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Can I Buy My Dog A Seat On An Airplane? Flying With Pets Guide

Can I Buy My Dog A Seat On An Airplane? Flying With Pets Guide

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We often think of our dogs as an indispensable part of our family, and if we are traveling somewhere on vacation or moving to another country or state, we cannot imagine going without them.

Nowadays, air travel has become one of the most common ways of traveling, especially when it comes to greater distances. It is a faster, cheaper, and more convenient way of traveling, so it is not a surprise that more and more people choose flying as their preferred way of traveling.

But, when it comes to traveling by airplane and its many safety regulations, many people have a lot of questions regarding bringing their dogs with them.

I am sure that all of you have asked yourself at some point something like can I buy my dog a seat on an airplane?, or am I allowed to travel with pets on an airplane?

If this is exactly what you are thinking, and you want to learn whether it is actually possible and what are some requirements that you need to fulfill before flying with a dog – buckle your seatbelts and prepare for takeoff because we bring you the answer to these questions and much more!

Disclaimer: As of May 2022, all information provided has been found during the writing of the article and is considered valid; however, keep in mind that all information is subject to change due to unforeseen changes in airline policies.

Can I Buy My Dog A Seat On An Airplane?

Regarding this question, we have noticed that many internet sources give quite different and inconclusive answers. Therefore, we set out on a search for an honest answer.

We have checked all major airline companies in the United States, and their pet policies, to provide you with a valid and up-to-date answer. Before going into detail with all pet requirements, let’s deal first with the question in a matter that you must have asked yourself a thousand times:

Can I buy my dog a seat on an airplane?

Well, most commercial companies will not allow you to buy an actual seat for your dog. With some, you can purchase an adjoining seat, but you will not be allowed to put your dog on the seat because those seats are only for humans.

The only two exceptions that we have found are JetBlue Airlines and JSX Airlines.

  • JetBlue Airlines offers you the possibility to put a dog carrier in your lap during the flight, or if you have purchased an additional seat next to you, you may also put your dog carrier on that seat; however, the dog must stay inside the carrier the whole time.
  • JSX Airlines allows medium to large dogs to fly in the cabin of the aircraft. You must purchase an adjoining seat and your dog must be leashed at all times and lying on the floor in front of that seat.

Otherwise, with most airlines, your furry friend will need to be in the dog carrier at all times under the seat in front of you. You need to follow the strict requirements of each airline regarding the documents, rules, and carrier sizes.

But, don’t worry – we will talk about all the nitty-gritty details in the following paragraphs. Stay with us to learn everything you need to know about flying with your dog.

Flying With Pets

a dog in a box ready for flight

First, you must be aware that there are a couple of different ways to travel with pets on a plane, depending on their size. Secondly, there are some different rules that apply to ESA animals and special service dogs.

Keep in mind that these rules may change slightly according to the airline and the destination of your travel.

Dogs Traveling In The Cabin

If your pup is small enough, then he or she may travel as a cabin pet with you. Your dog must be within the size limits allowed by an airline and fit comfortably inside a pet carrier, which also needs to be within the regulated size and under the maximum weight limit.

There is a maximum amount of dogs in the cabin allowed by each airline, which you need to be aware of. The best thing would be to call your airline at the time of booking to make sure there is a space for your dog carrier.

A pet carrier will count as your carry-on baggage, and you will be allowed to bring only one personal item. There is usually a fee for traveling with your dog in the cabin that may vary according to different airlines and destinations.

Dogs Traveling As Checked Baggage

Medium- to large-sized dogs can be flown as checked baggage while you are flying in the cabin, and they are in the cargo hold. Your dog has to be in the kennel at all times, which then needs to be within the size limits determined by the airline’s policy.

To be able to fly your dog as checked baggage, you need to contact the airline beforehand and arrive very early at the airport in order for the process to go as smoothly as possible.

Sometimes, airlines do not allow pets to travel in the cargo hold because of the extreme temperatures. On some extremely hot or cold days, it will be forbidden for pets to fly because it is not safe for them.

Dogs Traveling As Cargo

In this situation, it means that your dog is being shipped by himself to a certain destination. All the requirements remain the same for dogs traveling as checked baggage.

However, some dog breeds may not be allowed to travel by certain airlines such as Pit Bulls, Pugs, Bulldogs, Mastiff-type dogs, etc.

It is highly advisable to contact the airline directly in order to make sure that your dog is actually allowed to fly, and to make the arrangement as soon as possible. Keep in mind that this type of transportation is usually a bit pricier than those mentioned above.

Emotional Support Dogs

As of January 2021, the Department of Transportation has issued a new rule regarding flying with ESAs (Emotional Support Animals). What does that mean and what has changed?

