The Majority of Travelers Would Rather Sit Next to a Pet Than a Child on a Plane

They are also willing to spend more money for pet-friendly accommodations.

There has only been one time in my life when I genuinely minded that there was a child on my flight. It was at the end of a five-hour flight, the air conditioning was off, and we had been taxiing on the Newark runway for the better part of two hours. The child was screaming—adding to the chaos of an already miserable situation. The kid really wasn't the problem, and I wanted to scream too. But as social media has repeatedly revealed, people do not like flying with children.

So much so that some airlines are even offering child-free zones on flights. A new study from Upgraded Points also reinforces this general viewpoint—the study shows that 57% of non-pet owners would rather sit next to a pet instead of a child.

And while this preference for non-pet owners certainly indicates a mostly welcoming environment for people traveling with pets, the rest of the survey results indicate that bringing a pet on a trip isn't without challenges. One easy example: 34% of non-pet owners are not comfortable sharing cabin space with other people's pets. So the ideal order for most flyers seems to be: no pets or children, pets, children. 

"Traveling with pets comes with a unique set of challenges and rewards," said Alex Miller, founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, about the company's just-released research. "Our latest study offers insight into the balance Americans strike when traveling with their pets, and what non-pet owning travelers think about it all, too."

The study surveyed 1,000 Americans in September 2023, including both pet owners and non-pet owners. That study revealed that 85% of pet owners have faced travel challenges or restrictions when they bring their furry friend on trips. Check out some more of the study results below.

traveling with a pet challenges survey graphic
Courtesy of Upgraded Points
traveling with a pet survey results upgraded points
Courtesy of Upgraded Points

Only 17% of pet owners consider the pet-friendliness of a location when planning a trip—but 33% of pet owners would choose to vacation anywhere with their pets rather than travel to their dream destination without their pets. Over 60% of pet owner respondents reported that they would pay more for pet-friendly accommodations and pet-friendly amenities.

What lengths would you go to travel with Fido?

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in Journalism from NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She's worked in digital media for seven years, and before working at Thrillist, she wrote for Mic, The Cut, The Fader, Vice, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.