Fluffy white dog holding boarding pass in its mouth with American Airline planes in the background

Airport Pet Etiquette

According to akc.org, these are the top 10 Dog-Friendly Airports in the U.S.

  1. Denver International Airport- has private restrooms for pets at each concourse and an on-site pet resort called “Paradise 4 Paws”.
  2. Minneapolis-Saint Paul- has multiple areas dedicated for pet relief as well as a 24/7 pet boarding facility to pamper your pet while you’re away with doggy day care, spa treatments, and training.
  3. Detroit Metro- animal relief areas are available in each terminal with pre-security and post-security amenities.
  4. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson- offers a 1,000-square-foot dog park for pets and services dogs, fully fenced-in and has benches and biodegradable waste bags
  5. Reno Tahoe- has two dog parks for service canine companions. Opening in 2004 and 2012, the dog parks are fully-fenced, have running water, clean up stations, a fire hydrant and a canopy for bad weather.
  6. San Diego- has several pet relief stations inside and outside the airport, and a special “Ready Pet Go” program where therapy dogs comfort passengers, providing stress relief.
  7. Washington Dulles- there are four designated Service Animal/ Pet Relief areas; two inside post-security and two outside pre-security.
  8. Phoenix Sky Harbor- has five areas for pets to walk and relieve themselves, however all are pre-security.
  9. Philadelphia International- has SEVEN “Pet Ports” located in every terminal with additional relief areas outside the airport on the Departing Flights road and outside the baggage claim area.
  10. New York JFK- Terminal 4 has its own pet bathroom located right next to the human restroom.

New York JFK is in the process of building a terminal especially for pets. The project will cost $48 million and include pet boarding, a grooming spa, hay-lined stalls for horses, and a veterinary clinic.

Requirements When Flying With a Pet By Airline

There are various rules when it comes to traveling with pets on a plane. Some restrict the number of pets you can fly with to two, the size of the kennels may be specific, check in and reservation requirements vary, restricted breeds, and other limitations that make prior research a very important factor when choosing to travel by air with your pet.

American Airlines

One of the first things to consider when deciding to travel with your pet is their age and breed. American Airlines restricts dogs and cats under 8 weeks of age from traveling within the U.S. Brachycephalic dogs and cats or snub-nosed dogs are not accepted for travel with AA. Common breeds that fall into this category are: Boston Terrier, Boxer, Pug, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Burmese and Persian cats, as well as Himalayan.

Destination time restrictions are limited to 11 hours and 30 minutes, including time needed to go through customs. On AA flights, passengers can bring one kennel as a carry-on bag if:

  • They pay the carry-on pet charge
  • The pet stays in the kennel under the seat for the entire duration of the flight

Kennel requirements state the pet must be able to stand and turn in the kennel as well as lie down without touching any sides or top of the container. Soft-sided kennels must be made of water-repellant material and have nylon breathable ventilation areas. Hard shell kennels must fit underneath the seat in front of the passenger without exceeding the aircraft dimensions.

Contact AA Customer Services at 800-433-7300 to secure travel reservations for your pet.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines website provides slightly more lenient qualifications when it comes to pet travel. While accepting only small dogs and cats, they do not list age or breed restrictions. They also do not require a health certificate or any other documentation from the veterinarian for a pet to travel. Carriers can be soft or hard-sided, must be leak-proof, well ventilated, and small enough to be stowed away under the seat in front of them. Travelers are subject to a $95 Pet Fair each way per pet carrier (limit 1 pet carrier per person, up to two pets of the same species per carrier) and reservations are required in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.

Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier can be purchased for $58.00 and is an approved carrier meeting all requirements per the airline.

Delta

Small dogs, cats and birds are allowed to travel in the cabin on Delta flights for an additional one-way fee. They as well must fit in a small, ventilated carrier that fits under the passenger’s seat in front of them. Delta requires pets be at least 10 weeks of age for domestic travel and 16 weeks for international. One pet is permitted per kennel with the exception of an un-weened litter 10 weeks to 6 months of age. A secondary exception is two pets of the same breed and size between 10 weeks and 6 months in one kennel with adequate room for mobility. Traveling from U.S./Canada/Puerto Rico requires a $125 USD checked pet fee each way. U.S. Virgin Islands/ Puerto Rico increases to $200 each way, while Brazil decreases to $75. Call Delta in advance at 800-221-1212 to schedule arrangements for bringing your pet aboard.

For other questions regarding traveling with pets on an airline, visit the Federal Aviation Administration.

As with all airlines, you were required to travel with vaccination records. An easy way to access these documents is through a Pin Paws membership with an online pet profile. Take the hassle out of fumbling for medical documentation papers and access their records just as you access your boarding pass on your phone. You both will be through security in a jiffy.

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