Carry-On Cat Travel Information for 11 Major US Airlines

cat on old suitcaseIf you’re looking for information about an airline’s main cabin carry-on pet policy for when you fly with your cat, here are summaries of the major ones nationwide. Please note, this information does not apply to certified service or support animals.

Generally, all carriers must have a leak-proof bottom and be well-ventilated, and your cat must be able to fit comfortably enough to stand up and turn around with ease.

One pet carrier per passenger is usually the limit, and most are considered as one item in your carry-on allowance. That means you can have two carry-on items: your cat carrier and a personal item; or your cat carrier and a regular size carry-on bag. If you board with all three, you may be charged extra, so look at your airline’s rules carefully.

The fees tend to be per carrier, one way. Each fee is “per flight segment,” so if you do have any stopovers, you may be charged an additional one. Ask before you book.

Airlines also require that your cat be “harmless, not disruptive, odorless, and require no attention during flight.”

While strollers for children are generally checked at the gate and returned to you before you disembark, there is no confirmation that this is the case if you’re bringing your cat stroller on your flight. So, you’ll need to check the airline’s policy, and also confirm that it is in addition to your carry-on allowance.

And if you’re wondering why it’s hard to bring your cat to Hawaii, that’s because it’s the only rabies-free state in the US. To keep it that way, strict documentation protocols are enforced. Animals without proper documentation can be quarantined for up to 120 days in Honolulu at the owner’s expense. You can read more at the State of Hawaii Animal Quarantine Branch

Below you’ll find the main information for the carry-on pet policy of 11 major US airlines with a direct link to their website pet page and contact phone number. Make your reservation as early as possible: the number of pets per cabin is limited, and most airlines observe a first-come, first-serve policy.

Alaska Air (800) 252-7522

Fee: $100 per carrier each way.
Passenger age: Passenger must be 18 years or older.
Maximum Carrier Size: Hard-sided 17″ x 11″ x 7.5″; soft-sided 17″ x 11″ x 9.5″ (LWH).
Carry-on Policy: The cat carrier counts as one of your carry-on bags.
Number per flight: Main cabin can accommodate 5 pet carriers per flight.
Carriers per person: Maximum 2 pet carriers per passenger, but only if adjacent seat purchased by that passenger.
Minimum age of pet: Kittens must be 8 weeks old or more.
Pets per carrier: Maximum 2 cats per carrier.
Note: No pet travel mid-November or between mid-December and early January.
Note: Alaska Air acquired Virgin America in December 2016 (in case you were searching).

Allegiant Air (702) 505-8888

Fee: $100 per carrier each way.
Passenger age: Passenger must be 15 years or older.
Maximum Carrier Size: 9″ H x 16″ W x 19″ D.
NOTE: Carrier must be soft-sided.
Carry-on Policy: Pet carrier NOT included in carry-on baggage limitations.
Number per flight: Total number of pet carriers allowed in cabin not stated.
Carriers per person: Maximum one pet carrier passenger.
Pets per carrier: Maximum 2 cats per carrier.
Note: No health certificate required.

American Airlines 800-433-7300

Fee: $125 per pet, each way.
Passenger age: not stated.
Maximum Carrier Size: Non-collapsible kennel maximum is 19in x 13in x 9in; soft-sided can be larger, but must fit under seat.
Carry-on Policy: Cat carrier counts as your carry-on bag.
Number per flight: Main cabin can accommodate 7 kennels.
Carriers per person: Maximum 2 pet carriers per passenger.
Minimum age of pet: Kitten must be 8 weeks or older.
Additional Notes:
– You cannot travel with a carry-on pet when traveling to/from Hawaii.
– There are heat and cold restrictions (85+ degrees F / less than 45 degrees F).

Delta Airlines (800) 221-1212

Fee: $125 one way (check if you’re flying outside the US)
Maximum Carrier Size: Not stated. “Check the under seat dimensions of the aircraft to ensure the kennel dimensions do not exceed the dimensions listed for the applicable aircraft and cabin confirmed.”
Carry-on Policy: one kennel counts as your carry-on bag.
Number per flight: Main cabin can accommodate 4 pets per flight (not kennels).
Minimum age of pet: Kitten must be 10 weeks or older.
Number of pets per carrier: One cat per carrier, except if they are same size, between ages 10 wks-6 months and small enough to fit. Will be charged as one pet.
Additional Notes:
– First-come, first-serve basis.
– For travel to Hawaii, pets are not permitted to travel in the cabin.

