Which US Airlines Allow Dogs & Should More Airlines Allow Dogs On Flights?

You’ve taken time off work, booked your vacation and can’t wait to feel the sun on your face and the sand beneath your toes. What could make your dream trip better? Why, having the family pet along with you too of course.

dog suitcase
Could your vacation be even more special if your dog comes too?

Vacationing with dogs can be amazing fun. Our canine companions love a change of scenery as much as we do, and they are part of the family after all. But, instead of dreaming of running through the surf with your pooch at your heels, perhaps you should be thinking about whether your dream is practical.

Not all carriers will allow flying with dogs, and if they do there are some pretty strict rules on flying with dogs in the aircraft cabin. We’ll take a look at which US airlines allow dogs and what their rules and fees are for travelling with your furry friend.

Which US/Canadian airlines allow dogs?

Flying with dogs is much easier in the US than most other places in the world. For flights within North America, there are six main airlines providing for our furry friends. They are:

1. Air Canada

If you have a pocket pooch, there’s a possibility to go flying with dogs in the aircraft cabin on Air Canada. Their policy states that the animal must be able to stay comfortably in a carrier under the seat in front of you. That means they have to be able to stand up and turn around too, so Chihuahuas are probably OK. Max weight of pet and carrier is 22lb.

Cost: $50 – $100 plus taxes each way depending on the destination

2. American Airlines

American Airlines dog
Support dogs are allowed, but if they’re large they need their own ticket!

If you want to be flying with dogs in the aircraft cabin, American do allow this to happen. The animal must be over eight weeks of age and, again, comfortable in a carrier under the seat. They are not allowed in cabin on transatlantic flights or flights over 12 hours, so would have to travel in the hold. Larger pets can also be transported as cargo. Service animals are allowed in the cabin but only if they have their own ticket.

Cost: $125 each way or the cost of an additional ticket

3. Delta

Pets can travel with Delta as carry on if they are small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Larger animals need to travel as cargo, which could mean they are not on the same flight as you. Service animals with appropriate documentation are allowed in the cabin, as long as they are able to stay on the floor in front of you or on your lap.

Cost: $125 in North America or $200 internationally, each way

4. JetBlue

Small dogs are allowed as hand baggage on JetBlue. Photo: JetBlue

At the moment, JetBlue only take cabin animals on board their flights. This means that only small animals able to stay in a carrier underneath the seat in front are allowed. The maximum weight of the dog and the carrier should not exceed 20lb.

Cost: $125 each way

5. Southwest

Southwest airlines dogs
Southwest are the cheapest airline for flying with dogs

Similarly, Southwest Airlines only accepts passengers flying with dogs in the cabin area. This means only small pets who can stay in a carrier under the seat are allowed. Service dogs are allowed in cabin too but must have their own ticket if they are to travel on an additional seat.

Cost: $95 each way

6. United Airlines

United airlines dog
United don’t have the best reputation for flying with dogs, and now don’t allow animals as cargo at all

You might remember that United came under fire earlier in the year after a dog was put in the overhead bins for a three hour flight. Unsurprisingly the poor animal did not survive. Since then, United have ceased transporting animals as cargo, but they do still allow small dogs to travel in a carrier in the cabin.

Cost: $125 each way plus $125 for each stopover of more than four hours

While flying with dogs in the cabin is always going to be preferable to having them travel as cargo, only the smallest dogs are going to fit into the space available. If you want to fly with your dog, it’s important to talk to the airline as soon as possible to find out what your options are.

Should more airlines allow flying with dogs?

Dog lovers around the world will probably shoot us down in flames for this, but really, we think the answer to this question is no.

According to a report from the US Department of Transportation this year, 24 animals died while under the care of US airlines last year alone. 18 of those died while being handled by United Airlines, and out of 15 injured pets, 13 were flying United.

dog in crate
Making dogs travel by air can be incredibly stressful for them

While this may sound pretty bad, when you consider the bigger picture, it’s actually not as disastrous as it sounds. The report said that for every 10,000 animals transported, United had 2.24 incidents. Although any incident is regrettable, it’s important to remember that United safely flew around 140,000 animals during that time period.

That’s a whole lot of flying pets, and some responsibility has to be placed with the owners too. Flying with dogs, cats, birds or other pets can be a highly stressful experience for them. If the animal has any underlying health problem, the flight could be enough to tip them over the edge.

Flying can be terrifying for an animal. They can sense the pressure changes; the noise can be immense, and they just don’t understand what’s happening. Dogs in the cargo hold have been known to die from temperature extremes too, particularly if the aircraft is sitting on the tarmac for a while. Climate control systems don’t kick in until the aircraft is moving.

dog in a bag
In reality, only the very smallest dogs are able to travel in the cabin

With so many options for pet care, from doggy holidays to house sitters and more, flying with dogs is not essential by any means. Unless you’re actually moving home or going away for an extended period, it’s unlikely that your pooch is going to appreciate you dragging him away on holiday with you. Leave him at home, and don’t take the risk of something terrible happening.