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Taking a dog in-cabin to Hawaii: Korean Air remains an option

[8/15/11 I’m thrilled to report that this post, and the two posts that preceded it, are now out of date. I’ve just learned that Alaska Airlines is now allowing small dogs and cats to travel in-cabin to Hawaii, as of today’s date.]

Back on January 14, I published a post offering you three options for taking a dog in-cabin to Hawaii — and then this past Thursday I had to post a correction, after a WestJet representative told me that my earlier information from the airline was incorrect. That left only two options: joining a private travel club or flying on Korean Air.

Concerned that the Korean Air representative I’d spoken to had also led me astray, I contacted the airline again, but this time by e-mail. I asked for confirmation that passengers may bring a dog in-cabin to Honolulu, despite Hawaii’s stringent quarantine rules. I mentioned that no other airline allows pets to travel in-cabin to Hawaii. I believe no one could have repeated “in-cabin,” “dog,” “Hawaii” or “quarantine” more times in what was, after all, a fairly short e-mail message.

And, glory be, the answer remained the same. Here’s the message I received:

Information on traveling with your pet on Korean Air may be found in our website. [Korean Air’s pet policy says a lot of useful things, but it says nothing about a ban on bringing pets in-cabin to Hawaii.]

Due to a restriction on the number of animals that may be carried on passenger flights, you must request approval for the transport of your pet in-cabin at least 5 days prior to your departure to the nearest Korean Air office.

The State of Hawaii has stringent policies with regard to the importation of animals. Adherence to these policies are solely the responsibility of the passenger:

Pets entering Hawaii need a health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian within 14 days prior to arrival. Dogs (including special aid dogs) must undergo a mandatory 120 day quarantine period in the State Animal Quarantine Station. Only if specific requirements are met, animals can qualify for a 30-day quarantine period or the “5-days-or-less” quarantine program (for details see website: All dogs and cats entering Hawaii area required to have an implanted microchip, which has to be obtained from the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture. Quarantine charges are: USD25 – Registration Fee, USD10 – Health Record Fee and USD7 – per day for dogs. Pets transiting Hawaii must be quarantined at the state facility for the transit period. The Animal Quarantine Station must be notified of the complete itinerary at least 72 hours prior to departure from Hawaii. More information about import of pets in Hawaii can be obtained from the Dept. of Agriculture, Animal Quarantine Branch, 99-951 Halawa Valley Street, Aiea, Hawaii 96701-3246. Phone: (808) 483-7151, Fax: (808) 483-7161.

If you have further questions, please contact our ServiceCenter toll-free (in North America, 800-438-5000). When you call is answered, prompt #2 for English, then prompt #0 for a Reservations Agent. You may also try our live Chat service through a link in our website’s homepage for real-time assistance. Both are available 24 hours a day.

If you are not in the North American Region, please contact the nearest Korean Air office which may be found in our website. Click on CUSTOMER SUPPORT in the upper menu, then CONTACT KAL. Select the Region, Country and City and click GO. The phone numbers and office hours will then be displayed.

Given this reponse, I continue to believe that you can bring a small dog in-cabin to Hawaii on Korean Air. You’ll need to be a devoted owner to do so, because the only Korean Air flight going to Honolulu leaves from Incheon, but it is possible. But hey, please double-check before you book your flights, okay?


  • Ryan

    Hawaiian, American, United, and Northwest all handle animals. Have you tried booking online? Calling the Hawaii airline hub for information? Using the local airlines reservations office numbers is an easier way to get in contact with customer service instead of using the national 1-800 numbers.

  • Hello, Ryan — Thanks for your comment! Yes, indeed, those four airlines do handle animals, but none of them allows pets to travel in-cabin to Hawaii. The reader I was responding to, and who inspired my original post about taking a pet in-cabin to Hawaii, did not want her dog to travel in the baggage compartment because she was concerned about how he’d handle the temperature differential between wintry Denver and sunny Honolulu.

  • Steph

    Was wondering if any one had done the flight on Korea air to Hawaii with a pet in cabin? Me and my husband are looking to move to maui in 8 months and was wondering if anyone had heard any news on if the Korea air travel had worked??!

  • Christine

    I got excited because I found Korean Air flights from the US mainland into Honolulu, but that was short lived because the flights are crossed listed with Delta Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines and are not Korean Airline’s planes, so that won’t work because I think the only way to get a real Korean Air flight is to leave out Japan or something, which doesn’t make any sense for most people wanting to move to Hawaii from the mainland. I am going to have to look into a private charter plane I guess. 🙁 It is so ridiculous. I guess ATA used to be the only airline that allowed dogs in the cabin that weren’t service animals, but that airline went sadly out of business. An airline willing to let dogs in the cabin with their proper paperwork would make a lot of money!

  • Hi, Christine — I can totally see where you would have been excited, but you’re right, the only Korean Air flight to Honolulu that my customer service rep mentioned was the one that leaves from Incheon (in South Korea). Alas! I agree that an airline should take the plunge and welcome in-cabin pets on board. Hawaiian pet owners succeeded in getting the quarantine process streamlined, so maybe they turn to this problem next.

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