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Travel with pets • 8 minutes to read

Your Guide To The Best Pet-Friendly Airlines For Your Next Vacation

When you’re traveling with your beloved pet, you’ll likely spend the weeks and months leading up to your departure researching your final destination, ticking all the travel essentials off your packing list, and painstakingly comparing a bunch of different airlines!

Finding the best pet-friendly airline can take quite a bit of work, as you’ll need to consider the airlines with best pet policy, the procedures for cabin and cargo travel, the possibility of quarantine for your pet, and how to prepare your furry friends for the plane journey.

If all of this makes you feel uneasy, that’s where we come in! We’re here to give you a breakdown of the best airlines for pets for international travel and domestic flights ahead of your next getaway.

What Are The Airlines With The Best Pet Policies?

While some airlines are more accommodating to animals than others, determining the best airline for pets and owners will depend on the type of pet you have and where you’re hoping to fly.

To simplify your decision-making process, we’ve put together the ultimate list of airlines, detailing everything from their size restrictions and their booking requirements, to the most pet-friendly airline for international travel.

It’s important to note that if you’re flying with service animals, most of the information below may not apply to you. This is because assistance animals can fly in the cabin with their handler, regardless of their size. Unfortunately, the same rules don’t extend to therapy dogs and emotional support animals.

Some other general regulations that are enforced by most airlines include:

  • Pets traveling in the cabin must remain in their carrier for the duration of their time on the plane, and this carrier must fit underneath the seat.
  • Your pet must be able to stand, sit, and turn comfortably in their carrier, which must have ample ventilation, be leak-proof, and padded.
  • Snub-nosed pets like French bulldogs or Persian cats and strong or aggressive dog breeds like pit bulls or rottweilers are often banned from flying with many airlines.
  • Your pet’s carrier will often account for your hand luggage, so you’ll usually only be allowed to take your pet and a small personal bag in the cabin.
  • Sedated pets are often not accepted due to the risk of health complications during the flight.
  • Pets traveling in the hold will need to fly in a hard-sided, secure kennel with food and water containers that are refillable from the outside.
  • Pets can’t wear their collar during the flight, but their collar and leash must be attached to their carrier if they’re flying in the hold.
  • Pets flying as checked baggage or cargo require a health certificate from a certified vet, usually no more than 10 days before your flight.
  • Most airlines don’t have age requirements, but animals can’t fly unless a certified vet deems it safe. The same goes for all animals, regardless of their age.
  • Many dog and cat-friendly airlines may not allow other animals to fly.

Small brown pomeranian dog at the airport

Pet-Friendly Airlines In The U.S.A.

American Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Permitted for dogs and cats in hard-sided carriers with dimensions up to 19″x13″x9″ or 18″x11″x11″ for soft-sided carriers.
  • Up to 7 pets in the cabin per flight.
  • Fee: €112, and an additional €112 for connecting flights with a layover of above 4 hours.
  • Pets can fly within the U.S.A., Canada, Mexico, and select Caribbean countries.
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets can only fly as checked baggage (in the hold on the same flight as you) if they’re traveling with U.S. military personnel.
  • Pets can’t travel if the ground temperatures are below 45°F or above 85°F.
  • Fee: Varies depending on distance, size, and destination.
  • Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.
  • The combined weight of your pet and the carrier can be no more than 45 kg.

Delta Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs, cats, and household birds can travel in their carrier with the maximum dimensions of 18″x11″x11″.
  • Up to 4 pets in the cabin per flight.
  • Fee: Within the U.S.A., Canada, and Caribbean destinations – €87. Brazil – €70. International – €182.
  • Pets must be at least 10 weeks old to travel in the U.S.A. or 16 weeks to enter from another country.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Larger pets and exotic animals will need to fly as cargo.
  • Fee: Varies depending on distance, size, and destination.
  • Reservations can only be made within 14 days before departure.
  • Only pets flying with U.S. military personnel can travel as checked baggage.

United Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs and cats of any breed can fly in the cabin as long as they fit in their carrier.
  • Fee: €112, and an additional €112 for connecting flights with a layover of above 4 hours.
  • You can fly with your pet to any destination that allows it with United Airlines.
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old for domestic routes and 16 weeks for international flights.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets can’t travel in the hold with United Airlines.

Southwest Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Small dogs and cats can fly in the cabin.
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Pets can only fly on domestic flights within the U.S.A., excluding Hawaii.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets can’t travel in the hold with Southwest Airlines.

Alaska Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds can fly in the cabin.
  • Fee: €95.
  • Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Up to 8 pets are allowed per flight.
  • Soft-sided carriers must be no more than 17″x11″x9.5″, or 17″x11″x7.5″ for hard-sided carriers.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • As one of the best pet cargo airlines, guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, rabbits, reptiles, and household birds can fly in the hold with Alaska Airlines, along with larger dogs and cats.
  • Fee: €140.
  • The combined weight of your pet and their carrier can’t exceed 68 kg to fly as checked baggage, but larger pets can fly on a cargo plane.
  • Pet crate sizes can be 40″x27″x30″ at most.

