Airports and airplanes are loud, busy spaces. Pets may struggle to adapt to the situation, and this alone can set them on edge. As pet parents, we do our best to protect our fur babies. By learning about pet-friendly airlines, airport pet relief areas, and pet travel supplies, we put real time and effort into helping our little ones.
Dogs on Planes believes that pet parents deserve to have the easiest possible pet travel experience. Whether that means the airline provides all necessary information in a single, easy-to-read PDF, offers complimentary animal services, or adds some perks to sweeten the pot (did anybody say Frequent Flyer Miles?), some airlines are more pet-friendly than others.
Our Featured Pet-Friendly Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic—Virgin Atlantic is pretty strict with their pet policy. Only service animals are allowed inside the cabin, and there are several breed-specific restrictions for those allowed inside. However, their pet travel website is one of the best we’ve seen. It provides detailed information about which flights and routes allow which forms of pet transit, a detailed list of forms needed depending on your destination country, and in-depth to-do lists for every step of your journey. Additionally, their cargo service is pretty unique. The airline does its best to get your pet on your flight. You will still need to drop off and pick him up at a cargo facility at your departing and arriving airports, but this service allows you and your furry friend to remain on the same schedule.
- jetBlue—jetBlue pulls out all the stops for pet parents. Their JetPaws program provides owners with everything they need for each step of the journey. The program offers pet travel products (including a pre-approved jetBlue carrier), an introduction to Petiquette, and an additional 300 TrueBlue points for each flight. The Petiquette introduction, what really makes the JetPaws program stand out, includes information about travel best practices, expected animal behavior, and how to deal with fussy pets in tough situations. JetPaws also includes helpful checklists, instructions on booking your flight, and a list of what to expect when you arrive at the airport. All of this is available for no additional charge.
- Alaska Airlines—One of the safest and most popular pet-friendly airlines, Alaska Airlines does everything it can to make your experience a little easier—and cheaper. Most pet parents spend a significant amount of money on transporting their animals, but Alaska Airlines helps owners cut costs by providing free pet health examination and discounted health certificate at Banfield Pet Hospitals (located in PetSmart retail stores). Even if you know and love your veterinarian, getting that health examination costs money. Alaska Airlines guarantees a free and fast examination prior to your flight.
Other Airlines with Pet-Friendly Reputations
While Virgin Atlantic, jetBlue, and Alaska Airlines are our three favorites, most airlines have an array of pet-friendly features. United Airlines, for example, allows both a pet carrier and a carry-on bag, as well as a pet tracking feature for those traveling in cargo. Delta Airlines permits animals to travel in the cabin and as cargo, meaning they can accommodate most breeds and sizes, while Hawaiian Airlines does what it can do educate passengers about strict, state-specific restrictions. When it comes to pet travel, simple benefits and resources can dramatically change your flight experience.
If your airline wasn’t included in this list, don’t worry—it may still be pet friendly. When booking a flight, look for two distinguishing factors: transparency and flexibility. These are easily identified via the airline’s website. If you can’t find a lot of information about their pet policy or offerings through a simple web search, the airline is not likely to be pet-friendly. A lack of information may signify inexperience or a lack of resources. To that end, a generous amount of provided information allows pet parents to adequately prepare for the journey. In our experience, airlines which provide ample information have better reputations among pet owners.
Similarly, you want to look for flexibility in options. If the airline only allows service animals in the cabin, it may not have the capacity to transport your pet. Look for a range of opportunities—in-cabin, checked baggage, and cargo—and review the accompanying restrictions. The more options the better, but remember to do your research. While more choices often point to more experience and flexibility, it can also mean an airline has neglected to adequately test all forms of pet travel. Play it safe and stick with well-known commercial airlines with established pet travel policies.