Traveling with cats on Southwest Airlines.

Flying with cats can be really stressful and extremely daunting. Apart from the actual pressure of how your cat will react, you also need to worry about the rules and regulations of traveling with pets on board. Luckily southwest airlines are one of the few airlines that accept cats, however there are certain rules and necessities that must be met, which we are about to discuss.

Southwest airlines is one of the most reputable airlines in America. They allow domesticated cats that are small to average size in the cabin. When traveling with cats on southwest airlines, your cat must be properly vaccinated, within an airline approved carrier and free from any pests and diseases. They dont require an health certificate but inspection will be done.

The airline allows cats and dogs to travel with you in the cabin, under the seat or in front of you. The cat must be in a airline approved carrier which must be average size and space efficient so that it may not interfere or disturb surrounding passengers.

When booking flights with cats, you can do so online or at any southwest ticket counter. You must specify that you are traveling with your cat so that they can book you in, since space is limited. Each southwest airline aircraft only caters for about 6 pets in total with a limit of one pet carrier per paying customer traveling on the same flight. The space is limited to first come basis, however due to circumstances at times the airlines may allow more or less.

The airline is also able to freely reject cats from boarding for a number of reasons when being inspected at the ticket counter at the airport.

Some of the reasons include.

1. Non domesticated cats, for example some Bengal cat breeds may not be allowed as they are not accepted in some states as indoor pets.

2. Compulsive behaviour, your cat may not be used to traveling on air therefore, they will react and behave in an aggressive and absurd way, which can be dangerous to other passengers.

3. Your cat may be subject to disruptive behaviour like scratching, biting, yowling or excessive noise. This could be a botheration to other passengers and may cause havoc, therefore your cat will be denied.

4. Untrained cats may also be denied to board since they may urinate and defecate in the cabin and its very difficult to remove the odor of these wastes from the interior of the aircraft.

Bookings, requirements and reservations.

Before you decide on the airline you want to travel with, do some research and make some calls to the airlines. You want to find the best travel assist that caters for you and your cats needs. Luckily southwest airlines tick all the right boxes as they are cat-friendly and ready to accept your furry companions on board.

When booking your flight with southwest airlines you can do so two ways.

  1. Online, via their website or legit air travel sites.
  2. Via the airport or by your local ticket counter.

When booking flights on a regular airline you must have all the documents for you and your cat. Your cat requires a valid health certificate which serves as proof that the cat is healthy and well, free from any pests and contagious viruses or diseases. This health certificate basically says that your cat is worth for travel.

The good part is that southwest airlines don’t require any health documentation for your cat, but before the flight the cat carrier must be passed through the scanners and properly checked by officials to make sure everything is right and free from any illegal substances.

Costs for flying with southwest airlines with cats?

Pets traveling is subject to a fee of $95 each way on local flights within America. When traveling internationally the fare is between $250 and $300, depending on the travel destination, duration and they type of flight. However for international flights your cat will not be allowed in the cabin, since these type of flights can be long and streneous. This fee is totally refundable, if

  • You cancel the flight.
  • Flight is postponed or cancelled
  • Your pet isn’t travelling, for whatever reason.

Rules and regulations

  • Cats or other pets are not allowed without a carrier.
  • You cannot check your pet as luggage.
  • Your cat must be at least 8 to 10 weeks old for travel.
  • The Cat must be trained, disciplined and domesticated. To help with this you use a prescribed sedative.
  • If the cat feels unwell during the flight, no treatment or medical assistance will be given since there isn’t any vet on board.
  • Southwest airlines assumes no liability for the health or well being of your cat.
  • The airline will not tolerate any remains or waste in the cabin.


  • You must abide by all the rules and regulations.
  • Must have an approved carrier.
  • Bookings must be made in advance.
  • Agree to the terms and conditions, which states that the airline will not be liable for any health related issues during the flight.

Is Southwest Airlines Strict about Pet Carrier Size?

Southwest airlines are very strict and specific in the type of carriers they allow. They have their own regulation and preference that caters for all passengers. This airline is very rule abiding according to the aviation regulations.

Which carriers are allowed?

With regard to the types of carriers, you can purchase a southwest branded approved carrier for $58 at the airport or you can choose to buy your own using the following criteria.

  • Maximum dimensions of 18,5” long/ 8,5” high/ 13,5” wide.
  • Carrier must be high quality and waterproof.
  • Carrier must be breathable with materials that allow air to flow.
  • When traveling with two pets you can use one carrier, if the pets are compatible.
  • Carrier must be soft and comfortable yet strong to retain the cat for the full duration of the flight. At no time can the cat travel out of the carrier, for safety reasons.
  • The carrier must be small enough to fit under the seat or in front of you and be in accordance with the federal aviation administration (FAA) regulations.
  • The carrier must have a good locking gadget to secure your pet, as flights can get turbulent at times.
  • Cardboard boxes or bags will not be allowed as carriers, as they provide little to no support.

During the Flight, Pet Policy And Care.

While on board you are required to care and look after your cat. Southwest airlines do not provide any nourishment, care or emotional support for your pets. Its part of their pet policy and such terms and conditions apply.

Tips for cat care during the flight.

If you traveling with your cat for the first time its important that you prepare the cat in advance for traveling. Flights can be noisy and very turbulent. This might scare the cat making them react and behave disruptively which is against the airlines policy.

You want to make sure that the cat is submissive and controlled at all times.

  • You can try some natural calming herbs like catnip and chamomile. These help to sooth the cat during stressful situations. Its not ideal to use tranquilizers or sedatives during air travel according to experts in veterinarian science.
  • You also want to keep your feline entertained for the full duration of the flight. Include toys, fidgets and chewy snacks to keep them occupied.
  • Create a comfortable and secure environment within the carrier so that the cat can be at peace without worrying.
  • Give your cat assurance, they will be scared and very fearful. This is why they need your assurance, speak to your cat with comforting words. Cats also respond to touch which can greatly help to calm them down.

You also want to potty train your cat so that, you abide by the airlines pet policy. Carry a portable litterbox incase of emergencies, however it’s good to hold food before so that the cat will not defecate during the flight.

If your cat isn’t potty trained you can use pet diapers which works great. When traveling with cats on planes it’s always good to carry a air freshener or fragrance sprays since cat urine and poop smells really bad.

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