This new rule gave the airlines the possibility to choose whether they will accept or reject an ESA on their flights. Many domestic airlines have chosen to not accept any more Emotional Support Animals of any kind in their cabin. This also includes dogs.

Some of the airlines include American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

It is said that the reason behind this decision is that pet owners have been abusing this right and bringing all kinds of animals (such as peacocks and horses) as ESAs to fly free of charge.

On the other hand, there is also the possibility that this rule was voted in order to increase profit because now you have to pay a pet travel fee in order to bring your pet, no matter if it is just a pet or actually an emotional support animal.

Service Dogs

The federal law still protects service animals, and they are allowed to fly free of charge with any airline. These dogs are specifically trained to help those with any kind of disability, and they are extremely well-behaved.

In order to fly with a service dog, you will probably have to provide valid documentation proving the dog’s training, health, and behavior. Any kind of false statement can be subject to penalties.

General Policies For Flying With Dogs

dog in boxing

Health

All dogs traveling by airplane must be healthy and have proper documentation proving their health. The pet owner must obtain health certificates from a certified veterinarian, and validate them with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Inspection Service.

This includes an up-to-date vaccination certificate stating that the dog has received all mandatory vaccines. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, most airlines will require those documents to be issued within 10 days prior to travel.

Other than that, most airlines do not accept dogs that have been given sedatives or tranquilizers because they are at higher risk of having respiratory issues on the plane.

Breed

Airlines usually have strict rules that determine which dog breed is allowed on the aircraft. Many airlines forbid brachycephalic or “short-nosed” dogs and bully breed dogs from flying.

Short-nosed dog breeds are not allowed to fly on many airlines because of their many respiratory issues that can cause serious issues. Some of those breeds are Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Chow Chows… etc.

Bully dog breeds, for example, black Pit Bulls are considered to have aggressive behavior and are not allowed on airplanes due to this reputation. Similarly, all dogs resembling them or having a strong jaw can also be banned from traveling because of possible bite incidents.

Size

Generally speaking, when it comes to the size of a dog, he or she must be small and light enough to fit in the appropriate size carrier, which then needs to fit underneath the seat in front of you.

Some airlines also have a maximum amount of weight your carrier can be, combined with the dog inside, which is usually around 20 pounds.

The size of the dog and the carrier will probably be checked at the check-in counter and baggage claim.

Behavior

Your dog must be well-behaved and well-trained. He/she shouldn’t be excessively barking, and should easily follow your commands.

If, by any chance, your pup shows any sign of aggression, disruptive behavior, or disobedience, the airline reserves the right to deny him/her from boarding the plane.

Documentation

All dogs are required to have certain documentation. The types of documentation may vary according to the airline and the destination of travel.

Generally, the passenger must obtain documentation of pet ownership, and pets are required to have a pet passport and an ID tag proving their ownership, and stating the contact information in case of an emergency.

Some airlines will require a microchip certificate, which can be useful in case the dog gets lost.

Pet Carrier

When it comes to choosing a pet carrier, airlines are usually very strict about its size. We will talk more about specific dog carrier size requirements for each airline later, so check that out also.

There are two types of carriers that you can choose if the airline does not decide otherwise. There are hard-sided, and soft-sided dog carriers. Soft-sided carriers are preferred by dog owners because they offer more comfort, they are lightweight, and portable.

The carrier must be big enough to fit a dog comfortably inside it, where he will have enough space and will not be squished.

USA Airlines: Pet Policies Guide – Overview

an orange in a bag

Alaska Airlines

A passenger must be at least 18 years old to travel with a pet, and shouldn’t occupy an emergency exit or bulkhead row. Only one pet carrier is allowed in the First Class cabin, while the main cabin can accommodate up to five carriers per flight.

Traveling In The Cabin

Dogs are allowed in the cabin only if they are at least eight weeks old and have been fully weaned and used to solid food. They must be small enough to fit comfortably in the carrier and stay under the seat.

The dog must stay in the carrier under the seat the whole time during the taxi, takeoff, and landing, and also the dog must stay in the carrier, both head and tail, at all times during boarding and deplaning.

A passenger can fly with a maximum of two pet carriers, provided that an adjacent seat is also included in their own booking. Two dogs can travel in one carrier only if they can fit comfortably without causing distress.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

Dogs must be at least eight weeks old, properly weaned, and in possession of a valid health certificate. They have to be harmless, not destructive, and require no attention during the flight.

