How Much Does It Cost to Fly A Pet Unaccompanied?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated January 16, 2024

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Many pet owners don’t realize that it’s possible to fly a pet unaccompanied. Whether you’re a military service member or a business traveler, there are times when you may need to send your pet on a separate flight. It’s important to understand the different fees associated with this type of travel, how to reduce the cost and safety measures to consider when booking a flight. In this article, we’ll discuss the cost of flying a pet unaccompanied, factors that impact the cost, tips for reducing the cost, and safety measures to consider.

Types of Fees Associated with Flying a Pet Unaccompanied

When flying a pet unaccompanied, there are several fees that must be taken into consideration. The most common fees include shipping costs, airline fees, and crate costs. Shipping costs are typically based on the weight of the pet and the distance of the flight. Airline fees vary by airline and may include a pet-handling fee, a pet-carrying fee, a pet-reservation fee and a pet-check-in fee. Additionally, some airlines may require a fee for a pet to be transported in the aircraft cabin. Travel crate costs may also be required for airlines that do not accept pet carriers of a certain size.

Factors That Impact the Cost of Flying a Pet Unaccompanied

There are several factors that can influence the cost of flying a pet unaccompanied. These include the type of pet, the size of the pet, the distance of the flight and the airline the pet is flying with. Larger pets typically require larger kennels and may cost more to fly. Flights that are longer in distance will also cost more than shorter flights. Additionally, some airlines may charge more for pet travel than others.

Tips for Reducing the Cost of Flying a Pet Unaccompanied

There are several ways to reduce the cost to ship your pet via air travel. First, try to book your pet’s flight in advance. Airlines may offer discounts for flights that are booked in advance. Second, try to find a pet-friendly airline. Some airlines may offer discounted rates for pet travel. Third, try to book nonstop flights when possible. Nonstop flights are typically less expensive than flights with multiple stops. Finally, try to pack as much of your pet’s necessities in the kennel as possible. This can help reduce the cost of shipping the pet.

Safety Measures to Consider When Flying a Pet Unaccompanied

When flying a pet unaccompanied, there are several safety measures to consider. First, make sure to research the airline you’re considering flying with. Some airlines may have stricter policies regarding pet travel than others. Additionally, check to see if the airline requires a health certificate for your pet. This is typically a requirement for both domestic and international travel. Also, make sure to provide detailed instructions to the airline regarding how to care for your pet during the flight. Finally, always make sure that your pet has proper identification with them. This should include a collar with contact information and a microchip in case your pet becomes lost or separated during the flight.

Airline Pet Policies

Here are airlines that do not allow unaccompanied pets for domestic flights:

  • Delta Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines

 Here are the airlines that do allow unaccompanied pets for domestic flights:

Hawaiian Airlines Pet Policy

Hawaiian Airlines is a very pet-friendly airline. It allows pets to be transported in the main cabin and also in the cargo hold and also unaccompanied if that is the case. They allow dogs, cats, and household birds. There may be several restrictions when it comes to some airports in the continental United States, but usually, your pet is allowed to travel anywhere domestically. The fees for traveling within Hawaii are quite low — $60 one way in the cargo hold. If you’re flying to North America, it costs $225 one way in the cargo hold.

Alaska Airlines Pet Policy

Alaska Airlines allows a lot of animals on the plane. Only dogs, cats, household birds and rabbits are allowed in the main cabin. The cost is $100 one way (and $105 if flying from Canada). When it comes to pets in the cargo hold and unaccompanied, Alaska Airlines allows a diverse selection of pets. It also costs $100 for each pet one way, which include: dogs, cats, household birds, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, non-poisonous reptiles, tropical fish and even pot-bellied pigs.

Please note that most, if not all, airlines allow pets unaccompanied or in the cargo hold for international flights. You’ll need vaccinations (like the rabies vaccine), a signed health certificate (called a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection) from a veterinarian registered with the USDA, and an import permit to enter the destination country and avoid quarantine.

Bottom Line

Because having pets unaccompanied is banned on most airlines, you may want to look for alternatives for your pet shipping needs. You can hire a pet ground transportation service. There are a few reasons why ground animal transportation can be a better option.

  • Flying can have a negative effect on your pet, especially if they are in the cargo hold. Ground transport will be less stressful and your pet will be happier.
  • With flight cancellations (especially during the holidays), flying can be unreliable because of weather and other factors. Ground transport does not have that unreliability. Regardless of the weather, your pet will get to its final destination in a matter of hours.
  • Ground travel logistics are easier for transporting pets and can offer door-to-door delivery, which is impossible with air travel.

If you find yourself in a dilemma where a traditional ground shipping company is too expensive, consider an amazing alternative like CitizenShipper. Because drivers compete for your business, you can be assured you’ll get affordable rates. You can save up to 60-70% compared to traditional shipping services. CitizenShipper screens all its drivers because they want drivers that care about your pet as if they were their own.