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- Air Travel with Your Pet
- Flying with a Pet
- Flying with a Pet? Ask These Questions First.
- Can My Pet Fly With Me?
- Can My Pet Go Anywhere I Want to Fly?
- What Are the Kennel Requirements?
- What Paperwork Do I Need for My Pet?
- Is There a Charge to Travel in Cabin with My Pet?
- Southwest Airline Pet Policy
- Delta Airlines Pet Policy
- American Airlines Pet Policy
- JetBlue Pet Policy
A 10-month old French bulldog died after his owner was forced (against airline pet policy) to place him in an overhead compartment during a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York. Traveling with pets can be lots of fun, but if proper safety procedures aren’t in place, the results can be tragic. These tips for flying with pets can help keep your dog, cat, guinea pig or other pet safe during a flight.
Air Travel with Your Pet
Vacations are often focused on family togetherness. And that includes the four legged members of the family. According to the United States Department of Transportation, more than 2 million pets and other live animals are transported by air each year in our country. Many animals are shipped as baggage (if accompanied) or as cargo (if unaccompanied). However, in recent years the number of live animals flying inside the plane’s cabin has grown substantially. This is due to the increasing number of people flying with a pet identified as a service dog or emotional support animal.
Other times, passengers transport smaller pets in carry-on pet carriers that can be placed under the seat in front of them (not the overhead bins).
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Flying with a Pet
The rise in the number of people flying with a pet in the cabin presents a twofold challenge for airlines:
- They are required to keep other passengers safe from the dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs or other animals
- They are responsible for transporting the animals safely.
In the case of Kokito, the French bulldog traveling from Houston to New York, a flight attendant instructed the owner to place the carry-on bag containing the dog in an overhead compartment. The 10-month-old puppy suffocated during the flight.
United Airlines said it would investigate and that the flight attendant’s instructions were not in line with the carrier’s pet travel policy. However, it should open the dialogue about the best way for people to fly with dogs, with an eye on both the other passengers’ concerns and the animal’s safety.
Flying with a Pet? Ask These Questions First.
Pet owners are responsible for learning the specific requirements of the airline they will fly. Not sure where to start? Here are five questions to ask to ensure that when you’re flying with a pet, you’ll both arrive safely.
Can My Pet Fly With Me?
According to USA Today, all major U.S. airlines allow pets to fly in cabin for a fee. The type of animal, however, varies. Some allow only dogs and cats. Others also allow birds, guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits. And, of course, policies change all the time. The only way to know for sure is to check with your airline about its pet policy before you leave home. You don’t want to arrive at check-in only to find that Fido isn’t welcome on that flight.
This is true even for emotional support animals. Earlier this year, United Airlines barred a peacock that served as an emotional support animal from flying in the passenger cabin. The bird’s height and weight did meet United‘s accessibility guidelines.
Bring Fido has terrific information on airline pet policies. For example, in early 2018, it said this about Delta Airlines‘ pet policy: “Delta permits passengers to bring small pets in the cabin on most flights for a fee of $125 each way (to be collected at check-in) on flights within the United States, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”
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Can My Pet Go Anywhere I Want to Fly?
Due to different quarantine laws, animals are not as free to fly as humans are. Pets are accepted in cabin on most flights through the contiguous United States and Alaska. However, pets are not accepted in cabin to Hawaii.
Pet policies on travel to international destinations varies. Some countries have strict guidelines about bringing pets. There may be health or quarantine requirements. In the US, the Department of Agriculture sets the rules. These restrictions can take as much as six months of advance planning. If you plan to take your pet along on international travel, make sure you know all the airline regulations as well as those for the destination country.
What Are the Kennel Requirements?
Pets in cabin must be in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. Each airline has its own specific dimensions, so make sure your carry-on pet carrier is the proper size. It also has to allow room for the pet to be able to sit, stand and turn around while in the carrier.
Some airlines have proper-sized kennels for sale at the ticket counter. Please call the airline to check availability. Then plan to arrive early enough to secure a kennel before boarding. With most airlines, a pet carrier counts against your checked baggage allotment.
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What Paperwork Do I Need for My Pet?
Only healthy pets are permitted to fly, so you will need your vet’s okay (in the form of a health certificate) when you’re flying with a pet. For most airlines, the certificate must be dated no more than 10 days before your flight. Count on quite a bit of additional paperwork if you are flying internationally or to certain destinations. Check with the airline to make sure you know what it requires. The USDA has a downloadable form for international travel.
Is There a Charge to Travel in Cabin with My Pet?
Of course there’s a fee. When airlines charge for just about everything else, why wouldn’t they charge a fee for Fido and Fluffy to fly? However, the fees for flying with a pet in cabin can vary widely by airline. They range from $50 to $150 or more each way. Call the airline to make arrangements. Don’t expect to walk on with your animal if the airline doesn’t have prior notice.
TravelingMom Tip: Book your flight early. Many carriers limit the number of pets that can fly in the cabin.
If your pet doesn’t meet the size and weight requirements to fly in the cabin, you may be able to fly them as cargo or baggage. Once again, specifics vary from airline to airline, so check with your carrier and make arrangements.
For your pet’s protection, make sure you do your homework before flying with a dog. If you know the rules and your rights, you may be able to avert a tragic mistake like the one that killed poor Kokito.
TravelingMom Note: These tips do not apply to service dogs and emotional support animals.
Read More: Tips for road tripping with pets
Southwest Airline Pet Policy
Southwest allows small animals to travel under the seat in front of you. The airline charges a $95 pet fare each way. Pets cannot travel in-cabin on international flights. Early booking of your pet is important. Southwest Airlines only allows 6 pet carriers per flight, so if it’s a popular route or time of year, book early to guarantee a spot. Read Southwest Airline’s full pet policy here.
Learn more about flying Southwest on our Complete Guide for Families.
Delta Airlines Pet Policy
Small pets can travel under the seat in front of you. The pet carrier counts as your one carry-on item and a pet fee of $125-$200 will be assessed each way. Pit bull type dogs are not permitted in the cabin. Delta Airlines only allows 6 pets per flight, 2 in first class and 4 in the main cabin, so be sure to book early. You can view all of Delta’s pet rules here, including age requirements and flights where pets must fly in the cargo bin.
American Airlines Pet Policy
If you were planning to check your pet with American Airlines, be aware that the airline has suspended that service due to COVID-19 flight changes. As of September 2020, pets can only fly in the main cabin. Owners of larger pets can contact American Cargo Services for arrangements.
Carry-on pets must fit in a pet carrier that slides comfortably under the seat in front of you. This carrier replaces your carry on luggage and there is a pet fare of $125. American Airlines only accepts 7 pet kennels as carry ons per flight. This number does not include service animals. Check all requirements and restrictions in American Airlines pet policy here.
JetBlue Pet Policy
JetBlue’s pet policies are similar to other airlines, including a $125 fee each way, limited numbers of pets accepted (4 per flight), and the combined weight of the pet and carrier must be 20 pounds or less. One other great tool that Jetblue offers is a system to look up regulations and restrictions of where you’re headed to. This is a great tool for flying with a dog internationally.