Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is a low-cost American airline. Pets are welcome to travel in the cabin with Southwest Airlines. Visit Website

Or call (800) 435-9792 for more information. You can use BringFido to find a pet friendly place to stay at your destination.

Pets in the Cabin

Southwest Airlines allows customers to travel with 1 small cats and dogs in the cabin on domestic flights. Carriers may contain up to 2 cats or dogs of the same species if they fit comfortably inside the carrier and will count as carry-on allowance. The pet fee is $125 on flights in the U.S. and $35 on flights between Hawaiian islands each way.

Pets in Checked Baggage

Unfortunately, pets are not permitted to travel as checked baggage with Southwest Airlines.

Carrier Guidelines

For pets traveling in the cabin, soft or hard-sided carriers should be a maximum of 18.5" x 8.5" x 13.5" (47 cm x 22 cm x 34 cm). Carriers must also be leak-proof, well ventilated, and small enough to fit under the seat in front. Cats and dogs must be able to stand up and move around the carrier with ease. Carriers also need to be small enough to fit under the seat in front of yours.

Other Restrictions

Pets are not permitted on international flights and only 6 carriers are allowed on each flight.


BringFido Guest Rating

Southwest Airlines has received a rating of 3.4 out of 5 bones by 21 canine critics on BringFido.

  • Paige
    Sep 1, 2023
    Good experience traveling with cat

    Had a very good experience flying with kitty from Phoenix to Portland. Even getting thru TSA went smoothly. 5 fish bones!

  • Pimms
    Jul 22, 2023
    Hit or Miss. Depends on Check in Agent. Unsure whether to continue.

    We have been flying with our 16 pound non-shedding, quiet Havanese for 7 years with Southwest, with the same Sturdibag carrier that can flex and that he fits into easily. It fits under all seats. Most of the time it is not an issue. Flying back out of IAD the past few years, we get hassled each time about the size of the carrier and the fact that he cannot stand in it. The only dog that could stand in a carrier under Southwest's bag restrictions would be a very short Yorkie. Most CATS couldn't even meet that height limitation, and I'd love to see them try to get a cat to stand and turn on command. I'm pretty sure they don't make cats take that test, because it's stressful, and, well, cats. I don't think they'd allow a dachshund, because they'd argue it couldn't turn around easily. I'm a little concerned about the recent comments about DEN. I hate making long drives, but we have to reconsider if the airlines keep giving us a hard time.

  • Elisabeth
    Jun 26, 2023
    Southwest Airlines in Denver

    If I could give 0 bones for Southwest in Denver, I would. We have flown with my dogs 8 times without any problems, but this when I tried to fly out of Denver to CA, the Southwest Agent wouldn't let my husband and I fly with one of our dogs because he couldn't stand up and turn around in his carrier. It was the SAME carrier we had used the past 8 times! We told the Southwest Agent and her stupid Southwest Manager this, but they didn't care. The Manager asked if we could leave our dog with someone. We were checking in for a flight!!! Who would we ask to take care of our dog and pick him up from the Denver Airport?!! Our dog is 20 pounds with longer legs, but can lay down comfortably in the carrier. The spaces under the Southwest seats are small. What dog over 10 pounds can stand and turn around in their carrier when they are put under the seat!!! We had our dogs in a dog stroller while in the Denver Airport, which the Southwest Agent saw, and we don't put our dogs in their carrier until we board the plane. We ended up having to drive to CA. By the way, we were stuck at Denver Airport for 14 hours on Christmas 2022 because of the Southwest Airlines fiasco and we had our 2 dogs with us. Southwest didn't seem to care about our welfare let alone are dogs' welfare! We ended up missing Christmas with my family and again, we had to drive to CA. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me or should I say, fly on Southwest and get crapped on, shame on them, fly on Southwest again and get crapped a 2nd time, time to throw out the shovel and use a better airline!!!!

