Traveling with your small canine friend can sometimes be a stressful experience for all parties involved. However, if you are armed with knowledge about the best airline approved dog carriers that are on the market today, you will be able to choose the perfect one for yourself and your pet, and hopefully ease the stress for both of you during your travels.
These carriers are specifically designed to make flying more comfortable for your pet, and convenient for you. In today’s article we are going to focus on In-Cabin dog carriers, meaning carriers that are small enough, to come with you into the main cabin of the aircraft, and fit under the seat in front of you.
We are going to hit on topics like:
- What makes Carriers approved for in-cabin flights, and how to know if a carrier is approved.
- Complete and detailed reviews on 8 of the best airline approved dog carriers.
- Other Items you may need when traveling with your pet.
- Ready to dive in? Ok! Let’s go!
What are the requirements a carrier needs to have to be Airline Approved?
Before you take to the sky with your furry pal, you will need to know what kind of carrier to purchase.
You want to be sure your carrier has:
– Proper Ventilation. – The carrier needs to have proper airflow to allow your pet to be comfortable and receive enough oxygen.
– Leak Proof bottoms, lining, or inserts. – Pretty much speaks for itself, but it is very possible that your pet may have an accident during your travels. They are spending long periods of time within the carrier, and they are most likely a bit stressed, frazzled, and possibly even scared. You will want some kind of mechanism to soak up any accidents that may occur. (More on this later)
– Secure zipper or locking closure – Some carriers have snaps or Velcro to close them instead of zippers, or a locking mechanism. You do not want to take the risk of your pet escaping, you will definitely want something more secure than snaps or Velcro.
– Carrier must be able to keep in your entire pet – You cannot allow your dog to stick his head, or any other body part, out of the bag for the duration of the flight. Their entire body, including their adorable little face, must be inside of the carrier at all times. It is OK if your bag has a place for your dog to stick his head out, but it must have a zipper closure to keep your pet fully inside while you are on the flight.
– Hard plastic sides, or soft cloth sides. – There are airline approved crates that are hard and plastic, and ones that are cloth sided. Either choice works, but I personally prefer cloth sided, soft carriers. They are more comfortable to carry, have more “windows” for ventilation and for your pup to be able to see you, and they are a bit easier to fit underneath a seat without fumbling around.
(Airlines also recommend soft sided over hard because it is easier to compress and fit under the seat in front of you)
– Enough room for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down. – Again this is for comfort. Your pet will have to stay inside of his/her carrier for the duration of the time spent on the aircraft, and inside of the airport. – (except for potty breaks at appropriate places within, or outside of the airport. Some Airports have designated potty areas with convenient patches of grass right inside, so that you can allow your pet to relieve themselves without leaving the airport.)
Be aware that this is actually an Airline requirement. If your dog is cramped, and unable to turn around or stand up, you may be turned away at the gate, and not be allowed to board. Measure your dog before you purchase a carrier, and be sure to get one that is comfortable for him.
*Note* – If your dog is too big to fit into an in-cabin carrier, than I URGE you to try to find another means of travel with your beloved pet. It is very stressful, and in extreme situations, even dangerous, for a dog to travel in the cargo/checked bag areas on an airplane. Some airlines don’t even allow it. It would be in everyone’s best interest to exhaust all other options of traveling with your dog before deciding to take that route.
– Proper dimensions to fit underneath the seat in front of you – All Airlines require the carrier to be specific dimensions (or less) in order for them to fit under their seating. For example, United Airlines has maximum dimensions of 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm) for a hard sided carrier, and the recommended maximum dimensions of 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high (46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm) for a soft sided carrier. They allow for the soft sided carriers to exceed these dimensions slightly, because they are flexible, and easier to manipulate into fitting underneath a seat.
To save you from having to look it up, here are some maximum dimensions from other popular airlines along with pricing for bringing your pet along.
|Southwest||18.5″ L x 13.5″ W x 8.5″ H||$95 each way|
|American||19″ L x 13″ W x 9″ H||$125 per kennel|
|Allegiant||19″ L x 16″ W x 9″ H||$100 for one way flight|
|Delta||Differ depending on flight. Contact Delta for more info.||$125 each way|
|JetBlue||17″ L x 12.5″ W x 8.5″ H – also have a weight limit of 20lbs including the bag and your pet.||$100 each way|
Hard Sided – 21.5″ L x 15.5″ W x 9″ H
Soft Sided – 21.5″ L x 15.5″ W x 10.5″ H
In Canada or USA – $50-59 for one way travel. International flights – $100 – $118
Hard Sided – 17.5″ L x 12″ W x 7.5″ H
Soft Sided – 18″ L x 11″ W x 11″ H
$125 service charge each way. Also, an additional $125 service charge for layovers over 4 hours within the US, or 24 hours international.
*Note – Air Canada does have other flights in which the sizes have to be even smaller, including their Boeing flights and cabins equipped with lie-flat beds.
It is a tad bit tricky to cover the requirements in entirety, due to the fact that all airlines have slightly different requirements, and restrictions.
