JetBlue Cat Policy – Flying Across Country with 2 cats on JetBlue
A couple of months ago, I was able to test out the JetBlue cat policy by flying from New York to San Diego with 2 cats.
And last year, I drove across country with 2 cats from San Diego to Toronto over 5 days in a minivan. So, I have now successfully traveled with my 2 cats across the country twice.
If you have a small cat (i.e. under 10 pounds, then flying with your cat in cabin is not too much trouble. But flying with a big guy like Charlie, who is a 17 pound Maine Coon mix, is somewhat of a problem.
But with JetBlue’s “JetPaws” program that makes it easier for pets to fly with their airline, I decided to give it a try.
In this post, I’ll share with you my experience flying in cabin with cats, my thoughts on jetBlue’s cat policy,how to prepare you cat for traveling on a plane, what to expect at the airport.
After living in Toronto for a year, it was time to head back to California. I wanted to minimize the travel time for my cats as much as possible. But because there were no direct flights from Toronto to San Diego, we drove to New York first.
From my experience long distance driving with 2 cats, I knew my cats could only handle max 4 hours before getting really really fussy.
So, rather than driving to Manhattan in one go, I drove us from Toronto to Syracuse the first day, which took about 4.5 hours. Then, from Syracuse to Manhattan the next day.
I strapped Nala and Charlie in the backseat of the car the same way they were strapped in the last time I drove long distance with them. This backseat car hammock I got for them has really come in handy so many times.
In Syracuse, we stayed at the Staybridge hotel. It was spacious and the front desk was very friendly. There is plenty of parking there as well. But best of all, they allow cats!
There’s a fee per cat, but still, it’s hard to find a hotel that allows cats, so this was a major plus.
Side note: It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, unfortunately… They picked up fleas here and they hadn’t been treated before because they are indoor cats. The ordeal to treat the cats and get rid of the fleas in the house was excruciating, to say the least. But we were able to get rid of those blood-sucking fleas fast (knock on wood that it doesn’t return).
Regardless, these guys made themselves very comfortable for the night.
The next day, we left at 5:30am and headed to Manhattan. The drive took about 5 hours plus 30 minutes due to my blunder in New Jersey.
We stayed with my sister for a couple of nights in the city before the flight from New York to San Diego.
Finally, let’s get to the meat of the story – the JetBlue flight experience with 2 cats.
JetBlue Cat Policy
JetBlue’s pet policy is one of the cat friendliest of all airline pet policies. With their JetPaws program, it makes it easier for pet owners to travel with the pets in cabin. Their fee is $100 per pet, which is pretty standard.
The downside with JetBlue’s pet policy is that the maximum size requirement of the pet carrier is on the small side. The carrier must be 18” length x 12.5” width x 8.5” height.
There are the pet carriers I recommend for airline travel. I had 2 different sized carriers for Nala, who is 9 pounds and Charlie, who is 17 pounds.
Because JetBlue’s cat policy only allows one cat per person, my sister and I traveled together to bring both Nala and Charlie.
Reserve Your Cat When You Buy Your Ticket Online
In my opinion, the best part about flying with your pets on JetBlue is that you can book your pet online when you purchase your own ticket. It’s as simple as clicking a button that says “traveling with a pet” when you enter your details during purchase.
The beauty of that is that other airlines make you call the airline after you’ve booked your own ticket.
But at the time you buy your ticket, there’s no way of knowing whether that aircraft will allow you to board your cat in cabin due to the specificity of that aircraft and if the flight has reached a max for allowed pets.
For example, when my sister bought her ticket, she clicked on “traveling with a pet” button. When I was buying my ticket an hour after, it said that maximum number of pets allowed on the flight had been reached and I wasn’t shown the “traveling with a pet” button. That’s because most airlines allow a maximum of 2 pets per plane.
So, we opted for a flight 2 hours after as we both were able to click on the “traveling with a pet” button. This functionality on their website was extremely helpful.
*TIP for Large Cats* If you have a large cat like my 17-pounder Charlie, select the seat with extra leg room. It’s an additional fee, but it’s worth it if you don’t want your pet to be squished on the flight or if you’re worried that your pet carrier is longer than their allowed dimension.
Checking In At the Airport
The procedures at the airport was pretty standard. I flew out of JFK, which was mayhem even at 6:30am. This was a good thing and a bad thing.
The benefit of the airport being busy was that when we checked in, the JetBlue personnel was so busy that she didn’t weigh the cats in their carrier. You see, I had worried that Charlie and his carrier would weigh more than the max of 20lbs. So, no issue there.
The bad thing was that it was so busy and there were lines formed everywhere. And this made it difficult to know exactly which line to go stand in to check in my cats. We almost missed our flight because of the lines.
If you are traveling with a pet, you have to check in your cat at the full service desk. But not only that, some major airports have a different designated full service desk for passengers that require “special assistance.”
This includes those traveling with a wheelchair or passengers that have unconventional sized check-in items, minors that are traveling alone, or passengers traveling with pets.
We didn’t know this initially, so we were standing in the regular full service desk for a while and wasting time. Then, after asking a different attendant, we were finally correctly guided to the special assistance desk.