Alaska Airlines does not accept brachycephalic or “short-nosed” dogs to travel in the cargo hold because of possible health problems. Many of them, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, or even Cane Corsos are known for having many health issues. However, those dogs are still allowed to travel in the cabin if they can fit inside the carrier and under the seat.

Dog Carrier Size

For pets traveling in the cabin, the size of the carrier should not exceed size 50. The maximum dimensions of hard-sided carriers should be 7.5″ H x 12″ W x 17″ D, and for soft-sided carriers, 9.5″ H x 12″ W x 17″ D.

For pets traveling as checked baggage/cargo, the sizes of the carriers that are allowed are:

  • size 50 – 7.5″ H x 12″ W x 17″ D
  • size 100 – 15″ H x 16″ W x 21″ D
  • size 200 – 19″ H x 20″ W x 27″ D
  • size 300 – 23″ H x 22″ W x 32″ D
  • size 400 – 26″ H X 24″ W x 36″ D
  • size 500 – 30″ H x 27″ W x 40″ D

Pet Travel Fee

There is a pet travel fee of $100 each way, for both cabin and cargo hold pets.

American Airlines

Traveling In The Cabin

On American Airlines, you can bring only one kennel as your carry-on bag, and one personal item. Your dog can fly with you in the cabin if it is at least eight weeks old and if it can stay in the kennel and under the seat for the whole flight.

There is a maximum of five to seven kennels on the plane, and your pets are allowed to fly on most flights for up to 12 hours within the U.S. (except Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Puerto Rico.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

If your dog is too big to travel in the cabin, then he must travel with American Airlines Cargo. However, currently, they only accept checked pets for U.S. Military or State Department official orders.

Dog Carrier Size

All dogs must fit comfortably inside the carrier, which should be 19” x 13” x 9”, and the weight of the carrier combined with the dog should not exceed 25 pounds.

Pet Travel Fee

For dogs traveling as carry-on pets, there is a pet fee of $125 per kennel, and for dogs traveling in the cargo hold, the price may vary depending on the size and the destination. For checked pets traveling with U.S. Military and State Department personnel, there is a fee of $200 per kennel, and $150 to/from Brazil.

Delta Airlines

Traveling In The Cabin

Dogs are allowed to travel in the cabin if they are small enough to fit in a small, ventilated kennel that can fit under the seat. Your pup must be at least 10 weeks old for a domestic flight, 15 weeks old for a European Union flight, or 16 weeks old for traveling to another country.

Your dog must be in the carrier while boarding, while in the airport lounge, and while inside the aircraft. The carrier will count as your carry-on, and you are allowed to bring one personal item.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

If you have a large dog and he/she doesn’t fit inside the carrier under the seat, then you can ship your pet with special shipping service – Delta Cargo. However, due to the pandemic, there is currently an embargo on all pet shipments until further notice.

Dog Carrier Size

The maximum carrier size with Delta Airlines is 18” x 11” x 11” soft-sided since it can fit most aircraft types.

Pet Travel Fee

For carry-on dogs, there is a $95 fee to the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, a $200 fee for international flights, and a $75 fee to Brazil.

JetBlue Airlines

Traveling In The Cabin

JetBlue accepts small dogs and cats to travel in the cabin in a pet carrier that can fit under the seat in front of you. While on board, your dog must be inside the carrier at all times.

During the flight, you can hold the carrier in your lap, and if you purchase the seat next to you, you may place the carrier on it during the flight, but the dog must remain inside the carrier all the time.

There is a maximum of six pets allowed per flight, and each pet combined with his carrier must not exceed 20 pounds.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

Unfortunately, due to lack of oxygen in their aircraft’s cargo hold, dogs or any other pet are not allowed to fly as checked baggage.

Dog Carrier Size

Your dog carrier cannot be larger than 17″ L x 12.5″ W x 8.5″ H, and the weight combined with the dog should not exceed 20 pounds. If you do not have a dog carrier, then in some airports, it is possible to buy one at the ticket counter.

Pet Travel Fee

The pet fee is $125 each way. You can book your pet as “extra” on the app online, or you can contact the airline directly.

Southwest Airlines

daughter and wife with a dog on the plane

Traveling In The Cabin

Southwest Airlines allows small dogs and cats to fly in-cabin if they are vaccinated and can fit inside the carrier under the seat. There is a limit of six pets on board, and those are chosen on a first-come basis.

Dogs must be small enough to fit comfortably in their carrier – they should be able to stand up and move around normally. Your dogs must stay inside the carrier while on board. Only one pet carrier is allowed per passenger, although two dogs may be inside one carrier if they can fit comfortably.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

Southwest Airlines does not accept pets as checked baggage – they can only travel in the cabin.

