Southwest Airlines allows you to travel with small domestic pets such as cats and dogs in the cabin on most flights. However, it does not accept pets either as checked baggage or as cargo.
Southwest Airlines pet policy limits the number of pet carriers to 6 per flight. Pet reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, so you should reserve as soon as your travel plans are confirmed.
Southwest Airlines Carry-on Pet Policy
Southwest Airlines carry-on pet policy allows pets in the passenger cabin only on domestic flights. If you’re travelling with a pet on Southwest, below are a few points to remember:
- Pets Allowed. Only domesticated dogs and cats are permitted on Southwest flights.
- Forms Required. You must have proof of current vaccination.
- Pet Age. Your cat or dog must be at least 8 weeks old to travel.
- Pet Reservations
- Pet reservations cannot be made online.
- Pet reservations must be made in advance.
- Domestic Flights (U.S.)
- You must make advance reservations by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).
- On the day of travel, bring your pet to in an approved pet carrier to the airport.
- Go to the airport’s ticket counter to check in your pet in and pay the pet fare before proceeding to the departure gate.
- International Flights
- Pets are not permitted to travel in the cabin on an international flight or an itinerary that includes an international flight.
- Pet Fee
- Southwest charges a pet fee of USD 95 per way per pet carrier.
- You can pay the pet fee at the check-in counter when checking in.
- Pet fares are refundable.
- Service Dogs. Are allowed to travel free of charge in the passenger cabin.
- Check-in Requirements
- You must check in your pet at the airport ticket counter.
- You can download your boarding pass online or collect it at the airport (curbside, kiosk, ticket counter).
- Pets must be harmless, non-disruptive, odorless, and must not require any attention onboard.
- Number of Pets Allowed. A maximum of 6 pets are permitted per flight, subject to 1 pet carrier per paying passenger.
- Route Restrictions
- Pets cannot travel in-cabin on an international flight or an itinerary comprising an international flight (incl. Puerto Rico).
- Pets are not accepted on flights to Hawaii. However, pets are accepted on Southwest flights within Hawaii.
- Seating Restrictions
- Passengers travelling with pets cannot occupy exit row seats or seats without stowage space under the forward seat.
- Breed Restrictions
- Southwest does not prohibit any dog or cat breed from travelling in the passenger cabin. However, it will not tolerate any form of aggressive behavior.
- Route Restrictions
Pet Carrier Requirements
Southwest Airlines policy on pets requires that:
- All pets must be transported in an acceptable carrier.
- Max dimensions:
- The Southwest pet carrier—17in (length) x 9.5in (height) x 10in (width).
- Other pet carriers—18.5in (length) x 8.5in (height) x 13.5in (width).
- Can be either soft-sided or hard-sided, and specifically designed for carrying pets.
- Must be leak-proof and properly ventilated.
- Must be small enough to fit under your front seat.
- Must be stowed per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
- Max dimensions:
- Only 1 pet carrier per paying passenger is permitted.
- Your pet carrier can contain up to 2 cats or 2 dogs—and of the same species.
- Your pet must be completely inside the pet carrier.
- Your pet must be able to stand and move around with ease.
- You pet must be secured at all times inside the pet carrier—including in the gate area, during the flight, and when deplaning.
- Your pet’s carrier can be considered a personal item or a carryon item.
- You can board the aircraft:
- With a pet carrier and a personal item, or
- A pet carrier and a regular sized carryon bag
- You cannot board the aircraft with all these 3 items: a pet carrier + a regular carry-on bag + a personal item.
Disruptive Pets May be Denied Boarding
Pets engaging in disruptive behavior (see below) may be denied boarding. Disruptive behavior includes—but is not limited to:
- Excessive scratching, barking or whining
- Growling, lunging, biting
- Defecating or urinating in the gate area or cabin
- For passengers traveling to Puerto Rico, specific requirements may apply
How to Get a Refund on Your Southwest Pet Fare
Southwest Airlines pet policy for in-cabin pets allows refunds on pet reservations.
If you cancel your reservation, or your flight is canceled and you do not rebook:
- Call Southwest at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) and ask for a refund, or
- Visit the airport ticket counter for processing your refund
Southwest Airlines Checked Baggage Pet Policy
Southwest Airlines does not currently allow pets to travel as checked baggage on its flights.
Southwest Airlines Air Cargo Pet Policy
Southwest Airlines does not allow pets to travel as cargo baggage on its flights.
Trained Service Animals
Southwest Airlines pet policy allows passengers with a disability to travel with trained service animals in the passenger cabin free of charge—both on domestic and international flights. Under the new policy, only trained dogs will count as service animals.
Passengers travelling with trained service animals must:
- Verbally assure the Southwest staff about the training of their service animal.
- Satisfy Southwest (if required) about the service dog’s ability to serve them.
- Carry the forms issued by the US DOT for their service animal.
- Ensure that their service dog is:
- Well-behaved throughout the flight.
- Does not disturb passengers or the aircraft crew.
- Be equipped to handle their service dog’s sanitary needs.
Law Enforcement Service Animals
Southwest Airlines accepts trained dogs to travel in the cabin for free with their handlers if:
- The dog is trained to perform law enforcement duties
- The handler is carrying the trained service dog’s certificate and mission details.
Southwest Airlines ESA pet policy
Southwest Airlines pet policy no longer accepts emotional support animals (ESA), such as dogs, cats, miniature ponies, hamsters, or other animals. If you need to travel with an emotional support animal, contact Southwest for assistance.