Air travel with dogs, especially with carry-on bag conditions in Southwest Airlines, can be quite a challenge both for you and your canine companion. Luckily, with enough research, you’ll be able to find ways to make it easier for both of you.

When planning your pet travel, one of the most critical aspects you must consider is which seat to purchase for maximum comfort for you and your pet. When it comes to the pet policy of many airlines, there are several options available, both in terms of price and quality. However, there are a few airplane seats that are objectively better for taking your dog, and you should definitely try to opt for these if you get the chance.

So, here are the best plane seats for traveling with a dog:


If your budget allows, first-class seats on American Airlines are the best to get whether you have a pet in the cabin Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is one aspect to consider when you take your pet for air travel., pet, or service dog. In-cabin seats allow for more legroom. They are usually the most comfortable seats on an aircraft when you fly with a dog. First-class seats should also provide service dogs enough room to perform their tasks if needed, and could also fit under the seat if required.

Buy Them Their Own Seats

Some airlines, such as United and JetBlue, allow pet owners to buy their dogs their own seats. Having their seat is one of the best ways to travel with your dog, and it can be a lifesaver if you want to avoid any issues on your flight. The only downside of in-cabin pet travel is that it’s more expensive than buying just one seat for yourself. 

However, this doesn’t mean you can let them sit on the plane seat assigned to them. It just means you can place them on the under-seat stowage space so you can keep your legroom.

This should be the next best thing to a first-class ticket on American Airlines, as it frees up some of the limited legroom and gives your pet some much-needed peace and quiet. When buying an airplane seat for your canine companion, the seat that works best would be a window seat as it keeps them the furthest from the hustle and bustle of the aisle.

Bulkhead (For Service Dogs)

First-class tickets are understandably not an option for a lot of passengers. If that’s the case, then the seat in front, also known as bulkhead seats, is one of the best options for in-cabin pet travel, and airlines are aware of this. So, if you inform the ground crew 48 to 24 hours before the flight that you’re bringing a service dog, they’re more than likely to give you a seat in one of the bulkhead rows.

These rows usually have more legroom, and you won’t have to negotiate with the person in front of you not to recline their seats too far back. This way, your service dog has more room to make itself comfortable.

And if you’re fortunate to have the window seat on a bulkhead row, it should ensure that your service dog will have the least disturbance from passing carts or seatmates that need to stretch their legs or go to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, for ESA and pet owners, the prioritization for bulkhead seats does not apply. This is because dogs or pets that do not qualify as service dogs need to be in a pet carrier under the owner’s foot space for the take-off and landing. In some airlines like Southwest Airlines, small dogs are not even allowed to go out of their carry-on bag for the duration of the flight.

Middle seat

Unfortunately, seats in front like the bulkhead seats are limited, and they can get filled up pretty quickly during in-cabin pet travel. You may be tempted to request a window seat so you would have one less seatmate to worry about, but this might not be the best for you or your dog as the curvature of the plane leaves the window seat with less space than your other choices.

For this reason, it’s best to choose the middle seat because it’s typically wider and gives you adequate vertical space so you can stand up without hitting your head on the overhead stowage bins. Middle seats also protect your service dog’s tail from potentially getting rolled on by a snack cart or stepped on by another passenger walking down the aisle.

Window seat

Booking a window seat is another good option for traveling with pets because it’s the farthest from all the commotion from the aisle. Your service dog will be able to relax on this seat and you won’t have to worry about being disturbed by people walking by, making the pet travel experience more enjoyable. 

Plus, if your pet gets anxious or scared during the flight, you can hold him in your lap for a while if the airline permits it. The only downside is that there’s less vertical space so you won’t be able to properly stand up all the way if you need to.

Aisle seat

If every single middle or seat in front is already taken during check-in in-cabin, then you’ll have to settle for aisle seats while you fly with a dog. The constant flow of people can be a bit overwhelming for anxious pets and even for some of the best-trained service animals.

If you do have to take your dog in the aisle seat, it may work best to request one towards the back of the plane. These areas are the least likely to be crowded, which means less commotion and less distraction for your pet, making it easier for small dogs to fit under the seat. 

Final Thoughts: Best Plane Seats for Dogs on a Plane

The best plane seats for traveling with a small dog on Southwest Airlines would be anywhere in the first class as it allows you ample space and privacy. However, if that’s not an option, buying your dogs their own seats is also a great second option at a slightly lower overall cost for traveling with a service dog or a pet.

Seats in the bulkhead row are your best bet if you’re traveling with a service dog on a budget. However, the best seats to purchase for ESAs and pets, if you are looking to take your pet on a flight, would be the middle seat on Southwest Airlines, as it’s the roomiest option.

With the recent change in many airlines’ pet policies and the tightening of rules on which dogs can travel in an aircraft cabin, it’s important for pet owners and people who rely on service dogs to research the most comfortable plane seats for dogs. This should help both owners and their handlers to have a pleasant and stress-free flight.

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