The Southwest Airlines pet policy 2023 includes options for flying with small dogs or cats in the cabin, but no pets are allowed to travel in the aircraft hold as checked baggage or cargo. Southwest Airlines doesn’t permit pets in the cargo hold under any circumstances, and pets aren’t allowed to fly in the cabin on international flights. For cats and dogs to fly in the cabin, they must be at least 12 weeks old. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are no longer accepted under the Southwest Airlines ESA pet policy 2023 due to changes in US laws. However, trained and registered Assistance & Service Dogs, including Psychiatric Service Dogs, may fly in the cabin free of charge. If you’re importing a dog to the USA, your dog’s age and vaccine requirements depend on the risk of rabies where your trip starts. Dogs arriving from high-risk countries need to be at least 16 weeks old and have their rabies shots before travelling into the US. Check out Southwest Airlines pet travel reviews, or leave a pet travel review for Southwest Airlines if you’ve flown your cat or dog in the cabin! Read on for the complete Southwest Airlines pet policy for 2023.
Submit your review
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Table of contents
- Does Southwest Airlines Allow Dogs and Cats in the Cabin?
- Which Southwest Airlines Routes Allow Cats & Dogs in the Cabin?
- Does Southwest Airlines Allow Pets in the Hold as Checked Baggage or Cargo?
- Southwest Airlines Assistance & Service Dog and Emotional Support Animal (ESAs) Policy
- Are Pets Safe on Planes?
- Related Pages
|Dogs & Cats in the Cabin of the Plane||✅|
|Dogs & Cats flying as Checked In Baggage||❌|
|Pets flying as Cargo||❌|
|Assistance Dogs in Cabin||✅|
|Psychiatric Service Dogs in Cabin||✅|
|Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) in Cabin||❌|
Does Southwest Airlines Allow Dogs and Cats in the Cabin?
The Southwest Airlines pet travel policy accepts small dogs and cats to fly in the cabin within their approved travel carrier.
The travel bag or kennel must also meet the Southwest Airlines specifications outlined in their pet travel policy. The maximum dimensions for your cat or dog’s travel carrier are L 18.5” x H 8.5” x W 13.5”, and the combined weight of your pet inside the carrier must not exceed 20 pounds (9.07kg).
On the flight, the travel bag will be stowed underneath the seat in front of you, you can’t remove your cat or dog during the flight for safety reasons.
Each passenger is allowed one pet carrier to fly in the Southwest Airlines cabin as carry on luggage, with a maximum of six cats or dogs allowed on each flight. You may take two small pets of the same species in the same carrier.
In addition, the following rules apply when flying your pet in the cabin with Southwest Airlines:
- Pets must be able to stand and sit up, turn around normally and lie down in a natural position in their kennel, without touching any side or the top of their travel bag.
- Non-collapsible kennels can’t exceed the under seat dimensions of any aircraft included in your journey.
- Soft-sided collapsible kennels can be slightly larger but still need to fit under the seat in front of you. They also have to be secure, padded, made of water-repellant material and have nylon mesh ventilation on 2 or more sides.
However, pets aren’t permitted to fly in the cabin on international flights.
IATA Regulations for Cats & Dogs Flying in the Cabin
While you need to ensure that your pet’s travel crate meets the maximum dimensions set by Southwest Airlines to fly in the cabin, remember that you must also adhere to the Live Animal Regulations (LAR) set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). This includes calculating the minimum inner crate dimensions allowed by the IATA LAR for your cat or dog to fly in the cabin. In addition, the airline pet travel carrier must adhere to the criteria set by the IATA LAR, in terms of ventilation, design etc.
As Southwest Airlines is based in the USA, you must also ensure you meet the pet travel rules set by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
If you’re new to pet travel, check out 8 IATA Compliant Airline Pet in Cabin Carriers.
Cost of Flying a Pet in Cabin with Southwest Airlines
It costs $95 each way to take your pet as additional carry-on baggage in the cabin with Southwest.
Which Southwest Airlines Routes Allow Cats & Dogs in the Cabin?
Pets are only permitted on domestic routes, so cats and dogs can’t fly in the cabin on Southwest Airlines international flights.
Does Southwest Airlines Allow Pets in the Hold as Checked Baggage or Cargo?
Southwest Airlines doesn’t accept pets as checked baggage, or cargo, as the holds of their aircrafts aren’t suitable for transporting live animals. Under no circumstances can a cat, dog or other species be flown in the cargo hold with Southwest.
Southwest Airlines Assistance & Service Dog and Emotional Support Animal (ESAs) Policy
As of 1 March 2021, the Southwest Airlines pet policy no longer recognises Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), therefore no new ESA reservations will be accepted. Emotional Support Animals are now subject to the standard Southwest Airlines pet travel policy.
Only professionally trained Assistance & Service Dogs (SVANs) can fly in the cabin free of charge if they meet the requirements. A service animal is defined as a dog that’s individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability, including but not limited to:
- Visual impairments
- Hearing impairments
- Mobility impairments
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Trained and registered Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSVDs) are therefore permitted to travel with Southwest Airlines.
Are Pets Safe on Planes?
If you’re worried about your furry travel companion’s wellbeing when flying, check out our comprehensive post regarding pet safety on planes. While in the USA, a monthly report is provided for airline pet incident rates, there isn’t an equivalent in Europe at the moment. However, Southwest Airlines doesn’t transport pets in the hold, therefore no data is available.
No doubt, at some point your trip will involve a car ride, so have a look at our 12 Essential Pet Car Safety Tips too. Should your cat or dog suffer from motion sickness, we’ve also compared some of the treatments, strategies and medications for pet travel nausea.
It’s important to be aware that you can’t sedate or tranquilize your cat or dog for their flight.
In addition, to protect your pet’s health and wellbeing in a new country, be sure to keep your cat or dog safe from vector-borne diseases. In particular, Heartworm from mosquitoes and Leishmaniasis from sandflies pose a serious pet threat in Southern Europe.
You might also want to check out 10 Pet Friendly Airlines in the EU, Pets in Cabin from the UK and 7 Transatlantic Pet Friendly Airlines.
And don’t forget the all important Essential Pet Travel Accessories!
Prior to booking, always view the Southwest Airlines pet travel policy on their website for any recent changes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, some airlines are frequently amending their rules for pets on planes.
Have a safe and wonderful trip, and remember to leave a pet travel review for Southwest Airlines if you fly your pet cat or dog, in the cabin or hold!