Is Southwest Pet Friendly? – Southwest Airlines Pet Policy (2024)

Written By: Michelle Kelgord

When choosing to travel by airplane, many options are available to travelers. One of the most popular is, of course, Southwest Airlines. With low fares and exceptional customer service, it’s easy to see why Southwest is a top choice for travelers.

But should it also be a top contender for those planning to fly with their furry companions? 

This article explores whether or not Southwest Airlines is a pet-friendly airline, and what you need to know before booking your ticket.

Is Southwest Airlines Pet Friendly?

We have great news for flyers seeking to travel with their furry best friend – Southwest Airlines is very pet-friendly! While SWA has its own set of rules and regulations, they aren’t overly strict, and you shouldn’t face too many problems along the way.

However, it’s worth mentioning that Southwest Airlines only accepts dogs as carry-ons, in the plane’s cabin. Currently, SWA does not allow any type of pets in cargo, which means they aren’t big dog friendly. They also do not allow carry-on pets for international travel. (Properly certified and documented service dogs of all sizes are welcome in the cabin.)

jet set pets article southwest airlines dog friendly policy

Photo courtesy of www.zendogology.com

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy Details

Are you thinking about traveling with your dog on Southwest Airlines? Then you need to know the facts!

Find out everything you need to know about the ins-and-outs of traveling with your four-legged buddy below.

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy for Carry-On Pets:

When it comes to traveling with your canine companion via carry-on, Southwest Airlines is an excellent option. The airline allows small, vaccinated dogs in an appropriate carrier on domestic flights. Specific requirements must be followed for travel to Puerto Rico, and no pets to or from Hawaii are allowed.

Here are a few other vital rules set forth by the Southwest Airlines pet policy:

  • Dogs must be at least eight weeks old in order to travel.
  • Dogs must be vaccinated (although the airline does not require documentation).
  • Southwest flights feature open seating, but those traveling with pets are not allowed in exit row seats or seats with no under-seat stowage in front of them.
  • Dogs must always remain in their carrier – in the gate area, during boarding/deplaning, and throughout the flight.
  • Only one pet carrier is allowed per ticketed customer.
  • Each carrier must contain no more than two dogs of the same species.
  • Only six carriers are allowed per flight (this number may vary slightly depending on the plane).
  • Pets are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, so reserve ahead of time by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.
  • Trained service dogs are allowed onboard. A  Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation form is required at the ticket counter or gate. It must be dated on or after your flight ticket purchase date.

There is a fee for flying with your pet: $125 each way per United States Mainland flight. Those traveling between Hawaiian Islands will incur a $35 fee each way. This amount is paid at the airport ticket counter.

Specifics Regarding Pet Carriers:

When flying with Southwest Airlines, you must use a carrier that meets specific requirements so it fits underneath the seat in front of you. 

For your convenience, Southwest Airlines sells a pet carrier with dimensions 17” (L) x 10” (W) x 9.5” (H). The carrier is guaranteed to be approved for Southwest Airlines pet travel. 

If you’re not going to utilize the Southwest Airlines pet carrier, your carrier must not exceed 18.5” (L) x 13.5” (W) x 9.5” (H). It must also be soft or hard, leak-proof, well ventilated, and your pet must be able to stand up and move around easily.

Carriers are considered personal carry-on items.

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy for Pets in Cargo:

Southwest Airlines does not accept pets in cargo.

Restrictions:

Southwest Airlines does not have any specific breed restrictions. However, there are certain circumstances where a pet may be denied travel, such as:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive whining/barking
  • Growling
  • Biting
  • Lunging
  • Urinating/defecating in the cabin or gate area

International Travel

At this time, Southwest Airlines does not accept pets for international flights.

jet set pets travel blog article southwest airlines policy

Photo courtesy of @haus_of_parker

The Process of Flying with Your Pet on Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines’ pet policy isn’t overly complicated, and neither is the booking, checking-in, and boarding process. Let’s take a closer look.

Booking and Reserving Your Pet's Ticket

Reserving your dog’s ticket in advance is critical. That’s because Southwest Airlines works on a first-come, first-served basis and only allows a certain number of carriers per flight (typically six, although they may add or detract a few depending on the type of aircraft). 

To reserve your pet’s flight, call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792). You can also reach out on X (formerly Twitter) at @Southwestair or send a private message via Facebook with your confirmation number.

To book a trained and documented service animal, you have two options:

  • New Reservations: Select the “Special Assistance” link on your Passenger & Payment info page. Then, select “relevant options.” Scroll down to finish reserving your seat with your trained service dog.
  • Existing Reservations: Select Manage Reservations at Southwest.com. Then, input your information. From there, click the “Special Assistance” link and select “relevant options.” Update your information to include your trained service dog.

Checking In and Boarding with Your Pet

To check in with your pet, you’ll start by having your pet inside your approved pet carrier. Proceed to the ticket counter. Check in with your pet and pay the required fee (typically $125 each way). 

Note: If you check a trained service dog, you must present the required DOT paperwork at the ticket counter or gate.

From there, you’ll pass through security. You will need to hold your pet and walk through the screening device. The carrier will be x-rayed.

When boarding the aircraft, your pet must be in the carrier and remain in the carrier for the duration of the flight.

southwest airlines pet friendly travel jet set pets skipper

Photo courtesy of @skipper_cfservicedog

During the Flight: Tips for a Smooth Journey

Southwest Airlines makes flying through the skies relatively easy for you and your furry best pal. That doesn’t mean everything will automatically be smooth sailing (or should we say smooth flying?). There are several steps you can take to make things smoother:

  • Choose a comfortable carrier – First things first, make sure you choose a cozy carrier that your pet will enjoy. (Just double-check that it fits the required dimensions set forth by Southwest Airlines).
  • Get your dog accustomed to the carrier – Let your doggo get acquainted with their “plane house.” Allow them to sit, play, relax, etc., in the carrier for a few weeks before departure.
  • Add some personal items to the carrier – Always add some personal items that will make your pet feel happy! For instance, a favorite toy or blanket can go a long way.
  • Eat and drink before departure – Your dog shouldn’t be hungry or thirsty – they won’t be too happy about that! Keep the meals small, though, as the plane trip could upset tummies.
  • Don’t forget a bathroom break! – Always take your pooch to the potty before taking off.
  • A little exercise won’t hurt, either – Your dog will probably get a bit antsy on the flight, but you can prevent this by getting adequate exercise before take off.

While you might think it’s handy, you should not sedate your hound before departure. 

Conclusion:

When it comes to flying with pets, we give Southwest Airlines two thumbs up. Southwest’s pet policies aren’t unusually strict (but remember they do not allow pets on international flights or in cargo). As long as you have a smaller pup that fits in an approved carrier underneath the seat in front of you, and you book in advance, you should have zero issues. That being said, we always recommend checking with Southwest Airlines’ Pet Policy for the latest information, as rules can change.

Ready for unforgettable adventures with your furry companions? Stay connected and informed about pet-friendly travel experiences by signing up for our Wet Noseletter today! Receive regular updates, exclusive offers, and valuable insights to make your travel with your pets more enjoyable. Don’t miss out on the latest news and pawsome adventures—subscribe to Jet Set Pets now and embark on exciting journeys with your furry friends by your side! Join us in creating memories that will last a lifetime—subscribe today!

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