JetBlue

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Small dogs and cats can travel as carry-on.
  • Pets and their carriers can weigh up to 9 kg combined. Carriers can be up to 17″x12.5″x8.5″ in size.
  • Fee: €112.
  • Up to 6 pets per flight.
  • Pets can’t travel to select international destinations, including the U.K. and E.U. countries.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets can’t travel in the hold with JetBlue.

Hawaiian Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs and cats can fly in carriers with dimensions up to 16″x10″x9.5″.
  • The combined weight of your pet and their carrier can be no more than 11 kg.
  • Pets can only fly on short-haul flights within the U.S.A.
  • Fee: €33 within Hawaii, €112 within the rest of the U.S.A.
  • Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Dogs, cats, and household birds are permitted in the hold.
  • Fee: €56 within Hawaii, €213 within the rest of the U.S.A.
  • Pets can only fly on short-haul flights within the U.S.A.
  • Animals can fly in carriers with dimensions up to 36″x25″x28″.
  • The combined weight of your pet and their carrier can be no more than 32 kg.
  • Pets can’t travel if the ground temperatures are above 85°F or below 20°F.

Spirit Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs, cats, small rabbits, and small household birds can fly in the cabin.
  • Dogs and cats can fly within the U.S.A. and to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and St. Thomas, but birds and rabbits can only fly within the U.S.A. and St. Thomas.
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • The combined weight of your pet and their carrier must be no more than 18 kg.
  • Carrier dimensions can be up to 18″x14″x9″.
  • A rabies certificate is required for flights to Puerto Rico.
  • Fee: €112.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

Frontier Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Frontier Airlines permits dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, and household birds on board.
  • The above animals can fly within the U.S.A., while only dogs and cats can fly internationally.
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Fee: €94.
  • The maximum dimensions for pet crates are 18″x14″x8″.
  • Health certificates are required for international flights.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets can’t travel in the hold with Frontier Airlines.

Allegiant Air

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Small dogs and cats can fly in the cabin with Allegiant Air.
  • Pets can fly within the 48 contiguous states, Puerto Rico and San Juan.
  • Fee: €94.
  • Pets must be at least 12 weeks old.
  • The maximum crate dimensions are 19″x16″x9″.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets can’t travel in the hold with Allegiant Air.

JSX (Semi-Private Airline)

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Small dogs and cats are permitted to fly in the cabin.
  • Fee: €95.
  • One pet is allowed per passenger.
  • Crates can be up to 13″x11″x17″ in size.
  • Up to 5 pets can travel per flight.
  • As JSX is one of the best airlines to travel with pets, larger dogs up to 36 kg can also fly as carry-on. This is provided the owner purchases a second ticket (which must be a window seat) and the dog remains on the floor in front of the additional seat and is on a leash.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets can’t travel in the hold with JSX.

Cat against modern urban skyline

Pet-Friendly Airlines In Europe

Air Canada

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Small dogs and cats are permitted.
  • Fee: €47-56 within the U.S.A. and Canada, €95-112 internationally.
  • Pets must be at least 10 weeks old.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Pets and carriers can weigh up to 45 kg combined as checked baggage. Any animals exceeding this limit must travel as cargo.
  • Fee: €100-114 within the U.S.A. and Canada, €255-302 internationally. Prices for cargo travel require a quote from the airline.
  • Pets can’t travel if the ground temperatures are above 85°F.
  • Animals aren’t permitted in the hold from November 1st to March 31st on select aircraft or at all between December 18th and January 4th.

WestJet

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds can fly as carry-on.
  • Crates can be up to 16″x8.5″x10″ in size.
  • Only soft-sided carriers are allowed.
  • Fee: €47-56 within the U.S.A. and Canada, €95-112 internationally.
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and hedgehogs can fly as checked baggage.
  • Fee: €100-114 within the U.S.A. and Canada, €255-302 internationally. Prices for cargo travel require a quote from the airline.
  • Pets and carriers can weigh up to 45 kg combined as checked baggage.
  • Crates can be up to 40″x27″x32″ in size.
  • Pets can’t travel between December 18th and January 4th in the hold.

Air France

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs and cats can fly in the cabin.
  • Pets in their carrier can have a combined weight of up to 8 kg.
  • Rabies vaccinations are required.
  • Fee: €125 within Europe and North Africa, €200 for international flights.
  • Pets must be at least 15 weeks old.
  • Crates can be up to 18″x11″x9″ in size.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Only dogs and cats can fly in the hold.
  • Fee: €200 within Europe and North Africa, €400 for international flights.
  • Pets in their carrier can have a combined weight of up to 75 kg.
  • Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.
  • Up to 3 pets per passenger can travel as checked baggage.

Finnair

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Cats, dogs, rabbits, tortoises, and hedgehogs can fly as carry-on.
  • 8 kg is the maximum combined weight of your pet and their carrier.
  • Up to 2 pets can travel per flight in the cabin.
  • Fee: €60 within Europe, €120 for intercontinental flights.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Reservations must be made at least 7 days in advance.
  • Up to 2 pets can travel per flight in the hold.
  • Pets weighing more than 40 kg must travel in an extra-rigid crate.
  • Animals must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Fee: €120 within Europe, €600 for intercontinental flights.
  • Pets in their carrier can weigh up to 75 kg.

