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Flying With a Dog in the Cabin on WestJet: Tips From our Experience

Flying With a Dog in the Cabin on WestJet: Tips From our Experience

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If it’s your first time flying with your dog (or cat or rabbit) on WestJet, here is everything you need to know from booking your flight, to going through airport security, being on the plane and coming back home.

I’ve included as many tips as I can as I documented our most recent experience flying with our dog in the cabin on WestJet.

After some additional research and talking to a few friends, it appears that most of this information is also applicable to flights on Air Canada with a pet in the cabin. 

Are you thinking about flying on Swoop? Swoop Airline does not allow pets in the cabin. You can read my full Swoop Airline review here for more info. 

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!

How Do I Fly with my Dog in the Cabin on WestJet?

We recently flew with our dog from Canada to the USA (Edmonton to Phoenix) on WestJet. Here is a quick overview of our experience. 

Book your flights online and then immediately call the WestJet sales and service phone number to talk to an agent.

This is to add your pet to your flight itinerary. 

Arriving at the Airport with a Pet

You can check-in for your flight online to get your boarding passes, but the passenger who has the pet attached to their itinerary has to go see the flight agent (not just the kiosk).

If you travel with carry-on luggage only, you can’t head directly to security.

You have to check-in with an agent first so that you can print out your boarding pass and mark it to show that you will have a pet in the cabin. 

We didn’t have our dog in her carrier when we checked-in with the agent (she was on leash), but I think it was pretty obvious that she would fit inside, so we didn’t get asked to demonstrate this.

Depending on the size of your dog or cat, the agent may ask to ensure that they can fit inside. 

Going Through Airport Security with a Pet

In the security line, the pet carrier and any pet accessories will have to go through the scanner.

I held my dog and walked through the metal detectors and nothing beeped! She even still had her leash on and it was fine.

Depending on the airport, you may have to keep your pet in its carrier at all times except for when going through security.

Many airports are quite dog friendly and allow you to have your dog out of it’s carrier (but on leash) while at the gates. 

Going Through Customs with a Dog

When we left Canada (at Edmonton International Airport) and went through US customs, they didn’t ask for anything related to our dog.

We walked through US customs with our dog out of her carrier on leash.

Upon re-entry to Canada, you have to keep your dog in its carrier until you’ve been cleared through customs.

Coming back into Canada, the border agent thoroughly inspected our dog’s vaccination papers and rabies certificate.

After the border officer was satisfied with our dog’s documents, he asked me to open our dog’s carrier and show him the dog so he could verify that she looked safe and healthy to enter. 

Is a Pet Carrier Considered a Carry-on Bag? 

My airplane travel with a dog setup! All of this fit in the cabin!
dog in pet carrier in the cabin of an aircraft under the seat
Everything fits, and not really any squishing down required

When bringing a pet carrier in the cabin on a WestJet flight, it will be considered your personal item.

This means that in addition to the pet carrier, you can still bring a carry-on bag to store in the overhead bin.

Additionally, if you bring a purse or a personal bag that’s small enough, you will be able to bring that on the plane, too.

On our last WestJet flight, I brought this pet carrier and this fossil purse which were my personal items that fit perfectly under the seat in front of me.

This was my carry-on bag that fit in the overhead bin and I didn’t have to check any luggage. 

>> If you are planning to bring checked bags and you’re flying with your dog, I highly recommend using the WestJet Mastercard.

You get a free checked bag for you and up to 8 people on your itinerary.

Read my full review of the WestJet Mastercard for travel here

How Strict is WestJet with Pet Carriers?

WestJet lists maximum dimensions for the size of pet carriers because this is the amount of space clearance under the seat.

However, if your carrier is slightly larger than the dimensions listed, as long as it can compress down to fit under the seat, WestJet has no issues with this.

As long as your pet is safe and comfortable, this is allowed. 

I reviewed the best WestJet (and other airline) approved pet carriers here if you need help choosing one!

I included my best overall choice (the one we use), plus one with wheels, one that’s expandable and one that’s budget-friendly. 

WestJet, however, is very strict with ensuring you keep your pet in its carrier under the seat for the duration of your flight.

You won’t be allowed to pull your pet out and have it on your lap.

Unfortunately, the rules had to change in recent years, as many travelers started abusing the term ‘emotional support animal’ and things started to get out of hand.

The flight attendants will inform you before take-off that you can open the carrier and provide your pet with food, water or pet them to keep them comfortable.

This is why I love the Sherpa Carrier that we use, because it opens from the top which makes it easy to allow our dog to pop her head out and look around. 

