What Airlines Ship Cats? Full Updated List Available at CitizenShipper

Ulhas Sukhare Ulhas Sukhare · Updated February 6, 2024

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It’s estimated by the United States Department of Transportation that two million domestic animals travel on commercial flights each year. That pet transportation figure amounts to about 6% of all pets that live in the United States. Dogs account for the majority of pets that fly commercially, while cats make up only 22% of jet-setting pets. Airlines like Delta, United and American meet that demand by allowing dogs in the cargo area and smaller breeds to fly in the cabin. But with so few owners bringing cats aboard, which airlines make the effort to accommodate them? Cat owners have a right to know because safety statistics and liability policies need to be checked. If only there was one single place to easily compare airline policies on cats… Ladies and gentlemen, return your seats to the upright position. Here are 10 airlines your cat will thank you for using on their next flight.

10 Airlines that Ship Cats

Alaska Airlines is one of the best carriers to ship your cat.

1. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines’ Fur-st Class Care program is designed with cat owners’ concerns in mind. You’ll receive notifications once your cat is safely onboard and they’ve disembarked. Cats flying in the cabin must stay at the passenger’s feet, with cat treats available from the cabin staff. Alaska Airlines has a few rules for flying with your cat in the cargo area:

  • The human flying with the cat must be at least 18 years old.
  • Hard-sided carrier size requirements: 17″ x 11″ x 7.5″
  • Soft-sided carrier size requirements: 17″ x 11″ x 9.5″
  • You can bring up to two cats on the flight at a time, but you have to buy a second seat on the plane (plus the cat’s ticket).
  • The exception to this is if the cats are small enough to fit in an approved-sized carrier, two can be placed in the same carrier.
  • Cats must be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned.
  • The cat must stay in its carrier throughout the flight.
  • Brachycephalic breeds need to travel in the cabin, not as cargo, and they may not be allowed to fly at all.

Price per cat: $100+

Allegiant Airlines logo.

2. Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air makes the check-in process easy for cat owners. You can book a ticket for your cat at the same time as your own, without doubling up. Cats do not need health certificates to fly since all flights are within the US mainland, San Juan and Puerto Rico. This makes check-in easy, quick and hassle-free.

  • Allegiant is the only airline that allows minors to travel with pets>. 15-18 year olds traveling with cats will benefit most from Allegiant.
  • Soft-sided carriers are strongly encouraged.
  • Max carrier size: 9”H x 16”W x 19”D
  • No more than two cats per carrier.
  • One carrier per traveler.
  • The pet counts as one of your two allotted carry-ons.
  • You must check with a ticket agent at least one hour before the scheduled departure.
  • Allegiant has no minimum age for pets; ittens are welcome on any flight.

Price per cat: $50 each way


3. American Airlines

American Airlines offers more options for cat owners than the typical airline. Not only can you transport your cat in the cabin area, you’re also able to use the American Airlines Cargo program to transport larger cats that don’t qualify for in-cabin travel. AA allows cats on flights within the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and St. Thomas. If you’re active-duty U.S. Military and U.S. State Department Foreign Service personnel you can check your cat at the ticket counter.

  • You can bring one kennel as a carry-on item, but won’t be able to bring an additional carry-on and personal item. The carrier counts as your carry-on.
  • The carrier must fit under the seat in front of you.
  • A soft-sided carrier is recommended because it can be slightly larger as long as you don’t need to excessively collapse it to fit under the seat.
  • Hard-sided carrier maximum size for mainline flights: 19″ x 13″ x 9″
  • Hard-sided carrier maximum size for regional flights: 16″ x 12″ x 8″
  • Soft-sided carrier maximum size: 18″ x 11″ x 11″
  • The weight of the cat and its carrier cannot exceed 20 pounds.
  • Each plane on mainline flights can only hold a maximum of seven kennels; for regional kennels the max is five with one permitted in first class.
  • In first or business class, cats need to be stored in a carrier, which will be transferred to a special compartment at the front of the plane during take-off and landing.
  • Cats must be eight weeks old to fly, and the flight must be less than twelve hours.

