Guide to flying with pets (and getting rewarded for it)

Know the airline's pet policies before making your reservations

Allie Johnson
Personal Finance Writer
Award-winning writer covering consumer and small-business credit cards.

A complete guide to flying with pets (and getting rewarded for it)

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Need to fly with Fido? You should know that many airlines are tightening the leash on emotional support animals in the main cabin. But on the flip side, some airlines offer perks for flying pets.

Every day, thousands of travelers take to the skies with their pets for a variety of reasons.

In the United States, over 2 million animals fly on planes each year. Flying your dog, cat or other critter can be complicated, expensive and stressful. But many people need to travel with their pets because they are:

  • Making a big U.S. or international move.
  • Going on an extended trip.
  • Relocating for military service.
  • Traveling with an emotional support or service animal.

The Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to make room for service animals that perform specific tasks for, or give emotional support to, people with disabilities. But some airlines are getting stricter about emotional support animals in the wake of incidents ranging from a little girl who was nipped by an emotional support dog to a woman who tried in vain to fly with her emotional support peacock. Delta states customers have even tried to fly with “comfort” snakes and even spiders.

“The airlines are tired of people who don’t really meet the requirements for an emotional support animal because they’re the ones who cause problems,” says Sally Smith, a licensed vet tech and owner of Airborne Animals, a New Jersey company that moves pets around the world.

As of March 2018, Delta and United now require extra documents from passengers flying with emotional support animals. Almost all airlines ask for a letter or signed form from a certified mental health professional.

Delta and United, however, now also require: a signed veterinary health form, current vaccination records and confirmation that the animal has been trained to behave in public. Passengers who provide proper paperwork can fly with their animal in the cabin without paying a penny for their pet’s passage.

Top US airlines' pet shipping requirements

Alaska Airlines

Breed restrictionsBrachycephalic or "short-nosed" dogs and cats are not accepted for travel in the cargo compartment on Alaska Airlines flights. Dogs: Boston Terrier, Boxer (all breeds), Bulldog (all breeds), Bull Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Chow Chow, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Spaniel/Japanese Chin, Mastiff (all breeds), Pekingese, pit bull (all breeds), pug (all breeds), Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Terrier
Cats: Burmese, exotic shorthair, Himalayan, Persian
How many petsA customer may travel with a maximum of two pet carriers in the main cabin, only when the adjacent seat is purchased by the same customer. Up to two pets of the same species and similar size may travel in the same carrier if no body parts protrude from the carrier and animals are not in distress. Pet travel as checked baggage is subject to availability. For checked animals, no more than one live dog or cat, 6 months of age or older, may be transported in the same kennel. No more than one live puppy, 8 weeks to 6 months of age, and weighing over 20 pounds, may be transported in the same kennel. No more than two live puppies or kittens, 8 weeks to 6 months of age, that are of comparable size, and weighing 20 pounds or less each, may be transported in the same kennel.
Health vaccination requirementsAll pets traveling in the cargo compartment must have a health certificate dated within 10 days of initial travel and 30 days of return travel, when the return flight is booked in the same record. Pets traveling on a return flight booked in a separate record are required to have a health certificate dated within 10 days of that flight. A health certificate is not required for pets traveling in the cabin with their passenger; however, many states have specific importation health and vaccination requirements. When traveling internationally, it is important to research what health and vaccination documents are required for the country you're visiting.
FeesCabin travel: $100 each way. Pet in baggage: $100 each way
Age restrictionsDogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and must have been fully weaned.
Aircraft restrictionsPets are not permitted to travel in the baggage compartment or in the first class cabin on flights operated with Airbus aircraft. Pets are not permitted to travel in the baggage compartment on flights operated by PenAir outside the State of Alaska. Extra large (size 500) kennels are only accepted on Boeing 737 aircraft, Alaska Airlines flight series 001-999, and some 2000 series flights operated with Bombardier Q400 aircraft. Contact reservations to confirm your pet's kennel can be accommodated.
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageFor in-cabin travel, hard sided or soft-sided; 17" x 11" x 7.5" Checked kennels must meet USDA and IATA requirements and other requirements outlined here (https://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/policies/pets-traveling-with-pets) Kennel sizes allowed: extra small (100) 15" x 16" x 21", small (200) 19" x 20" x 27", medium (300) 23" x 22" x 32", large (400) 26" X 24" x 36", extra large (500) 30" x 27" x 40" only on certain aircraft. Alaska Airlines will accept a pet and kennel combined weight of up to 150 lbs.
Cabin rulesAnimals with offensive odors or those that create a noise disturbance must travel in the climate-controlled baggage compartment.



American

Breed restrictionsThe following breeds are not accepted as checked luggage.Dogs: Affenpinscher, American Bully, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer (All breeds), Brussels Griffon, Bulldog (All breeds), Cane Corso, Dogue De Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff (All breeds), Pekingese, Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Pug (All breeds), Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel
Cats: Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, Persian
How manyOne carry on, two checked
Health vaccination requirementsHealth certificate within 10 days of travel, 60 days of return on same ticket, 10 days of return on separate ticket. Rabies vaccination certification.
FeesChecked pet: $200 per kennel ($150 to/from Brazil).
Age restrictions8 weeks
Aircraft restrictionsCannot transport animals on these aircraft types: Airbus 319, Airbus 320, Airbus 321, Airbus 321S, Airbus 321H , Air Wisconsin
400 series kennels or smaller are accepted on all mainline flights except on embargoed flights 500 series kennels or smaller are accepted on 321T, 757 and wide-body aircraft only
• 700 series kennels or smaller are accepted on 757 aircraft and wide-body aircraft with exception of 330-332 equipment
• E190 can accommodate five (5) kennels equal to or less than 33 x 22 x 23 inches. The aircraft can accommodate four (4) kennels (400 series kennels) greater than 33 x 22 x 23 inches.
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageFor in-cabin travel, noncollapsible kennels can’t exceed 19" x 13" x 9". Soft-sided collapsible kennels can be larger if they're made of water-repellent material, are padded or have nylon mesh ventilation on two or more sides. For checked pets, kennel cannot exceed 40" x 27" x 30" or 102cm x 69cm x 76cm (a 500 series kennel) and must meet other requirements listed here (https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/special-assistance/pets.jsp).
Cabin rulesYour pet must stay in the kennel and under the seat in front of you the entire flight.



Delta

Breed restrictionsDoes not accept snub-nosed or pug-nosed dogs, or snub-nosed cats, as checked baggage (but may accept these breeds as cargo). Restricted breeds: American Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffin, Bulldog, Chinese Pug, Chow Chow, Dutch Pug, English Bulldog, English Toy Spaniel, French Bulldog Lhasa Apso, Japanese Boxer, Japanese Pug, Japanese Spaniel (Chin), Mastiff (all breeds), Pekinese, Pit Bull, Pug, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel. Cat breeds: Burmese, Exotic, Himalayan, Persian
How many petsPets are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call Delta in advance at 800-221-1212 to arrange to bring your pet on board as Delta limits the number of total pets per flight. Does not accept pets in checked baggage. Limit: one pet per kenel, with the following exceptions One female cat/dog may travel with her unweaned litter if the litter is a minimum of 10 weeks old to 6 months of age.Two pets of the same breed and size between the age of 10 weeks and 6 months may be allowed to travel in one kennel, providing they are small enough to fit into one kennel and are compatible. They will be charged as one pet.
Health vaccination requirementsHealth certificate within 10 days of transport must include: shipper's name and address, date,tag numbers or tattoos assigned to the animal, age of the animal being shipped, list of administered inoculations when applicable, statement that the animal is in good health and veterinarian signature. (If the shipper knows that the pet is pregnant, it must be noted on the health certificate.)
FeesCarry on: $125; checked baggage, $75 to $250 depending on size of kennel.
Age restrictionsPet must be at least 10 weeks old for domestic travel and 16 weeks old if traveling to the U.S. from other countries and at least 15 weeks old for European Union travel.
Aircraft restrictionsAnimals will not be accepted as checked baggage or cargo on any Delta operated 767 aircraft. There are no exceptions to this restriction for any passenger. Animals will not be accepted as checked baggage on any Delta operated A330-200 aircraft. Pets are not allowed in the first class, business or Delta One Cabin on certain flights.
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageFor in-cabin pets, either soft- or hard-sided kennels must be leak-proof and ventilated on at least two sides. Check the under seat dimensions of the aircraft to ensure the kennel dimensions do not exceed the dimensions listed for the applicable aircraft and cabin confirmed. For pets as checked baggage, sizes small/100 series (21 x 15 x 16) through large/400 series (36 x 24 x 26) are accepted any any aircraft. Extra large/500 series (40 x 27 x 30) are accepted on any Delta aircraft except 767-300-300ER-400ER, A330-200, 717-200, CRJ-200-700-900, ERJ-145-170-175. Giant/700 series are accepted on any Delta aircraft except 767-300-300ER-400ER, A330-200, MD-88, 717-200, CRJ-200-700-900, ERJ-145-170-175
Cabin rulesPets in cabin are not allowed in the first class / Delta One / business class cabin on any international segment, regardless of aircraft type due to insufficient space. Your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel without touching or protruding from the sides of the kennel and with the ability to move around. The kennel must fit under the seat directly in front of you. Maximum carry-on kennel dimensions are determined by your flight. You must contact Delta reservations to determine the appropriate kennel size. Your pet must remain inside the kennel (with door secured) while in a Delta boarding area (during boarding and deplaning), a Delta airport lounge and while onboard the aircraft. Your pet counts as one piece of carry-on baggage.



