Does Southwest Airlines Have a Pet Policy?

If you have a pet cat or a dog, you might sometimes have to carry them alone while flying, right? In such cases, knowing the pet policy of the respective airlines you are flying to is immensely important. So, have you scheduled your next flight with Southwest?  Do you wish to know if Southwest Airlines has a pet policy or not? Then, this article is a must-read. Let’s get started. 

Southwest Airlines Pet Policy – a Detailed Insight

Southwest Airlines is quite liberal about allowing pets on its flights. If you have a small domestic dog or cat that is well-vaccinated, you can carry them on the Southwest Airlines flight as cabin baggage ONLY ON DOMESTIC FLIGHTS. The domestic canines and felines must reach eight weeks of age to be eligible to board the Southwest Airlines flight. Another essential aspect is that unaccompanied minors cannot travel with pets on a Southwest flight. 

How Much is the Southwest Pet Fee?

The Southwest pet fee for all US Mainland flights is $125 per pet carrier per way. The charge is $35 per pet carrier per way for passengers flying between the Hawaiian Islands. The pet fare charges are subject to change. You must pay at the airport’s ticket counter using an accepted credit card. 

The Southwest pet fee is refundable if you cancel your reservation or flight and don’t rebook. Call Southwest Airlines or go to the ticket counter to request a refund. For each ticketed customer, a single pet career is allowed. 

Each pet carrier should contain a maximum of similar feline or canine species. Because space is limited, you must reserve in advance by calling Southwest Airlines at 1-800-435-9792 (1-800-I-FLY-SWA) if you carry a pet onboard. 

Restrictions Regarding Traveling with Pets to Some Destinations 

Southwest Airlines doesn’t allow flights going to or coming from Hawaii. If you are boarding an international flight, you won’t be allowed to carry pets. The same goes for any itinerary that includes an international flight. 

There are some restrictions as well if you are traveling to Puerto Rico. Any bird or animal entering Puerto Rico should be furnished with an official certificate that bears testimony of veterinary inspection. Any accredited veterinarian of the state of origin must sign on the certificate with a 30-day validity from the inspection date. Before shipping birds or animals, you must also provide an import permit. The following details are required for the import permit: 

  • The consignor’s name and address
  • The species of animals, alongside the number 
  • A detailed description of the animals, including specific identification, such as microchips for birds and horses, collars for dogs and cats, etc. 
  • Origin point 
  • Vaccines given, and vaccination. 
  • Proposed shipment date
  • Local address and destination
  • Transportation means
  • Reasons for the use and shipment of animals 
  • A health certificate is needed to prove that the animals don’t have symptoms of any contagious or infectious disease and have not been exposed to any of these diseases. 

Is Southwest strict with pet carrier size?

Yes, Southwest is strict with pet, and pet carrier size. The average weight shouldn’t exceed 20 lbs, whereas the height and width should be 11 inches. The length shouldn’t be more than 19 inches. If you have the Southwest Airlines pet carrier, the preferred dimensions are 17 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 9.5 inches high. 

If you have chosen a pet carrier from other places, the expected dimensions are 18.5 inches long, 13.5 inches wide, and 9.5 inches high. If pets exceed the recommended size, they cannot fly with Southwest. For oversized pet carriers, you must talk to Southwest officials before your departure date. 

Tips to Follow At the Airport and On Board When Carrying Pets on Southwest Airlines

