What to Know Before Flying Southwest Airlines with Pets
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
If you have a furry companion and want to bring them on vacation or are planning a long-distance move and want to fly with them, you’ll need to consider airline pet policies before booking an airline ticket.
So, can pets fly on Southwest Airlines? Yes, but only in the main cabin.
Here’s what you need to know to fly with pets on Southwest.
The Southwest Airlines pet policy
Southwest Airlines allows travelers to fly with their pets as long as they meet the eligibility requirements. However, pets aren’t allowed to fly in cargo. Small, vaccinated domestic cats and dogs in appropriate pet carriers are welcome to travel in the cabin on domestic flights.
Pet carriers must be stowed under the seat in front of you during the flight, and your pet must always remain in its carrier. Only one pet carrier is allowed per ticketed passenger. Unaccompanied minors aren’t allowed to travel with a pet.
Only six carriers are allowed per flight, and pet fares are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. However, sometimes the airline will allow exceptions and forgo the six-pet cap.
Before traveling, it’s always wise to review the Southwest Airlines pet travel rules so you know what to expect.
» Learn more: A guide to traveling with pets
Southwest in-cabin pet options
While Southwest doesn't allow pets to fly in cargo, you can bring an eligible pet in-cabin as long as they meet the requirements.
Keep these Southwest Airlines pet travel rules in mind:
» Learn more: How to fly with a dog
Southwest Airlines pet fees
So, how much does it cost to fly a dog on Southwest? What about other animals?
When flying with a pet on a Southwest flight, passengers must pay a $95 pet fare fee per carrier, each way. This additional expense is worth considering as you plan out your trip costs. This fee is refundable if you decide not to travel with your pet, you decide to cancel the flight or your flight is canceled.
For those traveling between Hawaiian Islands through June 30, 2023, the fare is $35 each way per pet carrier.
How flying with pets on Southwest compares to other airlines
Are you deciding which airline to book for your pet-friendly adventure? When considering other airlines' pet policies, Southwest ranked No. 2 on the pet-friendly airlines' list out of the nine airlines analyzed.
According to NerdWallet's evaluation, Southwest scored a 3.4 out of 5, landing in second place.
The following primary factors were considered when rating each airline's pet-friendliness:
The cost of bringing a pet in the main cabin.
The number of pets allowed.
The types of animals allowed.
Whether pets are allowed in cargo.
The cost of bringing a pet in cargo.
Data from the Department of Transportation (June 2021 to May 2022) regarding deaths, injuries, and losses of pets.
Southwest received high marks due to its affordable pet fees and good records with pet safety.
» Learn more: The best hotels that allow pets
Southwest Airlines pet travel, recapped
While Southwest Airlines doesn't allow passengers to travel with their pets in cargo, other options exist.
If you are traveling with an eligible pet to or from a domestic destination or between Hawaiian Islands, pay the appropriate fee and keep your pet in its approved pet carrier under the seat in front of you, it's possible to fly with your furry companion while on a Southwest flight.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card