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Can You Take Small Pets on a Plane?

Last Updated: 30.03.20


If you want to take your fluffy hamster pet on vacation with you you’ll ready need a hamster supplies list to make sure you’re not missing anything. However, if you plan on flying, you’ll need to be informed about which companies allow you to take small pets on a plane, as this is really their choice.


Why Take Them?

When making travel decisions that involve your pets, the better choice is almost always the one which is the safest and most comfortable for them. Even though we love our furry friends very much, sometimes the best thing we can do for them is to leave them at home where they will be safe and sound.

For instance, unless you’re going on a vacation to spend a lot of quality time with your dogs, they’ll probably be better off at home instead of cooking up in the hotel room. As a rule, cats are almost always more comfortable in their home regardless of the circumstances of your traveling. 

However, small pets are a different issue entirely and this is what we are talking about today. Since they are, you know, smaller, it’s quite easy to take them around with you if you are not able to bear a minute of your life without your darling hamster or chinchilla.

Thing is, it’s easier nowadays to get a dog or a cat on a plane than it is to get a smaller pet. It’s ironic but this is how it is. Recently there’s been a story about a woman who requested to bring her pet hedgehog inside the cabin and got rejected by several airlines. This, in fact, spurred an online petition trying to force air carriers to change their stance on pet-tagging along.

According to a news media outlet, the woman was told that the hedgehog named Heloise could potentially chew its way out of her container or cause other passengers to have an allergic reaction to her. 

Things To Do Beforehand

If you’re planning to take your pet, you absolutely have to take a look at the carry-on policies of the airline of your choice just to be on the safe side. 

However, some rules are universal and will apply everywhere. For example, all passengers flying with their darling pets must make reservations over the phone and the check-in cannot be done online but at the airport counter. 

All pets, and here we mean one pet per passenger, must be transported in a carrier that is leak-proof, escape-proof, fits under the seat in front of you and also has ventilation on at least two sides to ensure the well-being of the pet inside it. 

Furthermore, the carrier will also count as one of your carry-on items so try to remember this and not be surprised during the boarding process. When making your flight arrangements, don’t forget it’s important to ask the airline about the maximum size carrier it allows onboard as some of them have strict policies in regards to this. 

Now, this may not be such a problem for small pets like hamsters but if you’re planning to bring a ferret, for example, you will still have to follow this entire process so it was worth mentioning here. Frankie the ferret must stay in his carrier from gate-go-gate and animal policies require that Frankie has to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position in it.

One last precaution that you can take is to make sure you bring your pet’s vaccination certificates and identification tags, as your airline will reserve the right to deny the boarding of a pet which seems ill or aggressive toward its fellow passengers.


Let’s Take It Airline By Airline

As we said, specific airline policies are extremely important especially when talking about pets that are not cats or dogs so let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.


If you want to bring your small pet on vacation, we’re sad to say that you may not fly with JetBlue as the company only accepts passengers with cats and small dogs. No other kinds of animals are allowed and you’ll have to pay an additional $100 each way for them on both domestic and international flights.


Delta brings some good news because they allow you to bring an at least 10-week-old dog, a cat, or a household bird. However, Tweety is only permitted to travel within the United States and your motherly love will run you between $75-$200 each way, depending on where you’re going. 

Also, pets are not allowed in about a dozen destinations including Hawaii so make sure to check the list before you book to make sure you don’t have to choose between losing your flight or leaving Frankie the ferret in the airport.


Frontier is the carrier that you may learn to love if you’re keen on traveling with your baby pets. The company will charge you an extra $75 each way but you’re allowed to bring domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, or even small household birds on flights within the U.S. 

With a maximum of 10 allowed per flight, you’ll be allowed to bring up to two small animals in one travel container as long as they’re comfortable and you’re okay with the fact that you cannot sit in an exit row. 


United is also accommodating your needs with up to four total domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds allowed aboard each flight for an extra $125 dollars. If your itinerary includes a stopover that is longer than 4 hours within the U.S. or 24 hours outside the United States, you’ll have to shell out an additional $125 each way. 

Keep in mind that your pet cannot tag along if it is younger than eight weeks or if you’re flying to, from, or through Australia, Hawaii, or Micronesia. 

After coming severely under fire following the death of a dog and the airline’s entire mishandling of animals last year, United went ahead and revamped its entire policy regarding pets traveling in the cargo.

Alaska Air

The northern airline also allows dogs, cats, rabbits, and household birds in the cabin, but only the first two are permitted when flying to Hawaii. The aforementioned rule of two pets per carrier as long as they’re comfortable also applies here and the cost for transporting your companion will be $100 each way.

Thing To Remember When Traveling

It’s recommended that you weigh all the risk when deciding whether or not to bring Frankie with you. Air travel can be particularly dangerous for animals with the so-called ‘’pushed in’’ faces (the medical term for this is ‘’brachycephalic’’), such as French bulldogs, pugs, and Persian cats.

Because they have difficulty breathing, their short nasal passages make them very vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke. Therefore, think really hard about the possibility of leaving them behind under the proper care of a friend or a pet sitter. 

If traveling is unavoidable, choose the cabin when possible and use the airline list we just provided you with to call them well in advance. 

When you’re on the phone with them, make sure to ask certain questions like ‘’Are they allowed in the cabin?’’, ‘’Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?’’ and also about any specific type of carrier they might want.

When bringing the pet through airport security, its carrier will have to pass through screening with you so you have two options: Either harness your pet so that you can safely contain them outside the carrier while security x-rays it or ask for a special secondary screening that won’t require you to take the pet out. 




Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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