And these collapsible dog bowls are the gold standard for pet travel! You can see my pink one in the photo above.

How do I add a Pet to my Westjet Flight Itinerary? 

At this time you have to call WestJet customer service directly to book your pet a spot on the plane.

You can book your flight online as usual, but I recommend as soon as you book your flight you call WestJet and add your pet to your tickets.

WestJet recommends adding your pet to your flight itinerary at least 48 hours before departure, but since there are a limited number of pets allowed per flight, I would do this as soon as possible.

You can call the sales and service number at 1-888-937-8538. 

Psst…Watch my full video and see how the carrier fits under the seat!

How Much Does it Cost to Fly With a Pet on WestJet?

It cost us $50 each way to bring our dog in the cabin from Canada to the USA . 

Service dogs flying with a person with a disability are not charged a fee. If you are flying with your service dog on WestJet, you still need to call and talk to an agent at least 48 hours before your flight to ensure there is space in the cabin. 

Emotional support animals are no longer considered a service animal on WestJet flights and you will have to pay the normal fee to bring them in the cabin. 

What is the Weight Limit for a Dog to Fly in the Cabin on WestJet?

While there is no weight limit for a dog within the cabin, a dog over 22 pounds likely won;’t fit under the seat and therefore would be too heavy to fly in the cabin.

The  limits pertain to the size of the carrier, and not the weight of the pet. 

Tips About Choosing Seats on Your Westjet Flight When Flying with Pets in the Cabin

You can see here we are sitting behind the premium seat row, with only 2 seats in front of us. Minimal under-seat room in the aisle seat.

You cannot have a pet under the seat in the emergency exit rows of the aircraft. 

On most Westjet flights, the window seat has the most room under the seat in front of you.

In many cases if you have a small enough purse or personal bag, you can fit both your pet carrier and bag under the seat in front of you if you book a window seat. 

Finally, if you’ll be on a westjet flight with premium seats, avoid booking the aisle seat in the first row behind the premium seats, this is usually row 4.

If you are in the first row behind the premium seats, you will only have two seats in front of you instead of three.

This causes the under the seat room to be a little off.

When we sat in row 4, there was no room to place a pet carrier in the aisle seat, but the middle seat had plenty of room, and the window seat seemed to have 1.5 times the room. 

What Documents Do I Need to Fly with My Dog?

You will need to show that your pet is up to date on all of its vaccinations, the most important being its rabies vaccination certificate.

It’s always a good idea to book an appointment with your veterinarian for a check-up before you fly, especially if you’re flying out of the country.

Some vet clinics offer a certificate of health or veterinary inspection, but ours did not.

All we needed to get back into Canada was that our dog’s rabies and annual vaccinations were recent and up to date. 

Can I Bring my Dog with me if I Booked a WestJet Vacations Package?

Yes, you can bring your dog on your vacation, but before booking your package you should ensure that the hotel or resort you’ll be staying at allows dogs.

If your hotel allows dogs, book your vacation package online and then call WestJet to add your dog to your flight itinerary.

You may have to pay a pet fee at the hotel upon check-in or check-out. 

What Type of Pets can You Bring in the Cabin?

Westjet allows dogs, cats, rabbits and some types of birds. Note that when flying with a cat, you may be asked to move seats if another guest nearby has an allergy.

This didn’t appear to be a policy with dogs when we flew. 

How Many Pets are allowed on a WestJet flight in the Cabin?

dog in pink sweater in airport

It depends on the type of aircraft you will be on, but most flights allow up to 3 or 4 pets in the cabin at one time.

This is why I highly recommend booking your pet a spot in the plane as soon as you book your flights. 

We prefer to fly with Westjet when flying with our dog because they allow priority boarding for people with pets.

We get to board the plane first which gives us more time to get Miley settled and comfortable before the plane gets busy. 

The WestJet pet policy is subject to change at anytime, so I recommend checking the website before each flight.

Happy Travels!

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Friday 15th of April 2022

Do you know whether you can bring a dog stroller on Westjet? If so, can you check it at the gate for free as you can a baby stroller? What about a dog crate? We have a metal folding dog crate but no bag for it and I am wondering what to use in the hotel as our pup needs to be crated sometimes to have a nap as she gets too worked up and can’t sleep if overstimulated.


Saturday 16th of April 2022

@Alyssa, I was thinking the same thing about the stroller. I’ve brought a stroller with my daughter when she was a baby and no one questioned us about it. You just leave it at the gate and its there when you get off. I was thinking maybe a stroller would be a good idea as we are travelling to Palm Springs in two weeks and I’m worried about her paws getting burned from hot pavement.