Frontier Airlines (801) 401-9000

Fee: $75 one way
Maximum Carrier Size: 18″ length x 14″ width x 8″ height.
NOTE: soft-sided case recommended.
Carry-on Policy: Carrier counts as carry-on, so you can either bring a personal item or a carry-on bag (in addition to the kennel), but not both.
Note: The airline does not require a health certificate; however, your destination state may.

Hawaiian Airlines (800) 367-5320

Fee: $35 in Hawaii; $175 from Hawaii to North America
Maximum Carrier Size: Length 16 in. X Width 10 in. X Height 9.5 in.
NOTE: Pet carrier must be soft-sided.
Maximum Weight: The animal(s) and carrier may not exceed 25 pounds total.
Number of pets per carrier: A carrier may hold one adult or two kittens of the same breed or litter. The 2 kittens must also between 8 weeks and 6 months old.
Additional Notes:
– Pets permitted in-cabin only on inter-island flights and flights leaving the State of Hawaii for North American (except JFK). Pets not allowed in first class.
– No animal health certificate required for travel within the State of Hawaii.

JetBlue Airways (800) 538-2583

Fee: $100 each way
Maximum Carrier Size: 17″L x 12.5″W x 8.5″H
Maximum Weight: The combined weight of your pet and the carrier must not exceed 20 pounds.
Carry-on Policy: Carrier counts as one carry-on bag.
Number per flight: Not stated (“Limited number of pet allowed on each flight.”)
Number of pets per passenger: One pet per customer.
Note: Check in your pet at the “Full Service” counter.

Southwest Airlines (800) 435-9792

Fee: $95 each way per pet carrier.
Passenger age: Pets are not permitted to travel with Unaccompanied Minors.
Maximum Carrier Size: 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide. (soft and hard-sided acceptable)
Carry-on Policy: Pet carriers are considered either a personal item or a carry-on item.
Number per flight: 6
Number of cat carriers per passenger: One pet carrier per ticketed passenger.
Number of pets per carrier: Carrier may contain two cats.
Minimum age of pet: Kittens must be at least 8 weeks old.
Additional Notes:
– U.S. domestic flights only. Pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin on international flights or any itinerary that includes an international flight.
– Pets must be checked in at the airport ticket counter.

Spirit Airlines (801) 401-2222

Fee: $110 per carrier each way.
Maximum Carrier Size: 18″x14″x9″ L x W x H
Maximum Weight: The combined weight of the pet and carrier may not exceed 40 pounds.
Number per flight: Maximum four pet carriers per flight.
Carriers per person: one
Pets per carrier: A maximum of 2 pets per container is permitted.
Minimum age of pet: The kitten should be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned.
Additional Notes:
– Allows on all domestic flights including Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
– Check-in at the ticket counter.
– Health certificate not required.

Sun Country Airlines (651) 905-2737

Fee: $125 ($199 for walk-up requests)
Maximum Carrier Size: 17″L x 13″W x 9″H. They say most pets under 16 pounds are small enough to fit comfortably.
Carry-on Policy: carrier counts as a carry-on item and must be included in your regular carry-on allotment.
Number per flight: four pets per flight (maximum 2 in First Class).
Carriers per person: One pet per ticketed passenger is allowed.
Additional Notes:
– Airline recommends a middle seat (has greatest under-seat space).
– This information is with respect to select flights within the 48 contiguous United States only.
– Pets will not be accepted on connecting flights or stopover flights greater than five hours in duration.

United Airlines (800) 864-8331

Fee: $125 each way.
Passenger age: Pets are not permitted to travel with unaccompanied minors.
Maximum Carrier Size: 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high for hard-sided cat carriers. Soft-sided kennels may exceed these dimensions slightly, as they are collapsible and able to conform to under-seat space without blocking the aisle. The measurements given are 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high.
Carry-on Policy: Your in-cabin pet may be carried in addition to a carry-on bag.
Number per flight: 4 per flight in Economy; 2 per flight in premium cabins on select aircraft (there are space restrictions, so some premium cabins do not permit any pets at all).
Minimum age of pet: Within the U.S. and Puerto Rico, kittens must be at least 8 weeks. On international flights, minimum age is 16 weeks.
Cats per Carrier: one.
Note: “Effective April 24, 2018, all customers traveling with in-cabin pets must check in with a United customer service representative in the airport lobby to receive a brightly colored yellow bag tag to attach to their pet’s kennel.”


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