The author's luggage while flying with a dog inside the carrier beside the luggage

Flying with a Dog (2023 Guide + Airline Chart)

👉 Jump to: Airline Dog Policies | Things to Know | FAQ

Are you planning an upcoming trip but have hesitations about flying with a dog? Flying with four-legged friends can be logistically confusing and I’m here to break it down into the simplest terms possible.

As someone with first-hand experience, I’ll get right into the nitty gritty of flying with your dog and help you understand more about the carry-on pet fee, vaccination policies, and specific airline pet policies. I’ve even included a super handy airline policy chart to help you compare all the major US carriers.

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US Airline Policies for Flying with a Dog

Disclaimer: Always double-check with the airline before your flight to confirm their latest requirements for flying with a dog.

Airline Dog Policy Chart

We’ll dive deeper into each airline’s pet policy below, but first take a look at the following airline dog policy chart.

The following chart shows price and the type and quantity of dogs allowed by each airline:

AirlinePriceService AnimalsCarry-on AnimalsCargo AnimalsQuantity Allowed
American Airlines$125YesYesU.S. military personnel only2
United $125YesYes, if space is availableU.S. military personnel only4
Spirit Airlines$125YesYesNo6
Alaska Airlines$100-cabin$150-cargoYesYesYes3-first-class8-cabin
Jet Blue$125YesYesNo6
Frontier$99YesYesNoNo limit

With that, let’s dive into more specifics about each airline’s policies and requirements when it comes to flying with dogs:

Pet Carrier

Our Pick
Henkelion Pet Carrier

Not only is this pet carrier affordable, but it’s also airline approved and ultra-spacious for small dogs and cats.

The Henkelion Pet Carrier is my go-to carrier when flying with my dog. It comes with a spacious side pocket that’s perfect for storing pet food, doggie bags, and toys. Two side doors and one top mesh door also allow easy access to your pet. 

I bought the large option for my 8-pound chihuahua for extra space but the overly bulkiness of the large made it difficult to carry. I returned the carrier for the medium and couldn’t be happier.

Delta Dog Policies

A dog sleeping on the lap inside the airplane
My chihuahua was granted permission to sit on my lap

📞 (800) 221-1212 | 🐾 Delta Dog Policy Website

I have personally flown with my pup on Delta Airlines before and have no complaints. Delta accepts payment only at the time of check-in at the airport and doesn’t take cash for the $95 one-way fee. Be prepared to pay with a debit or charge the dog fee to your credit card. 

It’s absolutely necessary to call ahead of time to reserve your dog’s carry-on spot on Delta, as there are only 4 seats available in the cabin for pets (including cats and household birds). 

Additionally, pets must be at least ten weeks old for domestic travel and only one dog is permitted per kennel unless the dogs are of the same breed and size. 

American Airlines Dog Policies

📞 (800) 433-7300 | 🐾 American Airlines Dog Policy Website

Carry on your small pet with American Airlines for a fun vacation to remember. Unfortunately, only authorized military personnel can ship their pets as cargo so only small pets are allowed to fly in the cabin with American Airlines.

Dogs are allowed on American Airlines flights up to 12 hours long within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. American also has a strict kennel-only policy and does not allow lap sitting on their flights.

Additionally, you cannot bring a carry-on bag if flying with a dog on American Airlines. Travelers are only allowed to bring their carry-on pet and one personal item. Pet strollers must also be checked at the ticket counter, for an additional fee.

👉 Read Next: Tips for Flying with a Baby

United Airlines Dog Policies

A dog inside the carrier placed on top of the luggage at the airport
My chihuahua waits in line in her big carrier at the ticket counter

📞 (800) 864-8331 | 🐾 United Airlines Dog Policy Website

Pay for your pet during booking with United Airlines at the check-out by selecting “travel with a pet” and you’re good to go. Be extra cautious when booking your flight with United though, as there is a $125 fee for each layover of more than four hours within the U.S. and more than 24 hours when flying internationally.

There are no weight or breed restrictions with United Airlines but four-legged friends must fit in a hard or soft-sided pet carrier that fits under the seat in front of them. Only one pet is allowed inside each kennel and the pet must be able to stand up and turn around inside.

Pets must stay in their carrier under your seat at all times on United flights and cannot go on traveler’s laps. Rabies and health certificates are also required for all dogs flying internationally with United, which must be completed at least 28 days prior to travel.

