Pet-friendly airlines with in-cabin accommodations (US and beyond)

Pet-friendly airlines with in-cabin accommodations (US and beyond) - A dog in a suitcase with a toy plane and Santa hat

Air travel is sometimes necessary for one reason or another, all the more so around the holidays. Some enjoy it; some would rather stay grounded.

Air travel is always more stressful if you have to leave your furry friend behind. You may try to bring them along only to encounter the insistence that pets must ride in cargo. While most pets flown in cargo are fine, there's always a risk of excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation and/or rough handling.

With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure the airline you choose allows pets in-cabin, so you can check in on them throughout the flight.

Pet-friendly airlines with in-cabin resources are, luckily, not uncommon. However, they can only accommodate so many pets per flight, so traveling with your pet often requires you to book as early as possible.

Even if you’ve purchased accommodations for them ahead of time, pets can be denied boarding at the gate due to disruptive behavior, such as:

  • Scratching
  • Excessive whining, barking, or growling
  • Biting
  • Lunging
  • Urinating or defecating in the cabin or gate area

Airlines that allow dogs in-cabin also have a few other general rules in common:

  • Pet carriers are classified as your carry-on item
  • Carriers must fit beneath the seat in front of you and not exceed size and dimension requirements
  • Pets must be able to stand and move in their carriers comfortably
  • Pets must be well-behaved and non-violent
  • Dogs/cats must be at least 8 weeks old (some airlines require older)
  • Most airlines restrict or recommend against flying with brachycephalic breeds
  • Pets cannot travel with unaccompanied minors

Other than that, rules and norms vary from one airline to another. We’ll go over those as well as some airlines that allow large dogs in-cabin as of 2022.

(Note: prices below are given in USD. Airlines that charge in Canadian dollars (CAD) generally charge the same, numerically, as they charge in USD. European airlines charge in Euros. At the time of publication, the USD and the Euro are valued at roughly 1:1. To keep things consistent, European prices are listed in USD.)

Pet-friendly airlines in the US

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines charges a $100 (each way) in-cabin pet fee. But there are limits: only three pets can ride in first class, and 8 in coach, per flight—so book as early as possible to secure a spot.

Alaska Airlines allows:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Household birds

Odorous or noisy animals must travel in the baggage compartment, so make sure to bathe your buddy beforehand and try to help them stay calm as much as you can.

American Airlines

In-cabin pet accommodations cost $125 on American Airlines. Service animals may fly for free.

American Airlines limits their in-cabin accommodations to dogs and cats that meet the appropriate size and weight limits. The combined weight of your pet and their carrier cannot exceed 20 lbs., and they must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. They accept seven animals on American Airlines flights and five on American Eagle flights.

Pet-friendly American Airlines flights travel to, from, and within the following locations:

  • Within the 48 contiguous United States
  • Canada
  • Alaska
  • Mexico
  • Puerto Rico
  • St. Croix
  • St. Thomas

Delta Airlines

Dogs, cats, and household birds may travel in-cabin on Delta Airlines flights. Pets must be at least 10 weeks old for domestic travel, 16 weeks old if traveling to the US from another country, and at least 15 weeks old if traveling to the European Union.

One pet is permitted per kennel with a few exceptions. One female cat or dog may travel with her un-weaned litter if the litter is between 10 weeks to 6 months of age. There is no limit on the number of animals in the litter. Additionally, two pets of the same breed and size between the age of 10 weeks and 6 months may be allowed to travel in one kennel as long as they are small enough to fit into a single kennel and are compatible. They will be charged as one pet.

One-way pet fees vary depending on destination:

  • US/Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands/Canada: $95 for tickets issued on or after February 28, 2022; $125 for tickets issued before them.
  • International: $200
  • Brazil: $75

Unfortunately, pets (excluding service animals) may only travel cargo to/from the following locations:

  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Brazil - Exit Brazil
  • Colombia - Exit Colombia
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Hawaii

Frontier Airlines

Children fly free on Frontier Airlines—although fur-children are a different story. Each pet will cost $99 one-way.

