Domestic Airline In-Cabin Pet Travel Checklist and Resources

Written by: Dr. Jean Hofve, Holistic Veterinarian, DVM

by Only Natural Pet in Cooperation with Dr. Jean Hofve, Holistic Veterinarian, DVM

In-Cabin Travel Checklist:

1. Reservation Required: When making your own airline reservation, be sure to also make a reservation for your pet. Typically, only 2 pets are allowed in the cabin per flight. Pets are not permitted in the cabin on international flights, or flights to Hawaii.

2. Pet's Don't Fly Free: In-cabin fees are typically $75 and up per pet each way.

3. Approved Pet Carrier: Typical dimensions are: 17"L X 12.5"W X 8"H; pet + carrier can typically weigh no more than 20 pounds. Fabric carriers are a great choice for in-cabin travel, since their shape is somewhat flexible.

4. Health Certificate: Most states and airlines require a health certificate issued within 10 to 30 days of travel by an accredited veterinarian, who must physically examine the animal. Contact your airline and destination state for specific requirements.

5. Vaccinations: Rules vary in different states as well as airlines, but a current rabies vaccine is usually required. The health certificate will typically list recent vaccinations.

6. Water, Food, Snacks: All of their favorite goodies are fine to bring on flights, but sometimes stress will suppress a pet’s appetite. But water is key; especially because air travel is dehydrating. Bring a collapsible travel bowl so you can offer your pet water.

7. Anxiety/Stress Remedies: There are many excellent holistic products that can help relax your anxious pet, such as pheromones, flower essences, herbs, and homeopathic remedies.


8. Treats and Toys: Especially for longer flights, you’ll want to have your pet’s favorite treats to help stay calm. A favorite toy will also help pass the time, but please avoid items that jingle or make noise out of courtesy to the other passengers.

9. Pet Bedding: You want to have something cozy for your pets to nest in during the flight; and an extra towel or set of bedding is advised just in case spilling, vomiting, or elimination issues occur. Bring a spare plastic bag to stow soiled items.

10. Collar and Leash: This is particularly important when carrying your pet through security. You don’t want kitty jumping out of your hands and into the x-ray machine, or running loose in the airport!

11. Identification and Photo: It’s always good to err on the side of caution when traveling with your pet. Bring at least one recent photo, and a list of your pet’s characteristics (age, weight, color, etc.). If your pet is micro-chipped, write down the chip number and registry contact information, and carry it with you in a pocket or purse (not with the pet).

12. Guide & Service Animals: Airlines are not permitted to deny access of service animals, if the animal has all the appropriate identification. Always check with your airline. There is typically no additional charge for service animals.

A list of major domestic airlines that allow in-cabin pet travel:

Jet Blue:

Southwest Airlines:

Virgin America Airlines: 

Skywest Airlines:

American Airlines:

Delta Airlines:

United Airlines:

Alaska Airlines: