Flying Your Dog by Air in 2023: What Airlines Offer Cargo Options?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated: August 17, 2023 / Published: March 2, 2023
2023, airlines, cargo options.

It’s 2023 and like many Americans, you’re planning to make the move to a new state. You have your travel plans all set, but what about your furry best friend? If you’re looking to fly your dog by air, you’ll need to know the different airlines that offer cargo services for pets and the basic requirements for each. In this blog post, we’ll go over the popular airlines and their requirements, as well as additional considerations to keep in mind.

Overview of Cargo Services for Pets

Every airline has an extensive pet policy regarding what you can and can’t bring on board. Some airlines only allow pets in the cabin, and some allow them to be in both the cabin and the cargo hold. 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.

Many airlines offer cargo services specifically for pets, so you can bring your four-legged friend along with you on your travels. Much like shipping them through the postal service, you can book a flight for your pet and it will be transported in a separate cabin from the other passengers. It’s important to note that cargo services for pets may not be available on all flights, so be sure to check the requirements of the airline before booking.

Airlines That Allow Pets in Cargo

Only three domestic airlines offer checked pets in the cargo section of the airplane.

Hawaiian Airlines Pet Policy

Hawaiian Airlines allows dogs, cats, and household birds inside the cabin and also in the cargo hold. The fees traveling within Hawaii are low — $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 are $125 one way in the cabin and $225 one way in the cargo hold.

Alaska Airlines Pet Policy

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, Alaska Airlines is the only airline that allows a diverse selection of pets. It 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.

American Airlines Pet Policy

American Airlines allow small pets — dogs and cats — to fly in the cabin. They currently offer to transport larger pets through their American Airlines Cargo program. You can get an approximate cost to ship a pet through American Airlines with their cost calculator.

Airlines That Do Not Allow Pets in Cargo

Delta Airlines Pet Policy

Delta Airlines has a pet policy that only includes dogs, cats, and household birds. However, pets are only allowed in the main cabin inside a pet carrier under the seat in front of you. There are exceptions to this, including those with service animals and those in the military or foreign service working in the US State Department.

United Airlines Pet Policy

United Airlines allows small cats and dogs to travel in the cabin in a hard or soft pet carrier under the seat in front of you. This is reserved for small pets only. Pets are not allowed in the cargo hold. Like the other airlines, there is an exemption if you are in the military or work for the State Department.

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

This airline has a limited pet policy. Southwest Airlines only allows small dogs and cats on domestic flights anywhere except Hawaii.  The carrier doesn’t allow pets in the cargo hold.

Comparison Table: Airlines Pet Cargo Policy in 2023

Note: Always consult the airline’s official website or contact their support for the most up-to-date information and detailed guidelines. Prices and policies might vary based on location, time, and other factors.
Airline Allows Pets in Cargo? Cost (Approximate) Types of Pets Allowed Special Considerations
Hawaiian Airlines Yes $60 – $225 Dogs, Cats, Household Birds Cheaper rates for travel within Hawaii
Alaska Airlines Yes $100 Dogs, Cats, Household Birds, Rabbits, Ferrets, Guinea Pigs, Non-poisonous Reptiles, Tropical Fish, Pot-bellied Pigs Only airline allowing diverse pets in cargo
American Airlines Yes Variable (Use their cost calculator) Larger Dogs and Cats Use their cost calculator for precise rates
Delta Airlines No N/A Dogs, Cats, Household Birds Only in the main cabin. Exemptions for military and foreign service
United Airlines No N/A Small Cats and Dogs Only in the main cabin. Exemptions for military and State Department
Southwest Airlines No N/A Small Dogs and Cats Only on domestic flights, excluding Hawaii. No pets in the cargo

How to Prepare for Pet Travel

It’s always a good idea when traveling with your dog to be prepared. First, you’ll need to make sure that your pet is up to date on all vaccinations. Vaccinations should be done by a USDA-registered veterinarian no more than 10 days before travel. You should also have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, which is essential to present at the gate. Secondly, you may want to consider purchasing pet insurance to cover any medical emergencies that may occur during the flight.

  • Traveling in the off-season can help reduce costs, as fewer people will be at airports, making it less stressful for your dog.
  • Take direct flights with no layovers because layovers will stress your dog.
  • Get to the airport at least half an hour earlier to check in early.
  • 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.

Bottom Line

Flying your pet by air can be a great way to transport them when you’re moving to a new state. In this blog post, we’ve gone over the popular airlines and their requirements, as well as additional considerations to keep in mind when flying your pet. The requirements vary from airline to airline. Make sure to do your research to find the best option for you and your furry friend.