Pet Shipping Options: Southwest Airlines vs. Ground Transport

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated May 31, 2023

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Ground Transport Pet”>Cons of Ground Transport Pet Shippinglog/5-things-to-consider-before-shipping-your-pet-with-frontier-airlines”>Cons of Southwest Airlines Pet Shippingsingly sought the best pet shipping options to ensure the comfort and safety of their furry companions. With many options available, it can be challenging to determine the best choice. This article will delve into the details of two popular options: Southwest Airlines and ground transport. We will discuss the pros, cons, and important factors to consider when deciding on the right pet shipping method for you and your beloved pet.

Southwest Airlines Pet Shipping

What To Expect When Shipping Your Pet With Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is a well-known carrier that offers a pet shipping service for small pets. Their service is designed to provide a safe, comfortable, and stress-free experience for pet owners and their pets. Here’s what you need to know about Southwest Airlines pet shipping:

  1. Pet Carrier Requirements: Southwest Airlines pet policy requires pets to be in an approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. The carrier must be leak-proof, well-ventilated, and large enough for your pet to comfortably stand up and turn around.
  2. Weight and Size Restrictions: Only small pets are accepted by Southwest Airlines. The combined weight of your pet and the carrier should not exceed 20 pounds.
  3. Breed Restrictions: Southwest Airlines does not accept aggressive breeds or pets that require a muzzle.
  4. Fees: There is a non-refundable pet fare of $95 per pet carrier each way.
  5. Advance Reservations: Southwest Airlines requires pet owners to make advance reservations, as they only accept a limited number of pets per flight.

Pros and Cons of Southwest Airlines Pet Shipping


  • Reliable and well-known carrier
  • Pets can travel in the cabin with their owner
  • Reasonable fees for pet shipping


  • Strict weight and size limitations
  • Limited availability due to advance reservations required
  • Not suitable for larger pets or aggressive breeds

Ground Transport Pet Shipping

What to Expect When Shipping Your Pet with Ground Transport

Ground transport refers to pet shipping services that use vehicles to transport pets by road. This option is popular for pet owners who prefer a more personalized and flexible pet service. Here’s what you need to know about ground transport pet shipping:

  1. Customized Service: Ground transport companies often provide customized services tailored to the specific needs of your pet, such as door-to-door pickup and delivery, as well as regular updates on your pet’s status throughout the journey.
  2. No Weight or Size Restrictions: Unlike airline pet shipping, ground transport services typically do not have weight or size restrictions, making it suitable for larger pets or those with special needs.
  3. Flexible Scheduling: Ground transport allows for more flexible scheduling, as pet owners can choose the dates and times that best suit their needs.
  4. Pricing: The cost of ground transport can vary depending on the distance, duration of the journey, and the level of service required.

Pros and Cons of Ground Transport Pet Shipping


  • Customized service tailored to your pet’s needs
  • No weight or size restrictions
  • Flexible scheduling options


Pet Shipping Options: Southwest Airlines vs. Ground Transport – The Verdict

When choosing between Southwest Airlines pet shipping and ground transport options, it’s essential to consider your pet’s specific needs and your preferences as a pet owner. Southwest Airlines may be the better option for small pets that can comfortably fit in an airline-approved carrier and can handle the stresses of air travel. Additionally, Southwest Airlines is a cost-effective option for those with smaller pets.

On the other hand, ground transport may be more suitable for pet owners with larger pets or those with special requirements that airline pet shipping services cannot accommodate. Ground transport offers a more personalized and flexible experience, with door-to-door service and the ability to accommodate pets of all sizes and breeds.

However, it’s essential to consider the potential costs and longer travel time associated with ground transport.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Southwest Airlines and Ground Transport

To make the best decision for your pet, consider the following factors:

  1. Pet Size and Weight: Southwest Airlines may be a suitable option if your pet is small and can comfortably fit in an airline-approved carrier. For larger pets, ground transport is likely the better choice.
  2. Travel Duration: Ground transport may take longer than air travel, so consider your pet’s tolerance for extended travel times.
  3. Cost: Compare the costs of Southwest Airlines pet shipping and ground transport services, taking into account additional fees and potential surcharges.
  4. Scheduling Flexibility: If you require more control over your pet’s travel schedule, ground transport may be a better option due to its flexible scheduling.
  5. Pet Anxiety: Consider your pet’s anxiety levels during travel. Ground transport may be a more comfortable option for pets with severe travel anxiety, as they can remain in a familiar environment throughout the journey.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the cheapest way to transport a pet?

Typically, ground transport is the cheapest way to transport a pet.  Longer trips using a transportation service, like CitizenShipper, typically average around $1.00 per mile.  Using a pet transportation service ensures your pet arrives in your new location safely, while minimizing stress and overall cost. 

How much does it cost to ship a pet internationally? 

While shipping your pet domestically is a relatively straightforward process, international shipping can be more complicated.  Hiring a pet transport service to help with international logistics can save a tremendous amount of stress and time.  

Each country of arrival will have specific regulations regarding pet health checks, necessary vaccination, and possible quarantine requirements.  The cost to ship a pet internationally can vary, especially if you need to board your pet for an extended quarantine. 

How much does it cost to transport cats?

The cost to transport cats will vary depending on the transport method.  Cats can be transported via ground or air transit, and are often small enough to be considered a “carry on” item.  Transporting a cat can cost as little as $25 on Amtrak, or as much as $125 to fly in the main cabin of an airplane.

How much does it cost to travel with a small pet?

Traveling with a small pet, compared to a large pet, is much cheaper.  Smaller pets can fit under the seat in front of you and can often qualify as a “carry on” item.  Traveling with small pets on Amtrak can cost $25, while airlines can charge around $125.  Keep in mind certain companies will only allow cats and dogs to travel.  

What does it cost to ship a puppy?

While puppies are small enough to fly in most airline cabins, they can incur additional costs.  Puppies generally require more attention, and therefore can be more expensive than shipping an adult dog or cat.  

Many breeders will utilize an air nanny service to accompany your puppy.  If the air nanny is experienced, or a regular, certain airlines may provide discounted rates or waive certain fees.  Breeders regularly ship puppies to their new homes and are well-versed in arranging transportation.  

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the decision between Southwest Airlines pet shipping and ground transport will depend on your pet’s specific needs and your preferences as a pet owner. By carefully considering the factors outlined in this article, you can make an informed decision and choose the best pet shipping option for you and your furry companion.