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The 5 Best Airlines to Fly with Dogs

Traveling on a flight with your dog? Learn about precautions, legal requirements and tips for a successful journey. Ensure your dog's health and comfort for a safe trip.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
March 2, 2023

Planned travel can be stressful for dogs, just as it is for some people. This can be further affected by factors like your pup's age, any health conditions, and even their personality. All of these things can impact whether your dog has a good or bad experience on their flight but knowing what to expect from the airline of your choosing can help make experiences in the air more enjoyable for both your pup and yourself. These are the five best airlines to fly with dogs, based on factors we’ve identified through research and experience.

What is the Best Airline To Fly With Dogs?

Once you're sure that your dog won't have any trouble boarding a plane, you'll want to think about your preferred carrier. Some airlines are more welcoming of dogs than others, so we've rounded up a list of the best airlines for when you need to travel but want to fly with your dog.

1. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines welcomes a whole range of pets on board, not just dogs. You can travel with cats, birds, rabbits, and other pets.

Cost per pet: $100-105

Allowed in Cabin: Yes

Allowed in Cargo: Yes

Size Restrictions: 

Hard carriers: (17” x 11" x 7.5”)

Soft carriers: (17” x 11” x 9.5”) 

Cargo: (30” x 27” x 40”)

Pricing can change, but the cost of a pet traveling via Alaska Airlines tends to be around $100-$105

each way, whether you're taking your dog into the cabin or checking them into the hold.

If you do take your pup with you into the cabin, bear in mind that their carrier will be counted toward your carry-on allowance. What's more, you can have two carriers with you if needed. If you're tight on space, consider using a carrier that's close to the size limit that two small pets can share, as long as they'll be comfortable and won't squabble.

Your pets will need to be at least 8 weeks old to travel, and you must keep them inside their carrier(s) at all times.

If you choose to check your pet into the cargo hold instead, you're going to need a health certificate. This will form part of the "Pet Check" that you need to complete before flying. Bear in mind that if you have a transfer of more than four hours, you'll need to submit a request to gain access to your beloved dog so that you can provide them with some water and food.

2. American Airlines

American Airlines welcomes cats and dogs on flights, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, they aren't allowed to travel as cargo. We recommend checking the policy routinely, as this could change in the future.

Cost per pet: $125

Allowed in Cabin: Yes

Allowed in Cargo: No

Size Restrictions: 

All carriers: (19”x 13” x 9”)

Traveling with a cat or dog will cost you $125 per pet carrier on domestic flights; international flights are $200 each way. Again, due to COVID-19, the airline may only allow pets that reside within the US.

Carriers do not count toward your luggage allowance, but they are considered personal items. For lucky first-class passengers, your dog will receive its very own compartment at the head of the aircraft during the takeoff and landing procedures.

However, there is a drawback. American Airlines only allows between five and seven pet carriers on their flights. Make sure you book well in advance, and don't rely on simply showing up at the airport with your pup.

3. Delta Airlines

Delta has long been known for having pet-friendly policies, though unfortunately these have changed somewhat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dogs were banned from traveling into the US from other countries, so make sure you check the policies ahead of time.

Cost per pet: $75-$200, location dependent

Allowed in Cabin: Yes

Allowed in Cargo: No

Size Restrictions: 

All carriers: (21” x 15” x 16”)

To bring your pup aboard a Delta flight, you'll pay around $95 each way. While one of the cheapest options we've seen, this is for domestic flights only. International flights charge $200 each way, and dogs can't fly inside the cabin if traveling to a select list of international countries.

Your pet has to remain in their carrier, even if they're accompanying you in the cabin. You can't use a single carrier for multiple pets in most cases, though two of the same animal may share a carrier if they're between two and six months old. We recommend checking your specific circumstances with Delta ahead of time.

Like some other airlines, Delta classes your pet's carrier as part of your carry-on luggage allowance. Certain rules will also apply to you if you're bringing a dog. For example, you won't be allowed in bulkhead seats, emergency exit seats, and certain other areas of the plane on specific aircraft.

4. Hawaiian Air

In most cases, you can travel with your dog on a Hawaiian Airlines flight between Hawaii and North America or between the Hawaiian islands. However, flights departing from or arriving into AUS, BOS, JFK, and MCO don't permit dogs on board.

Cost per pet: $35-225, location dependent

Allowed in Cabin: Yes

Allowed in Cargo: Yes

Size Restrictions: Soft carriers: (16” x 10” x 9.5”), Cargo: (36” x 24” x 26”) or (40” x 27” x 30”) based on aircraft size

With the above airport exceptions, Hawaiian Air welcomes any cats, dogs, or household pet birds on board their flights, but only felines and canines can travel as cabin passengers.

The cost of traveling with a dog on Hawaiian Air is $125 each way for cabin passengers. If you check your dog and their carrier into the hold, you will be charged a much higher $225 each way.

The weight allowance for this airline is more forgiving than many others, which is why we've named them one of our best airlines to fly with dogs. Your pet and carrier may weigh up to 70 pounds in total.

5. JetBlue

When you check in at the airport with your pup, JetBlue will tag them with a "JetPaws" tag. Here, you can also buy a carrier if needed, assuming that stock is available.

Cost per pet: $125

Allowed in Cabin: Yes

Allowed in Cargo: No

Size Restrictions: All carriers: (17” x 12.5” x 8.5”)

JetBlue charges $125 for each pet, each way, regardless of your destination. You can travel with up to six dogs on this airline, though managing six carriers at once would be an impressive feat!

JetBlue does have some more restrictions compared to the airlines above. First, your pet and its carrier can't weigh more than 20 pounds total if you bring them into the cabin with you. You're also not allowed to save space by having more than one pet in each carrier.

During takeoff and landing, you'll have to secure the carrier below the seat in front, much like carry-on luggage. Otherwise, the benefit of JetBlue is that you can take your dog out and sit them on your lap while in transit.

This is a welcome change compared to some airlines, particularly as JetBlue does not allow pets to travel in the cargo hold.

Is it Safe to Travel With Your Dog?

The American Kennel Club recommends that you always schedule a visit with your usual vet before planning for an overseas or domestic flight with your dog. They also note that for safe and hassle-free travel, you'll need to:

  • Make sure that they're up to date on vaccinations and have the necessary paperwork to prove as such
  • Check that their health is suitable for traveling by plan
  • Make sure that temperatures at your destination won't cause your dog problems
  • Remember to reserve space on your flight for your dog, as it is limited and usually offered on a first-come, first-served basis

Do I Have a Right to Fly With My Dog?

If you want your pet to ride in the cabin with you, it must be a psychiatric service dog that has completed PSD training and basic obedience training. This type of pet is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and all airlines must accept service dogs without charge or discrimination. You must assert this through paperwork given to you at the gate. A PSD letter or certificate will not be necessary. An emotional support animal is not

For people qith emotional support animals (ESA), the rules aren't so friendly. As of 2023, the ADA does not consider an emotional support dog to be a service dog. This means that the law is not on your side with regards to taking an ESA with you on a flight, and they could be turned away or forced to travel in cargo, which means additional fees and potentially emotional distress for both you and your animal.

Psychiatric Service Dog Training with Pettable

Take the next step toward traveling freely with your dog and prioritizing your mental health by accessing online psychiatric service dog training through Pettable. The 15-video program is led by licensed psychiatric service dog trainer Lisa Gallegos, who will teach you the process of effective dog training and how to strategically reward your pet to ensure their new skills can be committed to memory. Lisa will also show you how to successfully instill basic obedience training in your dog, ensuring your dog can remain at ease unless assisting you with a mental health need.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.