Frontier

Breed restrictionsDomesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters or small household birds may be carried on flights within the United States. No reptiles or arachnids. Only domesticated dogs and cats may be carried to or from international destinations. Does not accept pets as checked baggage; in-cabin travel only. Pets are allowed in the cabin on all domestic Frontier flights and on international flights to or from the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
How manyOne carrier per passenger.
Health vaccination requirementsDoes not require a health certificate for pets carried in the cabin traveling within the U.S. Upon arrival, a certificate may be required by the specific state in which you are landing. For international travel, a health certificate is required. Each country may have vaccination requirements beyond the requirements listed here. Consulates can provide more information regarding other diseases for which your pet must be vaccinated.
FeesOne-way $75 fee
Age restrictionsNone
Aircraft restrictionsNone
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageMaximum dimensions for a pet container are 18" length x 14" width x 8" height. Recommend the container be a soft-sided case.
Cabin rulesThe travel container must be large enough for the pet to stand, turn around and lie down in a natural position. The carrier must also fit underneath the seat in front of you. There may be certain seats that cannot accommodate a pet container, but will work with passenger to get a seat assignment with space. Pet must stay in its container at all times.



Hawaiian Airlines

Breed restrictionsDue to the possibility of respiratory difficulties, it is not recommended that brachycephalic (short-nosed) animals travel as checked baggage. Passengers are highly discouraged from traveling with the following breeds as checked baggage. Dog breeds: American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Bulldogs, Bull Mastiff, Bull Terrier, Chow Chow, Dutch Pug, English Bulldog, Japanese Pug, Japanese Spaniel Chin, Lhasa Apso, Pekingese, Pit Bull, Pug, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Cat breeds: Burmese, Exotic, Himalayan, Persian.
How many petsOne adult dog or cat to occupy a single kennel; or two puppies or kittens of the same breed or litter provided they are at least 8 weeks old and not more than 6 months old. Two adult household birds to occupy a single kennel or two household birds of the same breed providing they are at least 2 weeks (14 days). Hawaiian Airlines reserves the right to require documentation from the treating veterinarian to determine the animals’ age and eligibility to travel.
Health vaccination requirementsTravel within the state of Hawaii: No animal health certificate required. Travel from Hawaii to North America: Health certificate dated within 14 days prior to travel. Travel from North America to Hawaii: dated within 14 days prior to travel. An animal health certificate is good for 30 days from the date of issue and may be used for the return if return travel is within the time frame, when the return flight is booked in the same record. Hawaii is a rabies-free state. Due to strict state of Hawaii regulations and restrictions, please contact the state of Hawaii Animal Industry Division – Department of Agriculture Animal Quarantine Department for information regarding travel arrangements and fees to enter the state of Hawaii.
FeesFor pets traveling as checked baggage: Travel within the state of Hawaii: $60. Travel from Hawaii to North America: $225. Travel from North America to Hawaii: $225. For pets traveling in the cabin: Travel within the state of Hawaii: $35 Travel from Hawaii to North America: $175.
Age restrictionsPuppies must be at least 8 weeks old. Birds must be at least 2 weeks old.
Aircraft restrictionsNone
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageAll animal kennels are subject to inspection and approval by Hawaiian Airlines before animal is accepted for travel. Kennels must be in a condition that appears safe and can secure the animal, be hard sided (for example, wood, metal or a material of comparable strength), leak-proof, designed to prevent escape and have adequate handholds to enable lifting without coming into contact with the animal. The kennel must be large enough to allow the animal to sit, stand upright, turn and lay down in a natural position. The kennel must contain absorbent material (blanket, towel, shredded paper, absorbent pad). The animal must not be leashed or restrained while in their kennel. Accept the following types of kennels. The total weight of your kennel (including the animal) must not exceed the maximums below:
Kennel Series Maximum Dimensions Maximum total weight of kennel and animal
Kennel series 100 Maximum dimensions: 21"L x 16"W x 15"H Maximum total weight of kennel and animal: 18 pounds
Kennel series 200 Maximum dimensions: 28" x 20.5" x 21.5" Maximum total weight of kennel and animal: 25 pounds.
Kennel series 300 Maximum dimensions: 32" x 22.5" x 24" Maximum total weight of kennel and animal:40 pounds
Kennel series 400 Maximum dimensions: 36" x 25" x 27" Maximum total weight of kennel and animal: 70 pounds
Cabin rules Permitted only on inter-island flights and flights leaving the state of Hawaii. Not allowed on flights arriving into the state of Hawaii due to quarantine requirements. (Exceptions made for service animals only). You may book your pet in the passenger cabin at the same time you make your own flight reservations. (Subject to applicable fees and space availability by calling Hawaiian Airlines Reservations.)
Carriers must be soft-sided and leak-proof. The carrier must be large enough to allow the animal to sit, stand upright, turn and lay down in a natural position.
The animal is required to stay in its carrier while in the terminal and onboard the aircraft.
Animal carriers are prohibited from bulkhead, emergency exit rows and rows adjacent to emergency exit rows.
The carrier must be stowed under the seat directly in front of the passenger.
The carrier must not exceed the following dimensions in inches:
Length 16" x Width 10" x Height 9.5"
The animal and the carrier may not exceed 25 pounds total. Due to floor space limitations, pets traveling in cabin will not be accepted in first-class cabin on North America flights; on flights to or from New York or into the state of Hawaii or international routes.



JetBlue

Breed restrictionsNo, but animal must be a cat or dog small enough to travel in the cabin as a pet or qualify as an assistance or emotional support animal. JetBlue does not ship live animals as cargo or in the bellies of any aircraft. JetBlue accepts small cats and dogs in the aircraft cabin on both domestic and international flights (with the exception of flights to Jamaica, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Cayman Islands and Trinidad & Tobago, and interline/codeshare bookings).
How manyOnly one pet is allowed per customer, with a few exceptions. Please contact a JetBlue representative at 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583) for more information. A pet carrier will count as a carry-on item. Only four pets are allowed per flight. The fourth and final pet must be booked at the airport at the ticket counter within 24 hours of departure and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. 
Health vaccination requirementsVaccination documentation and vet health certificate required only for international travel, including Puerto Rico. See this page for information on requirements at specific destinations.
FeesThere is a pet fee of $100 each way.
Age restrictionsNone
Aircraft restrictionsNone
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageA carrier that does not exceed 17" (43.18 cm) x 12.5" (31.75 cm)  x 8" (21.59 cm). Pet must be able to stand up and move around in the carrier with ease. Carriers must have a leak proof bottom and must be well ventilated. Soft-sided and hard-sided carriers are acceptable. Containers in such physical condition as to allow possible escape by an animal will not be accepted for transportation. Only one pet per carrier.
Cabin rules The combined weight of the pet and carrier may not exceed 20 pounds. You may book your pet online at jetblue.com or by calling 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583).