  • Jacs
    Oct 9, 2022
    Space under seat smaller than usual

    Flown with my dog countless times, always in the same carrier. This time the space under the seat had some plastic attachments that would not fit the carrier. Staff were extremely rude and made us smash the carrier in (with our dog in it that just had surgery). Never flying southwest again.

  • Jen
    Oct 1, 2022
    Be prepared to be STRANDED.

    This is our first time flying with Southwest into Denver, Colorado from Dallas, Texas with our 20lbs Corgi. She flew in successfully from the Dallas location and the carrier fit great with us in the cabin. Heading back home to Dallas from Denver, they DENIED her check-in. They had stated she wouldn't be allowed to fly due to her size, even though she flew in with them. We were left STRANDED at their airport with no liabilities on their end and their sister location. They had no cargo and simply offered nothing but that "they care about her wellbeing" even though she flew in from their Dallas location with no apologies. Then they proceeded to pet our pup without our permission and asked if we wanted to still travel with them, knowing she wouldn't be able to travel back with us. WTF is that. Firstly, we wouldn't have traveled at all if our Corgi was denied beforehand. But the fact that she was accepted and now left stranded DUE TO THEIR ERRORS made it all a terrible experience. Never again.

  • Vanessa
    Mar 21, 2022
    I suspect it *completely* depends on the crew.

    Our pup is our only child. We have flown on SWA with him 3 times. I thoroughly reviewed the rules and was aware before traveling what was expected of me and my pup Grissom. We practiced from the time he was 12 weeks old sitting in the travel bag, he knows the drill. While Grissom did fine on the first two flights, the third flight left him a bit anxious (very likely due to my own stress levels). He began whimpering and scratching at mesh window in the bag. I unzipped it just enough to get my fingers into the bag so I could pet him, give him a treat and try to calm him. I was quickly scolded and told to zip the bag up COMPLETELY for the remainder of the flight. This only added to my stress level. My pup is whimpering and begging to poke his head out, and I am forced to sit silently and watch the miles and minutes tick by. It was heartbreaking. I won't do it again. I am so disappointed. I would be happy to pay for a first class ticket on any airline that would accommodate my child. I would gladly pay for a seat for my pup just to be allowed to keep him in a bag on a seat next to me. It saddens me that some flight crews fail to acknowledge that there are families, like mine, whose only child happens to be a pup and stuffing them under the seat and ignoring them like they're an inanimate object for a prolonged period just doesn't make one bit of sense. I live for the day when I can buy row of 3 seats for myself, my husband and our pup and fly comfortably, just as we do in a vehicle. Unfortunately, until then, it looks like we'll be driving.

  • Celeste
    Mar 27, 2021
    Here's the skinny on pet carrier size on SWA

    I stumbled upon this website because I freaked out when I saw the pet carrier dimensions on SWA's website. Based on the majority of comments on this site stating the SWA pet carrier bottom is not sturdy enough, I got a small pet carrier. Luckily my puppy was 5.75 lbs. He fit ok, couldn't stand completely upright, but he could sit up right and had enough room to make himself comfortable. I originally bought the medium but didn't think it'd fit under the seat. I flew from Chicago to Tucson round trip. Google states SWA has a fleet of 737-800 and 737 MAX 8, and some older 737-700. I know I came back in a 737-800, and think I flew out in the same. Ok, getting to the point, the small carrier had more than enough room to fit under the seat in front of me. There was an additional 1"-1.5" of space above the carrier and roughly 2" of space to the left and right of the carrier. I was able to slide my Coach shoulder bag (close to the size of a tote) next to the carrier. The medium could have easily fit. Additionally, the SWA team at MDW and TUS were so sweet to my puppy. I will say I Googled the heck out of traveling with a pet on a plane since this was my first time with a puppy I had for less than a week. I did the following: called SWA and they noted I was flying with a puppy, took early morning flights, got my puppy up an hour earlier than I'd typically get up for an early morning flight, played with him and gave him an extra potty break. Went on both airport websites and screen shot the locations of the pet relief areas, since I always check my carry-on no issues going to the counter to pay the $95 pet travel fee. You can't do it online or over the phone. In Chicago I stayed in the area 30min before the doors closed, I was Group C so what did I care. On the way back I paid for early bird check-in and kept him up until 11pm and woke him up at 5am. The morning of, he got a snack and as much water as he wanted. I gave him more snacks at the pet relief areas and offered water. I followed airport/SWA rules and only let him out of his carrier at security and the pet relief areas. He slept both ways. People around me were surprised a puppy was on board. I put the small and medium side by side, about 1.5" taller in height, 1" more in width, 2" more in length. I know they have dimensions online but those are my visual measurements. I stressed way more than I needed. SWA made it stress free, and this is during a pandemic. So that's saying something.

