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Take a Flight! A Rundown of Airline Pet Policies

If you have a flight booked and want (or need) to take your pet along, one of the first questions you have is likely about airline pet policies. Thankfully, lots of airlines are pet friendly. Read on for a summary of the pet policies of each of the major United States airlines.

General Rules & Reminders About Bringing Your Pet on a Plane

Each airline has different rules and regulations when it comes to traveling with pets, but here are some common things to keep in mind:

– Many airlines only allow pets on flights that are less than 12 hours long.

– Each airline has rules about kennel sizes, which may vary depending on whether your pet is in carry-on or cargo. Generally, their carrier should be big enough for your pet to move around in.

– Pets will not always be allowed on your flight if you’re making a connection.

– Snub-nosed cats and dogs may not be allowed onboard. Examples:

– Pets should be at least eight weeks old, but some airlines require them to be older.

– There may be a specific number of animals allowed on a flight, so book your pet’s spot ASAP!

– Each destination (especially international destinations) has its own restrictions and requirements. When flying internationally, check with the country’s embassy to ensure you follow their rules for bringing in pets. Hawaii, for example, has specific requirements, as does Australia.

– Service animals are allowed on all flights, but double-check with your airline about their guidelines.

What to Bring When You Fly with a Pet

airline pet policy

American Airlines

The pet policy from American Airlines® (AA) allows you to carry-on or check cats and dogs for flights to and from specific destinations. They do not allow pets on transatlantic flights.

No matter how you would like to fly your pet, they must be eight weeks or older.

Carry-On Guidelines

If you wish to bring your pet with you onboard, they must be under 20 pounds. Their kennel counts as your carry-on bag and costs $125 each way. American Airlines restricts the total number of pets allowed as carry-ons, so reserve your pet’s spot as soon as you know you want to take them along!

Checked Guidelines

You can check up to 2 pets for $200 each. You must have their health certificates with you and register for their spots at least 48 hours in advance. If you are transporting your pet because you’re moving or adopting them from somewhere else, they’ll need specific documentation and preparation.

AA will not transport pets to certain cities during the summer due to heat.

Learn more about American Airlines’s pet policy:


Delta’s pet policy allows you to bring cats, dogs, and household birds on flights up to 12 hours. Your pet must be 10 weeks old for domestic travel and 16 weeks for international. Space is limited, so it’s essential that you notify Delta about your plans as soon as possible.

Carry-On Guidelines

The fee to carry your pet on a flight is $125. Their kennel should fit under the seat in front of you and counts as one of your two allotted carry-on bags. Although only one pet is generally allowed, if you have a nursing mother with a litter, the litter can come along.

Checked Guidelines

Checked pets must fly with Delta Cargo. This requires a separate ticket. Note that your pet may not be on the same flight as you if you choose Cargo.

Learn more about Delta’s pet policy:


The airline pet policy for Frontier allows for small pets on domestic flights, including:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Small birds
  • Rabbits

Only dogs and cats are allowed on international flights.

You can only bring your pet on as a carry on. Frontier no longer checks pets.

Carry-On Guidelines

To carry your pet onboard costs $75 per flight. Frontier Airlines advises that you pay in advance, during your booking. You may have to pay more if you wait until check-in.

Learn more about Frontier’s pet policy:


Small pets, including dogs and cats, are allowed to travel as carry-on baggage with JetBlue. Their baggage areas are pressurized, which means you don’t have the option of checking your pet as cargo. Space is limited onboard, so book your spot as early as possible.

Their free program, JetPaws, makes flying with your pet easier and more comfortable.

Carry-On Guidelines

JetBlue requires that all pets have their vaccination and documentation with them. The fee is $100 each way.

Learn more about JetBlue’s pet policy:

Southwest® Airlines

Southwest welcomes cats and dogs to fly with them. Because Southwest experiences high temperatures in their baggage area, furry friends are only allowed to travel as carry-ons.

Carry-On Guidelines

Each flight costs $95. While you’re only allowed one carrier, you are welcome to bring two pets within the kennel. Southwest only allows pets on domestic flights and does not request health certificates. Only six pets are allowed on each flight, so ensure you book your loved one’s spot early.

Learn more about Southwest’s pet policy:

airline pet policy


If you’re traveling with your pets and flying on Spirit Airlines, you can bring along dogs, cats, and birds, as long as the kennel remains under 40 pounds. They’re only allowed in carry-on and primarily only on domestic flights, although you can bring your dog or cat with you to Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

Carry-On Guidelines

Spirit’s fee to fly with a pet is $110 each way. They only allow four pets per flight, so book your furry friend’s spot as quickly as possible. You won’t be asked to produce a health certificate, but your pet should be eight weeks or older.

Learn more about Spirit’s pet policy:


United offers pet owners several options for traveling with pets. Small animals are allowed to fly, including:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Rabbits

United recently partnered with American Humane to ensure their transportation service, PetSafe, gives your pet the best flight possible. The team is made up of professionals, and the program has climate-controlled vehicles. If you have a long connection, PetSafe provides onsite and offsite accommodations. Customer service for their program is available 24/7.

Carry-On Guidelines

The number of pets allowed to be carried on a United flight is only six, so make sure you save your pet a spot. The fee is $125 and may be more if you have long connections.

Checked Guidelines

If you wish to check your pet, you’ll need health certificates and have to meet specific crate requirements. The fee you pay is based on the weight of your pet and carrier.

Learn more about United Airlines’s pet policy:

If you’re traveling with your pet, it’s important to do your research into your airline’s pet policies but also the requirements of your destination, especially if you’re flying internationally. Each airline is slightly different, so speak with the agents to ensure you meet the rules for your pet. Learn more about any airline’s rules, restrictions, or requirements on their website or by calling their customer service line.

If you’re traveling with your dog or cat in the near future, your airline may require vaccination records or a health certificate. We’re happy to help! Give us a call at 281-693-7387 to set up your pet’s pre-takeoff appointment.

And if you decide to keep your pet at home while you fly, we offer safe and comfortable boarding facilities. Learn more about them here!

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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