San Diego has been ranked one of the country’s most “dog friendly” cities, but if you’re like me, occasionally getting away for a vacation is a must.  Travelling with your dog(s) is always seems to complicate the itinerary.  Some people prefer to leave their dogs at home and hire an in-home dog sitter, others take their dogs to a boarding facility, or doggy daycare.   If your are a more “have dog will travel” type, then this the information below may help you decide which airline carrier you should choose to travel with.  Thanks to our friends at for compiling this great list of dog friendly airline carriers.  They compared each airline’s dog safety policy, dog travel options, dog specific programs, price, and general dog friendliness.  Below are the details of their study:

Southwest – 6th Place

In-Cabin: Yes ($75/each way)

Checked Baggage/Cargo: No

  • For an airline that touts itself as the low cost alternative, it shouldn’t be surprising that Southwest offers one of the lowest cost options for traveling with your dog. If your dog is small enough to fit under the seat, just $75 will buy a one way ticket. Travelers with large dogs will need to look for other alternatives; Southwest does not offer a checked baggage option for dogs traveling with their owners. What we found particular concerning, and the reason Southwest ranks at the bottom of the list despite their bargain pricing, the airline goes out of its way to note first aid and oxygen will not be administered to dogs that become ill during flight.

Delta – 5th Place

In-Cabin: Yes ($125 per container/each way)

Checked Baggage/Cargo: Yes ($200 per container/each way)

  • Delta offers what we would consider the bare minimum when it comes to dog friendly travel accommodations. Not only are their fees higher than industry average but they’re based on one way travel, charging an additional fee on round trip flights. Dogs who can comfortably fit under the seat are permitted to ride in-cabin, all other dogs must travel as checked baggage.

American Airlines – 4th Place

In-Cabin: Yes ($100 per container/each way)

Checked Baggage/Cargo: Yes ($150 per container/each way)

  • American Airlines offers the standard dog transportation options we’ve come to see from most major airline carriers. If your dog is small enough they can ride in the cabin with you, otherwise you’ll have to fork over an extra $50 to have them ride as checked baggage – just make sure they’re not over 100lbs. American Airlines does distinguish themselves from other dog friendly carriers with their list of “Animal Relief Areas”  – assuring dog owners can easily find a place to take their dog for a quick squat in any airport.

United – 3rd Place

In-Cabin: Yes ($125-175 varies on the time of year)

Checked Baggage/Cargo: Yes ($175-250 varies on the time of year and crate size)

  • United knows their dogs. We know this because United is one of the few airlines that restrict short-nosed breeds from traveling as checked baggage from May 1st to September 30th do to the likelihood of warm weather. Restricted breeds include Boxer, English Bulldog, and Pug. If your dog happens to be a small short nosed breed you are welcome to carry your dog on year round, assuming they can fit comfortably in a carrier and placed below the seat. Before flying make sure to check United’s website to see if your travel window is limited by the type of dog you have.

JetBlue – 2nd Place

In-Cabin: Yes ($100)

Checked Baggage/Cargo: No

  • As a relatively young airline, JetBlue continues to use free drinks, free snacks, in-flight television, and outstanding customer service (minus the JFK runway fiasco), to achieve one of the most customer friendly reputations in the business. The airline is now employing the same strategy to attract customers flying with their dog.  Their “JetPaws” program provides dog owners with a free pet carrier bag tag, a pet travel etiquette guide, and 300 TrueBlue points for traveling with your dog.  JetBlue also provides its dog loving customers with a free pet travel guide – something near and dear to our hearts – that lists pet friendly hotels, restaurants, parks, and veterinarians.  So why did JetBlue finish second?  Your dog will need to be small enough to fit comfortably under the in-cabin seat, there is no checked luggage option.

Continental – 1st Place

In-Cabin: Yes ($125 each way)

Checked Baggage/Cargo: Yes (Call for rates, 1-800.575.3335)

  • Continental is unique in that they offer a travel option for large dogs, but do not allow dogs to travel as checked baggage. Instead, if you are planning to head out on a dog friendly vacation and your dog is too large to ride in the cabin, you’ll have to transport them as cargo. The good news, Continental has the most dog friendly cargo option in the business. Their PetSafe program offers confirmed booking prior to departure, a dedicated 24-hour animal support team to monitor weather conditions, the ability to track and trace your dog from origin to destination, and transportation in climate-controlled vehicles between connecting planes. Continental also has a mileage reward program through the PetSafe program. Continental OnePass members earn one (1) OnePass mile for every dollar spent when transporting their dog.


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