  • Y
    Oct 26, 2020
    Ticketing staff is clueless regarding ESA. Ripped me off and will not fly again with Southwest

    I purchased the most expensive ticket to receive the highest priority boarding because the customer service team recommended me if I wanted to sit in the front row for more space for my ESA.

    Once boarded, a stewardess told me I am not allowed to sit in the front row because I have a dog!!! I told the ticketing staff told me to do and the whole story. She did not accept me on the first row. While discussing, others were boarding. When I was rejected, only the seat available was a middle seat in the 3-3 airplane. My dog was extremely uncomfortable, and I also felt bad for the others in the same row for 5.5 hours.

    They ripped me off for at least $400 for the expensive ticket for the priority boarding ticket and we ended up in a middle seat. Will never fly with Southwest again. Wish I flew with Delta or United in a business class with the same money.

  • Vicki
    Aug 7, 2020
    Great Experience

    I flew to pick up a puppy in Denver and make return trip to Orlando. I used the Sherpa Delta medium carrier for my 3 pound papillon puppy. He had more than enough room for movement. I had no problem checking in when purchasing his ticket, nor at the gate. The carrier fit great longwise under the middle seat. I was able to keep an eye on him through the mesh during the flight without disturbing him. Good experience!

  • Yanina
    Jul 21, 2020
    We did it with 5 cats!

    Reading your reviews was really helpful for me, so I want to share my experience. Last month we moved to chicago from miami with our 5 cats and we had a really good experience. We had two cats per carrier and another cat in a 3rd carrier with a leash (emotional support) They accepted the emotional support letter without problems and they didn’t check the cats mobility inside the carriers. Our cats weight around 9 lbs each one and they were comfortable in the carrier (akinerri was the brand we used)
    Thanks to this airlines our cats avoided a 24 hs car trip! Highly recommended!

  • Kushal
    Jul 17, 2018
    Inhumane treatment to dog

    I Was traveling from Huston to Nashville with a small Pomeranian .it was a hot afternoon with temp above 94 F , plane was full and inside temperatures were high with bad humidity. My dog started panting .to reassure him I partially opened the zipper to give it some breathing air and some water.the air hostess jumped on me.when I explained that it’s too hot and poor dog was suffering, and I was still following regulations by keeping him in carrier,she started being rude .i requested that the airplane high temperatures was the problem, and I was just partially opening to have poor dog breath as he was struggling. Instead of apologizing for hot temperatures at the time of boarding.she said I should have thought about it before bringing the dog to the flight.
    To me that heartless comment was very disappointing as I always had high respect for Southwest Airlines and its crew.
    Sorry would NOT recommend flying Southwest Airlines if you have a pet

  • Angie
    More than a year ago
    ESA Dog Troubles No More

    I have flown with my ESA dog on many airlines since I travel for work. Southwest is by far the best and easiest airline to fly with. When I first got my ESA dog, When I first registered my dog online and tried to fly with Southwest and they did not accept me. They told me that I need a legitimate ESA letter from a doctor or therapist and that my dog would not be able to fly with me until I had one. I was pissed at first because I paid money to register my ESA dog online, but their registration was worthless and I couldn't fly that day.

