Cats On A Plane: Carry On / In Cabin Pet Travel

Dammit the cat

This is Dammit! Dammit the cat. Dammit was my carry on luggage last week. She is leash trained and when in the airport, she will, on command (well with the appropriate hesitation that makes it appear it was her idea, as is the way with even well trained kittehs) walk right into her carrier, turn around and lay down, much to the chagrin of witnessing fellow travelers.

Dammit is my sons cat. A rambunctious mix of cuddly purr-meister and snarling viper, who is extremely independent, vocal and demanding, as well as ridiculously smart. I love this little rotund kitty and being that I travel a great deal, Dammit has gotten to be the commensurate little traveler as well, in the time she has been visiting with me.

Dammit the cat in her cat carrier

Dammit, has been living with me (visiting) while my son moved from Austin to Portland and it became an extended stay as I moved around and then while his band Rotting Slab toured Europe.  Jameson missed his Dammit and I could not justify having a sitter watch her for a month as I traveled the UK, so with only a week left to finish readying for a month long sojourn, off I headed to Portland with Dammit as carry on luggage.

This post details the various airlines that allow small animals as carry on luggage (meaning that you can stow them under the seat in front of you for a nominal fee). What to expect when sharing such a journey with your furry friend. As well as a list of resources for your own personal research involving pet travel. This post is specific to airline travel. Future posts will be focused on road tripping with pets, pet friendly hotels and other places to stay as well as tips on schlepping your furry friends along.

If you plan to head out into the great beyond with pets, I hope this information helps you out, yet suggest that you research for yourself. Things do change and quickly. Below is a list of some great resources (to date 9/12/2017) for traveling with pets, be it across the city, across the state, across the country or abroad.

  • Bring Fido  Explore over 10,000 places to bring your dog.

Bring Fido ( www.bringfido.com ) is an excellent resource for discovering pet friendly businesses, pet friendly airlines, pet friendly hotels and well… pet friendly everything. The information is easy to navigate with a cute light hearted feel. They seem to focus on the US but do cover the entire planet and although focused on dogs, most places that allow dogs, will allow cats or similar household pets. (but do the research)

Pet Travel ( www.pettravel.com ) proclaims to be the oldest resource on the net for traveling with pets.  Their information is thorough and extensive and offers everything you need to not only travel across your country (be it the US or abroad), but also information on bringing your pets across country borders. From laws, to shots, to quarantine periods, this site offers everything you may need with a clean and concise website, that is easy to understand and utilise.

Go Pet Friendly ( www.gopetfriendly.com ) is a cute site, that reads much like a blog. I have not really made personal use of it like the above 2 sites, but it seems to deserve mention. I think it is mostly for the US. It does not navigate as simply as the others but seems to have a little more information (and shares personal experiences) involving cross country travel, than the others and I like their road trip planner

  • Dog Friendly Since 1998 has published world-wide pet travel guides for people with dogs of all sizes & breeds

Dog Friendly ( www.dogfriendly.com ) may well be one of the longest standing sites. It has a ton of information and can be extremely helpful. Sadly, it has not changed format much since 1998 and at first glance appears amateurish. It isn’t prettied up, nor does it have a very user friendly interface. But it is jam packed with info as well as hints and tidbits you will not find on the other sites. I sort of like supporting sites that seem more like a ‘Ma n Pa’ shop when and where I am able. Below are some of their links

 City Guides show pet-friendly hotelsattractions such as tours, stores & historical sites,campgroundsparks & off-leash parksbeachespatio diningskiing and more. Also view FREE listings , highway guides, our blog,  or our dog travel books/ebooks.  Join Our Newsletter and find out about everything dog-friendly.

Your Dog Holidays Take the whole family with you

Your Dog Holidays ( www.yourdogholidays.co.uk ) Is a resource for pet friendly travel around the UK. It seems limited to me, but I am unsure if that is because the UK is not quite as pet friendly or if the resource itself is just limited. I have never travelled with a pet in the UK (although cats always seem to find me during my travels). Brought to you by Dog Magazine, the site is navigable enough, but not quite as sleek as the first 2, nor as thorough a DogFriendly.comToast the cat, in his Riding Sweater

I lost Toast to cancer, he was the kitty love of my life and an amazing traveler. Here he is in his travel sweater, ready to ride! You can check out Toasts story on Twitter. I plan to share some of our travel stories i the future.

