Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

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.
  • Restrictions
    • 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. 

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.
  • 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.


Frequently Asked Questions on Southwest Airlines Pet Policy

No, Southwest Airlines does not allow pets to travel in the passenger cabin on international flights, or an itinerary that includes one or more international flights. 

Yes, Southwest Airlines requires passengers to make pet reservations in advance because the aircraft space is limited. There are times when fewer than 6 pet carriers may be accepted on a flight. You cannot make pet reservations online—you must call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) to book your pet.

Southwest Airlines only accepts small dogs and cats on-board its aircraft, as long as the pet carriers can be stowed under the front seat of the passenger travelling with the pet.

According to Southwest Airlines pet policy, the cost of traveling with a pet is USD 95 per way per pet carrier.

No, Southwest Airlines does not accept pets in the cargo section of the aircraft. Pets are only accepted in the passengers’ cabin.

Southwest Airlines pet policy allows up to 6 pet carriers on each flight. However, there are times when fewer (or more) pet carriers will be accepted per flight. 

Each passenger can travel with 1 pet carrier, and a pet carrier must not have more than 2 pets of the same species in it. 

Yes, Southwest Airlines accepts trained service animals on Southwest Airlines.

No, they don’t. Trained service animals don’t count as pets when counting the maximum number of pets allowed onboard Southwest Airlines. 

You can bring both soft- and hard-sided pet carriers, provided they are well ventilated, leak-proof, and small enough to fit under your front seat per FAA regulations. However, the pet carrier must be large enough for your pet to be comfortable in.

Yes, your pet carrier will either be treated as a carry-on bag or a personal item, depending on its size. 

You can pay your pet fare on Southwest by credit card. Remember, Southwest will not accept gift cards, LUV Vouchers, Travel Funds or cash toward the payment of your pet fare. 

No, Southwest Airlines does not require any pet vaccinations or health certificates if you’re travelling with a pet.

Yes, your pet will be able to relieve itself in the Animal Relief area at all the locations served by Southwest. Just ask a Southwest staff member to guide you at the airport. 

No, Southwest Airlines does not allow unaccompanied minors to travel with a pet.

Yes, Southwest allows passengers to cancel their pet reservation and ask for a refund if they choose not to rebook their flight. Just call 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) go to a ticket counter and ask them to process your refund. 

No, Southwest Airlines will not charge you to check in your pet carrier/stroller/crate. You’ll be allowed to check it in in addition to your normal free baggage allowance.

Southwest Airlines pet policy requires passengers to pay a pet fee of USD 95 per way per pet carrier on domestic flights (except to Hawaii). Pets are only allowed to travel in the passenger cabin.

Southwest Airlines emotional support pet policy has changed, and does not allow emotional support animals (ESA) on its flights any more.

Southwest Airlines pet policy for dogs allows small, domesticated dog breeds to travel in the passenger cabin on domestic flights within the United States (except to Hawaii). The pet carrier (with the dog inside it) must be small enough to fit under your front seat. Dogs that engage in disruptive behavior such as growling, barking, whining, or defecating/urinating in the cabin or airport will not be accepted.

Southwest Airlines pet carrier policy allows up to 6 pet carriers per flight. The size of your pet carrier must not exceed the maximum dimensions specified by Southwest, which is 17in (length) x 9.5in (height) x 10in (width) for Southwest’s pet carriers, and 18.5in (length) x 8.5in (height) x 13.5in (width) for other pet carriers. The pet carrier must be stowed according to FAA regulations. 

Each ticketed passenger is allowed 1 pet carrier, and no single pet carrier can contain more than 2 cats or dogs of the same species. Southwest also requires that your pet stay completely inside its carrier. Also, your pet must be comfortable inside its carrier and stay inside it at all times. 

Southwest Airlines ESA pet policy no longer allows emotional support animals (ESA) to travel on its flights. The only way you will likely be able to travel with an ESA is if your pet is dog or cat, and complies with all the requirements of Southwest Airlines pet policy.

The pet policy at Southwest Airlines allows only small dogs and cats to travel in the cabin on domestic flights within the United States, except to Hawaii. To qualify for travel, your pet must be at least 8 weeks old, have proof of vaccination, and booked in advance (online reservations are not accepted). 

Your pet must travel in in an approved per carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. Your pet carrier’s size must be within the specified dimensions, i.e., 17in in length, 9.5in in height, and 10in in width if you purchase one of Southwest’s pet carriers. Other pet carriers must not be more than 18.5in long, 8.5in high, and 13.5in wide. 

The pet carrier must be stowed according to FAA regulations. Southwest charges a fee of USD 95 per pet carrier, payable at the check-in counter at the time of checking in. The maximum number of pet carriers allowed per flight is up to 6 per flight, subject to 1 pet carrier per passenger. 

If you’re travelling with a pet on Southwest, you won’t be allowed to occupy an exit row seat or a seat that doesn’t have enough stowage space under your front seat to place your pet carrier.

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