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Pet Policies for Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines and Other Domestic Carriers

Flying with a pet could be expensive and confusing, with fees, weight limits, carrier size rules and the necessity to be certain there’s no loud barking (or meowing) on board.

Recently, American Airlines relaxed its pet policy to permit passengers to bring a carry-on bag along with a pet in a carrier, and more private flight options have been emerging lately for pet owners who can afford them.

Still, flying with large or medium-size dogs could be tricky, and lots of travelers are wary of leaving a pet within the plane’s cargo hold.

For those traveling on the most important carriers with their pets as carry-ons, here’s what to learn about each major domestic airline’s policy.

On Southwest, a Dallas-based carrier, two checked bags can fly without charge, but not pets. Southwest charges $125 per pet carrier on its flights.

Dogs or cats are allowed to travel below a seat in an approved carrier — as much as 18.5 inches long by 8.5 inches high and 13.5 inches wide — in line with the airline.

Southwest has just a few caveats for those traveling with pets: The pet must stay in its carrier in the course of the flight, and the carrier is taken into account a private item or carry-on bag.

Up to 6 pets are allowed on Southwest flights. Once six pets are booked onto a flight, no further customers may add a pet companion to their booking.

United Airlines has no weight or breed restrictions for cats and dogs so long as they’re in an approved hard or soft-sided carrier, measuring 17.5 inches long by 9 inches tall and 12 inches wide for a tough carrier, or 18 inches long by 11 inches tall and 11 inches wide for a soft carrier.

United charges $125 each way for travel with pets. There isn’t any fee for service animals on United flights, but some forms are required before the flight.

The carrier must fit under a seat, and where a passenger is allowed to sit down can vary in line with the sort of aircraft. For example, people traveling with pets cannot sit in emergency rows. If you’re traveling with two pets (the utmost allotted), you might be required to book two seats.

Small dogs and cats can travel on Delta Air Lines flights so long as they will fit inside a carrier stored below the seat. The size of the carrier depends upon the aircraft, but usually the airline recommends a soft-sided carrier no larger than 18 inches long by 11 inches tall and 11 inches wide.

Your pet should be not less than 8 weeks old and sufficiently small to have some room to maneuver around within the carrier, which will need to have ventilation openings on three sides.

Delta charges $95 for pets traveling as carry-on companions, and the passenger can bring just one personal item together with the pet. Certain seats can’t be booked for travel with an animal, akin to those in an emergency exit row.

American Airlines allows cats and dogs to travel in a carry-on container, which must remain under the seat in front of the pet owner throughout the flight. The airline recommends a soft-sided carrier that measures 18 inches long by 11 inches tall and 11 inches wide.

The fee for a carry-on pet on a domestic American Airlines flight is $150.

Flights are limited to seven carry-on pets, not including service animals, and American Eagle flights are limited to 5 carry-on pets, with one in top notch. There isn’t any charge for service animals flying on American flight, however the airline requires forms to be filled out upfront.

The airline said in a press release that it had recently modified its cabin pet policy to permit customers with a pet to also bring either a private item or carry-on bag stowed within the overhead bin (but not each).

“We made the change to supply a more convenient and cozy experience to customers whose pets fly American,” the airline said.

Spirit allows dogs and cats on its flights in a carrier no larger than 18 inches long by 14 inches wide and 9 inches tall for a fee of $125. The weight of the pet and the carrier cannot exceed 40 kilos, in line with the airline.

Small dogs and cats can fly on JetBlue for fee of $125 each way, in an approved carrier. Up to 6 pets are allowed on JetBlue flights.

Frontier allows pets on board for a $99 fee each way, as long the pet matches in a carrier. Passengers can have only a private item or carry-on along with their pet carrier.

Pets can travel in a carrier on Alaska Airlines flights for a fee of $100 each way. A passenger can travel with a pet carrier and a private item, or a carrier and a carry-on bag.

Those who take their pets on private or charter flights, which may cost many hundreds of dollars, have way more leeway. Dogs that weigh lower than 150 kilos can sit on seats.

BarkAir, a charter operator tailored specifically for those flying with dogs, charges about $6,000 for a dog and its owner to travel, with flights between New York and Los Angeles and New York and London. Carriers aren’t required, and dogs can sit on laps, seats or beds.

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