Flying with Your Dog on Alaska Airlines

Flying with a dog can be downright confusing these days, with ever-changing policies and regulations. If it's been a while since you've flown with a dog on Alaska Airlines, this article is for you. We'll delve into all the fine print to make sure your pet gets to where they want to go!

Alaska Airlines Pet Policy: Domestic Travel

The great thing about Alaska Airlines is they're more lenient with pet travel than some other commercial airlines and have several options for pets traveling domestically.

In-cabin travel

Crate Requirements

This airline's kennel specifications are quite strict. According to Alaska Air's pet travel policy, kennels must be hard-sided, non-collapsible, and constructed with heavy-duty materials like metal, wood, or hard plastic. 

Alaska Airlines will not allow carriers made of mesh, fabric, wicker, or anything else that can't hold up to handling. The typical carriers you see with the plastic clip-on top and the slide-and-twist locks won’t work either. Crates cannot have removable tops, plastic doors, or any defect that may allow pets to escape.

The kennel must not be manipulated or reinforced with external components like ties, cord, or wire. Crates with functioning wheels are prohibited, since these can cause the pet to roll around during the flight. If your carrier has wheels, you'll need to take them off or tape them so they can't turn. Alaska Air will not accept crates with coverings, padlocks, or potentially dangerous or sharp components. 

Carriers must have a handle, proper ventilation, and clip-on food and water containers so your pet won’t need outside assistance during the flight.

For more information on kennel requirements, contact Alaska Airlines.

Health Requirements and Documentation

Whether or not your pup needs a health certificate depends on the state you're traveling to. Alaska Airlines’ pet policy doesn't require them for in-cabin woofers, but pets are expected to have a certificate when flying in the cargo area. 

Even if the airline doesn’t require a certificate for your pup, you should still check the regulations for the state you’re traveling to. For example, Hawaii has some unique regulations. Alaska Airlines only allows pets to travel in-cabin to Hawaii during much of the year.

Hawaii also has strict policies for mainland animals since the islands have completely eradicated rabies. Cats and dogs flying to the Aloha State must have proof of vaccinations; otherwise, they'll need to quarantine for a maximum of 4 months. 

When leaving the islands, furry travelers will receive a health inspection before being admitted on the homebound flight. If you plan to travel between islands, you'll need to have a Neighbor Island Inspection Permit.

Booking Procedures and Fees

Those planning to travel with a dog on Alaska Airlines can expect to pay $100 per kennel each direction, unless your pet is also a service dog. Service dogs fly free, though they will need to be leashed or crated and small enough to fit between your legs and the seat in front of you. The airline requires service animal handlers to submit a veterinary health advisory form, mental health form, and confirmation of animal behavior form no later than two days before the flight.

Exemptions and Other Considerations

Alaska Airlines will not transport an occupied pet carrier heavier than over 150 lbs. For transportation assistance for heavier dogs, reach out to Air Cargo. 

Up to 2 weaned puppies and kittens weighing under 20 lbs each and younger than 6 months old may be stowed in the same carrier. Animals over 20 lbs and older than 6 months must ride solo. 

Though not a requirement, Alaska Air suggests covering the bottom of your pet's carrier with plastic-lined puppy pads to prevent leakage. You might want to toss some disposable plastic bags and gloves in your carry-on bag to make clean-up easier if there’s an on-board accident.

Fur-st Class™ care and Pet Connect™ cargo

Alaska Airlines have mastered cargo pet travel with their Pet Connect™ and Fur-st Class™ care programs. Besides dogs, other animals you can expect to find in the cargo area include cats, hamsters, pigs, ferrets, fish, guinea pigs, bunnies, and some reptilian species.

Crate Requirements

The structural requirements for crates in the cargo area are the same as those allowed in-cabin; however, there are some substantial differences in the sizes allowed.

Alaska Airlines allows a wide array of kennel sizes in the cargo bay, from size 100 crates (15" x 16" x 21") to size 500 kennels (30" x 27" x 40"). Unfortunately, not all planes can accommodate the larger sizes. 

Crates 30" x 27" x 40" or larger are only allowed on 737 aircraft; these include all series 001-999 and certain series 2000 flights.

Check with the reservation desk ahead of time to ensure your large crate is allowed on your chosen flight.  

Health Requirements and Documentation

Pets using the Pet Connect™ cargo travel program will need a vet exam within 10 days of their flight. If you're on a return flight through Alaska Airlines, this documentation must not be more than 30 days old, or else you'll need another health statement from a vet before your pet can depart. Petsmart Banfield Vet offices offer health screenings at no cost to Alaska Air passengers. Certificates are also available for a nominal fee.

Booking Procedures and Fees

Alaska Air's pet policy implements a tight schedule for pet check-ins, requiring parents to check in their pets no earlier than 2 hours and no later than 1 hour before the flight. You'll bring your pup to the ticket counter and pay the $100 pet fee. This fare is only good for one way, so if you're traveling round-trip, you'll need to submit another $100 payment before your home voyage. 

Alaska Airline pet policy states owners must feed and water their dog within 4 hours of departure. If there's a layover, you must bring your ticket receipt and request for your pet to be brought to you for food, water, and a potty break. Airport personnel may ask for a slip showing you requested your pup to prove their needs have been taken care of.

After checking in your pup, your woofer will be weighed and will either ride in-cabin with you or enjoy the flight in the climate-controlled cargo bay.

Exemptions and Other Considerations

Since Alaska Air's Airbus crafts do not have climate-controlled cargo bays, pets must ride in-cabin only. Crates larger than 30" x 27" x 40" are only allowed on Boeing 737 aircraft; these include all series 001-999, and certain series 2000 flights. Check with the reservation desk ahead of time to see if your large crate is allowed on your flight. 

According to Alaska Air's pet travel policy, flight series 2000-2999 and 3300-3499 do not allow pets from two weeks before Thanksgiving through the beginning of January. If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, please know that no pets are allowed in the cargo bay during February, and only one pet is allowed in the cargo area from November to January and from March 1 to the beginning of April. 

Due to the heightened risk of heat exhaustion and breathing problems in flat-faced dogs like Pugs and Frenchies, brachycephalic breeds aren't permitted in the cargo compartment.

Double-check that your pup has current ID tags and a snug-fitting collar in the off chance that a mix-up occurs. Alaska Airlines also suggests having a photo of your pet with you just in case. 

They also recommend keeping your pup's nails short to prevent them from getting caught on the cage. Pet parents are welcome to put comfort items like a plush toy or ball in the cage to keep their fur-baby company during the journey.

Alaska Airlines Pet Policy: International Travel

International travel with pets is tricky business, because every country has different regulations. For instance, pet bedding is prohibited on flights to Mexico, but travelers can use puppy pads and newspapers instead. Some countries won’t allow pets that haven’t been vaccinated against parvo and rabies. 

Google and international calling will be your best friends when figuring out international transport for your pup. Some countries have breed-specific legislation and prohibit certain dog breeds even on flights. Most require a recent medical screening record confirming the animal has no illnesses and is protected against common canine pathogens. Even with this doggy passport, some countries still have a mandatory quarantine policy. 

Alaska Air’s pet travel policy states they’ll only accept canines and felines on international flights returning to the US. When traveling back to the US through Alaska Air, pets must have immunization records when leaving rabies-prevalent countries.