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My life changed back in January 2013 when I added a new member to my family: my French bulldog Miles (get it?). Since then, the little guy has traveled all over the US and to Canada with me, and I can’t imagine life without him. However, traveling with a pet is a whole different experience, and I’ve learned a lot since adding him to the family. Not only are there great strategies to maximize pet travel, but there are also concerns, policies and strategies to make the process fun, painless and rewarding.

Brian Kelly and Miles
Photo by The Points Guy

It pays to know the policies of the major airlines and hotel chains since many do allow pets to travel with their owner, but impose fees, restrictions and other guidelines that you will need to know. I always check BringFido.com as a resource on pet-friendly airlines, accommodations and experiences wherever I happen to be traveling.

So I wanted to round up the pet policies of the major North American airlines and hotel chains in one place as a handy quick reference.

Airlines

Air Canada
Type of pets allowed: Cat or small dog
Number of pets: N/A
Weight: Maximum of 22 pounds for pet and carrier combined
Age: N/A
Fees: $59-$118, one-way in the cabin, $121-$319 one-way in the baggage compartment (prices in USD)
Kennel size: Hard-sided kennels can not exceed 21.5″ L x 15.5″ W x 9″ H. Soft-sided kennels cannot exceed 21.5″ L x 15.5″ W x 10.5″ H. As checked baggage, a carrier must be no more than 115″ in linear dimensions (L + W + H).
Note: You can’t bring your pet with you in the cabin if you’re traveling in international business class.

Getting comfy mid flight. Photo by @thepointsguy

American Airlines
Type of pets allowed: Cats and dogs; however, brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs (such as French bulldogs, like Miles) and cats are not allowed as checked luggage.
Number of pets: Up to 7 kennels (not including service animals) per flight
Weight: Maximum of 20 pounds for pet and carrier combined
Age: Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old to travel.
Fees: $125 for an in-cabin pet; $200 for a checked pet; no charge for an assistance animal
Kennel size: Nor more than 19″ L x 13″ W x 9″ H (larger for checked pets — see website), and pet must be able to stand up and turn around inside with no restriction.

Delta Air Lines
Type of pets allowed: Dogs, cats, household birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, marmots — all on domestic US flights only. Reptiles and all other animals accepted as cargo only.
Number of pets: 4 in the main cabin; 2 in first class or domestic business/Delta One; no pets allowed in international business class or international Delta One. Pets are only allowed on board subject to space availability, so be sure to arrange pet travel in advance by calling (800) 221-1212.
Age: At least 10 weeks old for domestic travel; at least 15 weeks old for travel abroad
Weight: For in-cabin travel, each pet must not exceed 20 pounds.
Fees: For in-cabin travel, $125 one-way for routes within the US, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico; $200 outside the US, except for Brazil, which is $75 one-way. When you’re exiting Canada, this fee will be charged in Canadian dollars, and when leaving Europe, it will be charged in euros. For pets traveling as checked baggage, the fee is $200 USD/CAD/EUR each way.
Note: Two pets between 10 weeks and 6 months of age are allowed to travel in the same kennel if they are of comparable size and weigh less than 20 pounds each, and will be charged as one pet.
Kennel size: To be accepted in the cabin, a kennel must not exceed 40” L x 27” W x 30” H and 31 pounds.; please see the wide range of Delta’s kennel-size requirements for more specifics.

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JetBlue
Type of pets allowed: “Small cats and dogs”
Number of pets: Only 4 allowed per flight; call in advance.
Weight: Combined weight of pet and carrier may not exceed 20 pounds
Age: N/A
Fees: $100 each way
*TrueBlue members traveling with their pet will earn an additional 300 TrueBlue points for each pet fee paid.
Kennel size: Cannot exceed 17” L x 12.5” W x 8.5” H.
Note: JetBlue doesn’t allow pets as checked baggage or cargo.

Southwest Airlines
Type of pets allowed: “Small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs can travel in-cabin under the seat in front of you.”
Number of pets: No more than 6 pets per scheduled flight
Weight: N/A
Age: Must be at least 8 weeks old for travel.
Fees: $95 each way per pet carrier
Kennel size: No larger than 18.5″ L x 13.5″ W x 8.5″ H

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United Airlines
Type of pets allowed: “Domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits and birds may travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin on most flights within the US.”
Number of pets: 2 pets per flight allowed in premium cabins. 4 pets per flight are allowed in economy.
Weight: N/A
Age: Must be at least 8 weeks old to travel
Fees: $125 each way. There’s an additional $125 service charge for each stopover of more than 4 hours within the US or more than 24 hours outside of the U.S.
Kennel size: Hard-sided kennels can not exceed 17.5 ” L x 12 ” W x 7.5 ” H. Soft-sided kennels cannot exceed 18″ L x 11″ W x 11″ H.

Virgin America

Type of pets allowed: Cats, dogs, household birds and domesticated rabbits, in-cabin only. No pets are accepted as checked baggage.
Number of pets: One pet (in carrier) per traveler, per seat
Age: At least 8 weeks old, and weaned
Weight: Total weight of the animal and kennel can’t exceed 20 pounds.
Fees: $100 each way
Kennel size: Cannot exceed 17″ L x 11″ W x 7.5” H, and must fit beneath the seat in front of you; soft-sided carriers are strongly recommended by the airline.
Emotional support/service animals: Emotional support animals require a licensed medical professional’s letter to prove their necessity. Service animals require an ID card and harness, and are not required to be in a pet carrier.
Note: A veterinary certificate verifying a pet’s vaccinations (including those for distemper and rabies), dated within 15 days of departure, must be presented in order for a pet to travel to Mexico.

