How to Book Your Pet to Fly In Cabin

Airlines allow usually between 2 and 6 pets on each aircraft.  Finding a flight to fit your timeframe, price-point and route is difficult enough.  It may not seem intuitive, but when flying with a pet, you need to follow these steps to ensure you get one of those few available seats reserved!  Here’s how:

1.   Search For Flight Options First

But do not book immediately. Write down the airlines that travel to your destination and preferred routes. Maybe begin with your top 3 airlines flying your route to the destination.

Narrow down your available flights by knowing these requirements:

  • Weight and Size Restrictions. Your carrier must fit under the seat in front of you.
  • If your pet fits, generally, Airlines rarely enforce whether they can or cannot stand up and turn around. That is up to you.
  • 18lbs/8kg total weight of the Pet and carrier is average for many Airlines.
  • Check Airline Carrier Size Requirements by Airline HERE. We’ve done the size comparisons for you including Length x Width x Height and sometimes the Total Linear size and Maximum Size Allowed for carriers on those flights.
  • Often, your carrier counts as your carry-on bag. You still get your personal item but, you will have to pay extra to check your carry-on.

2.  Note The Flight Numbers For Each Potential Fight/Airline And Call The Airline Directly.

a. Ask IF each flight has space available for your pet and how many are left available to book. The reservationist can also help with finding alternative routes with available pet space.

b. It is not only a matter of whether there is a seat for you, each airline allows only a certain number of animals in cabin for each flight—not each seat. Just because you can book your seat, does not mean you can book your pet in that seat.

c.     When flying with a pet, your first choice or favorite route may not be best or even available to allow your pet to travel.

d.    Each airline has different requirements. They all follow International Air Transport Association (IATA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other regulatory agencies but each airline is allowed to set their own requirements for carriers based on aircraft, cabin and seat selection.

3. Then Book the Flight

a. It is not best to book online through a 3rd party or consolidator and trust that they have access to reserve your pet’s space. It is best to book directly with the airline, by phone. Your patience will be rewarded.  When they are overbooked, direct bookings get priority– along with reward members and corporate accounts.

b. If you book through a consolidator, you still MUST ensure the airline is notified so they can reserve a space on your chosen flight for your pet. Do not easily trust the 3rd party consolidator to do this for you.  If they fail, there is not much you can do.  When there is a discrepancy, most airlines will side with those customers who booked directly through the airline over a third-party.

c. TIP: When booking online, click “Advanced Search” this is usually where you find the link to add a pet in cabin.

What to Do When you Get to the Airport with your Pet.

When you arrive at the airport, you will need to go to the special services line at the ticket counter of your airline. Let them know your flying with a pet and they will print your tickets with the special pet notes and a tag for your carrier. Some airlines will require you to show your Health Certificate.

You may also like How to Choose a Carrier for Flying In Cabin.


You pay for your in-cabin Pet at the Reservation Check In or Special Services counter. Pet Fees vary from $80 to about $150 for most airlines.

How to Get Through TSA Security Check Point with Your Pet.

  • Your pet must go through TSA Security. Some airports allow a private screening in a separate room so you can remove and replace your pet in a secure room.
  • Your pet goes with you through the screening.
  • You can either have your pet on a leash and walk them into the screener or carry your pet through.
  • Place your Bags, shoes first. Separate your pet food items and electronics in another bin.
  • Keep your lease/harness on the outside of the carrier. When you put your bags on the conveyor belt, you don’t want to scramble to get your leash.
  • TSA may ask you to remove their collar. Collars with metal such clasps or Rabies Tags will be detected, and you may be subject to additional pat-down or inspection.
  • A Velcro-style harness works well instead of a collar with metal.
  • Put the carrier on the x-ray conveyor belt first so, it is ready when you get through security, and you don’t have to wait to put your pet back in its carrier.
  • Working Canines are regularly at Security Check Points. Keep a leash handy even if you intend to carry your pet through x-ray. Often, the presence of a working dog can scare or spook your pet.

Working Canines in Airports TSA.Gov

TIP: Go to the Pet Relief Area first. The best-equipped are usually before TSA Security. And, if the Pet Relief area on your concourse is not close to your gate, or you are running late after getting through TSA Security, you will want to visit.

To book your pet to fly in cabin you contact the airline first with flight numbers that match your route and ask how many spots are left available, then you book the best flight and call the airline back to reserve your pet’s spot to ensure your pet gets one of the few spots airlines reserves for pets.
If you missed it, Check our Airline Size Comparison Chart HERE for In-Cabin Flights.

Can I Book a Seat for my Pet?

Yes. Many airlines ALLOW your pet, in their carrier, on the seat next to yours or on your lap. Your dog, cat or ferret must be under the seat for takeoff and landing and, after takeoff you can place your carrier with pet on the seat next to you.

To book your pet to fly in cabin you contact the airline first with flight numbers that match your route and ask how many spots are left available, then you book the best flight and call the airline back to reserve your pet’s spot to ensure your pet gets one of the few spots airlines reserves for pets.

Next, go here Can I Bring Pet Food on an Airplane to the US?

Published by Stephanie Fling

Everything Pet Travel Related by Air, Sea and Land.

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