Can I buy my dog a seat on an airplane? It’s a common question and one that we’ll answer in this article. Traveling with pets is a must for some, but the airline industry has rules.
Keep reading to learn airline policies for pets and which U.S. carriers allow your dog to be in the cabin with you. We also differentiate between rules for service animals and pets.
Wheels up, let’s get into it!
Are Dogs Allowed on Airplanes?
Dogs are allowed on most airlines. However, each airline has unique rules and fees for where they can travel. And the size of the dog also dictates where and how you can transport it on an airplane.
But, overall, if you need to fly with your dog, there are options. Whether you’re moving, visiting relatives, or going on vacation, there are numerous reasons people take pets on airplanes. Of course, transporting your dog in a vehicle is much easy on you and your pet, but sometimes air travel is necessary.
Can I Buy My Dog a Seat on an Airplane?
Most airlines don’t allow you to buy your dog a seat on an airplane. They consider it unsafe and inconsiderate of other passengers. Instead, airlines that allow dogs in the cabin require your pet to be in an enclosed carrier and stowed under the seat in front of you for the flight’s duration. Most prohibit taking your dog out of the carrier at any time.
Are Trained Service Animals Allowed on an Airplane Seat?
You can bring trained service animals in airplane cabins but not on a seat. Animals can’t go on seats or in the aisle of a plane. It’s a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulation.
Registered service animals can legally be in the cabin of an airplane. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects these rights. However, each airline has rules for flying with a service animal, such as the documents required. Be sure to check with the airline you’re flying for policies to avoid a problem on your departure date.
Can Large Dogs Fly in the Airplane Cabin?
Unless the large dog is a registered service animal with proper documentation and training, then no. Typically, dogs need to be less than 17-20 pounds and be able to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you to ride in the cabin. Check the airline’s pet policy to see what their maximum weight is to determine if your dog is too big.
Large dogs over the airline’s carry-on limit will need to find an airline that provides a pressurized and temperature-controlled cargo area and allows dogs to be checked as luggage.
Pro Tip: Use an air-tight dog food bag when traveling.
Which US Airlines Allow Dogs in the Cabin?
Most U.S. airlines allow dogs in the cabin. However, it’s important to read the fine print of their rules and policies. Some are stricter than others, require fees, and more. Again, you can’t buy your dog a seat on an airplane.
All airlines require your pet to be in an airline-approved carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. You can find these hard or soft-sided kennels at pet stores or online. Always double-check the dimensions on the individual airline website, as they typically measure and way the carrier before boarding.
Let’s look at nine U.S. airlines that are dog-friendly: American, Delta, United, Alaskan, Hawaiian, Southwest, Allegiant Air, JetBlue, and Frontier Airlines, who all have policies allowing dogs in their cabins.
American Airlines allows you to travel with a pet on most flights for up to 12 hours within North America. Your dog must stay in a carrier under the seat before you for the flight duration. And the kennel must meet airline dimension and size policies. The combined weight of the carrier and your dog can’t exceed 20 pounds.
You can take one pet in a carrier as your carry-on bag. The pet fee is $125 one-way. A trained and registered service dog may fly in the cabin at no charge.
In addition, American Airlines only allows five to seven kennels per flight. So, you’ll want to book well in advance to ensure your dog will be able to fly.
Delta Airlines’ pet policy allows small dogs, cats, and household birds to travel in the cabin as your carry-on item. They must be in an enclosed, ventilated carrier that fits under the seat in front of you, and your pet must be at least 10 weeks old to travel.
One pet is allowed in the kennel; a female dog or cat can travel with her unweaned litter if they are between 10 weeks and six months old. And two pets of the same breed and size between 10 weeks and six months old that are small enough to fit in the same carrier can travel together and be charged as one pet.
Carry-on pets must fit comfortably and safely within the allowed carrier dimensions of 18 inches by 11 inches by 11 inches or smaller. Delta recently lowered its price for carry-on pet fees to $95 each way.
United Airlines allows cats and dogs to travel in the cabin when space is available. They must be in a hard or soft-sided carrier that fits under the seat in front of you, and your pet must be small enough to stand up and turn around inside. There’s a $125 fee each way for pets and a $125 fee for each layover over four hours.
Service animals can go in the cabin of an aircraft free of charge. The dog has to be over four months old and trained. You can travel with a maximum of two service dogs.
Alaska Airlines charges a $100 fee each way to travel with a small pet in the cabin. The only types of pets allowed are dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds. Your pet must be in a ventilated carrier, which counts toward your carry-on allotment. And it must always stay in the enclosed carrier under the seat in front of you.
Service dogs are allowed in the cabin on Alaska Airlines at no additional fee.
Hawaiian Airlines allows dogs and cats in the cabin on inter-island flights and routes to North America, except for going to or coming from John F. Kennedy, Boston Logan International, and Austin–Bergstrom International Airport. And animals are not allowed in first class. Pets must be in an approved carrier that fits under the seat in front of you.
Fees for in-cabin pets are $35 each way within Hawaii and $125 each way on routes between Hawaii and North America.
Trained service animals are allowed in the cabin. Hawaiian Airlines must be notified at least 48 hours in advance if you travel with a service dog.
