’s landscape, incoming pets are subject to quarantine if the proper steps haven’t been followed. Pets leaving the state are not subject to the same types of restrictions. If you’re planning to fly with your pet, you should read this first.

9. Spirit Airlines

The discount carrier only allows pets on domestic flights as long as they are older than eight weeks. Spirit is unique in that it only permits pets to travel in the cabin—not as cargo. You could pay more than the cost of your ticket for the privilege, though: The fee is $110 per pet each way. The pet carrier can’t be larger than 18 inches x 14 inches x 9 inches; the pet can’t be heavier than 40 pounds. This is one of the most generous size and weight permissions of a U.S. carrier.

8. Frontier Airlines

Frontier allows pets on domestic flights and international flights to and from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. They cannot be checked as cargo; pets are only permitted in the cabin. The airline charges $75 per segment, and pets must be in approved carriers no larger than 18 inches x 14 inches x 8 inches. Does your pet like her container? Find out in the 50 secrets your pets won’t tell you.

7. Allegiant Airlines

For $100, Allegiant passengers can travel with their pet on any domestic flight for a fee of $100. Like its discount competitor Spirit, pets are not permitted as cargo. They can only travel in the cabin in pet carriers that are no larger than 19 inches x 16 inches x 9 inches. There is no weight or age limit, however. One unique thing about Allegiant is that it is the only U.S. carrier to let unaccompanied minors (children under 15) to bring a pet along for the ride.

6. JetBlue

The airline allows pets on most of its flights with the exception of a few Caribbean islands including Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago among others. JetBlue does not permit pets to be checked as cargo. They can travel in the cabin as long as they are in carriers that measure no larger than 17 inches x 12.5 inches x 8.5 inches and are no heavier than 20 pounds. Each way, the cost to travel is $125 per pet. A nice perk: The airline allows you to book your pet online rather than having to call reservations. What’s even better is that travelers earn bonus frequent flier miles when traveling with a pet!

5. Alaska Airlines

If your pet is older than eight weeks, it can travel as cargo or in the cabin for a $100 fee each way. Pets must be able to fit in an approved carrier. If it is hard-shelled, it should be no larger than 17 inches x 11 inches x 7.5 inches; if it is soft-sided, it cannot be bigger than 17 inches x 11 inches x 9.5 inches.

4. United Airlines

Although Time reported that United had the most pet deaths of any airline in 2017, the airline’s policies are quite restrictive. Firstly, it only carries pets on certain routes. Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii among others are always pet-free flights. Pets can travel as cargo or in the cabin for a fee of $125 each way. Hard-sided containers cannot be bigger than 17.5 inches x 12 inches and 7.5 inches; soft-sided containers must be 18 inches x 11 inches x 11 inches or smaller. If you have a brachycephalic dog (one with a broad, short skull like pugs, boxers, and bulldogs), United is the only domestic carrier to allow them to be checked as cargo. Before you hit the skies with your pup, be sure to read this first.

3. American Airlines

The world’s largest airline has an extra requirement for transporting pets. They must be older than eight weeks, but cannot be transported if the itinerary is longer than 12 hours. Still, the airline allows some of the largest pet containers in the industry. During the summer months, American does not carry pets to particularly warm destinations like Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs. The fee is $125 each way. Pets can be checked as cargo or carried in the cabin on North American flights or those to the Caribbean, Central America, and Colombia. Containers can be no larger than 19 inches x 13 inches x 9 inches. The container cannot weigh more than 20 pounds either.

2. Southwest Airlines

You can’t take a pet on a Southwest flight outside of the country. You can’t even travel with a pet if you’re disembarking before the plane takes off for an international destination. Pets must be at least eight weeks old and are only permitted to travel as a carry-on. The one-way fee is $95 per pet, and it must fit in an approved container no larger than 18.5 inches x 8.5 inches x 13.5 inches. Other than Frontier’s $75 fee, this is the cheapest surcharge for traveling with a pet of domestic airlines.

1. Delta Air Lines

The number one spot for traveling with a pet goes to Delta. The airline allows pets to be checked as cargo or carried in the cabin. It has various restrictions depending upon the destination, however. For domestic flights and those to Canada, the pet must be at least 10 weeks old. It costs $125 to travel with your pet, and it must fit in an approved container that fits underneath the seat in front of you. This means that travelers must do a bit of homework to determine the type of aircraft they are flying. Pets traveling to Europe must be at least 15 weeks old; the fee rises to $200 per pet for international flights. If you are traveling to Brazil, however, it is only $75 per pet. Flights to the United States have an added restriction that the pet must be at least 16 weeks old. Delta has several destinations in its network where pets are not permitted in the cabin including Australia, Hong Kong, Barbados, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom among others. Speaking of pets, these are the 15 pet peeves of airline attendants.

Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey Qubein covers the hotel, cruise, and airline industry from every corner of the globe. He is highly recognized as an expert in travel loyalty programs and writes for RD.com's Travel section. You'll find Ramsey flying more than 450,000 miles per year on his quest to visit every country on the planet (166 and counting so far). His work has appeared in numerous publications including Reader's Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel+Leisure, CNBC.com, AFAR, Robb Report, Business Traveler, BBC Worldwide, USA Today, Frommers.com, Fodors.com, and NerdWallet.com. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and completed a Master’s Degree thesis studying the history of branding in the airline industry. Follow along on his travels via Instagram and Twitter.