I have personally travelled large distances with pets (dogs, cats, ferrets, rats and an enormous snake named Starvin’ Marvin across the US and 126 crated pink toed and bird catching tarantulas across Costa Rica (they were someone else’s pets transported to a zoo when the owner died) via automobile, SUV, Van, truck, train (the train may not count, since we smuggled our furbabies on) and various airlines. Myself and my furry brethren have stayed in campgrounds, motels, hotels, AirBnBs and at times, in whatever vehicle we were riding or driving in at that time. I consider my expertise in traveling with cats, because… well I think people tend to do it wrong from the very beginning.

I have flown with pets as carry on luggage on AirTran (are they even around any longer?), Delta, United, JetBlue, SouthWest and I think many many years ago, Continental as well as with them under the plane or transported without me. As is obvious things have changed through the years. The first time I travelled on an airline with a pet was some time in the mid 80s. I cannot recall why I was flying around with a cat, nor can I recall which cat it may have been, but I do recall the stewardess’s (they were still called that then) cooing with glee, demanding that I take my furry companion from its carrier and feeding it bits of sausage as fellow passengers came by to pet and coo at him as well. I am also pretty sure I just carried the kitty in a carrier onto the plane and did not pay any fee for doing so. Although I may be wrong.

In cabin, pet friendly airlines:

Jetblue ( www.jetblue.com/travel/pets/ )

  • $100 each way (you can pay this fee ahead of time)
  • Very small carrier
  • Only one pet
  • Only cats & dogs.
  • Must be under 20 lbs with carrier (although they have never weighed us).
  • Lenient: They have allowed me take the cat out for a few moments on very long flights, to walk the aisle (please keep in mind, my cats are leash trained so on a leash and I believe this is against their policy).
  • Caring: They have kindly provided (unrequested) water and treats.
  • Helpful: Staff is usually quite happy to have a furry traveler on board and will do what they can to accommodate you and your furry friends needs.

Jetblue is currently my favourite airline in the US, but they are not the best deal when it comes to in cabin pets. Yet they remain my favourite airline for almost everything since their inception and my key reason for this is their wonderful staff. Staff is generally friendly and casual about helping out with pet needs. They tell you that they require an updated shots record, but they have never asked me for it (that may vary state to state). They DO carefully check each pet for the appropriate ticketing and confirm that the carrier fits the size requirements. They also have their own merchandise for pet travel called Haute Dogs & Cool Cats   

From JetBlues website: Pets can be booked online or you can call 1-800-JETBLUE (538-2583).

  • Pet fee is $100 each way.
  • Book early. They allow only a certain number of pets on each flight
  • One pet per passenger. They do not allow 2 small pets in one carrier as do others
  • Pet carrier can not be larger than 17″L x 12.5″W x 8.5″H and cannot weigh over 20 lbs with your animal inside (please note, this is a very small pet carrier)
  • Your pet and carrier count as one carry-on bag onboard. You may need to pay extra to carry on or stow other bags.
  • No pets on flights to Jamaica (MBJ and KIN), Barbados (BGI), St Lucia (UVF) the Cayman Islands (GCM) and Trinidad and Tobago (POS).
  • No pets on multi (inline) flights (one or two stop flights are ok)

Delta ( www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/special-travel-needs/pets/pet-travel-options.html )

  • $125 each way (you must pay this fee at the ticket counter)
  • Carriers must be small enough to fit under the seat, but size requirements are less restrictive than JetBlue
  • Dogs, Cats, Birds and potentially other small pets, you must call them.
  • 2 small animals in a carrier (they say they can only be up to 10 months old, but they have never checked this with me)
  • No weight requirement of which I am aware
  • Lenient: They did allow me to take him out momentarily when he had been crying for quite some time to calm him.
  • Caring: Water and head pats were offered

I am not a big fan of Delta due to 2 incidents years ago that I just cannot seem to get over. Absolutely rude and unhelpful when my then 3 year old son took off his seatbelt and ran down the aisle, after we had sat on the tarmac for 3 straight hours and them refusing to help me get to the last connection left to my final destination, although the reason I was late was because of them. The attendant literally laughed at me and told me she was off the clock. I never got over it. But they really do seem to provide a pretty good deal when it comes to carry on pets and the staff generally seems to care about your furry companion.