Southwest Airlines

Breed restrictionsNo, but the animal must be small enough to travel in the cabin as a pet, or qualify as an emotional support animal. Southwest Airlines will only carry pets in the cabin; pets are not permitted as checked baggage. Pets are accepted on a first come, first served basis and are not permitted on international flights.
How many petsOne pet carrier per ticketed passenger. A carrier may contain two cats or two dogs. The cat or dog must be completely inside the pet carrier and be able to stand up and move around the carrier with ease.There is a maximum of six pet carriers total allowed on a flight.
Health vaccination requirementsNone
Fees $95 each way per pet carrier. Pet Fares are nonrefundable and may not be applied toward future-date travel if unused.
Age restrictionsCats and dogs must be at least 8 weeks old.
Aircraft restrictionsNone
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageOn the day of travel, Customers must bring the pet to the airport in an approved pet carrier with maximum dimensions of 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide. Soft-sided and hard-sided carriers specifically designed as pet carriers are acceptable. The carriers must be leak-proof and well ventilated. The pet carrier must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of the customer and be stowed in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Cabin rulesReservations must be made in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (800-435-9792). Proceed to the airport ticket counter to check the pet in and pay the Pet Fare before going to the departure gate. Customers traveling with a pet may not occupy an exit row or a seat with no forward under-seat stowage. The animals must be harmless, not disruptive, odorless and require no attention during flight.



Spirit Airlines

Breed restrictionsNo, but animal must be a cat or dog small enough to travel in the cabin as a pet or qualify as an assistance or emotional support animal. Household birds also are allowed, except on flights to or from Puerto Rico or St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Spirit does not transport live animals as cargo. Spirit Airlines does not accept animals on international flights, except service animals.
How many petsOne carrier per customer, with a maximum of two pets in the carrier. Animals must be able to stand upright and move about comfortably in the container. A maximum of four pet carriers total per flight.
Health vaccination requirementsSpirit Airlines does not require a health certificate for pets traveling with passengers in the aircraft cabin.
FeesPet fee of $110 per pet carrier each way.
Age restrictionsPet should be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned.
Aircraft restrictionsNone
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageThe container must be inspected and approved by Spirit and able to fit underneath the seat in front of the guest traveling with the animal. (Maximum container size is 18" x 14" x 9" (45.72 cm x 35.56 cm x 22.86cm) in overall dimensions (L x W x H).The combined weight of the pet and carrier may not exceed 40 pounds.
Cabin rulesThe animal must be harmless, inoffensive, odorless, and require no attention during the flight. In the event the animal becomes offensive or causes a disturbance during transit; it will be removed. The pet cannot be ill, violent or in physical distress. Advance notice is recommended but not required. You may choose to sit anywhere you wish with the exception of the first row and emergency exit rows.



United Airlines

Breed restrictionsFor United's PetSafe program for animals not eligible to travel in the cabin -- Embargoed short-nose dog breeds not accepted as adults for travel at any time: English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Olde English Bulldogges, Shorty Bulldogs, Spanish Alano/Alano, Español/Spanish Bulldog* ( *Spanish Alano puppies may be accepted up to six months old, if less than 60 pounds.) (Embargo does not apply to puppies up to six months and less than 20 pounds.Restricted short-nose dog breeds not accepted as adults for travel between May 15 and Sept.15, and only accepted during th rest of the year on days less than 85 degrees F: American Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs (all types, including Dutch, Japanese, etc.). Restrictions do not apply to puppies up to six months and less than 20 pounds. Crate must be one size larger that required for other breeds and ventilation is required on all four sides. Restricted short-nose dog breeds that can travel as adults all year but require special carrier restrictions: Boxer*, Brussels Griffon, English Toy Spaniel/Prince Charles Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Pekingese, Shar-Pei/Chinese Shar-Pei, Shih-Tzu. (*Boxer puppies may be accepted up to six months old, if less than 60 pounds.) Restrictions do not apply to puppies up to six months and less than 20 pounds. Crate must be one size larger. Ventilation required on all four sides. Restricted strong-jaw dog breeds that, as adults, require special carriers: American Bully, American Pit Bull/Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier/Amstaff, Belgian Malinois, Ca de Bou/Perro de Presa/Mallorquin/Mallorquin Mastiff, Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasiliero/Brazilian Mastiff/Cao de Fila,Presa Canario/Presa de Presa Canario/Canary Mastiff, Staffordshire Bull Terrier/”Staffys,” Tosa/Tosa Ken/Tosa Inu/Japanese Mastiff/Japanese, Tosa. IATA CR82 reinforced crate is required for travel. Puppies up to 6 months old and less than 60 pounds do not require the CR82 crate. Other animals: No adult chickens older than 1 week. (Other poultry, such as ducks, geese and swans will be accepted for travel.) No Continental Giant rabbits (Flemish Giants and other large breed rabbits will be accepted for travel. No piglets less than 8 weeks old. (Piglets over 8 weeks OK.) No nonhuman primates. No sugar gliders from May 15 to Sept. 15 and on other dates when the temperature is higher than 85 degrees F.
How many petsFor in-cabin pets, varies by flight.
Health vaccination requirementsFor PetSafe, you will need your pet’s health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, dated within 10 days of travel for both the outbound and return flights. If the return flight occurs more than 10 days after the date when pet’s health certificate was issued, you will need to obtain a new health certificate for the return flight. If pet’s travel on United precedes or follows international travel, the health certificate must be issued in English. For international trips, customers should contact the appropriate embassy or consulate at least one month before departure to ensure all country-specific entry procedures are followed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all dogs entering the United States to be immunized against rabies. Proof of vaccination is required before air travel begins.
FeesAn in-cabin pet will incur a $125 service charge each way. There is an additional $125 service charge for each stopover of more than four hours within the U.S. or more than 24 hours outside of the U.S. For shipping animals as cargo with United's PetSafe program, rates vary by weight/size and destination, from $201 for an animal up to 10 pounds within the United States to $2,500 or more for large animals on international routes. (Prices available here.
Age restrictionsPuppies and kittens traveling within the U.S. and Puerto Rico must be at least 8 weeks of age. Puppies and kittens weighing less than two pounds must be at least 10 weeks of age. Puppies imported to the U.S. must be at least 16 weeks of age and must be fully immunized against rabies. The rabies vaccination must be administered no earlier than 12 weeks of age of the dog and at least 30 days before arrival to a U.S. port of entry.
Aircraft restrictionsUnited cannot transport pets on any Air Wisconsin aircraft. Most regional jets operated by other United Express carriers may carry animals, but there are restrictions to some destinations, on flights longer than three hours and on carrying crates larger than the #400, measuring 36" (91.44 cm) long x 24" (60.96 cm) wide x 26" (66.04 cm) high. Please contact PetSafe for further details.
Kennel requirements for pets as checked baggageA pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times. The maximum dimensions for hard-sided kennels are 17.5" long x 12" wide x 7.5" high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm). The recommended maximum dimensions for soft-sided kennels are 18" long x 11" wide x 11" high (46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm). Soft-sided pet carriers may exceed these dimensions slightly, as they are collapsible and able to conform to under-seat space without blocking the aisle. With the exception of birds, there may only be one pet per kennel, and the animal must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably. Two birds may travel in the same kennel.
Cabin rulesAdvance reservations required for in-cabin pets through United.com or by calling the United Customer Contact Center at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).






Top US airlines' service animal requirements

Alaska Airlines

General policy on service animals Alaska Airlines welcomes service animals. Please inform the customer service agent upon arrival at the airport that you'll be traveling with a service animal. There is no additional charge to travel with a working service animal.
Documentation requirementsA harness, tag or vest indicating status as a service animal will be helpful in distinguishing them to airport personnel. However, credible verbal assurance that the animal is providing a service to assist with a disability will suffice, should an inquiry be made.
Animal type or size restrictionsIf your service animal does not fit the area available, a customer service agent will find an alternate flight with more room, or, if the animal is not needed during the flight, offer to transport the animal in its crate in a climate-controlled cargo area free of charge. Does not accept the following animals as trained service animals due to safety and/or public health concerns. These animals include, but are not limited to: hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, reptiles, non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds and birds of prey),any unusual or exotic animals and any animals that are not properly cleaned or have a foul odor.
Advance noticeTo ensure that both you and your service/emotional support animal travel easily and comfortably, 48 hour advance notice is strongly recommended
Seat restrictionsYour service animal may sit at your feet, unless the service animal is too large and obstructs an aisle or other area used for emergency evacuations. When traveling with a service animal you are not permitted to sit in an emergency exit row. We recommend choosing a window seat so the service animal is safe from foot traffic.