Southwest Dog Policies

📞 (800) 435-9792 | 🐾 Southwest Dog Policy Website 

Small cats and dogs are allowed on most domestic Southwest flights, except to and from Hawaii. Travelers pay the pet fare at the ticketing counter on the day of departure. Because Southwest only allows 6 dogs on a plane at a time, it’s best to call the airline ahead of time to guarantee your dog’s spot on the flight. 

No dogs are allowed in Southwest baggage cargo and therefore must be small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat ahead of their owner. 

Each passenger is allowed only one pet carrier with one or two dogs of the same species and size. Pay for your pet with a credit card on the day of departure and enjoy new heights with your airborne pup!

Spirit Airlines Dog Policies

The author posing with her dog inside the bathroom at the airport
Posing with my pup in the relief area

📞 (855) 728-3555 | 🐾 Spirit Airlines Dog Policy Website

Dogs are allowed to fly in-cabin on all domestic flights, including Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Domesticated cats, birds, and rabbits are also among the six pets allowed to fly with Spirit Airlines.

Guests flying with pets need to check in at the ticket counter on the day of departure, so be sure to call in ahead of time to inform Spirit that you will be flying with your four-legged friend.

No health certificates are required unless flying to Puerto Rico and all dogs must be at least 8 weeks of age and fully weaned, or else they will be turned away at the counter. Furthermore, pets exhibiting vicious behavior at the gate will be removed from the flight with no refunds issued.

📚 Related Reading: 50 Family Travel Tips

Alaska Airlines Dog Policies

📞 (800) 654-5669 | 🐾 Alaska Airlines Pet Policy Website

Alaska Airlines offers “fur-st class care” for travelers flying with pups. Alaska Airlines is also one of the only airlines on the market that allows bigger dogs to be flown in the baggage compartment for an extra fee. 

After you purchase your ticket with Alaska Airlines, chat with a live representative online via the chat box or call the customer service number to reserve your pet’s spot on the aircraft. Travelers with pets must be 18 years or older and Alaska has a strict stay-in-carrier policy; not even your animal’s head or tail can stick out at any time.

Alaska does not recommend using sedation when flying with your pups, as high altitude may negatively impact that process. Instead, try puppy CBD or try acclimatizing your pup to transportation ahead of time by driving them around in the carrier for extended periods.

👉 Read Next: What to Pack for Carry On Only Travel

JetBlue Dog Policies

A dog inside the carrier bag placed under the seat in the plane
My dog under the seat on the plane

📞 (800) 538-2583 | 🐾 JetBlue Pet Policy Website

Domestic travel with a dog is as easy as 1,2,3 with JetBlue. Pet documentation, vaccinations, and entry requirements are needed when traveling internationally, necessitating some deep research beforehand.

JetBlue makes flying with a dog easy in the U.S. Each carry-on pet carrier is equivalent to one personal item and must fit under the seat in front of you. In addition, each carrier cannot exceed 17” L x 12.5” W x 8.5” H and the combined weight of both your pet and the carrier cannot exceed 20 pounds.

Book your pet’s flight online at or by contacting JetBlue’s customer service number. The $125 pet fee can be added in the “Extras” section during booking. Two pets are allowed per customer but in separate carriers and with the purchase of a second seat.

Frontier Dog Policies

📞 (801) 401-9000 | 🐾 Frontier Pet Policy Website

Frontier allows quite the array of pets to be flown in-cabin from guinea pigs to hamsters, rabbits, and birds, but only dogs and cats are allowed on longer, international flights. 

Enter your pet’s information under the “Passenger Info” section while booking a flight with Frontier. If you need to add your pet to your flight after the booking, simply head over to “Manage My Booking” and add “Special Services” to your flight order. 

Fully trained service dogs do not require an extra fee and no dogs are allowed to fly as cargo with Frontier. 

Things To Know About Flying with a Dog

Pet Fees are Typically One-Way

Be sure to budget extra money for airline pet fees, as they’re typically one-way charges. In my experience, I wasn’t allowed to pay for my pet online but at the Delta counter with cash only. 

For airlines that require you to pay for your pet at check-in, be sure to call ahead of time so they know you’re coming with your pet. Otherwise, the flight can reach its maximum dog capacity, without space for your dog.

Dogs Must be in Carriers at the Airport

Unfortunately, your pets cannot walk around the airport due to sanitary reasons. You will need to keep your dog in its carrier at all times in the airport, unless in a relief area. This does not apply to service dogs, however.

You may see some dogs sitting on their owner’s laps at the gate but they’re running the risk of breaking the rules. Some airports may be more lenient with lap sitting in the airport, depending on the location and that day’s management. 

