Southwest to begin boarding pets

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Is travel going to the dogs?Southwest Airlines has announced that small pets kept in carriers will be allowed on flights beginning June 17—as long as their owners fork over a fee of $75 each way. (Currently, Southwest only permits service animals.) Many airlines already welcome pets onboard; has a handy rundown of the various policies and fees. It lists Delta, for instance, as charging a heftier $150 each way.

Introducing fees, even if comparably low, is an about-face for "no hidden fees" Southwest, which earned one of our 2008 Extra Mile Awards for holding firm against the industry trend of tacking on fees. The airline will also begin charging $25 each way for unaccompanied minors (ages 5-11) on June 17 and is revising its baggage policies.

But it's clear skies ahead for globetrotting pets—their ability to fly Southwest is just the latest in a series of developments. Pet Airways (no joke!) launched in late April, with fares from $150 per pooch, and JetBlue has introduced a frequent-flier miles program for pets. Hotels don't want to miss out on the market, either. We just blogged about five chains that love Fido.

Is all this pet-friendly travel unfriendly to humans? Some Southwest customers have already voiced concerns about pet allergies, plus the various noises and smells that can accompany even the cutest cats and dogs…

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