  • Pets should be inside the carrier not only while boarding and deplaning but also during the entire flight duration. Your pet will not be transported if you don’t adhere to the rules.
  • When onboard, stow the pet carrier under your seat. 
  • The pet carrier should be properly ventilated and leakproof. The dog or cat must be inside the carrier during the journey. However, your pet must have enough space to stand or move around comfortably. 
  • Ensure that you adhere to the recommended dimensions (mentioned above). 
  • Pet carriers may be carried on as carry-on baggage or a personal item. So, you could carry a pet carrier and a personal item or board the flight with a pet carrier and a regular-sized carry-on bag. 
  • If your pet displays disruptive behavior during the flight, it may not be allowed to board. Unexpected behaviors include scratching, barking, excessive whining, lunging, growling, biting, defecating, or urinating at the gate or inside the cabin. 
  • Air travel, at times, gets stressful for your dog or cat. So, if your canine or feline has brachycephalic airways or any pre-existing condition like heart ailments or anxiety disorders, it is always advised to consult a veterinarian regarding your pet’s boarding the flight. 
  • If you have Rapid Reward Points, remember your pets won’t be eligible for the same. 

Can You Carry Cremated Remains of Your Pet On Southwest Airlines?

Yes, cremated pet remains may be taken as a carry-on. You cannot carry them as checked baggage since security officials will inspect them at the checkpoint. It’s advisable to carry the items in a cardboard or plastic container the crematorium provides. 

This will help the items pass the X-ray screening. If the container cannot be screened, the officials at the security checkpoint will not allow you to take the remains on board. 

Does Southwest Airlines Permit Service Animals?

Southwest Airlines permits service dogs on board if they are adequately trained to perform tasks to help persons with disability. The service dog must always be leashed, harnessed or tethered to you on the flight and at the airport. They must behave well and be under their owner’s control. If your service dog shows disruptive behavior or threatens the safety and security of other passengers, he won’t be allowed to board the flight. 

One of the primary documents to produce is the US DOT Service Animal Air Transportation form. The date on the form must be either on or after the purchase date of your ticket. You cannot produce any other substitute for the form, such as a registration certificate, ID card, harness, or service animal vest. 

Upon reaching the airport with your service animal, you must contact the customer service agent at the departure gate or ticket counter to submit the form. The employees might ask you questions regarding your service dog to determine whether it is eligible to fly as a service dog or can be accepted as a pet on board. Southwest Airlines provides service dog relief places at different airport locations. Avoid sitting with your dog near the emergency exit. Also, ensure that your dog doesn’t block the exit gate, doesn’t block the tray table, or encroach on other passenger’s seats.

Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and some international destinations have varied rules regarding traveling with service dogs. Based on your itinerary’s location, you must research and comply with the laws and regulations of the place you would be flying to. 

If you are visiting Hawaii from the mainland of the U.S., you must comply with the rules regarding the transport of animals. HNL (Honolulu International Airport) is the only entry point for dogs coming to Hawaii unless the Hawaii Department of Agriculture has issued the Neighbor Island Inspection Permit. If you don’t have the permit to your departure city, you must rebook your flight to the HNL airport. 

The Plants and Animals Declaration form is significant, on which you must declare your service dog. The flight attendant will distribute and collect the forms before the flight lands in Hawaii. Trained service dogs sans proper documentation will face quarantine at Honolulu at their owner’s expense. 

The restrictions for pets traveling to Puerto Rico have been mentioned above. If you are planning to travel with your service dog to Puerto Rico, know all the rules in depth to prevent any untoward situation.


Southwest Airlines does have a pet policy, though it isn’t that stringent. However, you must adhere to the rules to avoid any inconvenience. Ensure you train your pets well so they are well-behaved on the flight and do not indulge in unwanted behavior. Else, they won’t be allowed on the flight. For any concerns or queries about the Southwest Airlines Pet Policy, contact their customer service number at 1-800-435-9792 (1-800-I-FLY-SWA).

FAQssouthwest airlines pet policy

What is Southwest Airlines’ pet policy fee?

As mentioned, a pet fee of $125 per pet each way is charged for all US mainland flights. For flights operating between the Hawaiian Islands, the average cost per pet each way is $35.

Can your dog sit on your lap on a Southwest Airlines flight?

If your dog isn’t larger than a two-year-old kid, they can sit on your lap or near your feet. This seems more relevant if you are travelling with a service dog. When using a career, you should stow your dog under your seat.

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