American

General policy on service animalsService animals, including emotional support animals, are welcome at no charge if they meet the requirements. They must fit on your lap, at your feet, or under the seat, and cannot block the aisle.
Documentation requirementsNone
Animal type or size restrictionsAmerican Airlines will not transport exotic animals on passenger flights.
Advance noticeAmerican Airlines recommends that you submit an online assistance request (https://www.aa.com/contact/forms?topic=DA#/) or call the airline if traveling with a service animal.
Seat restrictionsFor security reasons, you won’t be able to sit in an exit row when traveling with your service or emotional support animal.



Delta

General policy on service animalsAccepts service animals that have received training to assist those who are blind or have low vision, deafness or hard of hearing, diabetes, seizures, mobility limitations or other needs. Service animals must remain with the passenger at all times. Service animals and their associated items travel for free. If you encounter any issues with your service animal while at the airport or on board, please ask to speak to a Complaint Resolution Official (CRO). These trained Delta representatives are ready to assist passengers with accessibility needs and protect your rights when you travel by air.
Documentation requirementsIf you are traveling with a trained service animal, in some cases you may be asked to show the animal’s veterinary health form and/or an immunization record or other proof that the animal's vaccinations are current within one year of the travel date.
Animal type or size restrictionsAny animal other than a dog or cat will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Advance noticeWhile not required, customers are encouraged to upload your animal's health records to the website in the My Trips section through the Accessibility Service Request Form
Seat restrictionsService animals are expected to be seated in the floor space below a passenger’s seat, or seated in a passenger’s lap. The service animal may be placed at the feet of the passenger with a disability at any bulkhead seat or in any other seat as long as no part of the animal extends into the aisle.



Frontier

General policy on service animalsAccepts service animals trained to assist passengers with disabilities in the cabin of aircraft at no charge. Service animals in training that are accompanied by a certified trainer are welcome on board. The behavior of any animal traveling on Frontier will be assessed at the airport to ensure the safety of all passengers. Reserves the right to refuse to accommodate an animal in the cabin if credible proof of service and training is not available, or if the animal is considered aggressive or disruptive.
Documentation requirementsService animals must be identified in one or more of the following ways: animal identification card; harnesses, vests, capes or backpack with appropriate identification; verbal assurance detailing what services the animal provides, as well as the training received. Be prepared to be asked at the airport to verify the service your animal provides.
Animal type or size restrictionsDoes not not accept unusual or exotic animals including but not limited to rodents, reptiles, insects, hedgehogs, rabbits, sugar gliders, non-household birds or improperly cleaned and/or animals with foul odor.
Advance noticeAdvanced notice recommended. If you seek additional assistance with a special services request, please call Frontier at 801-401-9004.
Seat restrictionsService animal must be properly harnessed for the duration of the flight(s). A proper harness is considered a collar and leash or guide dog harness. The animal may sit at your feet, however, your service animal may not sit in the aisle or in another seat. If the animal is small enough it may sit on your lap, as long as it does not spill over into another passenger’s seat. If you are traveling with a service animal, you may not be seated in an emergency exit row.



Hawaiian Airlines

General policy on service animalsWelcomes passengers and their trained service animals. Trained service animals are different from emotional/comfort/psychiatric support animals in that they have been trained to perform a particular function, service or task to assist a guest with a disability in the management of their disability. Service animals will not be permitted on board if the service animal displays threatening behavior that is not successfully mitigated (for example, growling, snarling, lunging at or attempting to bite people, etc.) or if the animal causes a significant disruption in cabin service. Once this behavior is observed, the animal will be considered a pet and will be subject to all conditions and charges for pets. An animal undergoing training or an animal that is used for or by a therapy organization or government entity to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other facilities does not meet the definition of a service animal. Hawaiian Airlines will accept these animals as a pet with associated fees. The State of Hawaii has many strict entry requirements that must be met in order to bring the animal into the state. If the entry requirements are not met, the animal may not be accepted for travel.
Documentation requirementsIf verbal assurance is not credible, Hawaiian Airlines may require documentation that substantiates the medical need for the animal to accompany the passenger as a condition for allowing the animal to travel as a Trained Service Animal in the cabin. On a flight eight or more hours long, Hawaiian Airlines requires a guest using a trained service animal to provide documentation that the animal will not need to relieve itself on the flight or that the animal can relieve itself in a way that does not create a health or sanitation issue on the flight.
Animal type or size restrictions Does not accept the following animals for transportation as carry-on or checked baggage under any circumstances, including as service animals: peacocks, ferrets, rodents (guinea pigs, mice, rats, etc.), spiders, mosquitoes, reptiles (snakes, turtles, etc.) or live fish.
Advance noticeTo travel with a service animal in the cabin, on a flight eight hours or more, the Hawaiian Airlines Reservation Department must be notified at least 48 hours in advance of a Domestic flight and 72 hours in advance of an International flight. Travelers with service animals must check in one hour before the check-in time for the general public.
Seat restrictionsA trained service animal may accompany the passenger with the disability at any seat in which the passenger sits, unless the animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed in order to facilitate an emergency evacuation. Trained service animals are not permitted on the seats or in emergency exit rows nor will the animal be provided food, water or in-flight amenities made for guests (e.g. pillow, blanket, food, water, etc.). Animals that are too large to fit safely on the floor space in front of the guest may be accommodated in front of empty adjacent seats in the same cabin service. Guests who wish to purchase a second seat to accommodate their service animal may do so. No refunds will be provided if on the day of departure open seats remain.



JetBlue

General policy on service animalsJetBlue welcomes service animals in the cabin at no additional charge. A service animal is an animal that has been trained to perform a specific task to assist the traveler, such as path finding, retrieval of objects, providing stability, alerting to sounds, etc. Animals that provide comfort for others or skills like drug or bomb detection will not be accepted on JetBlue. Service animals in training are not accepted.
Documentation requirementsYou will be asked at the airport to verify the service the animal provides.
Animal type or size restrictionsUnusual  animals (for example, snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents and spiders) will not be allowed on JetBlue flights, even as service animals, as they pose unavoidable safety and/or public health concerns. Birds that do not have their wings “clipped or pinioned” may also be refused carriage. The release of such animals in the aircraft could result in a direct threat to the health or safety of customers and crewmembers.
Advance NoticePlease add the animal to your reservation when booking on line or notify JetBlue at 800-JETBLUE (538-2583) of the animal's travel.
Seat restrictionsThe animal may not occupy a seat. If your animal is too large to fit in a single foot space in accordance with FAA safety regulations, you may purchase a second seat to guarantee travel or wait for a flight that has empty seats available.



Southwest Airlines

General policy on service animalsTrained assistance animals traveling with and providing assistance to a customer with a disability are accepted in the aircraft cabin. Trained assistance animals will be allowed to travel on flights to/from all domestic and international destinations. Service animals must be trained to behave in a public setting. If an animal behaves poorly, it may be denied boarding.Please note trained assistance animals may be subject to additional governmental laws and regulations at the destination, including but not limited to, health certificates, permits and vaccinations required by the country, state or territory from and/or to which the animal is being transported. Southwest Airlines accepts fully-trained law enforcement service dogs trained in explosives or drug detection (or other specific functions) and search and rescue dogs for transportation, without charge, when accompanied by their respective handlers on official business. Each customer traveling with a law enforcement or search and rescue dog must present a letter of mission and a copy of the animal’s certification.
Documentation requirementsCannot ask a customer to specify his or her disability, nor ask for “proof” of a disability. However, employees may ask some questions to determine what assistance an animal provides.
Animal type or size restrictionsDoes not allow customers to travel with unusual or exotic animals (including, but not limited to: rodents, ferrets, insects, spiders, reptiles, hedgehogs, rabbits, or sugar gliders) acting as assistance animals.
Advance noticeWhen booking a new reservation, customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” (situated on the Enter Traveler Info page) to indicate that they will be traveling with a fully trained service animal. Customers may also advise us of any disability-related travel needs at the time of booking by telephone or, if a reservation has already been made, by calling 800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) prior to travel.
Seat restrictionsSouthwest maintains an open seating policy; however, those traveling with assistance animals may not occupy an emergency exit seat. In accordance with federal safety regulations, the animal must be positioned so as not to obstruct evacuation in the event of an emergency.



