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Guide to flying with pets (and getting rewarded for it)

Posted by By Allie Johnson | Published: March 12, 2018 Allie Johnson Personal Finance Writer Award-winning writer covering consumer and small-business credit cards. on

Know the airline's pet policies before making your reservations

A complete guide to flying with pets (and getting rewarded for it)

Humonia /iStock / Getty Images

Need to fly with Fido? You should know that many airlines are tightening the leash on emotional support animals in the main cabin. But on the flip side, some airlines offer perks for flying pets.

Every day, thousands of travelers take to the skies with their pets for a variety of reasons.

In the United States, over 2 million animals fly on planes each year. Flying your dog, cat or other critter can be complicated, expensive and stressful. But many people need to travel with their pets because they are:

  • Making a big U.S. or international move.
  • Going on an extended trip.
  • Relocating for military service.
  • Traveling with an emotional support or service animal.

The Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to make room for service animals that perform specific tasks for, or give emotional support to, people with disabilities. But some airlines are getting stricter about emotional support animals in the wake of incidents ranging from a little girl who was nipped by an emotional support dog to a woman who tried in vain to fly with her emotional support peacock. Delta states customers have even tried to fly with “comfort” snakes and even spiders.

“The airlines are tired of people who don’t really meet the requirements for an emotional support animal because they’re the ones who cause problems,” says Sally Smith, a licensed vet tech and owner of Airborne Animals, a New Jersey company that moves pets around the world.

This past year, many airlines have updated their pet travel policies. As of December 2018, Delta customers are no longer permitted to book travel with emotional support animals on flights longer than eight hours and almost all airlines ask for a letter or signed form from a certified mental health professional.

Starting on Feb. 1, service and support animals under four months of age will not be accepted on Delta flights of any length, and many airlines are updating their breed restriction policies. It is important to stay informed on each airline's policies for the safety and convenience of your pets.

Note: Airlines are constantly updating their pet travel policies. Make sure you check each airline's pet policy page prior to traveling to catch any recent updates:

BThe editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank's website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards to find our current offers, or use our CardMatchTM tool to find cards matched to your needs.y Allie Johnson | Published: March 12, 2018

Allie Johnson

Personal Finance Writer
Award-winning writer covering consumer and small-business credit cards.

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