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People love to travel with their pets. After all, dogs and cats are part of the family, too, and we often want them to accompany us when we travel. But flying with a pet can be tricky as it can involve extra steps to prepare for your flight.
If you plan to book travel with your furry friend soon, here's a guide to flying on Spirit Airlines with pets.
The Spirit Airlines pet policy
First things first: On Spirit Airlines, you can travel with many pets on domestic flights, as well as to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but not international flights.
However, pets can only travel in the cabin, not as checked cargo. This means the only pets permitted onboard are small domestic animals that can fit under the seat in front of you.
Domestic animals that are permitted include:
Small household birds.
Do keep in mind, however, that birds and rabbits aren't allowed on flights to and from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
There are also animals that Spirit does NOT permit onboard, including:
Birds of prey.
Poultry or waterfowl, such as chickens or ducks.
The rules differ slightly if you're traveling with a licensed service animal.
For starters, only dogs are allowed to board a Spirit flight as service animals. Before they do, you must fill out the U.S. Department of Transportation's Service Animal Air Transportation Form and submit it to Spirit through their online service animal request form 48 hours before your flight.
In a pinch, Spirit will let you bring the completed form to the check-in counter on the day of travel, but there's a chance staff may not be able to approve your request on the spot and you might have to rebook — which they will help you with.
Submit all paperwork online in advance to streamline the approval process.
If you're traveling with more than one trained service dog (two is the maximum permitted), fill out a form for each. Once on the plane, the dog must sit in your lap or within your personal foot space.
If traveling internationally with your service dog, be aware of any travel restrictions within your destination and upon returning to the United States — such as documentation and immunization confirmations.
Keep in mind Spirit does not consider emotional support or therapy animals as service animals. Emotional support animals will be treated like pets when checking in and traveling with Spirit.
» Learn more: Tips for traveling with a service dog
Spirit Airlines pet rules and regulations
Naturally, there are strict rules and regulations involving flying with pets on Spirit to help protect you, your pet and your fellow passengers.
You don't need a health certificate for pets except if you're flying to the U.S. Virgin Islands, but a rabies vaccination certificate is required for pets traveling to Puerto Rico.
A maximum of two pets per carrier is allowed, but only one carrier per guest.
Pets must be able to stand up and move around in their container.
Pets have to remain in their carrier for the entire flight.
Animals should be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned.
The animal must be harmless, odorless, docile and not require special attention during the flight. In addition, the animal should be healthy, calm, and not in physical distress. If your pet causes a disturbance before the plane leaves the gate, you and your pet will be escorted off the flight.
There are no pets allowed in the first row or emergency exit rows.
The combined weight of the pet and its carrier must be 40 pounds or less.
The dimensions of your pet carrier container can't exceed 18 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches and the carrier must fit under the seat in front of you.
Pet carriers must be soft-sided but shouldn't allow your pet's head to be outside the carrier.
Reservations and checking in on Spirit Airlines with pets
Once you've booked your ticket, done all your research, and filled out the appropriate forms, you'll need to follow a few pet-specific procedures before and after you arrive at the airport to secure your furry traveling companion's place on your flight.
First, you'll need to make a reservation for your pet separately from your own, which you can only do by calling, texting or chatting by WhatsApp with Spirit.
Spirit only allows six pet carriers on board each flight, so to have the best chance of securing your pet a spot on the plane, consider contacting Spirit as soon as you book your reservation.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
At this time, you'll pay a $125 Spirit Airlines pet fee for each direction of travel. That's per pet container, not per pet.
Once you arrive at the airport, the check-in process will look a bit different. For starters, passengers traveling with pets may be unable to check in online before their flight as usual.
In that case, you might plan to arrive at the airport even earlier than usual to ensure you have plenty of time to check in at the Spirit counter. This will give airline staff ample time to check that you have all the necessary paperwork and provide final approval for your pet to board.
» Learn more: What to know about pet travel insurance
Flying with pets compared across airlines
In our most recent analysis on flying with pets, we ranked the major U.S. airlines on various factors including fees, types of animals allowed, whether you can bring pets in cargo and number of pets allowed per passenger, among other facrtors. Here's how they stacked up:
The Spirit pet policy recapped
Does Spirit Airlines allow pets? Yes.
While the airline doesn't allow pets to be checked in the cargo area, small pets in containers that fit under the seat are welcome onboard if you make a reservation in advance.
Like most domestic airlines, there is a cost to do so, but it's comforting to know that as long as your dog, cat, rabbit or bird meets the airline's requirements, they can accompany you on your next trip.
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