As per Southwest Airlines pet policy 2023, the airline allows small vaccinated cats and dogs to travel in the cabin. Provided they must be at least 8 weeks old. But there are other regulations and exceptions too, that flyers need to know.

Southwest Airlines pet policy - Airlinespolicy

Does Southwest allow pet in cabin?

Southwest pet policy in cabin allows pets on a first-come-first-serve basis by charging 125 USD each way as Southwest Airlines pet fee.

Southwest pets in cabin

Pet limit

The number of pets allowed is 6 per aircraft with a limit of 1 pet per passenger. 

Southwest Airlines pets check-in

Accompanied pets must complete the boarding procedure at the Southwest Airlines check-in counter. Passengers can collect their boarding pass online, through curbside check-in, ticket counter, or at the airport kiosk.

Does Southwest allow pets in cargo?

  • No, Southwest Airlines pets are not allowed as checked baggage/cargo, your pet can only travel in the cabin as a carry-on.
  • As per the Southwest Airlines pet policy, there cannot be more than 6 scheduled pet carriers per flight.

What are the Southwest pet carrier requirements?

Southwest pet carrier

Southwest Airlines pets must be kept in the airline approved kennel or carrier while traveling in cabin. They must remain in the carrier during boarding, and at the airport.

Eligible Southwest pet carrier

The acceptable pet carriers include –

  • The Southwest pet carrier size must not exceed 17” long x 9.5” high x 10” wide.
  • Other pet carriers must be within the dimensions of 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide.
  • Must be leak-proof, and well-ventilated. 
  • The airline accepts both soft-sided as well as hard-sided.
  • It must fit under the seat.

Southwest approved pet carriers

Passengers can also look for the pet carriers available at the Southwest ticket counters at the airport for 58 USD (tax included). You can also purchase Southwest Airlines pet carrier online

Additional requirements

As per Southwest Airlines pet policy, the airline allows 1 pet per ticketed passenger. In addition –

  • The airline allows 2 pets in the carrier, provided they must be of a similar breed.
  • The pet inside the carrier must be able to stand up, stretch, and move inside the carrier.

Please Note: As per Southwest baggage policy, a pet carrier would be considered as a personal item or a carry-on item. You can either board the aircraft with a pet carrier and a personal item or a pet carrier with regular size hand luggage.

Are there any Southwest pet travel restrictions?

Southwest pet travel restrictions

Southwest pet policy does not allow pets to travel without the company of passengers. 

The other restrictions include –

  • Pets are not allowed to travel with minors who booked Southwest unaccompanied minor service.
  • Passengers are not allowed to occupy exit row seats.
  • The airline does not permit pets as checked luggage
  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Pets must not exhibit aggressive behavior and must be odorless during the flight. 
  • Passengers traveling with portable oxygen cylinders must purchase an additional seat to accommodate the pet or trained service animal.
  • Southwest Airlines pets must not share the carrier with the service animal.
  • The airline does not offer oxygen masks to the pets.

Please Note: As per Southwest Airlines pet policy, the airline will not be responsible if the passengers miss the flight due to the need to take the pets to the relief areas.

Does Southwest Airlines allow cremated pet remains?

Cremated pet remains on Southwest flight

Yes, Southwest Airlines permits the transportation of cremated pet remains as a carry-on item. However, there are certain guidelines to follow under the Southwest Airlines pet policy –

  • Cremated pet remains must be in a container that can be screened by the TSA.
  • Use a plastic or cardboard container instead of an urn or opaque container. 
  • Containers that cannot be screened by x-ray will not be permitted through TSA security checkpoints.
  • Cremated pet remains cannot be transported in your checked luggage.

Southwest pet travel guidelines for Hawaii or Puerto Rico

Southwest pet policy holds special guidelines for travel to/from Hawaii and Puerto Rico

To/From Hawaii – Southwest Airlines pet policy

If you’re flying to or from Hawaii with Southwest Airlines, you can’t bring your pets along. But if you’re traveling domestically in Hawaii, pets are allowed. Southwest Airlines allows cats and dogs as long as they are properly vaccinated and carried in Southwest approved pet carriers in accordance with Southwest pet carrier requirements.