Dog Carrier Size

Your dog carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. Southwest Airlines has their own pet carrier that is acceptable in the size of 17” L x 9.5” H x 10” W. Other pet carriers in the size of 18.5” L x 8.5” H x 13.5” W are also allowed.

Pet Travel Fee

There is a pet travel fee of $95 each way per each carrier. Pet fees are refundable. If your flight is canceled or if you cancel your pet reservation, you may ask for a refund.

United Airlines

Traveling In The Cabin

United allows domesticated dogs to travel in-cabin if they are small enough to fit comfortably inside the kennel. Your pup must stay in the kennel at all times while on board, and also while in the airport. The pet’s kennel must stay under the seat in front of you.

On domestic flights, puppies must be at least two months old, and on international flights, at least four months old due to rabies vaccination.

Only one pet is allowed in the kennel, and it always needs to be accompanied by an adult passenger.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

Unfortunately, United Airlines does not accept any more dogs traveling as checked baggage. U.S. Military and State Department officials are allowed to transport their pets, but only under specific conditions.

Dog Carrier Size

The maximum dimensions of dog carriers are:

  • Hard-sided – 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high
  • Soft-sided – 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high (these dimensions for the soft-sided carrier can be exceed a little bit because they are collapsible and easier to store underneath the seat)

Pet Travel Fee

There is a $125 fee to travel with your dog, plus if there are some layovers for more than four hours within the U.S., or 24 hours outside the U.S., you will have to pay an additional $125.

Spirit Airlines

Traveling In The Cabin

They allow small domesticated dogs and cats to be transported in the cabin; however, they need to be in the carrier during the whole flight. Only one carrier is permitted per passenger, but two pets can be in one carrier if they can fit comfortably, meaning that they can stand up and move.

The dog should be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned, and the combined weight of the carrier and the pet should not exceed 40 pounds.

The dogs must be healthy, harmless, and odorless, and should not require any attention during the flight. If, by any chance, the dog is showing signs of distress or aggression, he or she may be denied traveling.

The airline does not require a rabies vaccination, except when traveling to Puerto Rico. There is a maximum of six pet carriers per flight, so it is a good idea to make pet arrangements as soon as possible in order to secure a spot on the plane for your pet.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

Spirit Airlines does not allow pets to be transported in cargo.

Dog Carrier Size

Spirit Airlines allows the maximum size of dog carriers to be 18″L x 14″W x 9″H. Your doggy must have enough room inside the carrier, and the carrier must have a waterproof bottom and adequate ventilation.

Pet Travel Fee

With Spirit Airlines, there is a pet travel fee of $110 each way.

Frontier Airlines

Traveling In The Cabin

Dogs must be at least eight weeks old, and must be inside the carrier at all times. If your dog is in distress, you must calm him without taking him out. Dogs are allowed in the cabin on all domestic flights, and on international flights to and from the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Your pup must be harmless, odorless, and not disruptive in order to be approved to fly. The pet carrier must be large enough to fit your puppy comfortably, so he can stand up, lay down, and move inside it.

You don’t need to have a health certificate for most domestic flights, although some other rules might apply for different states. For an international flight, you must have valid health and rabies certificates.

Traveling In The Cargo Hold

Frontier Airlines does not allow dogs to be transported as checked baggage/cargo.

Dog Carrier Size

The maximum dimensions of the dog’s carrier should be 8″ H x 14″ W x 18″ L. It must be secure and safe for dogs to travel in.

Pet Travel Fee

There is a pet fee of $99 each way, which must be paid during booking. If you do not pay in advance, you will be charged at check-in.

Allegiant Air

Traveling In The Cabin

Allegiant Air accepts only domesticated dogs and cats in the cabin of their aircraft. All dogs must be in the appropriately sized carrier at all times during the flight, and must be stored under the seat in front of you.

They recommend soft-sized carriers that can accommodate the dog as comfortably as possible. If they notice that your dog does not fit well in the carrier, they may deny you traveling, so make sure that you follow all size recommendations.

Because of safety reasons, passengers who are flying with carriers cannot be seated in exit rows (one row before and after the exit row also) or in bulkhead seats.

Traveling In the Cargo Hold

Allegiant Air does not accept any kind of pet traveling in cargo.

Dog Carrier Size

The carrier should not be larger than 9″ H x 16″ W x 19″ D, and all of them should allow the dog to stand up, lay down, or turn around in them.

Pet Travel Fee

There is a pet travel fee of $50 each way per passenger and per carrier. No more than two dogs are allowed to travel in one carrier. The fee must be paid at the time of booking.

JSX Airlines

JSX Airlines is an independent airline that is based on the “hop-on jet service”, and travels to destinations California, Texas, New York, Arizona, and Nevada.

