Traveling With Pets: The Complete Guide to Airline & Hotel Policies, Helpful Tips, and Discounts

About the Author

@emily_

Digital Marketing Manager here at Dealspotr! Email me with your questions: emily@dealspotr.com :)

Traveling With Pets: The Complete Guide to Airline & Hotel Policies, Helpful Tips, and Discounts

From the rise of “doggo” culture to the proliferation of Grumpy Cat memes, it’s clear that we’re all a little bit obsessed with our pets. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of Americans own pets including 60.2 million homes with dogs, 47.1 million homes with cats, and 7.9 million homes with birds.

And, in fact, many reports suggest that millennials and younger generations are increasingly opting to have fur babies in their lives instead of, well, human ones.

But, what happens when you want to travel with your pupper? For a long time, pet travel has been challenging at best. However, more and more businesses are opening their doors to our furry, feathered, and even scaly friends, including travel services such as flights, train rides, and hotel rooms.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to hook you up with the best deals on pet-friendly travel and accomodations. Here we focus specifically on companion animals as the rules and regulations for service animals are a little different. Here’s what you’ll get in this guide:

  • 11 incredible tips for traveling with your pets

  • A comprehensive list of airlines, hotels, rental companies, trains, and other travel services that allow you to bring your pets with you

  • Several ways to access discounts for pet travel

Traveling with your pet can be stressful, especially with stories like this tragic incident popping up in the news. That’s why it’s crucial that you take some preparatory and precautionary steps to make sure that your pet has a safe and comfortable travel experience.

Top tips for traveling with your pet

Here are our 11 best tips for traveling with your pet:

Book tickets as early as possible

Some travel services may only allow a limited number of pets on each trip, so make sure you get your tickets as far in advance as possible. Plus, it’ll give you time to figure out the rules and regulations to get prepared for your trip.

Get a suitable pet carrier

Soft carriers are a great choice for traveling, but you may need to have a hard carrier in some instances such as if your pet is traveling in the baggage compartment on a flight. You’ll want to be sure your pet can sit, stand, and turn around comfortably.

Label your carrier appropriately and get ID tags

Make sure that the carrier has a sign letting personnel know there’s a live animal inside. Mark your name, address, and cell phone number as well. You should also get ID tags for your pet that include all of this information.

Schedule feeding and potty breaks accordingly

You want to make sure that your pet isn’t hungry while you’re traveling, but also that they’ve had enough time to take care of business. For example, you’ll want to feed your dog around four hours before a trip.

Pack a favorite toy

Getting on a plane or train or bus can be stressful for a pet, especially if they’re not allowed to move around and sniff things out. Their favorite toy can be comforting and offer a sense of familiarity.

Take a visit to the vet

In some cases, you may need to show recent proof that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date and that they’re in good health. Be sure to ask your vet about best practices for traveling with your pet.

Train them in advance

Especially if it’s their first big trip, have your pet spend some time in their crate or carrier every day so they can get accustomed to it and associate it with good feelings instead of stress.

Prepare a travel kit

Delays and unexpected circumstances are all too common when you’re traveling. Put together a kit that includes extra food, some first-aid supplies, a water bowl, a leash, and extra plastic baggies.

Be aware of the weather

Extreme heat or cold can have a negative impact on your pet’s health. If you’re traveling in the summer, plan your trip for the morning or night. In the winter, be sure to travel in the afternoon and take extra precautions to keep them warm.

Talk with personnel

Make sure that attendants and other personnel know that you’re traveling with a pet so you can work together to ensure your pet is safe and happy during your travels.

Consider registering your pet as an emotional support animal

If you have a pet that you need to travel with for emotional support, you may be able to get special accommodations for them or even free or discounted rates.

Helpful Resources for traveling with pets

In addition to this guide, there are several websites out there dedicated to helping you find the best ways to travel with your pets. Check these out:

Traveling with pets: Planes

Flights are probably the trickiest to navigate when it comes to traveling with your pets, especially if they’re large. Here’s a few extra tips for traveling with your pet via plane:

  • Fly direct whenever possible.

  • Don’t give your pet tranquilizers as the effects at high altitudes can be unpredictable.

  • Fly with your pet in the main cabin when possible, especially if they’re a short-nosed (Brachycephalic) dog or cat such as an English bulldog or Persian cat since they tend to have breathing issues that can be exacerbated by high altitudes.

