Southwest Airlines Dog Policies

Instituted on 15 March 1967, by Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, Southwest Airlines Co. is a reputed American airline. It employs more than 60 thousand people and, during peak seasons, operates approximately 4,000 flights a day. In addition to 103 destinations in the USA, 10 more countries are benefited by its services. Based on these statistics, it is regarded as the most comprehensive low-cost carrier all over the world.

Carrying Dogs in the Southwest Airlines

Even though Southwest Airlines allows you to take your pet cats or dogs with you, there are specific rules and regulations that you must take into account. Otherwise, there is a high chance that you may miss your flight just because your dog is not allowed to fly at the last minute.

If you don’t want to face such circumstances, pore the whole article to know and understand the minute details of the Southwest Airlines pet policy.

How much do I have to pay for carrying my pet dog on a Southwest flight?

If you wish to take your dog on a Southwest flight, you need to reserve a space in advance. You have to pay the pet fare on the day of your retreat at the ticket counter before the security check. The pet fare in the Southwest Airlines is $95 per pet carrier each route. These fares are refundable:

  1. If you cancel your booking and do not travel with your dog.
  2. In case of cancellation of your flight and you do not want to reschedule your journey.

Southwest Flights’ limitations on pets

Southwest Flights

Before you plan to fly with your dog, there are specific limitations on pets that you must take into account.

  1. You cannot travel with your dog if it has not reached the age of eight weeks.
  2. Remember to accompany your dog everywhere. Otherwise, it will not receive permission to board the flight.
  3. If you are a minor and not accompanied by an elderly person, you won’t be allowed to travel with your dog.
  4. Pets won’t be permitted to travel in-cabin on international flights or any flight that has an international destination in its travel plan,
  5. Ascertain that your dog is in its best behavior on the day of travel. Otherwise, you won’t be permitted to fly with your dog.

Steps to be followed to fly with your dog on a Southwest flight

Besides the limitations mentioned above, you need to be aware of some other pet policies of Southwest Airlines to fly with your dog.

  1. Southwest Airlines do not permit more the six kennels (not including service animals) on each flight.
  2. Reservations are offered on a first-come basis. Therefore, ascertain that you are not late in making your dog’s reservation.
  3. To book a space for your dog, you need to contact Southwest Airlines at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).
  4. If you wish to check your dog with baggage, you must ascertain that you carry your dog in an approved crate on the day of the journey.
  5. Before proceeding to the departure gate, you need to pay the pet fare at the ticket counter and pass the security check.

Rules and Regulations for flying to Hawaii

If you plan to fly to Hawaii, there are some other rules and regulations that you must follow to receive permission to take your dog with you.

  1. Your dog is not permitted to travel in-cabin. Even though you can get your dog checked in with the baggage, you must get connected through Honolulu and abide by Hawaii’s rigid quarantine rules.
  2. You won’t be permitted to fly with your dog if it is pregnant and has crossed forty-five days gestation.

These rules are unique to Hawaii, and all airlines, including Southwest Airlines, are bound to strictly abide by it.

Service Dogs on Southwest Flights

Service Dogs on Southwest Flights

When it comes to service animals, all the rules mentioned above are subject to a drastic change. Here is the Southwest Airlines’ policy for service animals.

Search and rescue dogs/Law enforcement dogs

  1. Southwest Airlines won’t charge any fee for traveling with search and rescue dogs and well-trained law enforcement dogs, provided they are escorted by their respective owners or handlers.
  2. Customers flying with a law enforcement dog or a search and rescue dog must produce copies of their animal’s certificates and a letter related to the mission.
  3. Customers flying with search and rescue or law enforcement animals must not sit on an “emergency exit” row.

Service Animals for People with disabilities

  1. Service Animals trained to provide physical and emotional assistance to a person with disabilities will be permitted to stay in the flight cabin.
  2. They will be permitted to fly on both national and international flights.

If your dog is a trained service animal, make sure you notify the Southwest authorities in advance. While reserving a space for your dog, you need to go to the “Passenger and Payment Info Page” and click on the “Special Assistance link.”

Please note that therapy dogs meant to provide just comfort and not give any specific assistance to a person with disabilities won’t be treated like a trained service animal. Consequently, you have to pay the pet fee and abide by the rules and regulations mentioned in the previous sections.

Southwest Airlines Fees and Carry-on Policy for Dogs of smaller size

If you have a small, well-behaved, vaccinated dog, you can take it with you in the aircraft cabin and keep it under the seat before you. Given below are some points to remember before you plan to travel in-cabin with your pup.