Price per cat: $125 for carry-on, price varies for pets in the cargo area.

Delta Airlines is a major airline that transports cats.

4. Delta Airlines

Ten years ago, 41 out of 97 in-flight animal deaths happened aboard Delta Airlines. While it’s true that Delta carries more animals than their competitors, the resulting PR backlash was enough for the airline to make changes to their policies. By 2018, that figure was down to 4 (out of 21). So, despite the initial bad press, your cat is in safe hands with Delta.

  • Cats must be at least 10 weeks old to fly on domestic flights.
  • The cat must be at least 16 weeks old if traveling to the United States from another country.
  • If you’re traveling to the European Union, the cat must be at least 15 weeks old.
  • One pet per kennel. There are a few exceptions: a female cat can travel with her unweaned litter or two cats of the same breed and size between the ages of 10 weeks and six months can travel and be charged as one pet.
  • The kennel counts as your one carry-on item.
  • Delta recommends a soft-sided carrier that’s no larger than 18” x 11” x 11”.
  • The carrier size requirements vary by plane so call ahead of your flight to confirm the maximum carrier size for your flight.
  • The cat must remain in the carrier at all times.
  • If you prefer to fly your cat in cargo, Delta Cargo has you covered. It was recently awarded the Air Cargo Excellence Gold Award.

Price per cat: $95-$125 (in US), $200 (outside US)

Frontier airlines logo displayed on a black background.

5. Frontier Airlines

Known for its ultra-low-cost flights, Frontier Airlines is a solid choice for travelers on a budget. Frontier Airlines’ pet policy is similar to other low-cost airlines.

  • For flights within the United States, you don’t need a health certificate for your cat. However, specific states may require a health certificate upon arrival.
  • Frontier Airlines doesn’t allow pets in the cargo area.
  • Cats must be at least eight weeks old.
  • Maximum carrier dimensions are 18″ x 14″ x 8″
  • Frontier recommends using a soft-sided carrier.
  • You can bring a personal item or another carry-on in addition to the cat carrier.

Price per cat: $99 each way

Hawaiian airlines logo - airlines, cats.

6. Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaii has strict quarantine policies about incoming pets because it’s the only state that is rabies-free. You must be diligent on getting the appropriate rabies shots and lab tests completed before arriving in the island state. If you do, your cat will only need to go through the 5 Day or Less quarantine program; if you fail to do so, the cat will have to complete a 120-day quarantine (which you’ll have to pay for yourself, costing over $1,000).

  • Cats are permitted to fly in the cabin area on inter-island flights and flights between the United States mainland and Hawaii, with the exception of JFK in New York, Boston and Austin.
  • Your cat must travel in an approved carrier that is no larger than 16” x 10” x 9.5”.
  • There is a weight limit of 25 pounds. That includes the weight of the carrier and your cat.
  • For cats riding in the checked luggage section of the plane, the carrier must be no larger than 36” x 25” x 28”.
  • The checked luggage area has a weight limit of 70 pounds. Luckily, no domestic cat weighs that much.
  • Cats traveling as checked baggage cannot travel unaccompanied.
  • Hawaiian Airlines has an exceptional safety record.

Price per cat: $35 (inter-island), $175 (other)

JetBlue's pet policy allows passengers to bring their pets on board their airplanes.

7. JetBlue

JetBlue is another popular airline for transporting pets. In fact, it’s been called the best US airline for pet amenities. While the airline doesn’t allow pets in the cargo area, most cats are small enough to ride in the cabin. There is even a program called JetPaws, giving owners tips and tools for a smooth trip with their pet.

  • JetBlue has a weight limit of 20 pounds for any pets riding in the cabin; this includes the weight of the pet and it’s carrier.
  • Maximum carrier size is 17″ x 12.5″ x 8.5″.
  • Only one pet is permitted per carrier.
  • The carrier must be FAA-approved.
  • JetBlue sells carriers at the ticket desk for $55.
  • You can check a pet stroller for no charge.
  • Make sure you book early because each flight has a maximum allotment of six pets.