Saturday 16th of April 2022

Hmmm those are great questions! I wish I had the answer, but I actually don't know. I would call WestJet and ask to confirm. I'm thinking if the metal crate folds, you should be allowed to gate check it. As far as a workaround for the stroller...what if you boarded the plane with your dog in its soft-sided carrier (assuming your dog is small enough to be in a carrier under the seat), and walk up with the stroller to the gate. Whose to say that you aren't travelling to meet someone with a baby who needs a stroller? :) Either way, I will definitely ask these questions when I board my next westjet flight!


Friday 25th of March 2022


My Japanese spitz is 15lbs and 14inch high from paw to shoulder. I was worried with her height. Last year we flown with Air Canada and even though when I called the agent told me it shouldn’t be a problem, st the checkin the lady told me she had to stand up fully in her Deluxe Sherpa Large carrier (she lower her head when she’s standing in it). We insisted and I said I even called, and she finally agreed as she was able to turn in it and lay comfortably. She slept all the time from Montreal to Calgary! The same issue happened for our flight from Vancouver to Montreal but the guy at the checkin was very rude and told us there was no way our dog will be boarding with us! I ask to speak with his supervisor, he called him, and finally he asked us to show that our dog could turn and lay comfortably… he then let us pass angrily. An horrible experience!

I read lots of posts about it and it seems it really depends of the agent at the checkin counter.

But as we go back to Vancouver this summer, this time I sent a message to WestJet and a lady replied me in writing that as long my dog is comfortable in her carrier it wouldn’t be a problem!! :) I hope it won’t be a stressful experience this time! But as I read your post it doesn’t seem it should be an issue!

And as you said the Deluxe Sherpa Large should fit right? I was wondering if I should buy the Medium…


Wednesday 30th of March 2022


Thank you for your reply Alyssa!! Its good to hear it shouldn’t be a problem and that we will probably have a better experience!! If you want to follow our adventures : @yume.spitzjaponais

Thanks for your content, very useful and full of information!


Wednesday 30th of March 2022



Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Oh goodness, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with Air Canada. To be honest, I think WestJet seems to be a little more 'chill' and personable when it comes to things like this. I'm quite confident in saying you will likely have a better experience on WestJet this time around. The large will fit under the seat, so if that's better for your dog go with that one! Good luck on your trip :)


Sunday 20th of March 2022

Great information. Our dog is about 17lbs 15 to 16 ins long from shoulders to back end and about 11 to 12 ins tall from shoulders to ground. I was looking at the large sherpa hoping that will work for her. Any information on Air Canada flying with your pet would be most welcome. thank you


Monday 21st of March 2022

Hi Maureen, sounds like your dog has close to the same measurements as mine. You should be ok! I will do a follow up post once we fly with Air Canada with our dog in the cabin, thanks for the idea!


Wednesday 16th of March 2022

Thanks for all the info. I've done so much research into this as well and still stress about if my pup will get denied at checkin. I have a Pawhut rolling pet carrier and Westjet had no issues with this last October since they have checked with Transport Canada and it is approved but now my pup is bigger.. 15 pounds and 16 inches long but 15 inches tall.. all legs! Lol. He fits in the carrier fairly comfortably but do you think his height will be an issue? Thanks!


Wednesday 16th of March 2022

Hi Suzie, if your dog can still fit comfortably in his carrier and has enough room to move around in it, you should be fine. If you're worried, I would just keep your dog in his carrier when you check-in, and if he appears comfortable in there, the agents probably won't say anything. You can always call WestJet ahead of time to make sure.


Thursday 10th of February 2022

Thank you for your tips and excellent explanation of what to expect flying with West Jet. We are flying with our mini Chihuahua from Costa Rica to Canada and return. She is only 1.3 Kilos and it has been a challenge to find a carrier small enough for her. We had a Sherpa carrier to bring a kitten with us one year but the handles have all deteriorated and the interior walls have crumbled. Now, Sherpa has tripled in price so I am having to buy a less expensive and lower quality carrier online that a friend will bring down for us for our trip north. It will be a bit of a challenge with all of the vet requirements and approvals to bring her with us but she would experience severe separation anxiety if we leave her behind. I was more stressed at the fact that there are so few airline approved carriers that are small enough for West Jet's approved dimensions. I think I found one that will fit. I hope it is sturdy and will last a number of years.


Sunday 13th of February 2022

Hi Deb, I'm glad you found it helpful. The next time we fly on Westjet I will try and do a little more research about animals on the smaller side and see what I can find out. Best of luck with your trip!

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