Tips for Choosing Best Southwest Approved Pet Carriers
When traveling with your pet on Southwest Airlines, it’s important to choose the right pet carrier to ensure a smooth journey. As one of the most pet-friendly airlines, Southwest has clear guidelines on the types of carriers allowed onboard. By picking a carrier that meets Southwest’s requirements, you can avoid issues at check-in and keep your furry companion comfortable during the flight. Here are some top tips for choosing the best Southwest approved pet carrier:
Look for Proper Size Requirements
Southwest allows small cats and dogs to fly in the cabin if they can fit comfortably in an approved carrier under the seat in front of you. For hard-sided carriers, the maximum dimensions are 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches. Soft-sided carriers can be slightly larger at 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches. Make sure to take measurements of your pet both standing and laying down to find a carrier that allows them to sit and move around a bit. Proper sizing helps avoid cramming your pet into an uncomfortably small space.
Ensure Sturdy Construction
Pet carriers must be well-constructed and secure enough to contain your pet safely. Hard-sided kennels made of plastic or metal with metal door rails and locking mechanisms are ideal. For soft-sided bags, look for durable fabrics like canvas or nylon with reinforced seams and zippers. The carrier should have ventilation on at least two sides and a sturdy handle for carrying. Steer clear of flimsy materials that could bend or warp. Proper construction prevents injuries and escapes.
Pick Proper Interior Features
The interior of the carrier should allow enough room for your pet to turn around and lie down comfortably. Ample headroom is also important so your pet can sit up without hitting their head. Interior features like plush bedding, built-in food bowls, and padded mats add comfort. Absorbent layers are useful for accidents.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Proper ventilation helps keep your pet from overheating in the enclosed space. Look for mesh panels or ventilation holes on at least two sides of the carrier. Avoid solid plastic shells with minimal air flow. You can also bring battery-powered fans or frozen gel packs to add extra cooling if needed.
Pick Convenient Carrier Types
Common Southwest approved carrier options include traditional kennels, soft-sided bags, backpack carriers, and collapsible bags. Traditional kennels offer sturdy containment but can be heavy. Backpacks allow you to carry pets hands-free. Soft-sided and collapsible bags fold up for easy storage when not in use. Pick the style that best fits your pet’s needs and your carrying capacity.
Check for Proper Labeling
Your pet carrier must have proper ID both inside and out. Be sure to label it with your name, phone number, address, and your pet’s name. Stickers, tags, or permanent marker can be used. Proper ID ensures your pet can be identified in case of an emergency.
Bring Proper Documents
Don’t forget to bring all necessary paperwork when traveling with your pet. Have their health certificate and vaccination records available, as this may be requested. You’ll also need your pet’s boarding pass to accompany them in the cabin.
Take a Test Drive
Before the big trip, have your pet try out the carrier at home. This helps them get accustomed to being inside. Reward them with treats for calmly being in the carrier. Getting them comfortable ahead of time prevents stressful struggles at the airport.
Choosing the ideal Southwest approved pet carrier takes a bit of planning, but it ensures a smooth, comfortable flight with your furry companion. Just be sure to stick to the size guidelines, pick a durable and well-ventilated carrier, include proper amenities and ID, and take time to get your pet accustomed to it. With the right carrier, you and your pet can soar the friendly skies together.