Since the Wright Brothers invented the airplane in the early 1900s, technology has advanced air travel so that we can now travel all over the world much faster than before. Air travel is the fastest way to go from Point A to Point B, and sometimes it can be the cheapest. With budget airlines popping up, it has become attractive to almost anyone desiring to travel. But what are the airlines that fly pets unaccompanied in 2023? Learn more about this pet transportation question and more below.
Air travel serves many purposes. You can bring many suitcases on the plane because you’re moving to another city (or state or country). You can also bring your pet with you. Airlines have specific guidelines and policies in place to ensure that you don’t have to leave your adorable pup behind.
Whether in the cabin for a small-sized dog or in the cargo hold for larger dogs, it’s very possible to travel with your pet. There are a few rules and regulations, and we’ll explore them in this article. We also give you a rundown of airlines that allow dogs on board, specifically in cargo.
What are the Airlines that Allow Dogs in Cargo?
The tricky thing with air travel is that each airline has a different pet policy. We recommend you visit the airline’s website (or better yet, give their customer service line a ring) to learn the specifics before booking a flight. Some airlines only allow pets in the cabin, and some allow them to be in both the cabin and the cargo hold. Unfortunately, they all have banned brachycephalic breeds from the cargo area for safety reasons.
- The cost of traveling with your pet in the cabin is approximately $125 but can range as low as $90 one way.
- For the cargo hold, the cost ranges from $500 to $1,000, but the actual cost is calculated at booking.
American Airlines Policy on Pets in Cargo
American Airlines is one of the United State’s largest and most popular carriers. They have an extensive pet policy, allowing small pets — dogs and cats — inside the cabin.
- Unfortunately, American Airlines doesn’t allow pets in the cargo hold.
- The exception to this rule is if you’re in the military or work for the State Department.
- American Airlines outlines the cost and rules of having your pet in cargo on their website.
- If your pet is a service animal, there won’t be a cost to flying with your pet.
Delta Airlines Policy on Pets in Cargo
Delta Airlines has a pet policy that includes dogs, cats and household birds. No other pets are allowed.
- Pets are only allowed in the main cabin inside a ventilated carrier under the seat in front of you.
- Delta Airlines suspended their Delta Cargo program effective April 1, 2020.
- There are exceptions to this ban on pets in cargo, which include those with service animals and those who are in the military or are in the foreign service working in the US State Department.
United Airlines Policy on Pets in Cargo
United Airlines is another airline that allows dogs and cats in the cabin. Pets can be in a hard or soft carrier with the door closed, under the seat in front of you. This is reserved for small pets only.
- Pets are not allowed in the cargo hold.
- United Airlines used to have a pet shipping program, but they suspended this program in 2018 and have no plans to bring it back.
- However, if you are in the military or work for the State Department, there is an exemption.
- For the rest of you, if you have a large dog, you’ll have to look elsewhere for flying.
Southwest Airlines Policy on Pets in Cargo
Southwest Airlines is a popular budget airline with routes all across the United States. Pets are allowed inside the cabin, specifically small pets. Only small dogs and cats are allowed on domestic flights anywhere except Hawaii.
- Southwest also does not allow pets in the cargo hold.
- If you want to fly Southwest, you won’t be able to with a large dog.
Other Airline Policies on Pets in Cargo
Here are other airlines’ pet policies:
- JetBlue does not allow pets in the cargo hold. They do allow pets to fly with you in the cabin, but if you have a large dog, you won’t be able to jet around the blue sky.
- Spirit Airlines does not allow pets in the cargo hold. Small dogs and cats are allowed in the cabin, but if you plan to check in your dog, you’ll be in low spirits.
- Frontier Airlines does not allow pets in the cargo hold. One or two cabin pets are allowed per flight, but when it comes to the pets in cargo, you won’t be able to fly the new frontier.
Airlines That Allow Pets in Cargo
The list above highlighted the most popular airlines, but unfortunately, they don’t allow pets in the cargo hold. But guess what? The good news has arrived! The following airlines in this list DO allow pets in cargo:
Hawaiian Airlines Pet Policy
Good news from the Aloha State! Hawaiian Airlines allows dogs, cats, and household birds inside the cabin and also in the cargo hold.
- There are different restrictions when it comes to individual airports in North America, but for the most part your pet is allowed to travel anywhere domestically.
- The fees traveling within Hawaii are quite low — ranging from $35 one way in the cabin for small pets and $60 one way in the cargo hold.
- If you’re flying to North America, the fees jump to $125 one way in the cabin and $225 one way in the cargo hold.
- You should have a USDA-registered veterinarian fill out a health certificate that is no more than 14 days old prior to traveling, especially if you are flying to North America.