  • If you’re traveling with two small pets, find out if they can be flown in one carrier to save you some money!

  • Check with your airport or any airports you transfer at to see if they have a pet relief area.

  • Find out if your pet needs a health certificate to fly. Some airlines may not require this, but there are certain states you may travel to that require one.

  • Some airlines don’t accept pets during busy seasons or on flights to popular locations, so check with your airline to make sure you can bring your pet on your trip.

Now that you’re all set and ready to jet with your pet, here’s a list of major airlines and their pet policies to help you choose your flights:

Alaska Airlines

Fees

Pets are permitted in the main cabin or baggage for $100

Traveling in cabin

Dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds are permitted in the cabin provided the carrier can fit under your seat. Pet carrier counts as your carry-on item. Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old.

Traveling in baggage

Cats, dogs, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, household birds, non-poisonous reptiles, pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, and tropical fish can travel in the baggage compartment.

Health certificate

Required for pets traveling in baggage only. Must be dated within 10 days of your flight or 30 days of your return ticket if you purchased round-trip.

Specials and discounts

Get a free checkup and travel consultation for your pet at Banfield Pet Hospital, and check for Alaska Airlines promo codes here.

Allegiant Air

Fees

Dogs and cats only are permitted in the main cabin for $100

Traveling in cabin

Pets must be in a soft carrier that can fit under your seat. Carrier does not count as your carry-on item.

Traveling in baggage

Not permitted.

Health Certificate

Not required.

Discounts

Check for Allegiant Air promo codes here.

American Airlines

Fees

Dogs and cats are permitted in the cabin for $125 or can be checked for $200.

Traveling in cabin

Soft or hard carriers are allowed. Must be able to fit under your seat. Carrier counts as your carry-on baggage.

Traveling in baggage

Must inform airline of your pet at least 48 hours in advance. Check-in at ticket counter required. Leave extra time for check-in as you’ll need to go through a checklist with an agent.

Health certificate

Required for pets traveling in baggage only. Must be dated within 10 days of your flight or 60 days of your return ticket if you purchased round-trip.

Discounts

Check for American Airlines promo codes here.

Delta Air Lines

Fees

Dogs, cats, and household birds (US flights only) are permitted in the cabin for $125 for flights within the US and Canada and $200 international.

Traveling in cabin

Soft or hard carriers are allowed. Must be able to fit under your seat. Carrier counts as your carry-on baggage. Pets must be at least 10 weeks old.

Traveling in baggage

Not permitted except for US Military Personnel and Foreign Service Officers. However, you can ship your pet on Delta Cargo.

Health certificate

Not required.

Discounts

Check for Delta Air Lines promo codes here.

Frontier Airlines

Fees

Domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, or small household birds may be carried on flights within the United States for a $75 fee. Dogs and cats permitted on international flights. Fee can be paid in advance or at the airport.

Traveling in cabin

Soft or hard carriers are allowed. Must be able to fit under your seat. Carrier counts as your carry-on baggage.

Traveling in baggage

Not permitted.

Health certificate

Required for international flights only.

Discounts

Check for Frontier Airlines promo codes here.

Hawaiian Airlines

Fees

Dogs, cats, and household birds may travel on inter-island flights or flights leaving Hawaii, but not flights entering Hawaii. Fee is $35 within Hawaii and $175 to destinations in North America.

Traveling in cabin

Soft, leak-proof carriers that can fit under your seat only. Pet or pets must not exceed 25 pounds including the carrying case and are not permitted in First Class.

Traveling in baggage

Pets are not permitted in baggage on international flights or trips to New York. Must not exceed 75 pounds including the carrier. Check-in needs to be done at the ticketing counter and you should inform them of your pet at least 48 hours in advance.

Health certificate

Required for travel from Hawaii to North America and must be dated with 14-days of your flight.

Discounts

Check for Hawaiian Airlines promo codes here.

JetBlue

Fees

Small dogs and cats can fly for a $100 fee.

Traveling in cabin

Combined weight of pet and carrier should not exceed 20 pounds. Pet and carrier count as your carry-on bag. Must be able to fit under your seat.

Traveling in baggage

Not permitted.

Health certificate

Not specified.

Specials and discounts

JetPaws program offers a free bag-tag for your carrier and 300 TrueBlue rewards points for each segment of your trip you travel with your pet. You can also check for JetBlue promo codes here.

