Eligibility Requirements for a Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier

Many people like to take their pets with them when they travel, even by air.  You can either take them in the cabin with you, provided your pet can easily fit under the airline seat, or they travel in the cargo area.  Choosing a Southwest Airlines pet carrier is important, as your pet has to be comfortable as well as safe.

There are different types of airline approved carriers, and airline regulations differ.  Southwest only allows small dogs and cats to travel with you, and only one carrier.  Other airlines have different rules, so you may want to check with different ones.

Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier

In this article, we will talk more about Southwest Airlines’ pet policies, and we will suggest a couple of very good carriers that you can use.  We will also talk about how you can keep your pet comfortable during the flight.

Southwest Airlines Pet Carrier Rules & Regulations

  • You are allowed to take small dogs and cats with you on domestic flights only.
  • Your pet must be vaccinated, although they do not require proof of this.
  • They only allow 6 carriers on each flight, so you are required to call ahead of time to make a reservation.
  • There is a pet fare each way.
  • You may only have one carrier, but you are allowed 2 dogs or cats in the carrier at once, provided they both have adequate room.
  • There is no weight limit listed on the page, but your pet has to be able to comfortably stand up and turn around in the carrier.
  • The maximum size of the carrier must not exceed 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide.
  • Pet carriers are considered a carry-on item.
  • Carriers have to well ventilated and leak proof.
  • Your pet cannot, at any time, come out of the carrier, not even their head or tail.
  • You have to take your pet (in the carrier) with you through the x-ray, and the carrier may be searched by airport security.
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* Criteria taken from the Southwest Airlines website.

Pet Carriers Allowed by Southwest Airlines

Southwest airlines do not allow pets in their cargo hold.  You may only take very small dogs or cats with you.  They will not allow any other animals.  Your pet must be calm and not make a fuss during the flight.  You may want to bring one of their favorite toys or blankets, or treats with you.

Soft-Sided Pet Carriers

A very good, and widely used, soft sided pet carrier is the Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier.  This one is allowed on all airlines, and is recommended by veterinarians, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society.

It is leak-proof, and is very sturdy.  The bottom is strong, and there is a washable mat inside.  The zippered lock closed, so there is no need to worry about your pet getting out of the carrier during the flight.

You can read more in our review of the Sherpa Pet Carrier by clicking the link.

Hard-Sided Pet Carriers

Some people prefer hard sided carriers because they fear that their pet may get harmed if the carrier is bumped into.  Also, they don’t have to worry about the sides giving in when they are traveling.

A very good carrier, and one that is within the regulation size, is the Petmate Two Door Top Load Pet Kennel.  Click the link to visit our review page to read more.

This carrier is also nice when you are traveling with a cat, as they are sometimes tricky to get into a carrier.  It has a top door opening which allows you to lower your cat into it, making them feel more secure.

Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort Roller Backpack

Pet Backpacks and Strollers

They also allow pet strollers, which makes it nice when you’re walking through the airports.  Some airports are very large, and having a carrier can get hard on your back and shoulders.

Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort Roller Backpack

A very good backpack that is allowed on Southwest flights is the Pet Gear I-GO2 Escort Roller BackpackClick the link to see more about this carrier.

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There aren’t many backpack carriers that meet the requirements for Southwest, but many people have used this for their flights.  It makes the whole travel process easier, as it has wheels and a telescoping handle that allows you to easily go through the airport.

Talk with the Airline before Your Flight

When you travel with any airline, it is always best that you call that specific airline first, or visit their website, to find out their certain rules for taking pets with you.  They differ to some degree, as some airlines allow other animals to go with you, and some have a special place for your larger dogs to travel, via cargo.

It is important to make sure that your pet is comfortable, and feels safe in their carrier, no matter which one you choose.  If they put up a fuss, they will disturb the other passengers, and you may be asked to either leave the plane, or they may not let you board again.

Last-Minute Advice & Guidance

It is a good idea to take some treats, water, and a few bags, in case of an ‘accident’.  Also, make sure that you have a leash, as you will no doubt need to take them out to go to the bathroom.  Airports usually have their pet areas near the security area.

Talk to your vet first, before taking your pet with you.  Some animals have health conditions, and being at high altitudes may make them ill.  Also, if your pet has sensitive hearing, keep in mind the noise that planes make.

There are many things that you can do to ensure that you have the most enjoyable trip possible.  Make sure that they are fed and have gone to the bathroom before the flight.  If they have a favorite blanket or toy, take that with you, as it will give them added comfort.

Traveling with your pet can be a lot of fun.  Especially when you finally arrive at your destination.  With the proper Southwest Airlines pet carrier, you will be able to relax and enjoy the ride.