Everything You Need to Know About Flying With Your Dog

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

August 4, 2014

Have dog will travel. If you’re not Bo Obama, and don’t have Air Force One at your bark and call, you need some information to help you and your dog arrive at your destination safely and happily. Several dog-friendly airlines have comprehensive pet policies, but it can be tricky keeping them all straight.  To avoid showing up at the gate with your tail between your legs, here we put them all in one place, so you never have to leave Fido behind during your summer jaunts again.

The below info applies to non-service animals for in-cabin travel. Large or medium sized dogs are generally not allowed in the cabin, even crated, if they are not service animals. Pups that cannot fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you will have to ride in cargo, which, though usually perfectly safe, can be more stressful for your pup. (Brachycephalic dogs like Pugs, Pekingeses, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, etc., are more sensitive to climate and pressure changes and flying can be deadly due to their condensed respiratory systems.) In all cases, plan ahead for additional time spent during flight check-in.  And we recommend always calling your respective airline in advance.

American Airlines

American allows 7 dogs in the cabin per flight—that breaks down to 5 allowed in coach and 2 allowed in first for the high class bitches. To ensure your special furry cargo gets a spot, call ahead. Expect to pay a $125.00 fee each way.  The size requirements for pooches on American flights are twofold: 1) The dog must be under 20 lbs including the carrier; and 2) the carrier itself must fit underneath the seat in front of you.  The AA website includes a helpful page devoted to Traveling With Pets.

Image via DailyMail


Delta wins the prize for most dogs allowed in cabin per flight—8 total—or 4 in the main cabin, 2 in business, and 2 in first.  The fee is $125 per flight, and your pooch must fit inside a carrier that fits underneath the seat in front of you.  Call ahead to confirm the dimensions of the seat in front of you as Delta planes can vary.  And no newborns allowed—puppies must be at least 10 weeks old to make it past security.  The Delta Pet Travel Policy provides any needed additional information.

Image via Puppy Toob


Despite the fact that JetBlue only allows 4 dogs in the cabin per flight (that’s 4 tails, 16 paws), JetBlue wins our hearts with their devotion to the four-legged traveler.  From a branded pet carrier to articulated travel “petiquette”, the animal lovers over at JetBlue have put some serious thought into welcoming pets aboard. The fee for wet-nosed travelers on JetBlue is an even $100 each way, and the weight limit is 20lbs including the carrier. Lots more to read about the JetBlue Pet Program if you are so inclined.

Image via Trail Dog Treats


For the cost-conscious, Southwest is the airline for you. Fees for bringing your pup along are only $95 each way. Southwest allows 6 dogs inside the cabin, and each predictably must fit within a carrier underneath the seat in front of you. Branded Southwest carriers are available for purchase (aaww), and pups as young as 8-weeks can fly on Southwest (aaawwwww). The helpful Southwest Pet Policy Checklist provides even more guidance.

Image via Puppy Toob


United allows 4 pets in-cabin flying economy. Additional stowaways can vary in number depending on the particular United partner airline, so make sure you Hoomans call ahead. A $125 fee per pet per flight applies, and Fluffy must fly the friendly skies in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you. Check out the United In-Cabin Pets Policy for exact seat measurements.

Image via We Heart It

US Airways

US Airways permits 6 pets in the cabin per flight and does not allow any pets under the plane in cargo (hurray!). A $125 fee applies for your high flying pup. If you’d like to bring a second pooch on board, you must purchase another seat on the plane, with no additional fee imposed. Dogs must fit in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you. The US Airways Pets page has all the deets.

Image via PeregrineFalcon

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic offers a special heated and air-conditioned compartment – just like the cabin – for your furry flyers. Hoomans even earn Flying Club miles for flights logged by Lucky. See the Virgin Atlantic Flying With Pets Scheme to sign up. Virgin Atlantic does not have a set limit on the number of dogs allowed onboard, so you guessed it, call ahead!

Image via Aviation Bull

For alternate ways to transport your pup, check out this comprehensive list over on Best Friends!

Featured Image via Getty Images

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

August 4, 2014

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