The 10 Best Airlines to Fly with Your Pets


A lot has changed since we’ve last been able to travel freely and frequently—COVID-19 restrictions have had a major impact on air travel, and many of us have adopted pets to keep us company during quarantine. With the resurgence of travel, if you’re thinking of traveling with your pet, finding the most pet-friendly airlines will be crucial to making sure your trip goes off without a hitch (and without any fur flying).

Ready for your pet-cation? Before you go, take a look at pet-friendly hotels (and hotel trends), rules to follow next time you fly, and the difference between booking hotels vs. Airbnbs.

Is it safe to travel with pets?

Just as it is for humans, air travel can be stressful for animals and can take a toll on their mental and physical health. Before traveling, take your pet to your vet (dog carriers are a requisite for a hassle-free trip) to have him examined. Illness, age, or even temperament will affect how your pet travels and whether it will be a positive (or neutral) experience. You’ll want to be sure your pet has all the proper vaccinations and necessary medications, along with his regular food to minimize digestive issues.

The American Kennel Club notes that anxiety or temperature increases may exacerbate breathing problems for some dog breeds with respiratory challenges. It’s also recommended that certain breeds don’t travel by air, so you may consider taking a train, bus, or car.

What to consider when flying with pets

Start early, because while you may find unbelievably cheap airfare for yourself, the pet fees could be twice as much. When getting ready to book a trip, it’s important to note that many airlines don’t allow pets at all. If they do, they will very likely charge a fee to have Fido on board. In addition, there are often hard-and-fast rules about pets in the cabin vs. cargo, and even how many pets you can take onboard. There are also certain times of the year (like the holiday season) when airlines will pause on allowing pets onboard at all.

Jamie Freyer, DVM, veterinarian at, notes that airlines are placing more restrictions on pets than ever before, and that fewer airlines are accepting pets in the cargo hold. “Though they will still allow pets in the cabin, this only works for dogs small enough to fit comfortably under the seat in front of you, which means for a lot of pets, flying will not be an option,” Dr. Freyer says.

Above all else, make sure to check out the airline’s safety measures. Caroline Teel of SmarterTravel recommends asking these questions to see if it really is the most pet-friendly airline:

  • What will they do if there’s a flight delay?
  • How do they make sure animals are loaded onto the correct plane?
  • Where will the animals be kept before being loaded onto the plane?
  • Is that space climate-controlled?
  • Will pet handlers be able to let your dogs out for a relief stop or exercise before boarding?

Additionally, when in the airport, some pets will need to run around or use the litter box before the flight. Make sure to check the airport’s website beforehand for pet relief areas, because many don’t have them.

The following refers to pets, not service animals or emotional support animals, which may have different guidelines. For info on medicating your pet or ensuring he has all he needs for the trip, contact your veterinarian.

1. Alaska Airlines


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