Southwest Airlines allows dogs and cats in-cabin, but not on flights to Hawaii. Your pet must be in an enclosed, ventilated carrier at all times, and it needs to fit under the seat in front of you. A pet fare of $95 each way is required at the airport ticket counter. Only six pets are allowed on a flight, so be sure to reserve in advance.
Trained service animals are allowed on Southwest Airlines flights. You must present a Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation form at the ticket counter or gate.
Allegiant Air allows no more than two dogs or cats in a carrier 9 inches by 16 inches by 19 inches. Your pet must be at least eight weeks old. There’s a $50 fee per segment and carrier for in-cabin dogs and cats, and the kennel counts toward your maximum two carry-on items.
Fully trained service dogs are permitted on Allegiant Air.
JetBlue allows dogs and cats in an FAA-approved carrier in the cabin. The carrier must fit under the seat in front of you. There’s a pet fee of $125 each way. Six pets are allowed on each flight, so you’ll want to book in advance to get a spot.
Service animals are permitted on JetBlue and must be under the handler’s control at all times.
Frontier Airlines allows pets in approved carriers so that the animal can stand up and turn around comfortably. The carrier must always fit and remain under the seat in front of you. There is a one-way charge of $99.
Service animals can go on Frontier at no additional charge.
How Can I Make My Dog Comfortable on an Airplane?
Keeping your dog comfortable on an airplane is the key to your comfort. Your pet can’t tell you how it’s feeling, so prepare as much as possible and follow some basic guidelines to ensure the safety and health of your fur baby.
The less time your dog is on a flight, the better. It means less chance of accidents or restlessness. And it will be a lot easier on you since you only have to board and disembark once while carrying your pet in a kennel.
Layovers can also be challenging, especially when it comes to bathroom breaks. For example, if your layover is only an hour or two, you likely won’t have time to find a pet relief area. Some airports don’t have pet relief areas within their terminals. Flying direct gives you a more concrete start and finish time so you can predict your pet’s needs better.
Know the Airlines Policies
Be sure to read through the airline’s pet policies and double and triple-check them. The last thing you want is to arrive at the airport only for the desk to turn you away because your carrier is too big.
Airlines have different policies from one another, and some have different rules for different types of routes. Knowing precisely what you can and can’t do when traveling with a pet will make for smooth travel.
Purchase an Appropriately Sized Carrier
Purchasing an FAA-approved carrier is critical. Even then, double-check the size requirements for the airline you’re traveling with.
We also highly recommend a soft-sided carrier versus a hard-sided model. Soft-sided carriers allow your dog more room to maneuver, and they’re often easy for you to carry. In addition, a soft-sided option gives you a little more room to flex when putting it under the seat in front of you.
You can get a soft-sided carrier with major ventilation. And we like the versions that have the option of opening wider so that you can use it in the car or other places.
Put a Blanket or Toy Your Dog Is Familiar With in the Carrier
Keep your dog comfortable on an airplane with familiar smells and objects. A blanket from home is a nice way to make your pet feel safe, and it can keep it warm too.
Also, take along one or two of your dog’s favorite toys. It can feel the comforts of home while chewing on something in case it gets restless.
Don’t Feed Your Dog Within Four Hours of the Flight
Refrain from feeding your dog within four hours of the flight. This will ensure food digestion, and it will hopefully be able to go to the bathroom one last time before your flight.
Besides keeping your dog from having to go to the bathroom, the lack of food in the stomach will also help in case of any motion sickness. The last thing you want is a sick dog on a five-hour flight.
Take Your Dog for a Walk Right Before Entering the Airport
Try to get your dog to go to the bathroom at the latest possible moment when you have to go through security. Or if you know there’s a pet area inside the airport terminal, take your dog there before you board the plane.
Walk your dog around outside as much as possible to get the bowels moving in case there’s anything in the stomach.
Consider a Dog Diaper
If you’re concerned about the length of your flight and your dog’s ability to hold his bladder, you may want to consider a dog diaper. Weigh if an accident in the carrier is worse than changing a dog’s diaper. We’d vote for the diaper!
We recommend practicing the diaper on your dog a week or so before the flight for it to get used to it. Try having your pet wear it for a few hours at a time. That way, he’s not afraid of it when it comes time to travel.
Talk to Your Dog During the Flight for Soothing
Periodically during your flight, lean down to talk to your dog and ensure he’s doing okay. Your fur baby loves the sound of your voice. Being under a dark airplane seat may be scary for your dog, so letting him hear your voice is helpful.
If your dog has special needs, you may want to check on it more often.
Is Air Travel Safe for Dogs?
Although we don’t know what dogs think or feel, air travel seems safe. In fact, even though you can’t buy your dog a seat on an airplane, most experts would say flying in the cabin is as safe for a dog as it is for humans.
Many airlines no longer allow dogs to travel in cargo holds on the bottom section of the plane. There’s proof that it can be a dangerous place for dogs to travel, especially if there’s no temperature regulation. And oftentimes, the cargo area has poor ventilation. If your dog can’t ride in the cabin of the plane, you might want to consider another mode of travel, a pet sitter, or a professional transport service for your beloved furbaby.
Have you ever carried your pet on a flight? What’s been your experience?
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