Southwest Airlines

Fees

Small dogs and cats can fly for a $95 fee on domestic flights only.

Traveling in cabin

Pets can travel in hard or soft leak-proof carriers and must be able to fit under your seat. Carrier can count as either your carry-on item or personal item. Pets must be at least eight weeks old. Check-in at the ticket counter is required.

Traveling in baggage

Not permitted.

Health certificate

Not required.

Specials and discounts

Southwest doesn’t charge a fee for checked bags, so you can check what you might use as a carry-on on another flight free of charge. You can also check for Southwest promo codes here.

Spirit Airlines

Fees

Small dogs, cats, and household birds can fly for a $110 fee on domestic flights only.

Traveling in cabin

Pets can travel in hard or soft leak-proof carriers and must be able to fit under your seat. Pet and carrier can’t exceed 40 pounds and pet must be at least eight weeks old. Check-in at the ticket counter is required. Call the Reservations Center at 801.401.2222 to book.

Traveling in baggage

Not permitted.

Health certificate

Not required.

Discounts

Check for Spirit Airlines promo codes here.

United Airlines

Fees

Dogs, cats, rabbits and household birds can fly for a $125 fee. Stopovers of more than four hours will be subject to an additional $125 fee. Large animals can be shipped at rates that vary depending on size.

Traveling in cabin

Pets can travel in hard or soft leak-proof carriers that can fit under your seat. Customers may have a carry-on bag in addition to their pet carrier.

Traveling in baggage

Not permitted, however larger animals can be shipped by United through their PetSafe program.

Health certificate

Required for PetSafe shipping and must be from within 10 days of the flight. Not required for in-cabin domestic flights, but rabies vaccination proof is required upon entering the US.

Discounts

Check for United Airlines promo codes here.

Sun Country Airlines

Fees

Small dogs and cats can be carried on for $125 if reserved in advance or for a $199 walk-up fee subject to availability. Checked pets cost $199. Must check-in at ticket counter for either of these options.

Traveling in cabin

Pets can travel in hard or soft leak-proof carriers that can fit under your seat and should be less than around 16 pounds. The carrier counts as your carry-on bag. Pets are not accepted on connecting flights or stopovers greater than five hours.

Traveling in baggage

Pet and carrier weight must not exceed 100 pounds. Carrier must be made of rigid plastic and be labeled with a sign that says, “Live Animal.”

Health certificate

Health certificate and letter of acclimation issued by a vet within 30 days of the flight is required for checked pets.

Discounts

Check for Sun Country Airlines promo codes here.

International airlines that allow pets onboard

If you’re flying internationally, these airlines allow you to have pets with you either in the cabin or checked (some restrictions may apply):

Some of them even let you bring your falcon in the cabin with you!

Traveling with pets: Trains & Buses

Because of a government subsidization program that saved the passenger rail industry in the 1970’s, Amtrak is the only company offering inter-city train travel in the US.

Amtrak

Fee

$25 or 800 Guest Rewards Points per trip segment

Restrictions

Only small cats and dogs weighing less than 20 pounds with carrier are permitted on trips less than seven hours. Hard or soft leak-proof carriers are allowed as long as they meet dimension requirements.

Only five pets are allowed on each train, so be sure to book early. Customers may only have one pet per trip and pets are only permitted in Coach class.

Canada

If you’re traveling in Canada, the main passenger train company VIA Rail only allows pets to be checked in a hard cage. Rates vary from $30-50.

Mexico

Train travel into Mexico is limited to luxury tourist trains, while passenger rails throughout the country are limited.

Europe

According to Eurail, a company that links several international railways in Europe, many countries will permit a small dog for free or a large dog for half of the price of second-class fare.

Buses

Unfortunately, most bus companies do not allow you to travel with your pets, so planes or trains might be a better option for you to consider.

Rental Cars

If you’re planning a road trip and want to rent a car, these companies have pet-friendly policies:

  • Advantage. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required.

  • Alamo. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required. Pets must be crated at all times.

  • Avis. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required.

  • Budget. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required.

  • Dollar Rental Car. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required. Crating is recommended.

  • Enterprise. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required. Pets must be crated at all times.

  • Hertz. Does not permit pets, although some Swedish locations allow dogs and will install protective grills in the car for you.

  • National. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required. Pets must be crated at all times.