From Delta’s website:

  • Your pet must be small enough to fit comfortably in a kennel without touching or protruding from the sides of the kennel and with the ability to move around.
  • The kennel must fit under the seat directly in front of you.
  • Maximum carry-on kennel dimensions are determined by your flight. You must contact Delta Reservations to determine the appropriate kennel size.
  • Your pet must remain inside the kennel (with door secured) while in a Delta boarding area (during boarding and deplaning), a Delta airport lounge and while onboard the aircraft.
  • Your pet must be at least 10 weeks old for Domestic travel.
  • Your pet must be 16 weeks old if traveling to the U.S. from other countries and must be at least 15 weeks old for European Union travel.
  • Your pet counts as one piece of carry-on baggage. Pet in Cabin fees still apply.
  • One pet is permitted per kennel with the following exceptions:
    *One female cat/dog may travel with her un-weaned litter if the litter is a minimum of 10 weeks old to 6 months of age.
    *There is no limit on the number of animals in the litter.

Exception: 2 pets of the same breed and size between the age of 10 weeks and 6 months may be allowed to travel in 1 kennel, providing they are small enough to fit into one kennel and are compatible. They will be charged as 1 pet.

Please note : Delta does not accept pets in the cabin to/from the following locations:

  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Dakar
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United Arab Emirates

Pets are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call Delta in advance at 800-221-1212 to arrange to bring your pet on board. To ensure the comfort of all of our passengers, Delta limits the number of total pets per flight.

United   ( www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/animals/in_cabin.aspx )

  • $125 each way (you can pay this fee ahead of time)
  • Carriers must be small enough to fit under the seat. Size requirements vary based on aircraft size.
  • Dogs, Cats, Rabbits & Birds (excluding cockatoos)
  • One animal per carrier except for birds, (they allow 2)
  • No weight requirement of which I am aware
  • You are allowed a second carry on (unless you are flying basic economy. I accidentally booked basic economy my last flight… yeah, don’t do that)
  • Lenient in some ways: No one checked for a pet boarding pass. No one seemed to even notice I as carrying a cat onto the plane. My seats were picked for me (a basic economy thing) and I was seated in seats on the aisle, normally not open to people flying with pets. I’m pretty sure I could have carried her on as carry on luggage and no one would have even noticed that I had not paid (yet I had of course). Not a single person checked if the cat had a boarding pass from security in North Carolina to anyone at United.
  • Stringent: Flight attendant was obviously pissed that I had taken the cat out of the carrier. She had been mewing for hour and I just let her scurry up the aisle (on leash) for 5 minutes to give her a break on a long flight and she quieted down. Id say passengers were relieved she quieted over being annoyed that she was out.

I have never been a fan of United for various reasons. Mostly due to being unceremoniously being bumped from flights. Being stranded in airports by them, late ad cancelled flights. Oh I can go on and on. BUt my most recent experience with them was ok, except for accidentally booking myself a basic economy flight (Don’t do it, it is NOT worth it)

From United’s website: An in-cabin pet may be carried in addition to a carry-on bag and is subject to a $125 service charge each way. There is an additional $125 service charge for each stopover of more than four hours within the U.S. or more than 24 hours outside of the U.S.

A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times. The maximum dimensions for hard-sided kennels are 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm). The recommended maximum dimensions for soft-sided kennels are 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high (46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm). Soft-sided pet carriers may exceed these dimensions slightly, as they are collapsible and able to conform to under-seat space without blocking the aisle. With the exception of birds, there may only be one pet per kennel, and the animal must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably. Two birds may travel in the same kennel.

American Airlines ( www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/special-assistance/pets.jsp )

  • $200 each way (unclear if you can pay ahead of time or only at counter)
  • Carriers must be small enough to fit under the seat, but size requirements are larger than JetBlues. 19in x 13in x 9in.
  • Dogs and Cats only, with breed restrictions (no brachycephalic or brachycephalic mixes)

Cats: No Burmese, Persian, Himalayan or Exotic Shorthairs                                                 Dogs: No Affenpinscher, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer (all breeds), Brussels Griffon, Bulldog (all breeds), Cane Corso, Dogue De Bordeaux, English Toy Spaniel, Japanese Chin, Lhasa Apso, Mastiff (all breeds), Pekingese Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Pug (all breeds), Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel

  • One animal per carrier (you must pay the pet fee at the ticket counter)
  • No weight requirement of which I am aware
  • You are allowed a second carry on
  • I have not flown on AA with a pet for a very long time, so refrain from opinion

From American’s website: Depending on the animals’ breed, size and requirements, they can travel as a carry-on, be checked or transported with American Airlines Cargo. With the exception of a few breed restrictions, you can only travel with cats and dogs.