Hotels

Like airlines, hotels are increasingly catering to travelers who want to bring their four-legged friends (and in some cases, winged and scaly creatures as well!) along. Here are the policies of the major chains.

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Best Western

These’s no universal pet policy here, but more than 1,600 of the chain’s hotels are pet-friendly, and famed dog whisperer Cesar Millan was once a spokesperson.

Species/size: Pet-friendly Best Western properties will allow up to two domestic dogs in a rented room, with a maximum size of 80 pounds per animal. Other pet types such as cats, birds, monkeys and snakes are allowed at the discretion of each property and require prior approval.
Fees: Maximum charge of $20 per day for each room with a pet or multiple pets or a maximum per-week charge of $100. A refundable damage deposit of up to $50 per stay may be required of all guests with a pet.

Club Carlson

There’s no single pet policy for this chain that includes the Radisson and Country Inn & Suites brands, but there tends to be a per-night charge of $25-$75 per pet. Some hotels only allow guide animals, and some don’t allow pets at all, so be sure to check the individual property you’ll be staying at.

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Hilton

Once again, the pet policies vary from property to property and brand to brand, but here are the standards at a few of the Hilton brands.

Hilton itself: $50-$75 non-refundable fee, one pet per room
DoubleTree: More than 120 properties allow pets but require a non-refundable service fee of up to $75.
Embassy Suites: $50-$75 non-refundable fee, pets up to 55 pounds

Hyatt

You can find a listing of Hyatt’s pet-friendly hotels here. Rates vary by property, but in general, here are the guidelines:

Participating Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Park Hyatt locations offer the following for your canine companion. Note that cats are usually allowed as well, but dogs definitely get more perks.

  • A dog welcome letter and door hanger at check-in
  • A special dog bed, bowl, ID tag, welcome card and amenity in guestroom
  • A designated dog walk area complete with convenient, fully stocked cleanup stations
  • A non-refundable cleaning fee will be charged to the guest (varies by hotel)  — usually $75-$150

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Participating Hyatt Place and Hyatt House locations welcome:

  • Two pets per guestroom or suite
  • Pets that are housebroken and do not exceed 50 pounds
  • Most Hyatt House properties welcome both dogs and cats
  • A non-refundable $75 fee will be charged to the guest

IHG

This chain includes brands like InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, and offers pet-friendly listings by country. Rates vary by brand and property, but tend to be around the $200 mark for InterContinentals, $50 at Holiday Inns and $100 at Hotel Indigo locations.

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Kimpton

This is probably the pet-friendliest chain of the bunch. with the most comprehensive list of pet amenities.
Restrictions: None. Per Kimpton’s site, “At every Kimpton boutique hotel, we invite you to bring your furry, feathery or scaly family member — no matter their size, weight, or breed, all at no extra charge.”
Amenities: Cozy pet beds for loan, food and water bowls, fresh water and snacks in the lobby, personal greeting from management, concierge list of local pet-friendly attractions and businesses, and even a Director of Pet Relations at select locations. Read a review of a Kimpton stay by TPG’s resident canines, Miles and Hootie.

Marriott

1,645 hotels among Marriott’s 5,000-plus properties are pet-friendly. The restrictions, fees and amenities vary from location to location, but there tends to be a non-refundable sanitation fee of $75 per stay

Ritz-Carlton

There’s no universal pet policy, but many of the hotels in this Marriott-owned luxury chain allow pets up to 25 pounds with a one-time cleaning fee of $125-$150 depending on the property and a $50 per-night boarding charge.

Starwood

Pet policies vary by property but usually include a $75-$200 one-time non-refundable cleaning fee and allow dogs up to 75 pounds. W Hotels offer the PAW (Pets Are Welcome) program and give dogs amenities including pet beds and food bowls as well as a welcome bag of treats, gifts and bags for waste. W properties tend to allow dogs up to 40 pounds and charge a $100 non-refundable cleaning plus a $25 per day boarding fee.

Spending Strategy

Remember, even if you end up paying extra fees to bring your pets along, there are ways to maximize your points and miles for it. If you have the Platinum Card from American Express, you can select the airline you tend to fly as your rebate partner and receive $200 a year in statement credits on incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments. The Amex Platinum card is also a great pick if you’re paying an airline fee out of pocket, since it earns 5x points on airfare and these pet fees show up as airfare charges.

Miles enjoying the hotel pool. Photo by @thepointsguy
Miles enjoying the hotel pool. Photo by @thepointsguy

The Chase Sapphire Reserve gets you 3x points on airfare and hotels, so if you’re going to get hit by a pet fee, you might as well try and maximize your points-earning. Another option is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, because if you use it to pay for incidental airline and hotel fees — such as pet charges — you can redeem your miles for those fees once they hit your statement at a rate of 1 cent per mile and remember, you get a 5% refund on redemptions with the card. So even though you’re paying extra, there are ways to make the most of it and rake in the bonus points.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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