Frontier allows:

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

Pet carriers must fit under the seat in front of you; maximum dimensions are 18" L x 14" W x 8" H. They do not allow any pets to be checked as baggage—that is, pets can’t travel in the cargo hold. Meaning large pets won’t be flying Frontier.

Health certificates are required on international flights, as well as some within the United States. Investigate the US Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Services website for more info.

JetBlue

JetBlue only allows small dogs and cats in carriers that can fit beneath the seat in front of you. The fee is $125 each way, and six pets are allowed per flight. The combined weight of your pet and their carrier cannot exceed 20 lbs. Crate dimensions must not exceed 17" L x 12.5" W x 8.5" H. Pets cannot fly JetBlue, in-cabin or otherwise, to Trinidad and Tobago, nor to/from London, but may travel within the US. Vaccination requirements vary by state, but vaccination documentation is required for flights to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (USVI).

Southwest Airlines

Southwest accepts small, vaccinated cats and dogs, except on international flights or flights to or from Hawaii. They allow a total of six pet carriers per flight, each of which can measure no more than 17” L x 10” W x 9.5” H. The pet travel fee is $95 each way.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit allows pets on all flights within the US, Puerto Rico, the USVI, and St. Thomas, for a $125 one-way fee. They allow:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Household birds
  • Domestic rabbits

However, birds and rabbits cannot travel to/from Puerto Rico or the USVI. According to their pet policy, Spirit does not allow “exotic” pets such as snakes, rats, and spiders. All animals must be “harmless, inoffensive, odorless, and require no attention during the flight.”

The combined weight of your pet and carrier can be up to 40 lbs.—notably heavier than other airlines. Be advised that Spirit Airlines allows only soft containers no larger than 18" L x 14" W x 9" H.

United Airlines

United only allows dogs and cats on their airplanes. There is a $125-dollar one-way fee, plus an additional $125 fee for each layover longer than four hours.

In addition, pets may not fly to, from, or through the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Cuba
  • Guam
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Hawaii
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Marshall Islands
  • New Zealand
  • Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan)
  • Norway
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Tahiti
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • UK

Pet-friendly airlines in Canada

Air Canada

Cats and small dogs are allowed on Air Canada flights. Within Canada and the US (with the exception of Hawaii), there is a $50 one-way fee. On international flights the fee is $100. Maximum carrier sizes are as follows:

  • Hard case: 55 cm (21.5”) L x 40 cm (15.5”) W x 23 cm (9”) H
  • Soft case: 55 cm (21.5”) L x 40 cm (15.5”) W x 27 cm (10.5”) H

Air Canada requires pets to be at least 12 weeks old to fly. And when flying with a pet, you can’t check in online or at a self-service kiosk: you must see an attendant at the gate.

WestJet

Reservations cannot be made for pets online when you fly WestJet. This airline requires you to make arrangements for pets over the phone.

They allow:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Household birds

Kennels must be soft-sided and no larger than 41 cm L x 25.4 cm W x 21.5 cm H (16” L x x 10” W x 8.5” H).

There is an exception for “working dogs”—dogs trained in search and rescue, military and police operations, assisting people with health conditions or impairments—for whom owners may purchase a second seat beside them.

Travel within or between Canada and the US costs between $50 and $59 depending on travel date, exact kennel size, and other factors. The international pet fee is between $100 and $118.

WestJet recommends feeding your pet a light meal four hours before boarding.

Pet-friendly airlines in Europe

Aegean Airlines

Aegean Airlines is the largest Greek airline. They only allow dogs and cats of a maximum weight of 8 kilograms (about 17.5 lbs.), and you may not travel with both a pet and an infant. Aegean’s pet fee is $30 within Greece, $60 internationally. Animals must be microchipped as well as had their latest rabies vaccine within 21 weeks of flight.