  1. Ascertain that the crate you plan to carry your dog in is well ventilated and without any leaks. You can bring either a hard-sided or a soft-sided carrier.
  2. Just because you are carrying your dog in a piece of luggage doesn’t imply that you won’t have to pay the pet fare. Remember that you have to pay the pet fees even though your crate will be considered a carry-on.
  3. You can carry two dogs in a carrier. However, ensure that your pups don’t face any problem while standing up, moving around, and lying down.
  4. You must ensure that your pup remains inside the carrier peacefully. It must not make any nuisance at the entrance and throughout the flight.
  5. Ascertain that your carrier’s size doesn’t exceed the given size limit:
    • Length- 18.5 inches
    • Width- 13.5 inches
    • Height – 8.5 inches
  6. If you do not want to face any problems regarding your carrier’s appropriateness, you can always buy a Southwest Airlines pet carrier.

What can happen if I check my dogs with baggage?

According to Southwest Airlines’ guidelines for pets, you can carry up to two dogs if they are not less than eight weeks old. Besides that, you ought to pay $95 for each of them. If you wish to fly with your pets, make sure that you reserve their seats as soon as possible. As mentioned earlier, Southwest airlines permit only 6 pets per flight, and that too on a first-come basis. So, if you don’t want any of your dogs to be left out, you better be fast with the bookings.

The following are some of the tasks you must do before venturing to board a flight with your dog:

  1. Reach the airport, keeping in your hand a bit of extra time, and follow all the guidelines related to traveling with pets. However, you must remember that you cannot get your dogs checked in more than four hours before your flight’s departure time.
  2. Get your pet’s travel checklist filled up by an agent. Following this, you need to present your dog’s health certificate. Ascertain that the health certificate you provide has been issued not more than 10 days before your trip and one month before your day of return.
  3. In Southwest Airlines’ terms, your pet must not harm, be disruptive, and require attention during the flight.

Temperature Restrictions

All airlines adhere to a temperature restriction for the pets’ safety at the terminal and the holding areas. Southwest Airlines are no exception to this practice.

When the flight time is near, your pets will be transported from the airport terminal to the plane. Following this, they will be boarded on the aircraft. However, if the temperatures are anticipated to rise above 85°F or fall below 45°F during the journey, you won’t be permitted to take your dog with you.

The airport authority can waive the cold restrictions if you get a waiver from a licensed vet. The disclaimer must contain the following details:

  1. Your address and name
  2. Your pet’s name
  3. Your veterinarian’s name and signature
  4. Your veterinarian’s accreditation number and date
  5. The temperature which your dog is accustomed to.

Ascertain that the letter is dated within:

  1. 10 days of the first flight, which your pup is supposed to board.
  2. 30 days of any other flights, in the same travel plan.

If you plan to go for a long trip, you have to furnish some other documents besides those mentioned above. However, if the temperature is supposed to fall below 20° F, your dog won’t be permitted to board the plane even if you furnish your pet’s veterinarian’s letter.

Is my dog breed permitted to board a Southwest flight?

Fortunately, Southwest Airlines’ pet policy permits all breeds of dogs and cats to travel in-cabin. However, you must ensure that your pet is in good health and doesn’t exhibit aggressive or undesirable behavior.

Security check for pets

Security check for pets in airline

Just like you, your dog needs to pass the airport security check-up. Therefore, when it is your turn to pass through the security, the authorities will ask you to take out your dog from the carrier and hold it in your hand—following which you will be expected to cross the security screening device. Meanwhile, your pet’s crate will be monitored in the x-ray machine with your other luggage.

It is to be noted that the Transport Security Administration (TSA), other airport security authorities, and the flight personnel have the right to check your dog’s carrier or crate thoroughly. So, make sure you co-operate with them without making any fuss.


Before you plan to fly with your dog, you must remember one thing- your dog’s health is your responsibility. In case of any deterioration of your dog’s health, the airport authority won’t take any responsibility to administer facilities like first aid, oxygen mask, etc.

Therefore, make sure that you visit your dog’s veterinary before planning a trip with your pet. Do not request or force your vet to write fraudulent letters to get the airport authority’s permission. You must remember that it is a matter of your dog’s life.

Besides that, ascertain that you provide proper crate training to your dog. It will make your dog less anxious during the journey. Do not forget to carry all your dog’s personal belongings and ensure that you empty your dog before boarding the flight. You will find a pet relief area at the airport. Furthermore, ascertain that your dog is in its best behavior. Otherwise, you won’t be qualified to board the flight.