Utilize Dog Relief Areas

A dog at the pet relief area at LAX
The pet relief area at LAX

Dog relief areas are life savers at the airport. You should certainly take advantage of them before and after your flight.

These pet relief spaces are a pet owner’s best friend but they aren’t always the most sanitary. Please remember to pick up after your pet and leave the pet relief areas cleaner than you found them. 

Because dogs aren’t allowed out of their carriers in the airport, these spaces are also perfect for letting your dog out of the carrier to get some exercise in before a long flight.

Dogs Go With You Through the Metal Detector

Be prepared to take your dog out of its carrier and with you through the metal detector instead of the body scanner during the security portion of your airport check-in. 

Pet carriers, however, go through the baggage conveyor belt, so be sure to take out any doggie liquids beforehand.

Call Your Airline Ahead of Time to Reserve Your Dog’s Spot

A dog tag attached to the carrier's handle
Make sure you receive a dog tag at the check-in counter

For airlines that don’t require you to pay for your pet ahead of time, make sure to call a few weeks before your flight to reserve your dog’s spot.

As indicated on the included chart, most airlines have a limited amount of space in the cabin for carry-on dogs. Don’t make the mistake of not calling beforehand and having to take your pup back home. 

Stow Your Dog for Takeoff and Landing

Almost every airline requires that your dog be stowed under the seat in front of you in their carrier during both takeoff and landing. Most airlines also require that pups remain in the carrier the entire flight, but different flight crews may have different leniencies. 

Opt for an Aisle Seat

A dog covered with blanket sleeping on the lap inside the plane
I asked for permission to let my dog out of her kennel once we were in the air

As much as I love sitting in the window seat, aisle seats are much easier when flying with a dog. I’ve sat with my dog at the window seat before and do not recommend the hassle of squeezing past the rest of the row with all your puppy equipment.

The extra space of the aisle seat makes an already stressful situation slightly more hassle-free.

Get Your Dog Used to the Kennel Beforehand

You don’t want to fly with a dog that isn’t used to its kennel yet. Be sure you acclimate your pup to the kennel beforehand to save both you and your dog the stress of kennel training at the airport.

Pet owners are encouraged to get their dogs used to the kennel ahead of time by driving their pets around in the kennel for extended periods of time, as well as letting their dogs sleep in the kennel overnight. This is especially important if going on a long flight.

👉 Read Next: How to Find Cheap International Flights

Don’t Give Your Pet a Sedative

Dog peeking outside from the carrier bag
My pup getting used to his carrier

Carry-on pets typically don’t do too well with sedatives high in the air. Tranquilizers may interfere with your dog’s ability to control body heat at higher pressures and the health risks involved do not outweigh the benefits of sedatives.

If you need to fly with a dog for an extended period of time, your best bet is to have food, water, and plenty of toys readily available for your upcoming air travel. Many airline pet policies are actually anti-anxiety medication and instead recommend puppy CBD to help calm the nerves.

👉 Pro Tip: Hemp oils also help calm the nerves. I use this Charlie Buddy Hemp Oil when I fly with a dog and cannot recommend it enough.

Bring A Chew Toy for Take Off and Landing

As with humans, dogs also experience uncomfortable pressure in their ears during take-off and landing. Make sure to bring a chew toy or two to help relieve any discomfort. I always have a Nylabone Power Chew Toy on hand for my travel pups.

FAQ About Flying with Dogs

What are the rules for dogs on planes?

Carry-on dogs must be able to fit in a small carrier that fits under the seat in front of them. One dog is usually permitted per kennel unless otherwise noted by the airline.

Can my dog sit on my lap on a plane?

Pets are generally not allowed to sit on your lap during a flight. Some airlines may be stricter on this than others, but the general rule is that your pet stays in their pet carrier the whole flight.

Can dogs fly free as a carry-on?

Dogs do not fly free as a carry-on. Most pet fees are $95-$125 to be transported in-cabin. Service dogs, however, fly for free on some airlines if they meet the general requirements. 

What size dogs can fly in the cabin?

Dog size restrictions vary from airline to airline but in-cabin dogs must be small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you. Generally, 20-25 pounds is the maximum weight.

Can dogs walk on leashes in airports?

Unfortunately, non-service dogs cannot walk on leashes in airports. They must be in carriers at all times unless in a pet relief area.


You’re now ready to start exploring with your four-legged friend! Check out our weekend trip packing essentials for more stress-free future travels. 

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