    I got my ESA letter from a legitimate site and not some bogus registration site and Southwest has been nothing but kind and accepting of me and my ESA dog. Make sure to call ahead and let them know before you get to the airport so that they know you're with your dog. Thank you Southwest Airlines and for all your kindness!

  • Brutus
    More than a year ago
    Good and Not So Good

    We've traveled a number of times with our small dog. He's quiet and fits well under the seat. The bag we carried him in was a bit oversized but was flexible and 'flattened' a bit to fit perfectly under the seat. However, one day I showed up at the airport to return to my house up north and was called to the counter (after having gone through security) and told I could not take the dog because someone had an allergy. They did have to allow one service dog that was there but no other dogs booked on that flight could go. (The person with the allergy still flew with the service dog so I'm not sure how concerned that person was about their allergy.) Lucky for us we had a house I could return to that night (there were no other flights that day) but they didn't refund me anything and all I got was a complementary pre-boarding pass.

  • Pat
    More than a year ago
    dogs in cabin

    no problem with dogs, but all I read says they must be in carrier. The flight I was on had a dog behind me and it was not in a carrier and the dog went under the seat and licked my leg!! It not only frightened me but I did not like it. I did not say anything just put my feet far forward BUT what r the rules this is not ok with me!!

  • Cloud
    More than a year ago
    My Dog has allergies too

    My 9# Havanese (low allergic fur type) has traveled with me on numerous flights across the country, quietly sitting inside his soft crate under the seat for the past few years. Most, including travelers sitting next to us, on the plane are not aware that my pooch is on the plane ( His crate looks like luggage.). I pay the fares, I take care of my dog's elimination requirements and give him a strenuous walk instead of sedation to keep him sleeping. I have had no complaints. My dog has severe flea allergies, I keep him treated for this, but just one flea would set off weeks of intense scratching and skin infections. Boarding him is out of the question for me, and finding someone to dog sit is extremely difficult and expensive where I live. If I need to travel where I cannot drive, this seems to be the best option.

  • Angelica
    More than a year ago
    Kuddos to Southwest Airlines!

    Thank you allowing us to travel with our loved pets <3

  • Betsy
    More than a year ago
    Large dog

    For those posting about a very large dog onboard. I have MS and frequently travel with my 110 lb German shepherd. The dogs mentioned in other comments could likely be service animals

  • Sharon
    More than a year ago
    Large dog on board

    I recently flew San Diego To Sacramento (Mar 18) There was a passenger on board with her grown labradoodle. The woman and her dog were in the front seat section. The dog traveled outside of a carrier and with only a leash. It slept on the floor for most of the flight. Nothing about this situation was in accordance with Southwest and it sure made me wonder if anyone can do this! I have a lab retriever. It would be cheaper for her to fly with me than to board her at a kennel!

  • Joseph
    More than a year ago
    Rude Agent

    10lb, 10" tall dog that loves to travel in the car in his airline approved travel bag, very comfortably can stand and turn around etc. however he is just 1 year old and had only flown once before. At the gate the agent checking our luggage for a 4 hour flight, with a one hour stop, was fine with everything. The agent next to her standing there with nothing to do decided to stick her nose in and wanted him to stand up, turn around and do tricks like a circus animal. Got the dog all upset, my wife all upset for no apparent reason. She was extremely rude about the whole thing. It was terrible. Told us Southwest cares about their animals as if we don't care about the comfort of our own dog. The agent taking care of us told her the dog was fine! A bunch of nonsense. Flying is stressful enough with a pet, who needs that? The remainder of the trip was fine but of course the bad start really stays with you. I'm afraid to see what will happen on the trip home.

  • Hogan Bennett
    More than a year ago
    Frequent flier

    I was saying that we have never had any problems with space or sitting. Usually the crew is very friendly and make sure that my stroller, which is gate checked, , is ready for me at our stop or destination .

  • Hogan. Bennett
    More than a year ago
    Southwest is the way to travel

    I travel several times during the year and prefer Southwest of all airlines. We have never had any problems.

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