Pet Travel: How do top US airlines compare?

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Pet Travel: How do top US airlines compare?

By Dr. Jess Trimble

There has been a lot of media coverage surrounding airline pet policies and the treatment of pets on commercial flights. We’re not in the business of naming names, but many people have taken a united front against one airline in particular—and for good reason.

Top Airlines And Their Pet Policies

According to the Airline Quality Ratings (AQR) report, these are how America’s largest airlines compare based on factors like on-time performance, denied boardings, mishandled baggage, and customer complaints. While these factors matter to any traveler, we’re focusing on the factor that matters most to pet parents—pet policies. Here’s how the largest U.S. airlines stack up when it comes to traveling with your pet:

Alaska Airlines

Fee: $100 USD each way for both cabin and baggage travel

Alaska Airlines can accommodate small pets in the cabin and larger pets in the baggage hold. If your pet can’t travel in-cabin, Alaska Airlines will notify you when your pet has made it on to the aircraft so you can rest assured that you’ll see your pet on the other end


Fee: U.S./Canada: $125 USD each way. Outside the U.S.: $200 USD each way. 

While you can’t check your pet as a checked bag, Delta permits pet parents to transport small pets in aircraft cabins. Delta will also accept shipment of pets for travel within the United States as freight through Delta Cargo.


Fee: $100 USD each way for both cabin and baggage travel

JetBlue will accept small cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin on both domestic and international flights with the exception of flights to:

  • Jamaica
  • Barbados
  • Saint Lucia
  • Cayman Islands
  • Trinidad & Tobago

The airline also recommends booking early because there is a set limit of pets allowed on each flight.


Fee: Hawaii to North America: $175 USD each way for both cabin and baggage travel

Hawaiian airlines allow for pets in the cabin so long as your pet and its carrier aren’t more than 25 pounds. Not to mention, hopefully, you and your pet don’t enjoy the finer things in life, as pets are not allowed in first class on all North American flights. If your pet plus its carrier weigh more than 25 pounds, your pet may be accepted as checked baggage.


Fee: $95 USD each way for both cabin

Southwest Airlines will carry pets in the cabin—but only on domestic flights. However, pets are not permitted as checked baggage. Like most other airlines on this list, it is recommended that you make your reservations as early as possible, because only six pet carriers will be scheduled per flight. Note that Southwest Airlines assumes no liability for the health or wellbeing of carry-on pets.

United Airlines

Fee: $125 USD each way for both cabin. Note: additional $125 service charge for each stopover of more than four hours within the U.S. or more than 24 hours outside of the U.S.

United allows domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits and household birds (excluding cockatoos) to travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin on most flights within the U.S.

American Airlines

Fee: Checked pet: $200 USD each way. Carry-on pet: $125 USD each way.

Most small dogs and cats can fly as a carry-on, be checked or transported with American Airlines Cargo. While you can travel with up to 2 checked pets that are at least 8 weeks old, cats and dogs are accepted on a first-come basis and capacity is limited.

Spirit Airlines

Fee: N/A

Spirit Airlines allows small pets to travel exclusively on domestic flights including Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. in the cabin, but Spirit Airlines does not transport pets in Cargo at any time.

Frontier Airlines

Fee: $75 USD each way for both cabin and baggage travel

Unlike most airlines on this list, domesticated cats and dogs can fly internationally and domestically in the cabin at Frontier Airlines. The one thing the airline does ask is that you avoid providing food or water to your pet while traveling on the aircraft.

Air travel with pets can vary from airline to airline, but one thing that rarely changes is the requirement of a health certificate for your pets! A health certificate is required for pets in many states and always required when flying internationally. When you join Fuzzy, our vets can provide travel health certificates for travel inside and outside of the U.S. as an additional service any time you need them!