As the doting mother of a four-year-old maltese, named Ñoqui (pronounced Gnocchi), I find it difficult leaving him behind when traveling. Ñoqui has therefore logged quite a bit of airline miles in the process. For those of you who also find it hard leaving your four-legged friends behind, below are some tips to help make bringing them along as smooth as possible.

Do Not Put Your Dog in a Suitcase! But let him help you pack.

Do Not Put Your Dog in a Suitcase! But let him help you pack.

Airline Pet Policies

Each airline has their own particular pet policy with specific requirements and restrictions, so be sure to do your research. You don’t want to show up at the airport only to discover your furry friend can’t come along (for example, Delta no longer allows snub or pug nosed dogs or cats as checked baggage). To help get you started, here’s a quick reference chart of fees. I’ve sometimes found that bringing Ñoqui along has worked out less expensive or the same price as putting him up at a boarding facility!


In-Cabin Pet Fee

Checked Pet Fee

Airtran Airlines

$75 each way (Pets are not allowed to travel on international flights) No pets as checked baggage/cargo

Alaska Airlines

$100 each way $100 each way

American Airlines

$125 per kennel within and between the United States and Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and Colombia provided the country of arrival permits entry. NOT allowed to Hawaii or Mexico. $175 per kennel within and between United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America (except Brazil) and the Caribbean.

Delta Airlines

$125 each way for travel within the U.S./Canada, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.$200 each way for travel outside the U.S. (Travel to/from Brazil is $75 each way) $200 each way (some restrictions apply, so click link on left for details).

Frontier Airlines

$75 each way $150 each way per kennel

JetBlue Airlines

$100 per segment No pets as checked baggage/cargo

Southwest Airlines

$75 each way per pet carrier No pets as checked baggage/cargo

Spirit Airlines

$100 each way per pet carrier No pets as checked baggage/cargo

United Airlines

$125 each way Varies by origin/destination and by size. For a full price chart, click here.

US Airways

$125 each way for 1 small domestic dog, cat or bird per passenger No pets as checked baggage/cargo

Virgin Airlines

$100 per segment No pets as checked baggage/cargo


Standard Travel Kennel

Standard Travel Kennel (After a trip as Cargo on Delta Air Lines)

Small Dog Travel Carry-On Bag

Small Dog Travel Carry-On Bag

Keep Medical Records Handy

Some airlines require documentation that your pet is up to date on all vaccinations so be sure to visit your veterinarian just prior to your trip. Even if the airline doesn’t require documentation, it’s best to have this on hand just in case a medical emergency should arise while you’re away.

Tire Your Pet Out

Take your pet on a long walk or run before your flight. This will help them release energy and make them more inclined to relax and sleep during the flight. Whenever I had a late afternoon or evening flight, I’d drop Ñoqui off at doggy daycare to get him nice and tired.

Marv in Travel Bag (Matt Ring of's Puppy)

Marv in Travel Bag (Matt Ring of's Puppy)

Marv Entering Travel Bag

Marv Entering Travel Bag

Do’s and Don’ts when Traveling with Pets


  • Familiarize your pet with the kennel prior to the trip so that he/she grows comfortable with it.
  • Call and make a reservation for your pet. Many airlines limit the total number of animals allowed per flight.
  • Make sure you attach up-to-date ID tags to your pet’s collar and carrier.
  • Book direct flights whenever possible.
  • Make sure you have plenty of toys to keep your pet entertained. Also, bring along a few puppy pads in case of any accidents.


  • Sedating your pet can be risky. High altitudes and sedatives are a dangerous combination and should be avoided.
  • Never use a muzzle on your pet during travel, as this poses a danger to the pet.
Noqui in Travel Bag

Ñoqui in Travel Bag

Have some tips of your own? Share them below!

Posted by regularly posts guest contributions from travel experts around the world. These articles are written by journalists, bloggers, travel enthusiasts, and specialists from within various segments of the travel industry. Each has an undeniable passion for travel that enables them to share a unique and valuable point of view. We hope you enjoy their stories and advice!
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  • Guest

    Has anyone ever had their pet carrier turned away on Spirit Airlines? I have a 17lbs dog and a carrier that is 21x12x13. Thanks! 

  • Jacques Bouchard

    Love this post — esp. the pictures.  What type of camera is that?  Many pet advocates recommend against checking pets in as cargo, even when it’s permitted.  You did find that they were OK?  I’m a little terrified of doing that with my girls (cats)….

    Since I recently moved, I wrote a blog post of my own on the subject too:

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jacques!

      I am not sure the camera used by Maria (the author of the post), but I (Matt) included some pictures of my puppy using my new 10.2 megapixel Canon digital camera. It works really well for a point and shoot.

      I picked up my puppy at the airport maybe a month ago, he seemed okay, though a little stunned. It is unlikely I would ever put him through that again, it just seems cruel to me. However, the cargo attendants were very gentle with him and were extremely helpful when we were picking him up. This was Delta, I am not sure how other airlines handle it.

      Thanks for sharing your blog post! Definitely some good tips in there.

      •  I’m impressed with how your camera was able to capture a dog in motion without the blur.  That’s pretty cool stuff.

        Yeah, I don’t think I could do that.  Being in the normal part of the plane alone seems like it’d be scary for a little one!

        I’m glad you liked the post!  If you’d ever be interested in guest blogging on our site, please let me know!

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