Flying Your Dog by Air in 2024: What Airlines Allow Dogs in Cargo?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated April 13, 2024

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There are only a few airlines that allow dogs in cargo.

Are you planning to move to a new state? You have your moving plans all set, but what about your furry best friend? What is the best way to transport a dog across the country?

Many pet owners assume that the only way to move a dog long distances is by plane. While it’s the quickest way to travel, it’s not always the best approach to move an animal.

With the summer months approaching, many airlines have a heat embargo that restricts you from shipping your pet in cargo. If the ground temperature is more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit or less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you won’t be able to transport a large pet in cargo.

This poses a problem. By choosing ground transportation, you can avoid those problems. Plus, it’s safer and more humane to transport your pet on the ground than via a plane in the cargo hold. It’s also more reliable because you won’t be dependent on weather conditions to transport your pet.

So the bottom line is to consider ground transportation. It’s a more humane way to get your pet across the country. Your pet will never be left alone and will be able to take as many stops as needed.

You wouldn’t transport your children in cargo. You should not do the same for your pets. If you have a large dog that cannot fly in the cabin or are facing heat/cold weather airline embargo, consider the safest option — pet ground transportation through CitizenShipper.

Is Airline Cargo Transport for Pets Safe?

Generally speaking, yes it’s safe to transport a pet in the cargo area of the plane. However, there are other considerations to make when you’re choosing the method of transport. Ground transportation is

  1. There won’t be anyone (airline employee, pet expert, etc.) allowed in the cargo area during the flight. That means there’s no way for anyone to help (or even be aware) if your pet has an emergency or needs to be comforted during the flight.
  2. The cargo area is pressurized and climate-controlled, but that doesn’t mean it’s as comfortable during the flight as being in the cabin with an air nanny or taking ground transportation.
  3. Many pets are traumatized by the experience of flying in the cargo area. It makes sense — the cargo area is foreign to pets, they’re all alone and have no idea what’s going on.

You would not transport your children in cargo. You should not do the same for your pets. If you have a large dog that cannot fly in the cabin, consider the safest option — pet ground transportation through CitizenShipper.

Finding Flight Nannies on CitizenShipper

One of the most efficient ways to transport your pet long distances is by hiring a flight nanny. What is a flight nanny?

  • Also known as air nannies, these are pet transportation professionals specifically dedicated to accompanying your pet as they travel through the air.
  • You’ll meet up with your flight nanny at the airport, where they’ll accompany your furry family member through the security process, boarding and arrival.
  • This is the perfect option for pet owners who want their fur babies to be transported by air but aren’t able to join them on the flight.

You can hire a flight nanny whether your pet flies in the cargo area or in the cabin. The best way to find a flight nanny for your pet is by using a pet transportation marketplace like CitizenShipper.

On the platform, you can find flight nannies with a wide range of experience and price points. What’s great about using CitizenShipper is you can get a cost estimate completely free of charge by posting a listing.

  • Simply create a profile, enter the details of your flight — the dates, arrival and destination, type of pet and any other specifics
  • Within minutes you’ll receive quotes from flight nannies.
  • It’s always free to view these quotes and even chat with the flight nannies that bid on your listing.Get flight nanny quotes.

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 Dogs 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 Don’t Allow Dogs 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 2024

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

A dog and a cat promoting free driver quotes.

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.