Spirit Airlines

General policy on service animalsAccepts service animals trained to lead the hearing or visually impaired, or trained in special assistance for the disabled, if evidence is provided to show that the animal is a service animal.
Documentation requirementsOne of the following is required: identification card; written documentation regarding the medical need for the presence of the animal in the cabin; or reasonable credible verbal assurance from the individual with the disability using or accompanying the animal. No health certificate is required by the airline, but traveler must research health documentation requirements for international destinations.
Animal type or size restrictionsDoes not accept snakes, other reptiles, rodents, ferrets, and spiders. Several factors determine whether an animal can travel in the cabin as a service animal. These factors include: the animal’s size, whether the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, whether it would cause a significant disruption of cabin service, and whether the animal is prohibited from entering a foreign country. If you have any questions, visit www.spirit.com/help.
Advance noticePlease call customer service (https://customersupport.spirit.com/hc/en-us/articles/202097826-How-can-I-contact-Spirit-Airlines-) at least 48 hours before departure of scheduled flight. Please plan to check in 90 minutes before the check-in time for the general public for document verification.
Seat restrictionsYou may choose to sit anywhere you wish with the exception of emergency exit rows. However, if your service animal must sit in your lap, you may not occupy any seat equipped with an inflatable seat belt. While these are safe for you, it could put your animal’s well-being at risk if the seat belts were to inflate. If the animal is seated on the floor at your feet, it cannot block an aisle or other area that must remain clear for emergency evacuation. No animals or any part of the animals can be placed on an aircraft seat at any time.



United Airlines

General policy on service animalsTrained service animals are accepted in the cabin for qualified individuals with a disability. Trained service animals are animals that receive specific training to perform life functions for individuals with disabilities. Examples include animals that assist with visual impairments, deafness, seizures and mobility limitations. The animal must behave properly in public and should follow directions from its owner. United only recognizes service animals which have been trained and certified. Animal trainers are permitted to bring one service animal that is training to assist disabled passengers on board free of charge. These service animals must not occupy a seat. Trainers transporting service animals in the ordinary course of business or service animals who are not in training must check these animals. Therapy animals, which are pets that have been trained and registered by a therapy organization in order to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other facilities, are not considered to be service animals. When traveling with a therapy animal, standard pet-related regulations and restrictions will apply.
Documentation requirementsHealth documentation may be required for an animal traveling to international destinations.
Animal type or size restrictionsService animals can include, but are not limited to, dogs, miniature horses, monkeys, cats and birds. Please contact United support desk for additional acceptance information for service animals. They can be reached at 800-228-2744.
Advance noticeContact the United Accessibility Desk at 800-228-2744 if you have any questions or special requirements.
Seat restrictionsA service animal should sit in the floor space in front of the customer's assigned seat but cannot protrude into the aisles. Customers may use an approved in-cabin kennel for smaller animals provided its use meets stowage requirements. Exit row seating is prohibited.






Top US airlines' emotional support animal requirements

Alaska Airlines

General policy on emotional support animalsWelcomes service and emotional support animals. Advance notice of 48 hours is strongly recommended. You may travel with an emotional/psychiatric support animal in the cabin if you are a qualified individual with a disability and certain documentation requirements are met.
Documentation requirementsPrior to boarding, you must present current documentation to a customer service agent. Documentation must not be more than one year old and it must be on letterhead from a mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating your mental health-related disability. The letter must state the following: That you have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition (DSM IV). That you need the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination.The letter MUST contain the date, the mental health professional's or medical doctor's license, and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.The letter must come from a licensed mental health professional, you must be under his/her professional care.
Animal type or size restrictionsDoes not accept the following animals as trained service or emotional animals due to safety and/or public health concerns. These animals include, but are not limited to: hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, reptiles, non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds and birds of prey),any unusual or exotic animals and any animals that are not properly cleaned or have a foul odor.
Advance noticeAdvance notice is strongly recommended to ensure all paperwork is in order.
Seat restrictionsWhen traveling with an emotional/psychiatric support animal you are not permitted to sit in an emergency exit row. The emotional/psychiatric support animal must be small enough and confined to sit in your lap, in the space beneath your feet, or in the space under the seat in front of you without invading another customer's seat or foot area space during the entire flight. At no point can an emotional/psychiatric support animal occupy a seat by itself.



American

General policy on emotional support animalsService animals, including emotional support animals, are welcome at no charge if they meet the requirements.
Documentation requirementsYou must provide a doctor's letter that: states that you have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; shows the need for emotional support or psychiatric service animal for air travel and/or activity at your destination; provides proof of their licensing as a mental health professional or medical doctor (including date, type and state of license) and that you're a patient.
Animal type or size restrictionsAmerican Airlines will not transport exotic animals on passenger flights.
Advance noticeTo travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal you must provide recent documentation (within one year) to reservations at least 48 hours before flight. If the airline is unable to validate the documentation or it wasn’t received at least 48 hours before your flight, the animal may need to be checked and travel in a kennel.
Seat restrictionsFor security reasons, you won’t be able to sit in an exit row when traveling with your service or emotional support animal.



Delta

General policy on emotional support animalsDelta has a new, stricter policy on emotional support animals as of March 1, 2018. Under the new policy, customers are required to provide additional documentation. Delta states that service and support animals are highly-trained working animals and they will only refuse transportation of the animal if it engages in disruptive behavior such as: growling, jumping on passengers, relieving itself in the gate area or cabin, barking excessively not in response to handler's needs or distress, or eating off seatback tray tables. Support animals and their associated items travel for free.
Documentation requirementsCustomers traveling with an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal will be required to submit a signed veterinary health form and/or an immunization record (current within one year of the travel date), an emotional support/psychiatric service animal request form that requires a letter prepared and signed by a doctor or licensed mental health professional, and a signed confirmation of animal training form. These forms are required and must be submitted to Delta's Service Animal Support Desk via Delta.com at least 48 hours before travel.
Animal type or size restrictionsAny animal that is not a dog or cat will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The following animals are not permitted as emotional support animals: amphibians, hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, reptiles, non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds and birds of prey), goats, any animals with tusks, horns or hooves and any animals that are not properly cleaned or have a foul odor. The size of the animal must not exceed the “footprint” of the passenger’s seat.
Advance noticeTo travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, passengers must upload the required documentation at least 48 hours before a flight. For questions, call 404-209-3434.
Seat restrictionsSupport animals are expected to be seated in the floor space below a passenger’s seat, or seated in a passenger’s lap. The support animal may be placed at the feet of the passenger with a disability at any bulkhead seat or in any other seat as long as no part of the animal extends into the aisle.



Frontier

General policy on emotional support animalsYour therapeutic/emotional support animal must remain under your control for the duration of the flight(s). The behavior of any animal traveling on Frontier will assessed at the airport. This is to ensure the safety of all passengers is met prior to travel. We reserve the right to refuse to accommodate an animal in the cabin if requested documentation is not available or if the animal is considered aggressive or disruptive.
Documentation requirementsA hard copy of a written statement, one per animal, current within one year, on letterhead from a mental health professional is required if you wish to travel with a therapeutic/emotional support animal. The statement must: Include the date and type of the mental health professional's license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued; Include documentation that the individual providing the written statement is a licensed mental health professional and that you are under their professional care; verify that you have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—Fourth Edition (DSM IV); include documentation that having your therapeutic/emotional support animal accompany you is necessary to your mental health, treatment and/or to is needed to assist you during travel. A health certificate is not required for therapeutic/emotional support animals unless mandated by the jurisdiction of your destination.
Animal type or size restrictionsWe do not accept unusual or exotic animals including but not limited to rodents, reptiles, insects, hedgehogs, rabbits, sugar gliders, non-household birds or improperly cleaned and/or animals with foul odor.
Advance noticeAdvanced notice recommended. If you seek additional assistance with a special services request, please call Frontier at 801-401-9004.
Seat restrictionsYour animal(s) must fit under the seat or on your lap, one animal per lap. We will make every effort to accommodate the space needed, however in accordance with FAA regulation you may be required to purchase an additional seat. You may not be seated in an emergency exit row.