Swiss International Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs and cats can fly in the cabin.
  • Snub-nosed dogs can travel in the cabin but not in the hold.
  • Pets must be at least 12 weeks old.
  • Up to 2 pets per passenger are allowed between both the cabin and the hold.
  • Dogs and cats in their carrier must be no more than 8 kg.
  • Crates must not exceed 22″x16″x9″ in size.
  • Fee: €50 within Switzerland, €60 within Europe, €90-110 for intercontinental routes.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Only dogs and cats can travel as checked baggage.
  • The maximum crate dimensions are 41″x29.5″x31″.
  • Fee: €80-160 within Switzerland, €100-200 within Europe, €1500-380 for intercontinental routes.

Iberia Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Dogs, cats, fish, tortoises, and household birds can travel as carry-on.
  • Pets weighing up to 8 kg when combined with their carriers are permitted.
  • The maximum crate size is 18″x14″x10″.
  • Bird cages must be covered at all times.
  • Fee: €40 within Spain, €60 within Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, €180 within the Americas and Asia.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Dogs and cats are allowed to fly in the hold.
  • Reservations must be made at least 7 days in advance.
  • 45 kg is the maximum combined weight for your pet and their carrier.
  • The maximum dog or cat crate size is 32.5″x25.5″x22″.
  • Fee: €100 within Spain, €145 within Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, €360 within the Americas and Asia.
  • Pets weighing more than 45 kg must travel as cargo.

K.L.M.

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Pets weighing up to 8 kg when combined with their carriers are permitted in the cabin.
  • The maximum crate size is 18″x11″x9.5″.
  • Fee: €75-400.
  • Pets must be a minimum of 15 weeks old.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Crates up to 48″x32″x35″ are allowed in the hold.
  • Up to 3 pets per passenger can travel as checked baggage.
  • Fee: €75-400.
  • Animals other than dogs and cats and pets weighing more than 75 kg in their crate can’t travel in the checked baggage.
  • K.L.M. airlines doesn’t ship pets as cargo.

Lufthansa airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Small cats and dogs that weigh up to 8 kg, including their carrier, can travel as carry-on.
  • Fee: €55 within Germany, €65 within Europe, €100 for medium intercontinental, €120 for long intercontinental.
  • Reservations must be made at least 72 hours in advance.
  • Pets must be at least 12 weeks old.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Dogs and cats weighing more than 8 kg in their crates must travel as checked baggage.
  • Other animals must travel as cargo, though Lufthansa is among the best airlines to ship pets.
  • Fee: Varies depending on distance, size, and destination.

Turkish Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

  • Cats, dogs, and singing birds can fly in the cabin.
  • The total weight of your pet and their carrier must not be above 8 kg.
  • The maximum crate size is 9″x12″x16″.
  • Fee: €9 within Turkey, €124-353 internationally.
  • Pets weighing up to 8 kg when combined with their crates are permitted.

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Cats, dogs, and singing birds can fly as checked baggage.
  • The maximum crate size is 29.5″x29.5″x49″.
  • Fee: €14-21 within Turkey, €247-1046 internationally.

Pet-Friendly Airlines In Asia

Singapore Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Dogs and cats can travel as checked baggage up to 32 kg when combined with their crate.
  • Animals exceeding 32 kg must fly as cargo.
  • Reservations need to be made at least 14 days before departure.
  • Fees are based on the weight of your pet and your travel route.

Japan Airlines

Carry-on/Cabin:

Checked Baggage/Cargo:

  • Dogs, cats, small birds, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, marmots, squirrels, and chinchillas are allowed to fly in the hold.
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Crates can be no more than 18″x18″x16″.
  • Fee: €28-42 within Japan; costs vary for international flights (operated by Finnair, Iberia, and American Airlines).
  • Pet travel between May 1st and October 31st during the daytime is discouraged, as is the case for all winter flights.

Do Airlines Offer Refunds For Pet Reservations?

Pet fees are generally non-refundable. However, you’ll often only need to pay at check-in, meaning you can avoid losing out on pet fees if you have a change of plans. This can vary from airline to airline but is the case for most animals flying in the cabin.

Can I Bring My Pet To An Airport Lounge?

If you’re a frequent visitor to airport lounges, you’ll be glad to know that most of them allow pets in their carriers to enter.

For the most part, only service animals can be in the lounge outside of a carrier.

Want more interesting tips and information on traveling? Read more Kiwi.com articles!

Frequently asked questions

Can A 20 Pound (9 kilo) Dog Fit Under An Airplane Seat?
Most airlines allow dogs weighing 20 pounds (9 kilo) or less to fly under an airplane seat, provided the dog can fully stand, sit, and turn in their carrier.
What Seat On A Plane Is Best With A Pet?
Although they offer extra legroom, pets can't fly in the rows at the emergency exits. However, middle seats often have the most space for your pet, while window seats have the least disruption. It's best to avoid aisle seats when traveling with your dog or cat in the cabin.
What Is The Safest Airline To Fly A Pet?
Alaska Airlines has been ranked as the safest airline to fly with a pet