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Pet-friendly airlines: The best airlines for pets in the US

Sept. 04, 2022
6 min read
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Looking to take a trip but not sure what to do with your pet at home? Fortunately, many airlines allow dogs and other pets — such as cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters — to fly on board with you.

But not all airline pet policies are created equally. So it's important to book a pet-friendly airline and ensure its requirements work for you and your pet if you want to travel with your furry or feathery companion.

With pricing and rules all over the place, we've put together the following airline-specific pet travel guides for popular U.S. airlines:

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But these guides contain a lot of information. So, I recommend starting with this guide if you want a general overview of pet-friendly airlines and the best airlines for pets. In particular, check out the chart below showing the animals that can fly on each airline, the cost and notable exclusions.

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Best airlines for pets

HUMONIA/GETTY IMAGES

When traveling with a pet, it's important to consider several variables. While all airlines listed below allow small dogs and cats to fly in the cabin, only a select few allow other household pets. Frontier and Spirit offer the most extensive list of animals, including birds, rabbits and several other pet types.

If you're flying internationally, you'll want to consider a different subset of pet-friendly airlines. After all, not all airlines allow pets to fly on all routes outside the domestic United States. Some even exclude certain pets from flying once you leave domestic grounds. Some international airlines may provide better pricing and a wider list of animals that can fly.

You'll also find that airlines have different rules about the type of pet carrier and the size. Some airlines even cap the number of total pets on board — making it important to know the ins and outs when determining the best airlines for pets.

Animals allowed to fly in-cabin with youPrice one-wayNotable exceptions
American AirlinesSmall dogs and cats.$125 (but for flights with more than a four-hour voluntary stopover or connection, you'll incur an additional $125 charge).You can only bring your pet on board most flights of up to 12 hours that are to or from select locations (including most of North America).
Delta Air LinesSmall dogs, cats and household birds.$95 for tickets purchased on or after Feb. 28, 2022, for flights within the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

$200 for other flights ($75 for flights to or from Brazil).

Household birds are only allowed on domestic U.S. flights (excluding Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam).

Pets aren't allowed to travel to Hawaii, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Pets aren't allowed to travel to or from Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Frontier AirlinesSmall domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small household birds.$99.Only cats and dogs are allowed to fly on international flights.

The only international destinations where you can fly with your cat or dog are the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Southwest AirlinesSmall dog or cat.$95.Pets are not allowed on international Southwest flights or when traveling to or from Hawaii (pets are allowed on intra-Hawaii flights).
Spirit AirlinesSmall domesticated dogs, cats and household birds and small domestic rabbits.$125.Pets are not allowed on international flights.

Household birds and rabbits can't fly to or from Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

United AirlinesSmall dogs or cats.$125 (but for flights with more than a four-hour stopover or any one-way international itinerary with more than a 24-hour stopover,  you'll incur an additional $125 charge).Pets can't fly to, from or through many international destinations.

Pet-friendly airlines

COREY OHARA/GETTY IMAGES

Out of the airlines that allow dogs and other pets, the most favorable pricing is with Delta, Frontier and Southwest. Pet-in-cabin fees for domestic flights on these airlines are below $100. For international flights, on the other hand, you'll find Frontier's pricing to be the best, although destinations are more limited.

Many airlines don't allow your pet to fly with you to any international destination, such as Spirit and Southwest. And if you're flying to Hawaii, Southwest, Delta and United aren't options. So before you book your flight and assume your pet can fly with you, you'll want to look at the restriction for each destination.

Related: The reality of international travel with your dog: How Bandido flew from Vietnam to the US

Airlines that allow dogs

STANDRET/GETTY IMAGES

Dogs are one of the most common pets people travel with, so it's no surprise that many travelers are constantly searching for airlines that allow dogs to fly. Fortunately, for any airline that allows pets to travel, dogs are always included in that list. However, most U.S. airlines only allow dogs to fly in the cabin and not underneath the plane in cargo. So you will find it easiest to travel with smaller dogs that can fly in the cabin with you.

Some airlines do allow dog to fly as cargo in certain situations. For example, American Airlines will allow your dog to fly in cargo if you are a member of the U.S. military on active duty or a U.S. State Department Foreign Service employee traveling on official orders.

Even if you do decide to fly with a dog or dogs, however, airlines differ in price and policies. Look at the above chart to see which is best for your trip.

Related: What you need to know about traveling with dogs on a plane

Bottom line

With many pet-friendly airlines available — as long as your pet can fit in a carrier and travel in the cabin — it's easy to take your pet with you on your next vacation.

There's no one specific airline that wins the award of "best airlines for pets" as it comes down to the type of animal you are bringing and your destination. Fortunately, pricing is within the same general range for all pet-friendly U.S. airlines. So pick an airline that works for your particular situation and enjoy the flight.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases