Just How Much Does It Cost to Fly With Your Pet?

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Can't fly without your furry friend? Here's what you need to know.

It’s a dream come true to bring your best friend along on a trip, especially if that best friend is covered in fur! If you are planning on flying with your pet, there are a few things you need to know before you board. Here’s a rundown of pet policies and fees for Delta, American, and United for pets that are pals and not service animals.

Delta

On Delta, you are able to take your pet in the cabin with you provided that they travel in an approved airline pet carrier. It must have proper ventilation as well as a waterproof bottom, and it must fit under the seat in front of you. Because of the size limitations on Delta Airlines, only small dogs, cats and birds can fly.

INSIDER TIPDelta does not allow pets to fly in the cargo hold, but you can ship them with Delta Cargo. The fees associated with this vary by the weight of your pet.

In addition to being the right size, your pet must also be the right age. To fly with Delta, your pet must be at least 10 weeks old to fly domestic and 15 weeks old for EU travel, or 16 weeks old for travel back to the US.

If your pet qualifies, it can fly for a fee. For travel within the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, there is a $125 fee each way to carry on your pet. For international travel or travel to the US Virgin Islands, that fee jumps to $200. However, if you’re traveling to Brazil, the fee is just $75.

Note that the fees apply each way, and generally only apply to one pet. As an exception to this, two pets of the same breed and size who are between 10 weeks and six months old may travel together in the same kennel, and they will be charged as one pet.

American Airlines

With American Airlines, you are allowed to carry on, check, or ship your cat or dog. Similar to Delta, you are able to carry on your pet as long as you have an approved airline pet carrier that fits underneath the seat. Pets must be at least 8 weeks old for domestic travel but at least 16 weeks old if traveling back into the US. If you are traveling within the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, or the Caribbean, the fee to carry on your pet is $125 per kennel.

Unlike Delta, though, you are allowed to check your pet in the cargo holds if they are too big to fit underneath your seat. Checked pets are subject to breed restrictions. Brachycephalic cats and dogs, for instance, are barred from flying in the cargo hold because they frequently have breathing problems.

Additionally, you will need to provide a health certificate for your pet that has been issued by a vet within 10 days of your travel and 60 days of your return on the same ticket, and within 10 days of your return on a separate ticket.

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If traveling with a checked pet, you will need to contact Reservations within 48 hours of your flight and account for extra check-in time. This is because you’ll fill out a checklist with the gate agent, certifying that your pet is healthy and has been fed and watered within the past four hours. You may also need to provide feeding and watering instructions. Note that if you are traveling on a connecting flight, pets are only allowed to connect between selected US cities. To check your pet within the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, or the Caribbean, the fee is $200 per kennel. To and from Brazil, the charge is just $150.

Alternatively, you may also ship your pet with American Airlines Cargo. With Cargo, there are fewer restrictions on the species of animal; you can ship birds, primates, fish, and lots of other types of pets. It will be up to you to provide health certificates as well as information about the animal’s place of birth. Note that payments will differ by drop off location as well as the weight of your pet.

If it turns out that it would actually be easier to hire pet care rather than travel with your pet, American Airlines also offers bonus miles if you make a booking through pet sitting service called Rover. This is a great way to make sure your pet is in good hands, and you can even earn one AAdvantage mile for every dollar spent as well as 2,000 bonus AAdvantage miles when you sign up! Rover provides options such as dog boarding, house sitting, dog walking, doggy daycare, and drop-in visits so that your pets won’t get too lonely without you.

United Airlines

If you want to travel with your pet rabbit, then United Airlines could be the best bet for you. United welcomes dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds into the cabin and, like American, they require an airline-friendly pet carrier and charge $125 per pet each way. Note that there is an additional $125 service charge for stopovers of longer than four hours in the U.S., or 24 hours internationally.

You will need to provide an advance reservation for your pet, and you can book that online. Note that prior to travel, you will need to see an agent in order to receive a bright yellow kennel tag. Puppies and kittens must be at least 16 weeks old to travel with United, which is a little bit older than Delta and American for domestic travel. If you are transporting dogs into the U.S., you must have proof that they were given the rabies vaccination.

If your cat or dog is not eligible for cabin travel, you may ship your pet with PetSafe. Similar to Delta and American Airlines Cargo, rates vary by weight. However, United Mileage Plus members can earn 500 bonus miles for shipments within the US, and 1,000 bonus miles for other shipments.