Leaving your animal friend behind while you vacation or travel can be emotionally taxing and stressful: where will they stay, who will take care of them, will they be happy, etc? Owners need to know which airlines are the best when it comes to traveling with their pets. The cost of bringing your pet, where your pet will be allowed to stay during the flight, or if your pet is even allowed on a plane all varies based on the airline that is servicing the flight. Note: most airlines do allow cats and dogs. So, let’s explore the costs, accommodations and more on some of the world’s most premier airlines for your pet.
One of the largest airlines in the world, United Airlines, allows travelers to bring a number of different animals with them on their travels. Dogs, cats, birds excluding cockatoos, and rabbits are allowed to fly in-cabin on most United flights. There is a charge of $125.00.
All animals must be kept in a hard or soft-sided kennel under the seat in front of any traveler with a pet. They must stay under the seat and in their kennel for the duration of the flight. The maximum dimensions for a kennel in-cabin are 17.5” by 12”. With the exception of birds, there may only be one animal per kennel and the animal must have enough space to stand up and turn around inside.
For animals that are not eligible to travel in-cabin United offers PetSafe, which is their pet transportation service. There is 24 hour airport to airport service, and a fully functional PetSafe service desk and representative on hand. Rates and restrictions vary drastically if you are going out of the country. Some countries and one state (Hawaii) will not allow you to take pets into their space under any circumstances, so it is important that travelers educate themselves on any specific restrictions in-place if they intend on traveling to Hawaii or out of the country. On the plus side, your pet will earn you miles for PetSafe flights.
Another mammoth in the aviation industry, American Airlines, has been entrusted numerous times by zoos in the transport of their animals. While in-cabin travel is limited American Airlines encourages all of their pet-owning travelers to make special notes regarding the care of their pets and promise to abide by all requests made.
When flying with a pet in-cabin they must be over 8 weeks old, and they must stay in their kennel under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight. The size restrictions on in-cabin kennels are 19” by 13” by 9” at the maximum. All pets must be able to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably in their kennels. Travelers are only allowed to carry-on one kennel and carry-on kennels cost travelers $125.00. All other pets must be shipped in cargo, and that charge is $200.00.
Travelers may check up to 2 animals, both of which must be at least 8 weeks or older. Capacity is limited so reservations are made on a first come first served basis. Travelers are not allowed to check animals if the ground temperature is forecasted at over 85 degrees or under 45 degrees at any of the stops on their itinerary. This is for the animal’s safety.
There are breed restrictions for cats and dogs on American Airlines flights so make sure that you check ahead of time to be certain your pet is accepted.
Much like United and American, Delta Airlines is pet friendly, but does have strict policies when traveling with pets. These policies are in place to protect the pet and the other passengers on the flight. They offer two options for their four-legged travelers: in-cabin transport and transport via Delta Cargo. While flying your pet as cargo seems like a scary option, Delta Airlines offers their Variation® Live transport service, which is specifically designed to provide safe transport of pets. If you prefer in-cabin transport, Delta has size and weight restrictions that must be followed and all pets must kenneled. The kennel is counted as a carry-on bag and must be stowed under the seat in front of the traveler for the duration of the flight. Pets are not allowed out of their kennel until deplaning.
The charges for bringing a pet on-board are quite reasonable with Delta Airlines. It only costs passengers an additional $125.00 each way to bring their pet with them on the flight. All fees are collected at check-in.
This airline took a big step for all of the pet travelers out there when they started their JetPaws program designed to make traveling with pets that much easier for their customers. JetPaws provides owners with tips, information, and tools to make their travel as smooth as possible. Members of the JetPaws program also earn 300 TrueBlue points for every flight they take with their pet!
All animals must be able to fit under the seat in front of the passenger, and their kennels may not exceed the size of 17” by 12.5” by 8.5”. At this time JetBlue does not ship any live animals in their cargo hold. Your pet must be able to fit under the seat in front of you or it cannot travel on a JetBlue flight. The combined weight of the pet carrier and your pet cannot exceed 20 pounds.
There is a $100.00 fee each way for pets. Travelers are only allowed to bring one pet on the flight with them, and there is a limited amount of space available for pets so pet reservations are handled on a first come first serve basis.
Pet owners must have the following documentation and items before they bring their animal on the flight: documentation of all necessary vaccinations, ID tags, pet license, snacks and treats for your pet, and pet supplies for trip. It is also highly recommended that all pets get a pre-flight workout so that they will sleep soundly and travel in more comfort. Pets cannot travel alone they must always be accompanied by a customer.
While this airline did merge with United back in 2010 to form United Continental, this airline still has different pet policies than its partner, but it also gets to take part in the PetSafe program that was discussed earlier.
Continental airlines requires puppies and kittens to be at least 10 weeks old, but piglets can be as young as 8 weeks. The same carry-on restrictions apply to pets on Continental. They must be able to fit in their carrier, which can be no larger than 17.5” by 12”, under your seat. Pets that do not fit under the seat in front of you will need to be checked.
Continental has climate controlled cargo spaces to ensure maximum comfort and safety for your pet. If your pet exceeds 75 pounds there are additional charges that get added into the cost.
Drop-off and pick-up locations for animals that are being checked or flying in the climate controlled cargo spaces are not handled at the normal reservations desk. To find out where your drop-off and pick-up locations are contact your airport.
All animals are welcome with the exception of dangerous animals or animals that are sick. There may be restrictions based on destination as we have previously discussed. For example, no airline will allow you to bring your pets to Hawaii.
These are the five best airlines for pet travel and cost. Always be sure to understand all of the terms and restrictions before traveling with your pet.