Southwest Airlines flying with pets

What is Southwest Airlines policy on pet acceptance?

Southwest Airlines only accepts pets to travel in the passenger cabin only on domestic flights. Pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin on any itinerary that includes an international flight and to/from Hawaii.

Southwest Airlines does not accept any pets as checked baggage.

What pets are allowed in the passengers cabin?

Only domestic vaccinated dogs and cats are allowed to travel in the passenger cabin, as In-cabin Pets.

What responsibilities do I have?

You must make advance arrangements by calling Southwest Airlines at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792). Reservations for pets are not available online, but only by phone.

Southwest Airlines does not require a health certificate or any other documentation from a veterinarian for pets to travel.

In-cabin Pets

Southwest Airlines allows in the passenger cabin small domestic cats and dogs that must be carried in an appropriate pet carrier. All pets accepted on Southwest Airlines flights must be at least 8 weeks old, harmless, not disruptive, and odorless. Your pet must not require any attention during flight and remain in the carrier at all times (including head and tail) while in the gate area, during boarding/deplaning, and while onboard the aircraft.

Located mostly outside of the security checkpoint, all airports have at least one designated “animal relief” area. If, between connecting flights, you take your pet to an “animal relief” area, to return to the departure gate you have to pass through security. Make sure not to be late, because Southwest Airlines will not “hold” the flight until your return!

Pets are accepted on Southwest Airlines flights on a first come, first served basis. No more than 6 pet carriers are allowed per flight. Assistance animals do not count toward the maximum number of pets permitted on board. Sometimes circumstances may allow for more (or fewer) than six pet carriers per scheduled flight.

One ticketed passenger is permitted to travel with no more than one pet carrier. The carrier may contain 2 cats or dogs of the same species per carrier. In the carrier, the pet must be able to stand up and move around with ease.

You may not occupy an exit seat or a bulkhead seat when traveling with your pet.

Pet Carrier

Southwest Airlines accepts soft-sided and hard-sided carriers specifically designed as pet carriers that must be leak-proof and well ventilated. The pet carrier must be stowed in accordance with FAA regulations, so it must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. The Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier (17” long x 9.5” high x 10” wide) and other pet carriers not exceeding maximum dimensions of 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide are acceptable pet carriers. Southwest Airlines branded pet carriers can be purchased for $58 (tax included) at any Southwest Airport Ticket Counter or online. Pet carriers are nonrefundable.

Your pet carrier counts toward the carry-on allowance, either as a personal item or a carry-on bag.


Southwest Airlines charges a $95 fee each way per pet carrier, payable only at the ticket counter. If you decide not to travel, the pet fare is refundable. You must check your pet in at the airport ticket counter and pay the pet fare before going to the departure gate. You can still check in and secure your position online, at the self-service kiosk, curbside check-in, or ticket counter.

Service Animals

Southwest Airlines permits only fully trained Service Dogs used by a qualified individual with a disability to accompany the passenger on board the aircraft at no charge. Service animals are accepted in the passenger cabin, except when too large to be safely accommodated. Emergency exit seats may not be occupied by passengers traveling with a service animal.

Effective March 1, 2021, Southwest no longer accepts to transport Emotional Support Animals as Service Animals. Emotional Support Animals may still travel as In-cabin Pets, but the animals must meet all the above requirements.

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