The Best Airline for Your Pet May Be One You’ve Never Heard of – NerdWallet

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JSX, a semi-private airline, is unorthodox for several reasons. Firstly, there are only 30 seats in an aeroplane. Passengers skip the traditionally long security lines as JSX departs from private air terminals. Once on board, snacks and drinks are complimentary, there are power outlets in every seat, and legroom is plentiful.

And then there’s one perk that’s especially generous: Small pets fly free.

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“Pets are family and at JSX, we believe you should have the option to fly with your entire family,” JSX spokeswoman Meghan Patke told NerdWallet.

What do other airlines charge for pet fees

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While some major airlines ban furry friends, JSX allows cats and dogs on board. There is also no charge for pets small enough to fit under the seat.

A pets-fly-free policy is practically unheard of.

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NerdWallet analyzed 14 major airlines around the world as part of its annual 2023 Best-Of Awards. Among them, not a single airline allowed pets to fly for free—not even when serving as an emotional support animal. Most US airlines charge $85-$125 for pets in the cabin. (JSX was not considered for the awards because it did not meet other criteria for evaluation, such as having a loyalty program.)

Rules for flying with a pet in the cabin on JSX

Here are the JSX pet rules:

Flying with small pets on JSX: Free, with only a few restrictions

If a cat or dog is in a carrier that is small enough to fit under the seat, it can usually fly free.

If the pet is not an emotional support animal, it should be kept in its carrier during the entire flight, therefore not sitting on the owner’s lap. Each passenger may have only one carrier with one pet, and the pet counts toward an allowable personal item quota.

Emotional support animals are permitted to sit on a passenger’s lap, but the passenger must also have documentation verifying care from a licensed mental health professional or medical doctor.

There are some other rules, such as a maximum of five pets per flight cabin, and no pets considered offensive. Passengers must call JSX customer service to add a pet to a reservation.

Flying With the Big Dogs on JSX: Possible, Though Not Free

Big dogs can still fly – for a cost. Owners of medium to large dogs can purchase an adjacent seat at the advertised price. However, the dog will not be allowed to sit on the seat. It has to lie on the floor in front of the seat.

There are some additional restrictions as well, including that dogs must remain leashed and must not weigh more than 79 pounds. Tickets must be purchased over the phone, and there is an additional liability form to fill out.

Why JSX might be right for your pet

JSX does not charge a pet fee, and JSX has several route options for pet owners located out west. JSX fares are typically more expensive than traditional airlines, but with pet fees often costing incrementally more than normal fares. Plus, the JSX offers a business class experience for both pets and passengers. So in some cases, the price difference is more than worth it for the added comfort and convenience.

Here’s how the JSX pet experience compares:

JSX is sometimes cheaper

NerdWallet compared JSX airfares to the cost of flying the same route on Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which took first and second place on NerdWallet’s Most Pet-Friendly Airlines of 2023. Carrier under the seat. Southwest offers a slightly cheaper $95 pet fare for animals that fit in a carrier under the seat. (However, pets are not allowed on international Southwest flights.)

To compare prices, NerdWallet analyzed 2023 airfares on 75 nonstop routes shared by Alaska, Southwest and JSX. On some routes, JSX was cheaper – and sometimes much cheaper.

For example, Alaska charged $224 (or $324 with the pet fee) for a flight between San Diego and Phoenix, while JSX charged only $199 for the same route that day.

When you take into account the pet fee, the average Alaska airfare is 1.2% more expensive than JSX and Southwest’s average airfare is 12.6% cheaper than JSX.

The prices in the analysis were based on the lowest non-basic economy fare offered by each airline. For airlines with multiple flights on the same day, the cheapest departure time was chosen.

Especially on shorter routes like Los Angeles to San Francisco — where fares are typically cheaper (but pet fees are fixed) — pets can make up a large portion of total flight costs, which helps JSX shine. make capable.

Reduced waiting time and better onboard experience

JSX flights depart from private air facilities, so you won’t have to arrive two hours in advance for your flight, and the security screening process is much less invasive. This can reduce the amount of time you may have to wrestle with a stressed pet at the airport.

Then there’s the onboard experience. Humans and pets alike enjoy a business class experience on JSX flights. JSX spokeswoman Meghan Patke told NerdWallet that the pets are given JSX-branded bandanas.

When JSX doesn’t make sense, even with pets

some routes. JSX’s route map is quite limited, only operating out of about two dozen airports around North America. The Southwest and Alaska each have over 110 airports.

Large animals are not cheap. For larger dogs, you’ll need to buy their own seat—which will cost more than the roughly $100 pet fee on most airlines.

This is usually more expensive. When you take into account the pet fee, JSX fares were 60% more expensive than Alaska fares and 76% more expensive than Southwest fares. In raw dollars, Southwest airfare with a pet is on average $103 cheaper than the same JSX route.

For large groups with only one pet. For the person traveling with their dog, the upcharge for the JSX experience may be worth it. But for larger groups, the difference in prices for seats starts to become much more pronounced. For example, a family of four plus a pet will pay on average about $700 more to fly on JSX versus Southwest.

Why JSX May Be the Best Airline for Your Pet

Because JSX doesn’t charge a pet fee for small cats and dogs, it sometimes becomes the cheapest option to fly. But even though it may not be the cheapest, often the cost is incrementally higher. And given that the JSX offers a business class experience for both pets and passengers, it may be worth the extra cost.

(Top photo courtesy of JSX)

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