  • Zipcar. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required. Pets must be crated at all times.

  • Car2go. Pets allowed at no charge except in the case that additional cleaning is required. Pets must be crated at all times.

Traveling with pets: Hotels and homestays

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll need to make sure that you can have your pet with you in your lodgings. For small hotels and inns, just call their customer service line and ask if pets are permitted. You can also check out these helpful sites that allow you to search for pet-friendly hotels at your destination:

Hotel chains that allow pets in your room

These national hotel chains allow you to have pets in your room with you:

  • Red Roof Inn. One pet under 80 pounds stays free.

  • La Quinta. Up to two domestic pets free of charge.

  • Marriott Hotels typically charges a fee of around $50-100 depending on size and availability. You can search for their pet-friendly locations here.

  • Loews Hotels. Allows up to two pets. Fees vary by location. Also offers a special pet food menu and loans out supplies like beds and litter boxes.

  • Candlewood Suites. Allows pets under 80 pounds. Fee for six nights is up to $75 and fee for seven or more nights is up to $150.

  • Choice Hotels (includes Quality Inn, Comfort Inn, Cambria, Ascend, Comfort Suites, Sleep Inn, Comfort Suites, Clarion, Econolodge, Rodeway Inn, and Mainstay Suites). Fees vary starting around $10. Find pet-friendly locations here.

  • Extended Stay America. Allows pets for $25+ taxes fee per night.

  • Motel 6. Allows two pets per room free of charge. No weight restrictions.

  • Best Western. Allows up to two dogs per room and other pets at each hotel’s discretion for a fee of $20 per night or a maximum of $100 per week.

  • Double Tree. Allows pets at some locations for $75. Search for pet-friendly locations here.

  • Fairmont Hotels. Most locations allow pets with fees typically around $25, but maxing out at $250.

  • Kimpton Hotels. All pets allowed free of charge.

  • Aloft Hotels. Allows any dog up to 40 pounds to stay free of charge and offers dog treats, toys, and beds.

  • Sheraton Hotels. Most locations allow dogs up to 80 pounds and other animals at the manager’s discretion. Fees vary. Also offers a dog bed, floor mats, food bowls, and a welcome kit for you and your pup to scope out the local dog parks, stores, and pet-friendly spots.

  • Hampton Inn. Pet policies vary by location with fees ranging from $25-100.

  • Hyatt. Many locations allow pets with varying fees up to $100. Some locations also offer special pet amenities such as beds and even a photoshoot at their Vienna location.

Pet policies on homestay sites  

Most homestay sites allow the hosts to determine their own policies. These are the policies from your favorite homestay websites:

  • Airbnb. Pets are allowed at the host’s discretion and may be subject to additional fees. Look for the “Pets Allowed” amenity on your host’s site.

  • Homeaway. Pets are allowed at the host’s discretion and may be subject to a pet fee or a refundable cleaning fee that you’ll get back if the home is left in good condition.

  • VRBO. Pets are allowed at the host’s discretion and may be subject to a pet fee or a refundable cleaning fee that you’ll get back if the home is left in good condition.

  • FlipKey. Encourages hosts to offer pet-friendly housing with fees and deposits at their own discretion.

  • Wimdu. Pets are allowed at the host’s discretion and may be subject to additional fees. Look for the “Pets Allowed” amenity on your host’s site.

Pet Travel Discounts

  • AAA members can receive a 20% discount on travel and outdoor dog supplies at Kurgo with the code AAAKURGO18.

  • Petco. Join the Pals Rewards program and earn one point for every dollar spent which you can cash out for a $5 reward once you reach 100 points. Get a free gift on your pet’s birthday, too!

  • PetSmart. Join the Pet Perks program and get discounts on everyday items.

  • Pet Supermarket. Join the VIP program and earn one point for every dollar spent which you can cash out for a $5 reward once you reach 100 points. They also have a buy 10 get one free program on pet food for VIP members.

  • Military and foreign service discounts. Many airlines offer discounted or free flights for active-duty service members who are relocating or foreign service officers on assignment including United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines.

You can also check out this Pet Stores and Supplies discount section to find ways to save on the supplies you need to travel with your pet comfortably and happily. 

Get each week's best deals from Dealspotr in your inbox

This guide was published on March 20, 2018, and last modified on March 20, 2018.

Enjoy this guide? Spread good knowledge.