Price per cat: $125

Southwest Airlines is a great carrier for bringing your cat on board.

8. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines allows cats in the cabin area of the plane, which is perfect for most cat-owners. Southwest ranked second in a recent pet travel survey. They are conscientious about pet transit and do not require health documentation for pets, since all pet-carrying flights are within the US. And for the price, Southwest is second only to Frontier, making it a safe and affordable choice for cat lovers.

  • For the safety of pets and passengers, Southwest requires your cat be vaccinated before boarding.
  • Southwest operates flights all over the United States and cats are able to join these flights, but there are no pets allowed on international flights.
  • Famous for its open-seat policy, Southwest asks that anyone traveling with a cat not sit in the exit row or in a seat that lacks under-seat stowage in front of it.
  • Cats need to be at least eight weeks old to fly.
  • Unaccompanied minors cannot fly with a cat.
  • Southwest allows one pet per ticketed customer.
  • Each carrier can hold no more than two animals of the same species.
  • Usually six carriers are allowed per flight, so book your tickets well in advance.
  • Southwest sells a pet carrier that measures 17” x 10” x 9.5”.
  • They’ll also permit an approved carrier bought elsewhere as long as it’s 18.5” x 13.5” x 9.5” or smaller.

Price per cat: $95

A yellow airplane representing Spirit Airlines flying in the sky with its pet policy prominently displayed.

9. Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines is another budget airline that allows cats in the cabin area, but not in the cargo hold. The airline has flights across the United States as well as internationally, but only allows pets on domestic flights and those to Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

  • >There’s one big advantage for cat owners flying with Spirit. Cats can feel anxious when cooped up for too long, and the carrier size restrictions of most airlines can be hard on the feline psyche. Spirit allows spacious carriers into the cabin (18″ x 14″ x ” ).
  • Spirit Airlines doesn’t require a health certificate to fly.
  • Two pets are allowed in one container.
  • There’s a limit of one carrier per passenger.
  • Cats must be at least eight weeks old to fly on Spirit Airlines.
  • Spirit Airlines doesn’t transport pets in the cargo area.

Price per cat: $110


10. United Airlines

In 2012, United Airlines reported 12 animal deaths on their planes. In 2017, that number was 18 (out of 138,178). In perspective, that’s only 0.01% of all animals on United planes — but still higher than other airlines. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that United is one of the few airlines that allows cats and other pets in the cargo area, which could explain the higher numbers.

  • Hard-sided carriers have a maximum size of 17.5″ x 7.5″ x 12″.
  • Soft-sided carriers have a maximum size of 18″ x 11″ x 11″.
  • United Airlines requires rabies and health certificates for international flights.
  • They encourage (but don’t require) a health certificate for domestic flights.
  • The amount of pets per flight varies depending on the type of aircraft, so be sure to plan ahead in order to save yourself a spot.
  • Kittens must be at least two months old to fly domestically on United; that age is four months for international flights.

Price per cat: $125

Are Airlines My Only Cat Transportation Option?

Not all cat owners are happy to entrust their cat to a busy commercial airline. The experience can be traumatic for some pets, especially if they are flying in cargo. Most airlines do not have the leeway to treat each cat with individual care, so owners will often seek a more fur-friendly service. CitizenShipper is a bespoke shipping service with a stand-out reputation for transporting pets. (You can read our reviews here.) Unlike airlines, our vetted and certified drivers like to know the names of their travel buddies and any purr-tinent details about them before beginning the trip. The process is easy: Simply post details of the journey your cat will make and let the quotes come to you. Choose a driver you like, one with experience of caring for cats on the road. Then relax, knowing your cat will be in safe and attentive hands-on their interstate trip. We know all cats deserve a paw-sitive experience! So get in touch today and learn more about our cat transportation service.