This Popular US Airline Does Not Allow Large Dogs On Flights

Pets are part of the family. That said, it makes perfect sense that you'd want to bring your four-legged friend along for an adventure — whether that's hitting the road on a trip with your pet in an RV or jetting off on with them by your side on an international vacation. After all, there are few things better than making new memories with the people — and animals — you love, and a family vacation can be the perfect moment for just that.

Deciding to bring your pet on a trip takes a little more planning than usual. First, there's the question of how much pet owners need to budget for travel. Then there's the issue of gathering up all the documents — including, believe it or not, their own dedicated pet passport — that you need to meet the requirements of your destination. Lastly, there's the matter of whether or not you can book pet-friendly accommodation.

However, before worrying about the budget and documents, the most important thing you need to do is find the right airline for your trip. And for pet-accompanied travelers looking to see which airline could be the best choice for their trip, there's one specific name that you might want to reconsider — especially if you're traveling with a large dog: Spirit Airlines. How come? Well, Spirit doesn't transport dogs in the hold, and any pet that does fly with them needs to fit into a small carrier under the seat in front of you.

Traveling with your dog on Spirit Airlines

Per their pet policy, Spirit Airlines — which currently services 47 destinations countrywide, as well as 28 destinations across the world — does not, under any circumstance, allow pets to travel in the cargo hold. Instead, only domestic animals that fit inside an 18" x 14" x 9" carrier are allowed to board. Along with this, pets must be kept inside their bag at all times and stay under the seat in front of you. Ultimately, this means that owners of large dogs who are considering flying with Spirit will simply have to leave their furry pal at home. Service animals of any size are permitted, though keep in mind that Spirit only recognizes service dogs (no other species).

In addition to their size requirements, Spirit also has an additional set of guidelines that pet owners must follow. Some of these include providing a rabies vaccination certificate for flights to Puerto Rico, as well as general rules like ensuring that the pet is at least eight weeks old, does not exhibit any signs of being ill or aggressive, and that it can stand upright and move around comfortably in its container. Finally, Spirit also recommends that travelers book this service ahead of time, as only six pets are allowed per flight.

As for international travel, it's worth nothing that Spirit Airlines does not allow pets of any kind to travel onboard. Keep in mind that this rule doesn't apply to registered service dogs – though, note that Spirit does not consider emotional support dogs eligible.

Other options to consider for pet-friendly travel

Unfortunately, Spirit Airlines isn't the only U.S.-based airline to have cut their pets-in-cargo service. Popular names like United, Southwest, Delta, and American also don't allow dogs to travel in the baggage compartment, with some making an exception for active-duty U.S. military personnel or State Department Foreign Service officials. While each airline's reasoning is different, it mostly ties back to safety concerns. In fact, companies like United eventually got rid of their service after multiple incidents — including the death of some travelers' beloved pets.

However, this doesn't mean that your pooch-friendly vacation is done for. Nowadays, there are still two airlines willing to make the trip with large dogs onboard. For starters, a great option is Hawaiian Airlines. Its carry-on pet fee is currently set at just $35 each way within the state of Hawaii and $125 for flights into North America. In addition to this, the in-hold fee is $60 within Hawaii and $255 to other North American destinations. Alternatively, Alaska Airlines is also a great option. At the time of writing, its in-cabin and cargo transport fees are both set at $100.

If none of these options works, why not try planning a long-distance road trip with your pet instead? Not only will this decision help you avoid all of the hassles of air travel, but it also means you won't have to worry about size requirements — giving you more time to enjoy the journey.