You will definitely want to call your airline before traveling with your furry friend to see if they have any specific dimensions, special seating that has larger storage under the seats than other areas on the aircraft, or any other regulations or restrictions that you should be aware of.
Our Top Recommended Airline Approved Dog Carriers.
Now that you know the general requirements that your carrier needs to have, lets look at some options, which just happen to be our very favorites!! 🙂
1. Mr. Peanut’s Expandable, Airline Approved, Soft-Sided Carrier
Mr. Peanut’s Expandable, Airline Approved, Soft-Sided Carrier – This carrier is literally the bomb.com… Yes, I said that. And I mean it. There are so many cool features to this bag, and it is super stylish too.
– Our Overall Rating: 9 out of 10
– Dimensions: 18″ inches Length x 10.5″ inches Width x 11″ inches Height. – Fits Pets up to 17″ in length X 10″ in height and up to 15lbs.
- Zipper closure and metal locking clasp
- Expandable folding compartment
- Inner safety ring to tether the dog
- Safety seat belt buckle – (allowing carrier to be restrained with car seat belts.)
- Pocket for treats/toys
- Ventilated top is pliable and can squish down to 8.5 inches so the bag can fit under all airline seats.
- Handle on top for carrying, plus a padded shoulder strap for carrying
- Strap on the back to attach to luggage handle and carry on top of luggage
- Mesh windows on top and all sides
- Made from Nylon, and very easy to clean
- Comes with removable fleece pet bed
- Super lightweight at only 2.7lbs
What we LOVE – First of all, we adore the look of this bag. Am I right?! SO cute. But besides just the aesthetics, we also love that this bag has the metal locking clasps for safety, and the expandable folding compartment is super nice for your pet to be able to stretch out! Another feature we’re lovin’ is the extra flap included on the top which you can zip closed over top of the mesh window. This feature is really nice for a dog who easily gets nervous or overstimulated. It helps keep some light out, and minimizes the visibility for a stressed out pup.
What others love – Other reviewers mentioned that they loved the fabric, quality, and durability of the bag. One reviewer stated that she had bought other soft-sided bags in the past that would always collapse down on her pet, but this one was sturdy enough to not collapse, while also being pliable enough to squeeze underneath those tight airline seats.
Cons – There were a couple complaints of the bag having a strong plastic smell upon arrival. It is also not machine washable, however the material is waterproof, and stain resistant, so it is very easy to wipe down and clean.
2. ONSON Pets Travel Carrier
ONSON Pets Travel Carrier – This is a simple carrier with very few bells and whistles, but sometimes that’s all you need, and it is the way to go! The one that I have for my Yorkie is VERY similar to this one, and I am happy with it.
– Our Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
– Dimensions: 16.9 inches long x 8.5 inches wide x 10.6 inches tall – (Conforms to fit under most airline seats) This bag is a bit smaller and would be best with pets that are 8lbs or less.
- Zipper Closure
- Windows on the top and every side = plenty of air flow
- One side unzips all the way for loading your pet in, and the other side just half-way for easy access to calm/feed your pet
- Has adjustable shoulder strap, and hand straps that Velcro together for very easy handeling
- Comes with a Sherpa lined, fleece pad for comfort
- Made with waterproof materials
What we LOVE – We love the simplicity of this bag. Other bags sometimes have issues with collapsing because there is so much going on and so many zippers. This bag is no nonsense, straight to the point, and gets the job done.
What others love – Others were very happy with the quality of this product for the affordable price, one person even said that they’d like to buy a second one for their other pet!
Cons – It doesn’t have some extra features that other carriers include. No pocket for treats/toys, no side strap to attach to luggage, etc. So if you are someone who likes the extras, this bag would not be a great choice for you. The other con would be that it is designed and sized for smaller pets.
3. Petpeppy Expandable Travel Dog Carrier
Petpeppy Expandable Travel Dog Carrier – This carrier is expandable on both sides for maximum comfort, and space for your pet!
– Our Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
– Dimensions: 17.9 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches tall
- Expandable “porches” on BOTH sides of the carrier
- Zipper closure
- Inner safety tether
- Can be used as a car seat as well
- Pocket for treats/toys
- Padded shoulder strap, plus handles to carry by hand
- Strap on the back to attach to luggage handle and carry on top of luggage
- Ventilation windows
- Comes with removable/washable bed
- Two zipper doors for easy access
- Folds completely flat when not in use
What we LOVE – We love that this carrier has expandable “porches” on both sides of the bag. Your pup can really stretch out in this bad boy! We also like that this bag can fold completely flat for storage when it is not in use, and BONUS… it also comes with a random colored, collapsible water bowl!
What others love – other reviewers also mentioned their great love for the expandable sides, and even said that their pet used it as a bed while at home!
Cons – Some people mentioned that they had issues with this carrier collapsing, or not standing up straight when it was all opened up. Others complained that there were too many zippers, and that frisky animals (mostly cats) Were able to push the zippers open and escape. A few people were concerned that it may not squish down enough to fit on certain airlines, but a lot of people took it on flights with no issues.
