Flying With Your Furry Friend

Merritt Milam | July 13, 2016

Since navigating through the airport is already a feat in and of itself, bringing your dog along may not seem like a realistic option. With long security lines, unexpected delays and cancellations, flying doesn’t seem as easy as it used to be. Luckily, airlines today have guidelines and safety measures in place that may help take the stress out of bringing your furry friend along for the trip.


Below is an overview of pet policies for major airlines operating to and from Birmingham:


Southwest: Southwest adheres to a fairly simple policy for pet travel. The airline will only allow in-cabin travel for small cats and dogs in kennels that can fit directly under the passenger’s seat. You will pay a $95 pet fee each way, per kennel. Southwest does not accept any pets in the cargo area, so for those who want to travel with larger pups, you’ll want to choose another airline.


United: United Airlines will allow you to travel with pets in the cabin as long as the kennel will fit completely under the seat in front of you. Expect to pay a $125 pet fare each way, with an additional $125 for any layovers exceeding four hours. United also has a program called PetSafe, designed for shipping pets who are too large to travel in-cabin.


American Airlines: American Airlines offers three options for traveling with pets, depending on the animal’s breed, size and requirements. You may bring one pet kennel as a carry-on if it can fit under the seat in front of you. You can also check up to two pets, with limited capacity on a first-come, first-serve basis. Expect to pay $200 per kennel for a checked pet and $125 per kennel for a carry-on. For the pet’s safety, American does not allow them to travel as cargo if temperatures are forecasted to be at least 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary. These restrictions prevent the pets from being exposed to extreme heat or cold while traveling below the cabin. Animals may also be shipped through American Airlines Cargo.


Delta: Of the major Birmingham airlines, Delta has the most extensive list of requirements and conditions for traveling with pets. Delta will allow your pup to travel as carry-on baggage with only a few restrictions. Your dog’s kennel must be approved and able to fit under the seat in front of you in order to travel in-cabin. Kennel fares will range from $75 to $250 depending on its size and weight. Delta also has weather restrictions that specify the times of year, temperatures and locations that your pet is able to travel as checked baggage. There is also a list of cat and dog breeds that are not allowed to travel as checked baggage, including bulldogs, boxers and certain terriers. This restriction is set due to certain health risks and breathing troubles that are prominent in short-nosed breeds, which may make flying a high-risk activity.


These airlines may have other conditions that are not listed above, so be sure to do additional research and obtain all required documentation before planning to jet-set with your pup. Thorough preparation will help make flying with your furry friend safe and simple!


Travel Tip: The Birmingham airport has a designated area for your pup to use the bathroom, which is located on the lower level at the exit near the Southwest Baggage Claim. Make sure to take advantage of this spot before you enter the airport to keep your experience accident-free!


*Information applies only to travel within the United States and does not include service animals.