Please contact Reservations in advance so we can notify you of any requirements or travel changes that may affect you and your pet.

 Dog breed restrictionsExpand

 Cat breed restrictionsExpand

Which destinations allow travel with pets?

You can travel with a pet on most flights not longer than 12 hours or flights to/from:*

  • Within the 48 contiguous United States
  • The U.S. and Canada
  • Alaska
  • Central America**
  • Mexico
  • Puerto Rico
  • St. Croix
  • St. Thomas

*12 hours includes the time it takes to clear customs at the arrival city.

Destination restrictions

There are additional special restrictions that may apply when traveling with pets to/from:**

 Continental U.S.This content can be expanded
 HawaiiThis content can be expanded
 The CaribbeanThis content can be expanded
 South AmericaThis content can be expanded
 TransatlanticThis content can be expanded
 TranspacificThis content can be expanded
 AustraliaThis content can be expanded

**Acceptance of a pet as checked baggage is dependent upon the regulations of your destination country.

Carry-on pets

When traveling on an American Airlines flight, you can bring one pet kennel as your carry-on bag if:

  • You pay the carry-on pet charge
  • Your pet is at least 8 weeks old
  • Your pet stays in their kennel and under the seat in front of you for the entire flight

If all your travel is on American Airlines we can only accept up to 7 kennels each flight (not including service animals). When traveling on an American Eagle flight, we can accept up to 5 kennels per flight (with a maximum of 1 in first class). You’ll need to contact Reservations to make arrangements in advance.

Reservations and ticket changes 

Kennel guidelines for carry-on pets

When carrying on your pet, you’ll need to make sure that they can stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position in their kennel. Non-collapsible kennels can be a maximum of 19in x 13in x 9in.

Soft-sided collapsible kennels such as Sherpa bags can be larger if they’re made of water-repellant material, are padded or have nylon mesh ventilation on 2 or more sides.

Dammit is now home safe and sound with my son. Her flying days are over for now. BUt we had a great time.

From DogJaunt.com <– check em out

Pet friendly international Airlines include:

