Pets and Kids on Planes: Fees and Rules

Pets and kids in the same air travel story – why not?

Many of us enjoy traveling with our loved ones, but when it comes to airplane trips – which creatures are cheaper and (maybe) easier – kids or dogs-and-cats? It’s kind of a toss-up  but let’s take a look. Full disclosure: I’m the proud parent of a frequently-flying human child.

LISTEN: Air travel expert Rick Seaney and Editor Anne McDermott on the dog who would not fly (and more).

Should Your Pet Travel?

  • Are there any age limits?

Kids: Very few restrictions for children traveling with families although US Airways notes they may refuse a child less than one-day old.

Kids as Unaccompanied Minors: Most airlines require solo-traveling children be at least five years old, and you must pay the unaccompanied minor fee until they reach age 12. Be sure to check with your airline for all the details.

Pets: Many airlines that accept pets say they must be at least 8 weeks old for travel, and none are allowed to travel unaccompanied by a human in the cabin.

Babies on Planes: Yes or No?

  • What about travel costs?

Kids: On domestic U.S. flights, children under the age of two can travel for free on a parents lap. If you choose to buy the child a seat (as the FAA recommends as a safety measure), there are no child fares or discounts for babies on domestic flights.

Kids as Unaccompanied Minors: These fees vary from airline to airline ranging up to $100 each-way. Remember, this fee is in addition to the cost of the child’s ticket.

Pets: Animal fees vary widely but are usually cheaper for those that are small enough to travel in an airline cabin. Fees for large animals traveling in cargo can climb as high as hundreds of dollars each-way.

Delta Bans All Pets on Certain Planes

  • Are kids or pets banned by any airline?

Kids: Malaysia Airlines bans children in first class.

Pets: Some airlines ban the cargo transportation of short-snouted breeds (such as Boxers) during extreme temperatures or certain months of the year. Some airlines ban certain breeds all the time (United’s website, for example, notes that it will not transport adult English Bulldogs in cargo at any time). If you have such a breed – that’s too big for the cabin – your best bet may be a shipping company specializing in live animals, or leaving your pet at home.

More from Rick Seaney:

Are Pets or Kids Easier to Travel With?


Published: October 23, 2012