Alaska Airlines Pet Policy
Good news from the 49th state admitted to the union! Alaska Airlines allows dogs, cats, household birds and rabbits to travel with you in the cabin. The cost is $100 one way (and $105 if flying from Canada).
- When it comes to pets in the cargo hold, as far as the eye can see, Alaska Airlines is the only airline that allows a more diverse selection of pets in the cargo hold.
- It also costs $100 for each pet one way.
- Alaska Airlines allows dogs, cats, household birds, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, non-poisonous reptiles, tropical fish and even pot-bellied pigs! Wow, that’s quite a list!
- All pets should have a valid health certificate in order to travel.
- Certain restrictions, like outside temperatures, may restrict pets from traveling.
Tips for Transporting Your Dog
It’s always a good idea when traveling with your pet or dog to be prepared. There’s the obvious travel tips like ensuring you carry the veterinarian certificates and vaccination documents, as well as having your contact information visible on the crate and your dog’s collar. But here are some nice tips to ensure you’re prepared for the trip.
- Traveling in the off-season can help reduce costs, as fewer people will be at airports, making it less stressful for your dog.
- Consider the time of year before booking — airlines will cancel pet tickets if the temperature isn’t between 45°F to 85°F.
- Take direct flights with no layovers because layovers will stress your dog more when they are in the cargo hold.
- Freeze water in a large crate bowl, so your dog has enough water for the entire flight.
- Get to the airport at least half an hour earlier to check in early, so that means two and a half hours for domestic flights.
- Don’t let airline attendants take your dog until 30 minutes before departure; this will allow your dog to remain more calm.
- Don’t board until you see that airline baggage handlers have loaded your dog onto the plane. This is important to ensure your dog is safe in the cargo hold.
- Don’t give your dog any sedatives. It makes it difficult for your dog to adjust to the cargo hold temperatures and turbulence during the flight.
Pet Cargo Crate Requirements
- The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand and turn without touching the top of the crate.
- The crate should have secure locks all around with pins that extend past the extrusions above and below the door.
- The crate should be ventilated on all sides.
- The crate must have your dog’s name and your contact information visible.
- A water and food bowl should be attached to the door and be accessible from outside the crate.
- The crate should be secure with hardware fasteners that can easily come off.
Vaccinations for your Dogs and Cats
It’s important that your pets —- dogs and cats included — are vaccinated prior to travel. The health certificates and vaccinations are required by all airlines, as well as customs officials, and should be presented before your journey.
There is a minimum 10-day timeframe for completing health certificates prior to travel because airlines and other transportation entities require health certificates to be issued no more than 10 days prior to travel. When it comes to vaccinations, all pets should have the required vaccinations, including the rabies vaccine, in order to travel no more than 21 days prior to travel.
Vaccinations for Dogs
The list of vaccinations for dogs that are required prior to travel are:
- Canine parvovirus
- Canine hepatitis
Vaccinations for Cats
The list of immunizations for cats prior to travel are:
- panleukopenia (feline distemper)
- feline calicivirus
- feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis)
Air Travel Isn’t Your Only Pet Transportation Option!
There are other options you can take instead of air travel when it comes to pet transportation. You can travel by train, by car, hire a ground transport company, or use a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper.
When choosing ground transport it can be a safer way to travel with your pet. There are several reasons why it’s a better option than flying:
- Most airlines prohibit pets other than cats and dogs.
- Flying can stress your pet when they are in the cargo hold.
- Snub-nosed dogs like boxers, bulldogs or pugs are not allowed on flights at all because the flight can pose significant health risks to your dog.
- With the recent flight cancellations over the holidays, flying can be unreliable because of weather and other factors.
- Ground travel logistics are easier and can offer door-to-door delivery, which is impossible with air travel.
The Bottom Line
There can be a myriad of reasons why you’ve decided to travel with your pet. You can be visiting relatives or moving to another state or taking your dog to Doggieland (yes there’s an amusement park for your doggos in LA).
Whatever the reason, when doing your research on airlines that allow pets, a list pops up. There are several requirements and guidelines with each airline that you should keep in mind. If you don’t want to deal with all those rules, there are other alternatives like train travel, driving yourself, hiring a pet ground transport company, or using a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper.
Booking a driver through CitizenShipper is hassle-free, easy, and can save you money. The drivers understand your dog means everything to you and will ensure proper, loving care during the trek. CitizenShipper also provides added benefits for you — up to $1,000 pet protection coverage, Booking Assurance Guarantee, instant messaging communication to know where your pet is at all times, and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.
When you trust drivers on CitizenShipper to transport your dog, you will have peace of mind and comfort knowing your cherished pup is in the best of hands. This shouldn’t be a stressful experience. Make it easy on yourself, fill in your dog’s info today, and get free quotes faster than you can say pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis!*
*Yes, that is the longest word in English.