Airline In-cabin pets OK? Pets per passenger Weight limit Minimum age Carrier size Fee (each way)
Aer Lingus No (checked or cargo only)
Aeroflot Yes 1 8 kg (18 lbs.) total not stated “115 cm in three dimensions (length, height, width)” calculated as
excess baggage
AeroMexico Yes (dogs only, on flights 6 hours or less) 1 9 kg total (7 kg total on E-145 planes) 8 weeks
(4 mos. for travel to/from USA)
16Lx12Wx7H
(E-145 planes) or
19Lx12Wx10H
(all other planes)
$145 to/from USA
Air Canada Yes 1 10 kg (22 lbs.) total 12 weeks 21.5Lx15.5Wx9H (if soft-sided, can be 10.5″ tall) $50 or $100 CAD/US (depending on destination)
Air France Yes 1 8 kg (18 lbs.) total 10 weeks (8 weeks in “metropolitan France”) not specified; the carrier Air France sellsis 42x30x20cm 200 from/to USA (EUR, USD or CAD, depending on country of departure)
Air New Zealand No (checked or cargo only)
Alitalia Yes up to 5 (note A) 10 kg total 3 mos. (within Europe) 17.5Lx8.5Wx10.2H (40x20x24 cm); 2-4 cm taller ok if soft-sided $200 from USA; 200 to USA (EUR, USD or CAD, depending on country of departure)
American Airlines Yes (but not transatlantic) 1 carrier not stated 8 weeks 19Lx13Wx9H
(slightly larger ok if
soft-sided)
$125
ANA All Nippon Airways No (checked only)
Asiana Airlines Yes 1 carrier (note B) 5 kg total 8 weeks “The sum of width, depth and height of the cage is less than 115cm and the height is 21cm or shorter
(Up to 25cm for soft cases)”
calculated as
excess baggage
Avianca Yes 1 not stated 8 weeks not stated $125 to/from USA
British Airways No (cargo only)
Cathay Pacific Airlines No (checked or cargo only)
Copa Airlines Yes 1 20 lbs. total 8 weeks 17Lx13Wx7.5H (hard-sided);
18Lx11Wx11H (soft-sided)
$75
Delta Yes (though not U.K., Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Hong Kong, UAE, Dubai, Dakar, Barbados, Jamaica) 1 (note C) not stated 10 weeks varies by plane; call Reservations fee varies; 200 “outside the U.S.” (EUR, USD or CAD, depending on country of departure)
Emirates No (checked or cargo only)
Etihad No (cargo only)
EVA Air No (checked only)
Iberia Yes 1+ (note D) 8 kg total not stated “The container may be a maximum of 45 cm in length, 35 cm in width and 25 cm in depth, provided that the sum of those 3 measurements does not exceed 105 cm.” 150 (EUR or USD, depending on flight), “except for return flights with origin in Brazil. The charge per animal for those flights is USD 240.”
Icelandair No (checked or cargo only)
JAL No (checked or cargo only)
KLM Yes 1 8 kg (18 lbs.) total not stated “max. dimensions 46 (length) x 28 (width) x 24 (height) cm, or in a hard kennel with max. dimensions 46 (length) x 28 (width) x 20 (height) cm” “The costs depend on the destination.”
Korean Air Yes 1 (note E) 5 kg (11 lbs.) total 8 weeks “No larger than 115 cm (45 in; for economy class, the height should be less than 20cm (8in) (soft cages can be 26 cm high (10 in)” KRW 200,000/USD 200/CAD 200/IDR 2,860,000 between Asia and America
LAN Yes 1 15 lbs. total 8 weeks (4 mos. for travel to USA) 14Lx13Wx7H (hard-sided);
14Lx13Wx9H (soft-sided)
$200 for “international routes”
Lufthansa Yes 1 8 kg total not stated 55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm 70 EUR,
100 USD/
CAD (intercontinental)
Open Skies Yes 1 6 kg (13.2 lbs.) total not stated “length 45 cm x width 30 cm x height 24 cm” $196 or 125€
Qantas No (checked or cargo only)
Qatar Airways No (checked or cargo only)
Ryanair No
SAS Yes 1 8 kg total 8 weeks 40 x 25 x 23 cm/16 x 10 x 9″ €91/$120 to US/Asia
Singapore Airlines No (checked or cargo only)
Swiss Yes 1 8 kg total not stated “118 cm (length + width + height)” fee varies; Switzerland-Intercontinental fee is CHF 90
TAP Portugal Yes 1 carrier
(note F)
8 kg (17 lbs.) total not stated “The pet container may not exceed 45cm in length, 30cm in width and 23cm in height” 150€ (intercontinental)
THAI No (checked only)
Turkish Airlines Yes 1 in-cabin carrier
(note G)
8 kg total 8 weeks “The size of allowed cages/bags for pets in the cabin is 23x40x55 cm (widthxheightxlength)” calculated as
excess baggage
United Yes: “Rules for international in-cabin pets vary. For additional assistance or information, or to book international in-cabin travel for a pet, contact the United Customer Contact Center.” not stated not stated not stated not stated not stated
Virgin Atlantic No (checked or cargo only)

Posted by

I was born with a gypsy heart. I have been wheeling & dealing my way through life, from as far back as I can recall. I have been referred to as a Maverick, more times than I can count. I am not quite sure, that I feel comfortable with that term. By trade I am a Tinker, Talent Scout & Technical Consultant. My tinker side curates vintage treasures. By blood I am a second generation American, Russian Jew. My Mom likes to call me her Wandering Jew. I am an semi avid"Foodie", Vinophile, Frankophile, Vikingophile, obsessed with celtic history and oddly war strategy. I am an obsessive researcher of facts. Semi neurotic about eating clean, humanely raised, organically and locally grown food and have been dedicated to it for more than 20 years. I strive to one day build and own a fully off grid, self sustainable home but it looks like, I'm going traveling first. I started my first business when I was 6. But that story is a story for another day. I went to school for Sound Engineering in San Francisco, in the 80s; started promoting punk bands and touring them, and it became a fairly thriving business for me. I left San Francisco and the music business, to raise my son in Florida, near his Gramma. We miraculously lived there for 10 years. When he turned 13, we took a 3 month journey across the US, to discover a new place to live, that landed us in Austin, Texas. When my son turned 17, I left Texas for New England and took up residence in an 150+ year old textile mill, on the Blackstone River. He now lives in Portland, Oregon with his girlfriend and his best friend, working in the legal marijuana industry and touring with his band Rotting Slab. Until I put everything in storage, in order to travel. I consulted in the video game, tech and entertainment industry and ran two (2) shops on etsy. www.etsy.com/shop/RenegadeRevival . www.lightlysaucedretro.com Maybe some day the Januarymoon blog will be active, but currently my main blog is about my travels www.rootlessroutes.com. Thanks for visiting. *~Eli

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