Pet Travel: Which Airlines Offer the Best Service?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated February 12, 2024

Your Pet's Journey Matters!

  • Fast and easy
  • Only pay when you book
The top-rated airline approved pet carriers for dogs.

Relocating your beloved pet can be a stressful experience. With so many airlines offering pet travel options, it can be hard to decide which one is the best for your furry family member. We’ll help you make an informed decision by reviewing the best airlines for pet travel. Whether you’re moving to a new city or visiting friends and family, choosing the right airline for your pet will ensure a safe and comfortable journey for both of you.

Benefits of Choosing the Right Airline

When it comes to pet travel, the right airline can make all the difference. It is important to consider the airline’s policies, safety record, and customer service when deciding which carrier to use. Different airlines have different pet policies, and some may not allow certain breeds or sizes of pets. Some airlines also require that your pet’s travel crate meet certain standards and that they are treated as live cargo. Additionally, different airlines have different levels of customer service when it comes to pet travel. Knowing the policies and customer service of the airlines you’re considering will help ensure a safe and comfortable journey for you and your pet.

Airline Reviews

Let’s go through some of the most popular U.S. based airlines to see their pet travel information and requirements for domestic and international travel.

Delta Airlines

Delta is one of the most popular airlines for pet travel. They offer pet travel services for both domestic and international flights to over 300 destinations worldwide. For domestic flights, they can only go in the main cabin underneath the seat in front of you.  For international flights, they can be checked in as live cargo. Delta also offers complimentary pet travel insurance and a tracking service for your pet’s journey. Additionally, Delta has a dedicated customer service team for pet travel that can help answer any questions or concerns you may have.

United Airlines

United is another great airline for pet travel. They offer pet travel services for domestic and international flights to over 300 destinations worldwide. Pets must travel in an IATA-approved pet carrier that meets their requirements. For domestic flights, they can only go in the main cabin under the seat in front of you. For international flights, they can be checked in as live cargo. United also offers a tracking service for your pet’s journey and a dedicated customer service team for pet travel.

American Airlines

American Airlines offers pet travel services for domestic and international flights to over 300 destinations worldwide. Pets must travel in an IATA-approved pet carrier that meets their requirements and they can either travel in the cabin or go in the cargo hold through American Airlines Cargo. American Airlines also offers a tracking service for your pet’s journey and a dedicated customer service team for pet travel. Additionally, American Airlines has a pet travel insurance option that can help cover some of the costs associated with pet travel.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is another popular airline for pet travel. They offer pet travel services for both domestic and international flights to over 300 destinations worldwide. Pets must travel in an IATA-approved carrier that meets their requirements in the main cabin only, unless traveling internationally where they can go in the cabin or cargo hold. Southwest also offers a tracking service for your pet’s journey and a pet travel insurance option.

Alaska Airlines

One of the most pet-friendly airlines, Alaska Airlines offers pet travel services for both domestic and international flights to over 300 destinations worldwide. Pets must travel in an IATA-approved carrier that meets their requirements. For small pets, they can fly in the cabin and for larger pets, they can go in the cargo hold. Alaska Airlines also offers a tracking service for your pet’s journey and a dedicated customer service team for pet travel.

Other Tips and Tidbits

When it comes to choosing an airline for pet travel, there are several things to keep in mind. First, you should make sure that the airline you choose offers pet travel services for the destination you’re traveling to. Additionally, you should make sure that your pet’s travel crate meets all of the airline’s requirements and that your pet will be checked in as live cargo. You should also consider the airline’s customer service when it comes to pet travel and whether or not they offer a pet travel insurance option.

Consider Ground Transportation as an Alternative

With many restrictions around pet air travel, ground transportation is often a better solution. If your pet has to fly in the cargo area, you must choose ground transport – you wouldn’t put your children in the cargo area, don’t do it with your pets either! It’s the safest, most humane way to send a pet long distances.

Crate Requirements

  • The carrier must be big enough that your pet can stand up, turn around and not touch the top of the crate.
  • The carrier must have secure locking with pins that extend past the extrusions above and below the door. The pins should be hardware instead of plastic fasteners.
  • The crate needs to be ventilated on all sides.
  • The crate needs to have your pet’s name and your contact information.
  • Water and food bowls need to be attached to the door and they have to be accessible from outside the crate.

The Wrap-Up

Choosing the right airline for your pet’s journey is an important decision. While there are several airlines that offer pet travel services, it is important to consider the airline’s policies, safety record, and customer service before making your decision. Doing your research ahead of time will help ensure that your pet has a safe and comfortable journey.