Southwest Airlines accepts pets on a first-come, first-served basis until they reach their capacity. The total number of pet carriers on each flight is limited to 6, so passengers should make their pet reservations as soon as they confirm travel plans. You can call the Customer Service Team at 1-800-435-9792 to reserve a spot for Fido. Southwest Airlines does not accept pets traveling without a human companion and pets are not permitted to travel with unaccompanied minors.
Pets in the Cabin
Southwest Airlines allows customers to bring small pets (cats and dogs only) in the cabin on their domestic flights. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed to travel on international flights. Each customer is limited to carrying 1 pet carrier on board. Your carrier may contain up to 2 cats or dogs of the same species and will count as the customer’s carry-on bag. It needs to be small enough to fit under the seat in front of yours. Southwest does not require a health certificate or any other documentation from the customer’s veterinarian for pets to travel. The pet fee is $95 per pet carrier each way.
Pets in Checked Baggage
Due to extreme temperatures in the baggage hold on flights with Southwest Airlines, pets are not allowed to travel in the cargo area.
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). They must be leak-proof, well ventilated, and small enough to fit under the seat in front. Your cat or dog must be able to stand up and move around the carrier with ease.
Pets are not allowed to travel in-cabin on international flights or any itinerary that includes an international flight. Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines also does not accept pets on any of their flights to Hawaii. Due to the new ruling set forth by the Department of Transportation, emotional support animals can now only travel onboard as pets.
- CelesteMar. 27, 2021Here'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.
- YOct. 26, 2020Ticketing 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.
- VickiAug. 7, 2020Great 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!
- YaninaJul. 21, 2020We 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!
- KushalJul. 17, 2018Inhumane 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
- AngieMore than a year agoESA 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 ESADoctors.com for all your kindness!
- BrutusMore than a year agoGood 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.
- PatMore than a year agodogs 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!!
- CloudMore than a year agoMy 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.
- AngelicaMore than a year agoKuddos to Southwest Airlines!
Thank you allowing us to travel with our loved pets <3
- BetsyMore than a year agoLarge 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
- SharonMore than a year agoLarge 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!
- JosephMore than a year agoRude 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 BennettMore than a year agoFrequent 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. BennettMore than a year agoSouthwest is the way to travel
I travel several times during the year and prefer Southwest of all airlines. We have never had any problems.