Flying with a pet can be expensive and confusing, with fees, weight limits, carrier size rules and the need to make sure there’s no loud barking (or meowing) on board.

Recently, American Airlines relaxed its pet policy to allow passengers to bring a carry-on bag in addition to a pet in a carrier, and more private flight options have been emerging in recent years for pet owners who can afford them.

Still, flying with large or medium-size dogs can be tricky, and many travelers are wary of leaving a pet in the plane’s cargo hold.

For those traveling on the major carriers with their pets as carry-ons, here’s what to know about each major domestic airline’s policy.

On Southwest, a Dallas-based carrier, two checked bags can fly at no cost, but not pets. Southwest charges $125 per pet carrier on its flights.

Dogs or cats are allowed to travel below a seat in an approved carrier — up to 18.5 inches long by 8.5 inches high and 13.5 inches wide — according to the airline.

Southwest has a few caveats for those traveling with pets: The pet must stay in its carrier during the flight, and the carrier is considered a personal item or carry-on bag.

Up to six pets are allowed on Southwest flights. Once six pets are booked onto a flight, no further customers may add a pet companion to their booking.

United Airlines has no weight or breed restrictions for cats and dogs as long as they are in an approved hard or soft-sided carrier, measuring 17.5 inches long by 9 inches tall and 12 inches wide for a hard carrier, or 18 inches long by 11 inches tall and 11 inches wide for a soft carrier.

United charges $125 each way for travel with pets. There is no fee for service animals on United flights, but some forms are required before the flight.

The carrier must fit under a seat, and where a passenger is allowed to sit can vary according to the type of aircraft. For example, people traveling with pets cannot sit in emergency rows. If you’re traveling with two pets (the maximum allotted), you are required to book two seats.

Small dogs and cats can travel on Delta Air Lines flights as long as they can fit inside a carrier stored below the seat. The size of the carrier depends on the aircraft, but in general the airline recommends a soft-sided carrier no larger than 18 inches long by 11 inches tall and 11 inches wide.

Your pet must be at least 8 weeks old and small enough to have some room to move around in the carrier, which must have ventilation openings on three sides.

Delta charges $95 for pets traveling as carry-on companions, and the passenger can bring only one personal item along with the pet. Certain seats cannot be booked for travel with an animal, such as those in an emergency exit row.

American Airlines allows cats and dogs to travel in a carry-on container, which must remain under the seat in front of the pet owner throughout the flight. The airline recommends a soft-sided carrier that measures 18 inches long by 11 inches tall and 11 inches wide.

The fee for a carry-on pet on a domestic American Airlines flight is $150.

Flights are limited to seven carry-on pets, not including service animals, and American Eagle flights are limited to five carry-on pets, with one in first class. There is no charge for service animals flying on American flight, but the airline requires forms to be filled out in advance.

The airline said in a statement that it had recently changed its cabin pet policy to allow customers with a pet to also bring either a personal item or carry-on bag stowed in the overhead bin (but not both).

“We made the change to provide a more convenient and comfortable experience to customers whose pets fly American,” the airline said.

Spirit allows dogs and cats on its flights in a carrier no larger than 18 inches long by 14 inches wide and 9 inches tall for a fee of $125. The weight of the pet and the carrier cannot exceed 40 pounds, according to the airline.

Small dogs and cats can fly on JetBlue for fee of $125 each way, in an approved carrier. Up to six pets are allowed on JetBlue flights.

Frontier allows pets on board for a $99 fee each way, as long the pet fits in a carrier. Passengers can have only a personal item or carry-on in addition to their pet carrier.

Pets can travel in a carrier on Alaska Airlines flights for a fee of $100 each way. A passenger can travel with a pet carrier and a personal item, or a carrier and a carry-on bag.

Those who take their pets on private or charter flights, which can cost many thousands of dollars, have much more leeway. Dogs that weigh less than 150 pounds can sit on seats.

BarkAir, a charter operator tailored specifically for those flying with dogs, charges about $6,000 for a dog and its owner to travel, with flights between New York and Los Angeles and New York and London. Carriers are not required, and dogs can sit on laps, seats or beds.



By Jesus Jiménez

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