Hawaiian Airlines

General policy on emotional support animalsEmotional support and psychiatric service animals are welcomed to accompany a passenger in the cabin if they meet the conditions of acceptance. Support animals will not be permitted on board if the support animal displays threatening behavior that is not successfully mitigated (for example, growling, snarling, lunging at or attempting to bite people) or if the animal causes a significant disruption in cabin service. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, an animal undergoing training or an animal that is used for or by a therapy organization or government entity to service as a therapy animal, visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other facilities do not meet the definition of a service animal. Hawaiian Airlines will accept these animals as a pet and all pet fees will apply.
Documentation requirementsA guest requesting to travel with a support animal that is used for emotional support or psychiatric service, including but not limited to alerting the passenger to take medication or retrieving medication for a psychiatric condition, will be required to provide current documentation (not older than one year from the date of the scheduled initial flight) on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating the person for the condition, stating the following: The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM IV); the passenger needs the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger's destination; the individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional, and the passenger is under his or her professional care; and the date and type of the mental health professional's license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued. In lieu of a letterhead from a mental health professional, a guest may use our Hawaiian Airlines Emotional Support/Psychiatric Service Animal form. Hawaiian Airlines will accept the following verbiage on letterhead from a mental health professional:
Dear Hawaiian Airlines,
[Print the guests’ First and Last Name] is my patient and I am currently treating him/her for a mental/emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM IV) [or Fifth Edition (DSM V)]. He/She needs the [Print type of animal] for air travel as an emotional support/psychiatric service animal and/or for activity at his/her destination. My [Print type of license] license was issued in the State or jurisdiction of [Print State’s Name] in [Print year]. [(Signed by mental health professional] Passengers should have all applicable documentation printed and ready to present at time of check in.
On a flight eight or more hours long, Hawaiian Airlines requires a guest using a support animal to provide documentation that the animal will not need to relieve itself on the flight or that the animal can relieve itself in a way that does not create a health or sanitation issue on the flight.
Animal type or size restrictionsAnimals that are too large to fit safely on the floor space in front of the passenger may be accommodated in front of empty adjacent seats in the same cabin service. Guests who wish to purchase a second seat to accommodate their support animal may do so. No refunds will be provided if on the day of departure open seats remain. Will not accept the following animals for transportation as carry-on or checked baggage under any circumstances, including for purposes of emotional support animals: peacocks, ferrets, rodents (i.e., guinea pigs, mice, rats, etc.), spiders, mosquitoes, reptiles (i.e., snakes, turtles, etc.) or live fish.
Advance noticeTo travel with a support animal in the cabin, you must notify the Hawaiian Airlines Reservation Department at least 48 hours in advance of a domestic flight and 72 hours in advance of an International flight. All guests traveling with support animals should check in one hour before the check-in time for the general public.
Seat restrictionsSupport animals may accompany passenger at any seat unless the support animal obstructs an aisle or other area that must remain unobstructed in order to facilitate an emergency evacuation. Support animals are not permitted on the seats or in emergency exit rows.



JetBlue

General policy on emotional support animalsAn emotional support or psychiatric service animal can only be used by persons with a diagnosed mental or emotional disorder and need not have specific training for that function, but must be trained to behave appropriately in a public setting.
Documentation requirementsEmotional support/psychiatric service animals require current documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead or prescription from a licensed mental health professional or physician stating the following: The customer has a mental health-related disability. The animal accompanying the customer is necessary to the customer’s mental health or treatment. The number and type of animal(s). The individual providing the assessment of the customer is a licensed mental health professional or physician* and the customer is under his or her professional care. The type of license, the issue date, and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued OR, if that information is unavailable, the mental health professional or physician's license number.
Required documentation must always accompany the animal when traveling and is to be presented upon request to JetBlue airport personnel for review. JetBlue will accept electronic documents in a non-editable format such as a pdf scan or phone gallery photo of the original letter. Easily editable formats such as email or Word documents will not be accepted. *Any licensed mental health professional (e.g., psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker) including a medical doctor who is specifically treating a customer's mental or emotional disability.
Animal type or size restrictionsUnusual  animals (for example, snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents and spiders) will not be allowed on JetBlue flights, even as emotional support animals, as they pose unavoidable safety and/or public health concerns. Birds that do not have their wings “clipped or pinioned” may also be refused. The release of such animals in the aircraft could result in a direct threat to the health or safety of customers and crew members.
Advance noticeJetBlue recommends you notify them of travel with your support animal prior to your flight by calling 800-JETBLUE (538-2583).
Seat restrictionsThe animal may not occupy a seat.



Southwest Airlines

General policy on emotional support animals Service and emotional support animals must be trained to behave in a public setting. If an animal behaves poorly, it may be denied boarding. Trained emotional support animals will be allowed to travel on flights to/from all domestic and international destinations. Please note emotional support animals may be subject to additional governmental laws and regulations at the destination, including but not limited to, health certificates, permits and vaccinations required by the country, state or territory from and/or to which the animal is being transported.
Documentation requirementsIn order for a customer to travel with an emotional support animal, the customer must provide to a Southwest Airlines employee current documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead from a mental health professional or medical doctor who is treating the customer's mental health-related disability stating: The passenger has a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM IV); the passenger needs the emotional support of psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at the passenger's destination; the individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor, and the passenger is under his or her professional care AND; the date and type of mental health professional's or medical doctor's license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.
Animal type or size restrictionsSouthwest Airlines does not accept therapy dogs (such as those that provide comfort in a hospital or nursing home) or unusual or exotic animals (including, but not limited to: rodents, ferrets, insects, spiders, reptiles, hedgehogs, rabbits, or sugar gliders) acting as emotional support animals.
Advance noticeAdvance notice is recommended. When booking a new reservation, customers may use the “Add/Edit Disability Options” (situated on the Enter Traveler Info page) to indicate that he/she will be traveling with a fully trained service animal and/or an emotional support animal.
Seat restrictionsSouthwest maintains an open seating policy; however, those traveling with emotional support animals may not occupy an emergency exit seat. In accordance with federal safety regulations, the animal must be positioned so as not to obstruct evacuation in the event of an emergency.



Spirit Airlines

General policy on emotional support animalsWelcomes service animals, emotional support or psychiatric service animals on flights provided that guidelines are met.
Documentation requirementsWe accept emotional support and psychiatric service animals as long as you have current documentation (no older than one year preceding the date of your scheduled initial flight), which must meet the following criteria. On letterhead of a licensed mental health professional including a medical doctor specifically treating the passenger's mental or emotional disability (e.g. psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker) stating the following: You have a mental health related disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM IV); you need the emotional support or psychiatric service animal as an accommodation for air travel and/or for activity at your destination; the individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his or her professional care; and the date and type of the mental health professional's license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued. If traveling with more than one emotional support animal, your required letter must list each emotional support/psychiatric service animal.
Animal type or size restrictionsSpirit does not accept snakes, other reptiles, rodents, ferrets, and spiders. As part of the DOT’s regulations under 14 CFR, Part 382, for other unusual animals, several factors determine whether an animal can travel in the cabin as a service animal. These factors include: the animal’s size, whether the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, whether it would cause a significant disruption of cabin service, and whether if the animal is prohibited from entering a foreign country. If you have any questions, please contact us at www.spirit.com/help.
Advance noticePlease call customer service at least 48 hours before departure of scheduled flight to provide notice you are traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal. Please plan to check in 90 minutes before the check-in time for the general public for document verification.
Seat restrictionsYou may choose to sit anywhere you wish with the exception of emergency exit rows. However, if your emotional support animal must sit in your lap, you may not occupy any seat equipped with an inflatable seat belt. While these are perfectly safe for you, it could put your animal’s well-being at risk if the seatbelts were to inflate. The animal is seated on the floor at your feet and cannot block an aisle or other area that must remain clear for emergency evacuation. No animals or any part of the animals can be placed on an aircraft seat at any time.



