best airlines for pets

The Best Airlines for Pet Travel: Top 5 List

So you want to travel the world with your four-legged friend by your side? You\’ve come to the right place. All of us at Splash and Dash know how important the safety of your pet is to you, so we\’ve compiled a list of our top 5 airlines for pet travel.

Did you know that over 40% of people who fly with their pet do so because they can\’t bare to leave their four-legged friend at home? Moving to a new location is the reason 25% of people are traveling on airlines with their pet, and for 20% of people it\’s because they need an emotional support furry friend while flying.

When flying with pets, most commuters are flying with their dogs (80%), while the other 18% is for cats. Want to know what the final 2% is? Most likely birds, which are allowed to fly on Spirit, Alaska, and Delta Airlines.

Please remember there is a difference between flying with your pet on board and your pet being stored in cargo while you fly. Many people fly for emotional support which means you clearly need your pet on board with you while flying.

5. Allegiant ($100 per pet)

Good news for young travelers, four-legged and otherwise. Allegiant is the only airline that allows minors (age 15 and up) traveling alone to bring a pet onboard. All other airlines, for reference, require solo passengers to be over the age of 18 to travel with a pet.

Allegiant also does not enforce a minimum age for traveling animals, meaning you can start getting your kitten or puppy acclimated to air travel early. Pets can only travel as a carry-on, so leave the big dogs at home. All of these reasons are why Allegiant gets our 5th and final spot.

4. United Airlines ($125 per pet)

Despite snagging the No. 4 spot, United has a notoriously bad reputation when it comes to pet travel. But this might have something to do with the fact that United is the only airline that will fly brachycephalic dog breeds in cargo.


Brachycephalic breeds include dogs with flat faces and short noses, such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs. These breeds are more likely to have respiratory issues in flight, which is the reason all other major US carriers have banned brachycephalic dogs from flying in cargo.

According to the Air Travel Consumer Reports, six out of the 10 dog deaths reported by United in 2017 included brachycephalic breeds.

Although United has its issues, it is frankly the only airline for travelers who need to transport their brachycephalic dog.

3. American Airlines ($125 per pet)

American Airlines offers one of the biggest carrier dimensions (19 inches x 13 inches x 9 inches), so your pup can enjoy a bit more space during the flight. The airline allows pets to be transported in the cabin when traveling to and within the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia and the Caribbean.

If you’re flying in first or business class on an A321T, pets will need to be put in their carrier and stored in a special compartment at the front of the plane during taxi, take-off, landing and turbulence.

2. Delta Airlines ($125 per pet)

The great thing about Delta is that it’s climate controlled and well-regulated. Many Delta flyers love Delta for their air conditioning alone, this works well when bringing a dog on board. Comfortability isn\’t the only reason people love to fly Delta with their pets, they also love the option between cargo and on-board.


If you fly with your pet in cargo, Delta may be the best airline for you. The crew will verify if your dog is on board before taking off, meaning you can feel safe knowing your dog is with you on the flight.

I always recommend flying with your pet on-board with you, however, Delta is the best airline for cargo pet travel.

1. Southwest ($95 per pet)

Southwest offers one of the least expensive pet fees today. The airline also makes it easy for pet owners to pick out an appropriate carrier by offering a branded carrier of their own that will fit under any Southwest seat. Southwest airline allows cats and dogs to travel within the US, but does not offer this service on international flights.

Only small cats and dogs will be able to fly on Southwest, as they do not allow pets in cargo. Many flyers report that Southwest doesn’t enforce keeping dogs in the carriers or under the seat, usually allowing dogs on laps during the entire flight. This means that Southwest airlines is the friendliest airlines for your four-legged friends.

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