Get Outta Town: 4 Pet Friendly Airlines & Their Policies (Domestic)

Traveling with your pet on an airplane can be a sometimes nerve-wracking experience.  As pet travel becomes more commonplace, commercial airlines have adopted safeguards to attract vacationing families that wouldn’t dream of leaving their furry companion behind.  Millions travel in the United States with their critters in tow. To help you get outta town with your pup, we’ve listed four domestic airlines that are setting the standard for in cabin pup travel 🙂

  • JetBlue –  The JetPaws program landed the airline in top place for the pet-friendly amenities category in Petfinder.com’s annual ratings survey. The customer-focused airline provides travelers with a pet carrier baggage tag, a travel “petiquette” guide, 300 TrueBlue points each way, and a comprehensive e-booklet with pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks and animal hospitals in some of JetBlue’s major cities. Small pets are permitted to fly in-cabin as long as they’re less than 20 pounds and the carrier is smaller than 17 inches long by 12.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches high. Booking a pet is $100 each way.
  • Southwest Airlines – Southwest Airlines goes out of its way to ensure that pet owners and pets have a smooth flying experience. In-cabin pets can fly for $75 per carrier each way in an approved carrier. For a little less than $50, pick up an official branded Southwest Airlines carry-on kennel. As a bonus, two small cats or two small dogs may ride in the same carrier, making this a budget option if your fur babies are small.
  • Virgin America/Atlantic – Virgin America is a pet-friendly airline that accepts cats and dogs in the passenger cabin of its aircraft for a $100 fee (per segment). The carrier cannot exceed 20 lbs. Flying Paws is Virgin’s rewards program which acts as a frequent flyer plan for your pet.
  • Frontier Airlines – Frontier  allows up to 10 pet containers on each flight. While only one pet container is allowed per person, if you have nine other human friends traveling with you, the entire group can travel with up to 10 small four-legged friends. Frontier also allows the most diverse variety of pets in cabin, including domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small household bird.

If your pup is too large to travel in the cabin with you, all the airlines listed above offer a “pet cargo” option. Make sure you’ve chosen the right kennel for the animal being transported. All kennels must meet USDA guidelines or the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animal Regulations. The Humane Society offers these tips, to help minimize risk, if your pet must travel in the cargo compartment:

    • Use direct flights. You will avoid the mistakes that occur during airline transfers and possible delays in getting your pet off the plane.
    • Always travel on the same flight as your pet. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded into the cargo hold and unloaded.
    • When you board the plane, notify the captain and at least one flight attendant that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. If the captain knows that pets are on board, he or she may take special precautions.
    • If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter.
    • Fit your pet with a collar that can’t get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification on the collar: a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached.
    • Affix a travel label to the carrier on which you’ve written your name, permanent address and telephone number, final destination, and where you or a contact person can be reached as soon as the flight arrives.
    • Make sure that your pet’s nails have been clipped to protect against them getting hooked in the carrier’s door, holes, and other crevices.
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