United Airlines

General policy on emotional support animalsAs of March 1, 2018, United has new, stricter requirements for customers traveling with an emotional support animal or a psychiatric service animal. In addition to providing a letter from a licensed medical/mental health professional, customers will need to provide a veterinary health form documenting the health and vaccination records for the animal as well as confirming that the animal has been trained to behave properly in a public setting. The animal must behave properly in public and should follow directions from its owner. United will consider all relevant information, including information from the required documentation, when determining whether an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal may safely travel in the aircraft cabin.
Documentation requirementsPassengers traveling with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal must provide three completed forms supplied by United. These include a form filled out by a licensed mental health professional who will affirm that they have prescribed the emotional support animal for the patient; an animal health form to be filled out by a licensed veterinarian; and a liability and behavior form to be filled out by the passenger.
Animal type or size restrictionsEmotional support/psychiatric assist animals can include, but are not limited to, dogs, miniature horses, monkeys, cats and birds. Please contact United support desk at 800-228-2744 for additional acceptance information for service animals.
Advance noticeWhen traveling with an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal, you'll need to submit all three forms together to the Accessibility Desk at least 48 hours before your flight. Contact the United Accessibility Desk at 800-228-2744 if you have any questions or special requirements.
Seat restrictionsThe animal is expected to be seated in the floor space in front of your seat and should not extend into the aisles.






Top 15 US airports' pet relief area locations

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)

City and stateCharlotte, NC
Location of pet relief areasService animal/pet relief areas located inside the terminal (post-security) on the A/B Connector (near Checkpoint A) and outside the terminal (pre-security) at the ends (west and east) on the arrivals/baggage claim level.



Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

City and stateDallas/FortWorth, TX
Location of pet relief areasFour indoor pet relief areas located at: Terminal A - A29, Terminal B - B28, Terminal D - D18, Terminal E - E31. Four outside pet relief areas located outside entry doors on lower level at: Terminal A - A8; Terminal C - C2, C39; Terminal D - D15, D29; Terminal E - E2, E38.



Denver International Airport (DEN)

City and stateDenver, CO
Location of pet relief areasThree indoor pet relief rooms are located post-security in the center cores of A, B and C Gates. Also, there is a pre-security outdoor pet relief area located just outside door 200 on the west side of the Jeppesen Terminal. Locations are: Jeppesen Terminal - Level 2 on the northwest side, A Gates - near the U.S. Mail Drop, B Gates - near the U.S. Mail Drop, C Gates - near the U.S. Mail Drop. Also has an on-airport pet boarding facility featuring private suites, flat screen TVs and massage therapy. Paradise 4 Paws is at 24735 E. 75th Ave., located at the WorldPort facility just east of the Pikes Peak shuttle lot along 75th Avenue.



George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

City and stateHouston, TX
Location of pet relief areasService animal relief areas located at: Terminal A, outside, west side near Hotel Shuttles and Parking Shuttles pick-up, Terminal B, outside, south side near Limousines pick-up, Terminal C, inside (post-security), across from Gate C2, Terminal D, inside (post-security), across from Gate D6, Terminal D, outside, southwest and southeast of terminal entrance, Terminal E, outside, northwest and northeast of terminal (shared with Terminal D).



Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

City and stateAtlanta, GA
Location of pet relief areasOffers eight animal relief areas and a dog park. Indoor Service Animal Relief Areas (SARAs), for passenger pets and service animals, are located in every concourse near gates T7, A10, B33, C19, E14, F7 as well as D-Midpoint. An additional pet relief area is located on the arrivals level of the International Terminal outside of door A1. There’s also a 1,000-square-foot dog park in the Ground Transportation area on Domestic Terminal South, outside of doors W1 and W2. The fully fenced-in park offers biodegradable bags and benches.



John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

City and stateNew York, NY
Location of pet relief areasOutdoor pet areas outside arrivals area for each terminal. Indoor pet relief area at Terminal 4 Concourse B near gate B33. There is also a JetBlue "Wooftop" Terrace with pet relief area and seating in Terminal 5 across from gate 28.



Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

City and stateLos Angeles, CA
Location of pet relief areasOffers 11 animal relief areas, eight of which are indoors and three of which are outdoors. Indoor stations are rooms, and outdoor areas are fenced. They are located at: Terminal 1 near Gate 13, Terminal 2 near Gate 21, Terminal 3 inside the open-air atrium, Tom Bradley International Terminal near the entrance to the connector/walkway to Terminal 4, Terminal 4 along the connector/walkway to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, Terminal 5 near Gate 52B, Terminal 6 inside the open-air atrium, Terminals 7/8 between Gates 73 and 75B near the public telephones, Outdoor Lower/Arrivals Level between Terminals 1 and 2, Outdoor Lower/Arrivals Level between Parking Structures 5 and 6, Outdoor Lower/Arrivals Level at the east end of Terminals 7/8.



McCarran International Airport (LAS)

City and stateLas Vegas, NV
Location of pet relief areasThree indoor post-security pet relief areas located at: Terminal 1 A/B/C Gates, Terminal 1 D Gates, and Terminal 3. Three outdoor pet relief areas located at: Terminal 1 Baggage Claim, Terminal 1 Ticketing and Terminal 3.



Miami International Airport (MIA)

City and stateMiami, FL
Location of pet relief areasThere are three areas close to parking that are reserved for animals: An open area west of the North (Dolphin) garage and near North Terminal (D), acroos from Door 5 on Level 1 Baggage Claim/Arrivals, A fenced area west of the South Short Term Parking lot and Central Terminal (F) acroos from Door 15 on Level 1 Baggage Claim/Arrivals, A fenced area south of the South (Flamingo) garage and near South Terminal (J), acroos from Door 28 on Level 1 Baggage Claim/Arrivals.There are four indoor pet restroom spaces located beyond the security checkpoints: North Terminal (D) near gate D34, Concourse F near gate F7, Concourse G near gate G5, Concourse J behind gate J3.



Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)

City and stateMinneapolis/Saint Paul, MN
Location of pet relief areasThere is one indoor and one outdoor pet relief area at Terminal 1-Lindbergh, and one of each at Terminal 2-Humphrey. The Terminal 1 pre-security pet relief area is located outside Door 1 on the baggage claim level. Follow the signs to your left. The area is fenced on three sides and has a woodchip base. The post-security pet relief area is located near the entrance to Concourse E in the Airport Mall. The outdoor pet relief area at Terminal 2-Humphrey is a grassy area just outside and to the right of Door 8 on Level 1 near baggage claim. The indoor pet relief area is near Gate H11. Passengers traveling with a service animal can request an escort from their airline or travelers assistance to the pet relief area.



Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

City and stateNewark, NJ
Location of pet relief areasThree pre-security pet relief areas located: Outside Terminal A at the baggage claim level; Outside Terminal B outside arrivals area and between gates 65 and 66; Outside Terminal C outside arrivals area.



O'Hare International Airport (ORD)

City and stateChicago, IL
Location of pet relief areasIndoor pet relief area with fake grass, fire hydrants and a sprinkler system is located in Rotunda area of Terminal 3. Three fenced, grassy outdoor areas are located in front of Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 5.



Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

City and statePhoenix, AZ
Location of pet relief areasSky Harbor has nine areas for pets to take potty breaks (mitts for cleaning up provided). Outdoore areas: The Pet Patch is located just east of Terminal 2. The Paw Pad in Terminal 3 - Level 1 is now located outside of the terminal on the West End. It is part of a new West Plaza area that provides an outdoor area featuring native Arizona plants and a pet relief area. The Bone Yard is on the west side of Terminal 4 - Level 1 just outside of baggage claim. There are also animal relief areas located near the PHX Sky Train stations: The East Economy Park & Bark is located near the East Economy parking garages. The Park 'n Play is located on the northwest corner of the 44th Street PHX Sky Train Station. Indoor areas: Terminal 2 on the lower level near the Family Restroom; Terminal 3 on the concourse; Terminal 4 in the D1-D8 gates concourse near the Family Restroom and in the B1-B14 gates concourse near the restrooms at Gate B2.



San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

City and stateSan Francisco, CA
Location of pet relief areasOffers three pre-security and one post-security animal relief areas. Pre-security areas located at: Courtyard 2 of Terminal 1 arrival/baggage claim level; Courtyard 3 of Terminal 2 arrival/baggage claim level; Courtyard 4 of Terminal 3 arrival/baggage claim level. Post-security area located at: Terminal 1, boarding area C between gates 43 and 45.



Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

City and stateSeattle/Tacoma, WA
Location of pet relief areasThree inside pet relief areas located at: North Satellite pet relief area is located on the STS level of the N Gates near the escalators, South Satellite pet relief area is located on the STS level of the S Gates near the escalators, Concourse B pet relief area is located across from Hudson News, just before the Concourse B exit. There are also two outdoor pet relief areas. One is located outside of baggage claim outside of door 26, just past Carousel 16. It is a small sandy area to the left under the stairs. The other is located at the south end of the airport near door 00/02 on the baggage claim level past Carousel 1.






For other travelers, a few airlines help offset the sometimes substantial cost by offering rewards for traveling with an animal companion. In fact, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic and United offer pet rewards programs:

JetBlue JetPaws

With JetBlue’s JetPaws program, members of the airline’s frequent-flyer club earn 300 points each time they board with their pet. There are conditions, of course. There’s a $100 fee, and pets must fly in a closed carrier that fits beneath the seat with their owner. The combined weight of the pet and carrier must not exceed 20 pounds. There’s a limit of one pet per passenger per flight, and pets count as a personal carry-on.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Paws

With Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Paws program, pet owners receive 1,000 club miles per pet for shorter flights and 2,000 for longer ones. The fee depends on the size of the carrier, and the destination. Because Virgin prohibits pets in the cabin, all dogs and cats must travel in cargo. That’s not all bad news: The cargo hold is climate-controlled, just like first class, and dogs and cats of all sizes are welcome to fly solo.

United Airlines PetSafe Program

The United Airlines PetSafe Program offers 500 United MileagePlus award miles for each pet shipped within the United States, and 1,000 award miles for each pet sent to an international destination. This applies only to pets shipped as cargo through the PetSafe program, not pets that fly in the cabin with their owners. Rates depend on the weight of the pet plus carrier and the distance of the trip. For example, it would cost about $350 to ship a 60-pound dog to Portland, Oregon, from anywhere in the U.S., and just under $850 to send the same pooch to Paris from U.S. destinations.  

A few airlines help offset the sometimes substantial cost by offering rewards for traveling with an animal companion.

Flying an airline with no perks for pets?

Not all airlines throw a bone to travelers with pets, but if you are flying an animal companion on an airline with no pets reward program, there are other ways to make the journey pay off.

For example:

  1. Pick a credit card that offers maximum points for travel spending.
    It’s important to use the right card to maximize your reward for paying Fifi’s fare.

    For example, the  Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers 3x points, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points, for travel purchases. Payment of airline pet fees for in-cabin or checked-bag travel should count as travel, says Tiffany Funk of travel reward service PointsPros.

    If you plan to ship your pet as cargo, you should check before you pay. “Depending on the airline, those may code differently,” Funk says. “That’s going to be carrier-specific, so unfortunately there isn’t a blanket answer.”

  2. Consider using a card with a travel credit.
    Some premium cards such as the Platinum Card from American Express offer travel credits that reimburse you for the first couple of hundred dollars you spend each year on things such as incidental airline fees, which typically includes fees for pets traveling in the cabin or as checked baggage. Pay your fee with one of those cards and get it credited back to you.

  3. Use the fee toward minimum spend.
    If you’re shipping your pet as cargo, which likely will be more expensive than flying with your pet in the cabin or as a checked bag, it might be a good time to open a new rewards card that offers a big sign-up bonus.

    If you’re paying $1,000 to send Sir Wagsalot to England, that alone would get you one-third of the way to meeting a typical minimum spending requirement.  

What you should know about flying with pets

Rewards programs aside, the skies aren’t always friendly to passengers with a furry, feathery or scaly companion. Here’s what you should know if you need to travel with your pet.

Moving or traveling with your pet

You have three basic options that vary based on the airline, the breed and size of your pet and even the season:

  • Fly with your pet in the cabin.
    This may be your best choice if you have a cat, small dog or other pint-sized pet the airline will allow onboard. The maximum weight depends on the airline, but typically tops out at 20 to 25 pounds, including the carrier, which must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.

    For some airlines, such as JetBlue and Southwest, this is your only option because they do not fly pets as checked bags or cargo. There is typically a charge for in-cabin pets ranging from $35 to $125, depending on the airline and type of flight.

    Reserve space for your pet as early as possible. Most airlines limit the total number of pet carriers per flight, and it’s first come, first served.
  • Fly with your pet as checked baggage.
    Some airlines offer the option to check your pet as a bag in an approved carrier for a fee ranging from about $75 to $250, depending on the airline. If you go this route, your pet flies in the same airplane as you in a pressurized and climate-controlled compartment down below.

    Most airlines have a weight limit for pets flying as checked bags, typically between 70 and 150 pounds for the pet and carrier. Larger pets can be flown as cargo.

    Some airlines don’t offer the option to fly pets as checked baggage, and those that do typically have breed restrictions. That’s because some dogs and cats with short noses may be more likely to suffer breathing problems, while dog breeds with strong jaws might be able to chew their way out of a standard strength carrier.

    Check restrictions before you book, and tell the airline you plan to check a pet. There will be special requirements to follow, such as using the correct type of carrier and arriving at the airport early.
  • Fly your pet as cargo.
    Another option is to fly your pet as cargo, which is similar to flying with your pet as checked baggage except that your pet’s transport is not tied to your ticket. Also, you drop your pet off at the cargo area of the airport rather than at your gate.

    Though the term “cargo” might make any loving pet owner wince, this can be safer than flying your pet as checked baggage. Depending on the airline, cargo handlers are likely to be better trained in handling animals than baggage handlers, Smith says.

    However, flying a pet as cargo is generally more expensive than other options. Depending on the airline, the cost will be tied to the size of the carrier or the weight of the pet and carrier, as well as the length of the trip. It can range from $200 for flying a small pet domestically to $2,000 or more for flying a larger animal internationally.

If you are flying with an in-cabin pet or checking your pet as baggage, you have to make arrangements directly with the airline, Smith says. If you’re flying your pet as cargo, you can use a professional pet shipping company.

In fact, certain airlines don’t accept animals directly from the public for international shipment, she says. Why? Because the requirements for paperwork, health records, crate specifications and other details can overwhelm a pet owner not familiar with shipping pets.

“There are way too many things that could go wrong,” she says.

If you are flying an animal companion on an airline with no pets reward program, there are other ways to make the journey pay off.

Flying with a service or emotional support animal

If you have a trained service animal or an emotional support animal and bring proper documentation, you can fly with your animal in the cabin as long as it doesn’t cause a ruckus or block the aisles.

So what’s the difference between a trained service animal and an emotional support or psychiatric service animal? A trained service animal has learned to perform one or more specific tasks for a person with a disability, which can include a psychiatric disorder.

For example, a service dog might pick up items, pull a wheelchair or warn of a seizure. An emotional support animal does not perform specific tasks, but may comfort a person with conditions such as anxiety or depression.

Unlike the Americans with Disabilities Act that covers U.S. life on the ground, the ACAA recognizes both types of animals as service animals.

However, the ACAA does allow airlines to ask for additional documentation for emotional support animals as well as for psychiatric service dogs, which may be trained service animals.

In contrast, airlines can’t request additional documentation from passengers with (non-psychiatric) trained service dogs unless their verbal assurances that the animal is a service animal are deemed “not credible.”

Airlines are allowed to turn away any animal that is too big to safely travel in the cabin, disrupts cabin service, poses a health or safety risk, or isn’t allowed to enter a foreign country. And airlines also can reject certain types of creatures, including snakes, spiders, rats, ferrets, sugar gliders and other exotic animals.

If you plan to fly with a pet, or a service or emotional support animal, it’s crucial to check restrictions and requirements before you book and notify the airline as early as possible to reduce your chance of having your animal turned away at the ticket counter, like that peacock.

And if you’re shipping a pet internationally, it’s a good idea to start planning about six months early, Smith says. “You can’t just call someone two days ahead of time and say, ‘Can you book my pet?’” she says.

See related: 3 ways credit can help ease the costs of pet ownership, 4 ways cards, apps and more can save on pet costs


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Updated: 12-11-2018