Southwest Airlines pet policy for Puerto Rico

If you are traveling to/from Puerto Rico, you will need an official health certificate for your pet. This certificate should come from a veterinarian approved by the USDA in your home state.

What are the guidelines for Southwest service animal?

Southwest service animals are treated as normal pets but they can travel with the passenger without any additional pet travel fee.

  • Required documentation – If you’re traveling with a trained service dog, you’ll need to fill out a form from the U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Leashed – Service animals must be leashed or harnessed all the time during travel.
  • Behavior – Any disruptive behavior, like growling, biting, or excessive barking, could lead to airline flight cancellations. To know more, learn about Southwest Airlines cancelation policy
  • Fee – There is no Southwest Airlines pet fee for trained service animals.

Guidelines for Emotional Support Pets

Emotional support animals do not have the same status as service dogs, as per Southwest service dog policy. Therefore, Southwest pet fee for ESA would be applicable. 

The Southwest pet travel restrictions include – 

  • Service animals can’t sit in exit rows or an aisle during the flight.
  • If you’re traveling with a service animal, you do have the option to bring along an extra pet
  • If your service animal is bigger than a child under the age of 2, you’ll need an extra seat.

How to book a Southwest pet reservation for a service animal?

Southwest pet reservation
This screenshot is taken from

If you plan to travel with a trained service animal, you need to notify the airlines at least 48 hours before the scheduled departure. 

Here’s how you can book travel for Southwest pet reservation for service animal –


When booking a flight online, go to –

  • Go to the Passenger & Payment Info page.
  • Click on the Special Assistance link.
  • Choose from one of the given options.
  • Scroll down to complete your information.

Existing reservation

If the reservation has already been made, you can follow these steps to add the trained service animals –

  • Visit Southwest Airlines official website.
  • Locate the menu and select ‘FLIGHTS’.
  • Enter the required information, such as your confirmation number, first name, and last name, then click Search.
  • Click on the Special Assistance link. You will find this link under the passenger’s name.
  • Click Update Information to add your service animal details. 

Documents required for Southwest service animal

You need to fill out the Department of Transportation Service Animal Air Transportation form.

If your animal doesn’t meet the criteria for a trained service animal (for example, if it’s a therapy animal), it can still travel with you, but you’ll have to pay a Southwest pet fee. 

Please Note: If you don’t have this completed form, your animal might not be allowed to travel.

To sum up, Southwest Airlines pet policy offers comprehensive guidelines. The airline allows pets in the cabin, with certain regulations to follow and pet carrier requirements. Additionally, Southwest Airlines allows for the transport of cremated pet remains as a carry-on item. When it comes to traveling to Hawaii or Puerto Rico, specific rules apply. Service dogs have special guidelines. Follow the aforementioned guidelines to ensure a smooth journey both for you and your pet.

What to expect while flying with a cat in-cabin on Southwest

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Can pets fly on Southwest?

Yes, the airline allows small domesticated cats and dogs to travel inside the cabin. The airline does not allow pets as checked luggage.

How to add a pet to a Southwest flight?

You can make a reservation in advance by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA.

How much does Southwest charge for pets?

For flights within the US, the Southwest airline pet fee is 125 USD per carrier each way. For passengers traveling within the Hawaiian islands, it is 35 USD per carrier.

How strict is Southwest about pet carrier size?

The airline is fairly strict about pet carrier size. The carrier must fit under the seat in front of you, and it should not exceed 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide.

Do pets fly free on Southwest?

No. Passengers need to pay a fee for pets to travel in the cabin. Trained service animals travel free of charge.

Do Southwest Airlines require a health certificate for pets?

Southwest Airlines requires a valid health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian for pets traveling in the cabin. The certificate should be dated within 10 days of travel.

Does Southwest fly pets in cargo?

No, the airline does not allow pets in cargo.

One thought on “Southwest Airlines Pet Policy
  1. Betty lindblom on Reply

    Do I have to carry proof of vaccinations of my dog when flying. I called southwest and let them know I was flying with my three year old Maltese and they said it wasn’t necessary to carry these papers

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