As pet owners, we want our beloved furry friends to be able to accompany us on our travels.
Unfortunately, not all airlines allow dogs to fly with their owners, but what about Southwest Airlines?
Can a dog fly on Southwest Airlines? We’ll answer this question and more in this article as we explore Southwest Airlines’ pet policy and what you need to know before flying with your pet, be it a dog or a cat.
Can dogs fly with Southwest Airlines?
Fortunately, Southwest Airlines is one of many airlines that allow dogs and cats to travel onboard their planes.
However, not just any dog or cat can fly with Southwest, there are some limitations to this and these mainly revolve around size.
In order for a dog or cat to fly aboard Southwest Airlines, it must be small.
By small, we mean that the dog or cat must be small enough to fit inside an approved pet carrier that can then fit underneath the seat in front of you. While most types of cat will be small enough (but not your pet tiger) the majority of dogs will not.
So only small breeds of dogs will be able to fly in the cabin of Southwest Airlines, not medium to large breeds. These cannot fly on Southwest Airlines at all as they are not accepted to travel in the hold space as cargo either.
In addition, you will only be able to take your pet with you if you sit in a seat with under-seat stowage in front of them, that isn’t an exit row seat. So you cannot choose to sit in a row immediately behind a bulkhead for example.
Southwest airline approved pet carrier
The most popular pet carrier available on Amazon is the Sherpa Deluxe TravelPet Carrier. It comes in three sizes, all of which will fit under an aircraft seat.
Can service dogs fly on Southwest Airlines?
Trained service dogs can travel in the cabin on Southwest flights free of charge with the following provisos:
- They must be pre-booked
- You must complete a Southwest service animal form – Service Animal Air Transportation form
- Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or otherwise tethered to the user at all times.
- Service animals must be well-groomed, free from odors, etc., and trained to behave and must stay under the user’s control.
Use this link to read Southwest service dog policy – flying with a service dog.
How much does it cost to fly a dog on Southwest?
Flying aboard Southwest Airlines with your pet isn’t something that you can do for free. Just as humans pay fares to travel aboard Southwest Airlines, so do dogs and cats.
The current Southwest pet cost (in 2022) is $95 each way per pet carrier. If flying between Hawaiian islands it is $25.
You can pay the pet fare at the ticket office/desk at the airport. Allowing you to take your pet cat or dog aboard the flight with you.
What steps are needed to take a pet on Southwest Airlines?
- You will need to call Southwest Airlines at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA® to make a reservation for your dog or cat at least 48 hours before your flight. Normally a maximum of 6 pet carriers are permitted per flight so space is limited.
- Although Southwest does not ask to see any documentation, all pets must be vaccinated to fly.
- You will need to check in at the airport at least one hour before your flight. Your pet must be checked in at the ticket counter, and you will need to fill out a form. Once the form is completed and the fee is paid, you will receive a confirmation number that you must bring with you to the gate.
- Once you have your pet ticket, you will then proceed through the security checks.
- As your pet dog will be stored beneath the seat in front of you when traveling with Southwest Airlines, they will go through airport security and to the gate with you.
- When you get to the security scanners, you will carry your dog through the scanner with you. This will scan you, your dog, and your dog’s carrier for any dangerous items.
- After passing through security, you will then wait to board with your dog. Southwest state “pet relief areas are available at each of the locations we serve. Keep in mind that we will not “hold” a flight for you to take your pet to a relief area.”
- When you arrive at the gate, you must present the confirmation number and the carrier for inspection. The carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you and must be able to be securely closed.
- As mentioned earlier, you will only be able to sit in seats that have under-seat stowage in the seats in front of them, and you will be unable to sit in exit row seats. As seats come on a first-come, first-served basis, be conscious of getting there quickly to ensure you can get a seat that meets these requirements.
- Once on the plane, you will need to keep your pet in the carrier at all times. It is important to remember that the pet must be able to remain in the carrier without assistance for the entire flight.
The steps are the same as above for taking a cat on Southwest too.
Which Airline Is The Most Pet Friendly?
In recent years, many airlines have become more pet friendly, but which airline is the most pet friendly?
That depends on what kind of pet you’re traveling with, but there are a few airlines that stand out when it comes to welcoming four-legged passengers and even some other types. Oddly most airlines will allow live fish on a plane so you could take your goldfish.
Alaska Airlines is one of the most pet friendly airlines in the U.S., allowing cats, dogs, rabbits, and household birds to fly in the cabin. The airline allows passengers to check in their pets before they board the plane. Alaska Airlines also offers pet insurance and a “Pet Priority” boarding option that allows pet owners to board the plane first. See Alaska Pet Policy.
Delta Airlines is also a very pet friendly airline. They allow cats, small dogs, and even large dogs in the cabin, as long as they fit in an approved pet carrier. They also offer a “Pet First” boarding option that allows passengers to board the plane before other passengers. Delta also offers pet insurance and a pet travel hotline for passengers who need assistance with their pet’s travel plans. See Delta Pet Policy.
JetBlue is another pet friendly airline that allows cats, dogs, and some small household birds to fly in the cabin. They offer a “Pet Priority” boarding option that allows passengers to board the plane before other passengers and they also offer pet insurance. JetBlue also has a pet travel hotline that passengers can call for assistance with their pet’s travel plans. See JetBlue Pet Policy.
Finally, United Airlines is an extremely pet friendly airline. They allow cats, dogs, rabbits, and some household birds to fly in the cabin, as long as they fit in an approved pet carrier. United also offers a “Pet Priority” boarding option that allows passengers to board the plane before other passengers and they offer pet insurance. See United Pet Policy.
Interesting Fact: Qatar Aiways allows passengers to carry one falcon in the Economy Class cabin of an aircraft with a maximum of six falcons in the Economy Class cabin of any one aircraft.
In conclusion, yes, dogs can fly Southwest. This is assuming that they are fully vaccinated and small enough to fit inside a pet carrier that can be stowed away underneath the seat in front of you. The same principles apply to cats.
We hope this information has been helpful, thank you for reading!
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot. About Me