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The Jaunted Guide to Pet Travel Fees on Major US Airlines

April 10, 2013 at 3:33 PM | by | ()

Just because you're on the move to a new destination or vacation doesn't mean your pet has to stay at home. Flying with a small dog or cat is actually pretty easy if all rules are observed and fees paid, as we recently discovered while flying with our new kitten.

Traveling with a pet means paying attention to many restrictions, such as on destinations, aircraft type, travel class, pet weight and size, breed, and how many other pets are already booked for your desired flight. Always check with the airline for the latest rules before purchasing and traveling. Just remember to have veterinarian paperwork detailing the pet's vaccination record, and have yours and your pet's travel booked in advance.

Now, for the details on pet fees on major US airlines:*

*All prices listed are one-way, for domestic US travel with a small in-cabin pet. A roundtrip ticket means this will be charged twice.

· Alaska Air: $100
Alaska has a pet travel info program named "Fur-st Class™ Care." To book a flight for you and your pet, you must call 1-800-ALASKAAIR.
Carrier size restriction: 17"L x 12"W x 7.5"H (hard-sided) or 17"L x 12"W x 9.5"H (soft-sided).

· American: $125
To book a flight for you and your pet, you must call 1-800-433-7300.
Carrier size restriction: 19"L x 13"W x 9"H

· Delta: $125
Delta has many aircraft and cabin restrictions for in-cabin pets. View the details towards the bottom of their official pet travel info. To book a flight for you and your pet on a domestic Delta flight, you must call 1-800-221-1212.
Carrier size restriction: totally depends on aircraft. Delta recommends calling to inquire.

· Frontier: $75 or $125, depending on your fare.
The $75 option is available to travelers booking "Classic," "Classic Plus" or "Economy" fares, whereas those in "Basic" will have to pony up the $125 fee instead.
Carrier size restriction: 24"L x 15. 5"W x 9.5"H on Frontier's Airbus A318/A319/A320s. 18"L x 13.5"W x 10"H on their Embraer E190s.

· JetBlue: $100
JetBlue is very pet-friendly and they have a "JetPaws" program, which includes an info guide on "pet-friendly establishments in popular destinations," a paper luggage tag specially for your pet carrier, and 300 TrueBlue points for each flight your pet takes. To book a flight for you and your pet, you must call 1-800-JETBLUE.
Carrier size restriction: 17”L x 12.5”W x 8.5”H

Because a pet carrier counts as a carry-on, you may have to check your luggage, incurring extra fees.

· Southwest: $75
To book a flight for you and your pet, you must call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.
Carrier size restriction: 19"L x 14"W x 8.25"H

· United: $125.
United has many restrictions regarding their aircraft and cabin, so pay close attention when booking flights. Here is just one example: "Pets are not permitted in United Global First, United First, United BusinessFirst or United Business on Boeing 747, 757, 767 or 777 aircraft due to inadequate storage space under the seat." To book a flight for you and your pet, you must call 1-800-UNITED-1.
Carrier size restriction: 17.5"L x 12"W x 7.5"H (hard-sided) or 18"L x 11"W x 11"H (soft-sided).

· US Airways: $125
Flying on a US Airways Express flight is a bit different, as US Airways works with other operator airlines and their smaller planes. To book a flight for you and your pet and inquire about aircraft restrictions, you must call 1-800-428-4322.
Carrier size restriction: 17"L x 16"W x 8"H (hard-sided) or 17"L x 16"W x 10"H (soft-sided) on mainline US Airways planes.

· Virgin America: $100
Virgin America ranks very high on the pet friendliness charts, as they not only fly the pets of passengers, but they also regularly fly rescued chihuahuas from the west coast to new homes on the east coast. Oh, and Virgin America has a "pet liaison" Pomeranian, Boo, and you can purchase a branded pet hoodie in their online swag shop. Despite all this, the pet travel info page desperately needs improvement. Pets are only allowed in Main Cabin seating on Virgin America. To book a flight for you and your pet, you must call 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN.
Carrier size restriction: 18"L x 15"W x 8"H

** These rules apply to in-cabin animals only. Some airlines do allow checked or cargo animals, but this calls for completely different rules and fees. Service animals also have totally different regulations.

If we must pick the most pet-friendly US airline, JetBlue takes the cake with Southwest a close runner-up. Not only do both airlines offer approved-size pet carriers for sale, but their pet travel info pages are robust. Add to this the fact that both airlines don't charge more than $100 for an in-cabin pet and don't charge for your first checked bag (which is important as you'll likely be checking a bag since your pet carrier counts as a carry-on), and you've got winners. JetBlue's bonus 300 TrueBlue points for each pet flight leaves them the leader of the pack.

[Photos: Jaunted; Video: Virgin America]

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