So, when traveling with your cat, make sure to find out whether the airport you’re flying out of has a designated full service desk for special assistance or if it’s one in the same.
At the special assistance desk, each cat got a tag that said “JetPaw” that was attached to their carrier.
Going Through TSA Security With Your Cat
At security, I took Charlie out and held him in my arms. My sister took Nala out of her carrier and held her in her arms.
And we proceeded to go through TSA with our cat in our respective arms while the carrier went through the X-ray machine.
DIY Travel Cat Litter Box
Note that the animal relief area is usually before you go through security. So, make sure your cat went potty in the morning before the flight. If they didn’t and they look uncomfortable, then take out their travel litter box before you go through security in their animal relief area.
Otherwise, you can bring a makeshift travel litter box and open it in the bathroom stall. This is what I did. I used a small Amazon box, cut out the top so that the sides were about 4 inches high.
I was then able to fold the box flat and stored it in my bag along with a small trash bag of natural FLUSHABLE litter (very important if you don’t want to end up with a smelly bag of poo and not knowing what to do with it).
Many people travel with their pets, including cats, so don’t stress out too much. Just prepare all the steps before flying and it will be easy as pie when you’re at the airport.
What To Expect On the Plane
My 3 biggest worries for traveling with cats in cabin were:
- my cats would meow like crazy and other passengers might complain, or
- some passengers around us might get an allergic reaction to cats and complain, or
- my cats would have to go potty and relieve themselves in their carrier.
Luckily, none of these were an issue.
First of all, Nala did meow sometimes, but you couldn’t really hear because the plane is quite loud. Also, most people have headsets on and are watching movies.
Second, because the cats were localized in their carrier and under the seat, their dander wasn’t really getting everywhere and it wasn’t a problem for anyone.
And finally, I had my makeshift cardboard travel litter box with me as explained above. So, I was ready to take my cat to the airplane lavatory with the litter box and flushable litter if they started pacing around their carrier uncomfortably.
But cats are mostly nervous when they’re on the airplane. And, since they have to be relaxed to relieve themselves, they are able to hold it in for the duration of the flight.
Keeping Your Cat Calm On The Plane
Now, a couple of tips to keep your cat calm during the plane.
First, cover their carrier with a jacket, towel or a blanket so that they can’t see out their carrier. They’ll feel more at ease without all the stimulation around them.
Face their carrier in such a way that your cat can see you throughout the flight. I left a sliver from being covered by my jacket, so they could see me. And I often found them looking at me.
I always have pretty good experience with JetBlue flight attendants. They seem to be a lot more chill than other airlines like United or American. So, if you can help it, I would definitely recommend flying your cat on JetBlue.
Preparation Before the Flight
After waking up at 4:30am, the first thing I did was to feed my cats a tiny little bit of food, so that it starts working their digestive tract. I wanted them to use the litter box before we had to leave for the airport.
Ideally, you’d feed them about 4 hours before you had to leave for the airport, but I didn’t have much time, since our flight was bright and early in the morning.
The day before, I gave them half the amount of food that I usually give them, so that they wouldn’t be backed up during the flight.
Half an hour before we left, I gave them 2 melatonin chewables each. If they don’t like the smell of it, break it up really finely and mix it with a spoonful of their wet food.
My Concluding Thoughts On JetBlue Cat Policy
Overall, my experience flying with my cats in cabin on JetBlue was pretty easy breezy. I attribute a lot of this to JetBlue’s JetPaws program.
I think that due to a program dedicated to passengers traveling with pets, JetBlue’s employees were educated on the standard procedures.
This avoids any conflict that could arise between the passengers and JetBlue employees who may be hostile towards passengers with animals.
The fact that I could buy my ticket and reserve a seat for my cats while doing so made it incredibly convenient.
I also really enjoyed my interactions with JetBlue flight attendants, because they are a lot more relaxed than other airlines. It seems as though as long as they ensure the safety of the passengers and any pets, they will do what they can to accommodate you rather than just being a stickler about a useless thing just because they can be.
So, I highly recommend taking JetBlue if you’re traveling with your cat.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures during this whole process, because I was anxious and stressed about potential issues that could arise in any moment of the travel. But, there was no need to be anxious. I should’ve taken pictures…!
My Sister’s Concluding Thoughts On JetBlue Cat Policy
Finally, I asked my sister to provide her input as well, because she was dragged into helping me travel with my cats. She provided some really useful insight:
“Your seatmate is very important. You should sit on the inside by the window so that the cats don’t get scared by the passersby.
You don’t need to get so scared about cats meowing, because the airplane is so loud. I couldn’t hear any of them. They were sleeping most of the way through (6 hour flight).
You should take blankies for them, because it gets kind of cold under the seat.
Also, make sure they’re easy to take out when you go through TSA, because you have to take them out quickly. Try to get TSA pre-check, so it’s quicker and you don’t have to take out your laptop or take off your shoes.”
I agree; thanks for the wise tips, sister!
Questions Or Comments?
Thank you for reading about my experience flying across the country with 2 cats on JetBlue.
I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions or comments, send me a DM on Instagram!