Air Europa

Air Europa allows you to travel with up to five pets altogether between cargo and those traveling in-cabin. They allow:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Small birds
  • Fish
  • Aquarium turtles
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Small rabbits

On long-haul flights, only dogs and cats are permitted, and they must be at least three months old as well as fully vaccinated. Up to three animals of the same species are allowed in one carrier. Maximum carrier measurements: 55 cm L x 35 cm W x 25 cm H (21.6” L x 13.7” W x 9.8” H). Animal(s) plus their crate can weigh no more than 10 kg (22 lbs.).

Pricing varies quite a bit, and is currency-dependent:

  • Mainland Spain, Balearic Islands, and Canary Islands: EUR 25, USD 27, GBP 18, CHF 25
  • Europe and Africa: EUR 50, USD 55, GBP 36, CHF 50
  • Long haul flights: EUR 150, USD 165, GBP 110, CHF 150

Air France

Air France allows dogs and cats weighing no more than 8 kg (17 lbs.). Maximum carrier sizes are: 46 cm L x 28 cm W x 24 cm H (18” L x 11” W x 9” H). All dogs and cats traveling within the EU must be microchipped and have passports that certify their vaccination status. Fees are as follows:

  • Metropolitan France: $40
  • The Caribbean: $30 (excluding flights from and to Miami $55)
  • Europe or between Europe and North Africa: $55
  • Between metropolitan France and Cayenne, Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre, Saint-Denis de la Réunion: $55
  • Other flights: $125

Lufthansa

Lufthansa is Germany’s largest airline, and they only allow dogs and cats. Pets must weigh no more than 8 kg (17 lbs.) including their carrier, and you must register them at least 24 hours before takeoff.

Prices:

  • $72 within Europe
  • $120 internationally

Note: assistance dogs may travel free of charge.

Vueling

Vueling, a budget Spanish airline, only allows three pets per flight.

They allow:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Household birds
  • Turtles
  • Tortoises

Dogs and cats must be microchipped, and their rabies vaccines up to date. Carrier maximums are 45 cm L x 39 W x 21 cm H (17.7” L x 15.3” W x 8.2” H), 10 kg (22 lbs.) with your pet inside. Fees are as follows:

  • Domestic flights: $40
  • International flights: $50

Airlines that allow large dogs in-cabin

Animals over 17 lbs. are generally considered “large” and are only permitted for in-cabin travel with the following airlines:

  • JSX Airlines
  • La Compagnie Airlines
  • Elite Airways
  • WestJet Airlines

Many of these airlines will require you to buy another seat on the plane for your pet. Prices vary quite a bit and depend upon whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, as well as how heavy your pet is. As a last resort, large pets can travel in cargo on many airlines.

Planning to fly with a pet

There’s quite a lot to consider before flying with your pet, and policies vary by airline. Be sure to do your research so you can do what’s best for your furry pal.

Want professional advice on how to travel by plane with your specific pet? Book a virtual appointment with Vetster to determine the best travel accommodations for your animal today. The vet you connect with will be able to make recommendations based on your pet’s breed, age, as well as health conditions.

Travel can be stressful, but knowing you made the right choice for your pet with expert advice will hopefully bring some peace of mind.

SOURCES

https://www.humanesociety.org

https://www.alaskaair.com

https://www.aa.com

https://www.delta.com

https://www.flyfrontier.com

https://www.jetblue.com

https://www.southwest.com

https://customersupport.spirit.com

https://www.united.com

https://www.aircanada.com

https://www.westjet.com

https://en.aegeanair.com

https://www.aireuropa.com

https://wwws.airfrance.us

https://www.lufthansa.com

https://www.vueling.com

https://companionpettravel.com

The Vetster Editorial Team is comprised of seasoned writers and communicators dedicated to elevating stories about Vetster, pets and their owners.

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