Traveling In The Cabin

This airline allows small dogs to travel free of charge if they are in a carrier and stowed underneath the seat. JSX allows only one pet carrier per passenger, and only one pet can be inside the carrier.

The dog has to be (head & tail) inside the carrier the whole time during the flight. In order to be able to fly, the dog must be non-aggressive and not pose any threat to other passengers and flight crew.

There is a maximum of five pets that are allowed in the cabin, and the airline reserves the right to deny your dog boarding if the capacity is already full, or if they consider your dog non-appropriate to travel.

JSX Airlines permits medium to large dogs to fly in the cabin with passengers. In order to fly, you must have valid health and rabies vaccination documents, and you must purchase an extra seat for your carrier and dog to be able to lay on the floor in front of the seat.

Neither pet carriers nor any pet is allowed on the seat. Your pup must be leashed at all times, and must be 65 pounds or less to be allowed in the cabin.

What is important is that the pet must be well-behaved, so excessive barking, not following orders, wandering without a leash, and jumping on other passengers and crew members is prohibited.

Dog Carrier Size

All in-cabin pets must fit inside the appropriate-sized carrier, with maximum dimensions of 13″ W x 11″ H x 17″ L.

Pet Travel Fee

As already mentioned, if you have a small dog that can fit inside the carrier and underneath the seat, you can fly with your dog free of charge. If you have a medium to large dog, you will need to buy an adjoining seat at the advertised rate. There is no additional pet fee.

Can I Buy A First-Class Seat For My Dog?

When it comes to first-class fliers, it is possible to purchase a first-class ticket for your dog also. American Airlines offers First Class Pet Cabins on some selected flights. This means that small dogs can be in ventilated compartments during takeoff and landing, but during the flight, he/she should be in your lap or on the floor.

There is usually a limited number of pets in first class, and they also have to meet all the requirements (breed, size, and age) to qualify for in-cabin travel. You will have to pay a pet travel fee, in addition to the original cost of the flight.

Other than American Airlines, dogs are allowed to fly first-class on Alaska Airlines (one pet carrier allowed per flight) and Delta Airlines (two carriers allowed). The pet fee ranges between $95 and $125.

Tips For Flying With A Dog

Booking And Pet Reservation

If there is not an option to add a pet to a reservation via online booking, the best thing to do is call the airline and ask for the dog to be added. Is it important to do this as soon as possible once you book a flight because many airlines have a first-come-first-serve policy.

This means that if there is a limited number of pet carriers on the airplane, you will need to make sure that there is a place available for your doggy.

For example, JetBlue has the option of booking a pet reservation online, while on some others, like Southwest or Allegiant, you have to call and add the pet to your reservation.

Some airlines charge an extra fee for phone reservations, so our advice is to always call in advance and check if there is room on the aircraft for your pet, then quickly book your flight online and call again to add the pet reservation. This way, most airlines will waive the extra fee.

Airport Etiquette

Since you are flying with a dog, it is a good idea to come super early to the airport. Go to the front desk and check both yourself and your dog in. If you have your dog added to your reservation, everything should go smoothly. If you haven’t paid the pet travel fee, you will have to pay it then.

Your dog’s carrier must go through the X-ray screening device, the same one for luggage. However, your dog can’t, and you will have to take him out of the carrier and carry him through the screening device for humans. Keep him on the leash so that he can not escape.

Once you go through security, look for pet relief areas in the airport. Every airport should have one. It is important to take your dog there because they should have an opportunity to go potty before the flight. While boarding, your dog must be in the carrier the whole time.

Related Links: Why Does My Dog Poop So Much? Healthy Pooping Amounts!

Bonus Tips

  • It is recommended not to feed your dog 6 hours prior to flying
  • Bring some chewy treats for your pup to calm him, entertain him, and divert his attention from the stress of flying
  • Get your pup used to the carrier before flying
  • Bring some small snacks and water

Read also: 8 Tastiest And Overall Best Dog Treats For Cane Corsos In 2022

Final Thoughts

Flying with your dog is not an easy thing, for sure, since you must meet all the requirements, and those can be quite confusing at times.

If you have also wondered: “Can I buy my dog a seat on an airplane?“, we hope that our detailed overview of airline policies has given you the honest answer.

Even though most airlines still require you to keep your pup inside the carrier at all times during the flight, it is still better than not being able to fly with your dog at all.

For everything to pass smoothly, we advise you to learn the airline requirements, buy the appropriate equipment, train your dog, and be patient. Once you get to your destination and you have your furry friend at your side, you will surely be thrilled.

Safe travels!