Pet Travel

The Cheapest Airline for your dog

Feeling the wind in their fur!

We love our dogs and much like us, our dogs love adventure and the chance to explore.  Some might say they have wanderlust worst than me (hard to believe, I know)! So, in order to be with our dogs as much as possible, we fly with our dogs a lot. And, needless to say, we’ve spent a ton of time researching the safest and cheapest options for getting our doggies across the country in one piece.

Bolt hanging out on the beach after flying from LAX to Florida!

Many pet requirements are the same from airline to airline:

  • Cats and dogs (up to 20lbs.) are the most accepted animals allowed as a carry-on. Sorry fish, snake or hamster lovers- you are out of luck!
  • The pet has to be in a regulation sized carrier for the entire flight.
  • The pet has to be able to stand up and turn around comfortably inside the carrier.
  • No curbside or self check-in allowed when traveling with a pet.

Flying with a pet is expensive– flat out. It can cost anywhere from $75 to 150 each way to bring your favorite companion along on your travels. The main difference lies in the price and how many pets are allowed on each flight.  Hands down, Southwest has the cheapest pet policy.  That, along with their two free checked bags, is hard to beat when traveling domestic. I know it’s not every-one’s first choice for comfort, but if you are thinking about price- Southwest is your best option.

Check out how each Domestic Airline stacks up:


The winner: Southwest!

  • $75.00 one way
  • 5 pets allowed on each flight
  • Only allows pets as carry-ons
  • Checked pets are not allowed
  • Reservation required prior to booking 800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792)

American Airlines:

  • $100.00 one way
  • 7 Pets are allowed on each flight
  • Allowed to fly to 48 continuous states
  • Not allowed to Hawaii, Transatlantic, transpacific, Central or South America
  • Prior Country approval to Canada or Mexico
  • Checked Pets is another option ($150.00 each way)
  • Reservation needed prior to bringing pet on board: 1-800-433-7300


  • $100.00 each way
  • 4 pets allowed per flight- However, only three can be booked prior to the flight. The fourth has to be booked day off at the airport (which means, if you aren’t the first one there with a pet- your pet won’t get on!)
  • Allowed to fly Domestic and International
  • Reservation required prior to booking: 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583)

Our dog sleeping with his toy in the carrier

Virgin America:

  • $100.00 each way
  • Pet can be booked online when booking your own travel arrangements.
  • Not allowed on any other Virgin Airlines
  • Checked pets not allowed.
  • Additional Questions: 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (1.877.359.8474)

Delta Airlines:

  • $125.00 each way
  • 8 pets are allowed on each flight
  • Reservation required prior to bringing pet on board: 888-750-3284
  • Checked Pets is another option & more types of pets are allowed ($200.00 each way)

United Airlines:

  • $125.00 each way
  • Depending on route, pets may or may not be allowed and the maximum number changes per flight.
  • Reservation required prior to booking 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331)
  • In addition to cats and dogs, household birds are also accepted as a carry-on.
  • Pets allowed to travel Internationally- must call to confirm each country.

Continental Airlines:

  • $125.00 each way.
  • In addition to cats and dogs, household rabbits and birds are also accepted as a carry-on.
  • Pets can be booked online or by calling 800.525.0280.
  • 4 pets per flight for most domestic.
  • No pets allowed to fly to Hawaii.

We’ve actually flown our dogs on Southwest, Delta, and American Airlines and have to say customer service was best with Southwest. However, we’ve been told by different flight attendants that service can vary depending on who is working that flight. Some flight attendants seem to be more relaxed about pets and others are very by the books.

Have you flown with your pet? What airline did you choose and why?