Who: Up to two small cats and/or dogs of the same species per carrier. One carrier per adult passenger. Six pets max on each flight (exceptions have been made, but don’t count on it). If you’re under 18, you may be able to vote, but you can’t bring a dog on a Southwest flight. If your dog is under 8 weeks old, he can cuddle with you at home, but he can’t fly Southwest. Any pets who display disruptive behavior may be denied boarding.
What: Small dogs in carriers no larger than 18.5 inches long, 8.5 inches tall and 13.5 inches wide (it’s got to fit under the seat in front of you but also allow the dog to stand and move inside—this is true for any and all carriers in the cabin). The carrier also must be sealed enough so accidents won’t dribble out and ventilated enough so your pup won’t suffocate. (Catch-22 much?) Note that your carrier counts as one of your two carry-on items.
Where: In-cabin only (no checked pets!) and never on your lap. Maxy has to stay in that carrier under the seat in front of you the whole time. Also, forget sitting in the front row or an exit row. And forget traveling abroad; dogs on domestic flights only. Even if your itinerary includes an international flight later on, your pet cannot join you on the domestic portion.
How: Make a reservation and pay a fee of $95 for each flight. The reservation is crucial as there are only six pets allowed on each flight, so if you wait too long, your flight may have reached its max. Be sure to check in your animal at the ticket counter.
Good news: No fees for trained service dogs, emotional support dogs or your first two checked bags. Plus, if your flight gets canceled or you change your mind and leave Maxy home, the $95 carrier fee is refundable. If you are only traveling between Hawaiian Islands, the fee is $35.
Bad news: This is another common theme among airlines: You can’t fly to Hawaii with a dog. You can fly between islands with a dog, but since Hawaii is a rabies-free zone, they really don’t like risking bringing that nonsense into their paradise. However, if you have a trained service dog, you’re all good. Just be sure to get your Hawaii Department of Agriculture documentation in order and book a flight that lands before 3:30 p.m. in Honolulu (they inspect all dogs, and if you get there after 5 p.m., your dog has to stay overnight so they can inspect him when they open again at 9 a.m.). If you try to smuggle your dog friend into Hawaii without documentation, he could spend up to 120 days in quarantine.