4. AmazonBasics Black Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
AmazonBasics Black Soft-Sided Pet Carrier – This is another very simple, and affordable design. This bag has LOTS of ventilation, so if your pet loves to see the world around him, or gets warm/claustrophobic easily, this is definitely a great choice!
Our Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
- X-Small – 14 inches long x 9 inches wide x 9 inches high (pets up to 8lbs)
- Medium – 16.5 inches long x 9.4 inches wide x 9.8 inches tall (pets up to 16lbs)
- Large – 19.7 inches long x 10.2 inches wide x 11.2 inches tall (pets up to 22lbs)
- Zipper Closure
- 3 size options
- Top door and front door for ease of placing your pet inside
- LOTS of ventilation
- Handles and shoulder strap
- Inside tether for safety
- Conforms to under seat dimensions of most airlines
- Machine washable fleece pet bed included
What others love – Other reviewers were happy with the quality of this bag for the low price, and that the bag held its shape without collapsing in. Owners of very curious pets said that their furry friend loved being able to see out of the bag from all sides!
Cons – Because this bag is made mostly of mesh, some very frisky pets were able to escape by ripping through it. Another complaint was that the bag was generally smaller than advertised.
5. Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carriers
Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carriers – This is a really awesome pet carrier. It has a few of the bells and whistles without being too over the top. They also offer a guaranteed boarding program for participating airlines, you can view their video on Amazon, teaching you how to print out a guaranteed, pre-approved boarding document, so that you can have peace of mind knowing you will not be turned away with your pet. If for some reason you are still turned away at the gate, Sherpa will personally reimburse you for your airline ticket, and your pet fee!
Our Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10
- Small – 15 inches long x 10 inches wide x 8.5 inches high (pets up to 8lbs)
- Medium – 17 inches long x 11 inches wide x 10.5 inches tall (pets up to 16lbs)
- Large – 19 inches long x 11.75 inches wide x 11.5 inches tall (pets up to 22lbs)
- Zipper closure
- 3 size options
- Lots of mesh windows for ventilation
- Handles and shoulder strap
- Side strap for carrying on luggage, or for buckling into a car seat
- Bends to fit underneath airline seats
- Machine washable faux lambskin liner included
- Rear pocket for convenient storage of treats, leash, toys, etc.
- Top and Side entry for pet
- Locking zippers
- Wooden stability board in bottom, wrapped with waterproof lining
What we LOVE – This is a great quality, well-thought-out design. It is everything you need, with a few extras thrown in. We love that this bag has locking zippers, great support, top and side entry points, and the guaranteed boarding with a qualifying Sherpa carrier is a huge bonus in my book. (The Large size is not part of the guaranteed boarding program as far as I can tell. You will want to call the airline to be sure for that size)
What others love – Reviewers were very pleased with the quality and overall comfort of this bag. It worked well with several flights, and the bag held up nicely without collapsing.
Cons – Again this carrier has a lot of mesh and because of that, it may not be the best choice for a dog who tries to escape from carriers by doing a lot of biting/scratching. A few people did have issues with their pet ripping the mesh and escaping, but the majority of those pets were feline friends. Not canine friends. 🙂
6. Pawfect Pets Pet Traveler Carrier
Pawfect Pets Pet Traveler Carrier – We adore this carrier. It is a great price, very cute, and very nice quality for the low price.
Our Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Dimensions: 17.5 inches long x 10 inches wide x 11 inches tall.
- Zipper access on both ends and on the top for super easy pet loading.
- Little zipper pocket for giving your pup a snack or a loving pat on the head
- Plenty of mesh windows for ventilation, without being too much
- Comes with TWO removable fleece padding beds, which are washable.
- Has zipper clip locks (we love when airline carriers have this)
- Inside safety tether
- Handles and padded shoulder strap
- Pocket on the front and side for goodies
- Has attached name tag
What we love – We love that this carrier focuses on comfort, ease of use, cleanliness, and safety. They want your pet to be comfy, to go into the bag easily without too much hassle, they give you TWO fleece liners so you always have a spare, plus we love seeing a carrier with zipper locks for added safety. This company really seems to have the customer in mind!
What others love – There are a ton of great reviews on this bag. One buyer said she’s been traveling for 15 years with pets, and this was by far the best carrier she’s ever had. Buyers also love that there are 3 places that you can access/load your pet, plus the little pocket on the side, which one buyer said was perfect for giving her pet his medications and calming spray while on their flight!
Cons – Shoulder strap is not well centered, which causes the bag to tilt slightly when being carried on the shoulder. Some said that it doesn’t keep its shape as well as they hoped.
7. Snoozer Wheel Around 4 in 1 Pet Carrier
Snoozer Wheel Around 4 in 1 Pet Carrier – This is a pretty awesome because it is on wheels!! If you are looking for a super convenient way to roll your pet right through the airport, than HERE YA’ GO! This carrier is a rolling pet carrier, back-pack, pet bed, and a car seat all in one!
Our Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
- The interior dimensions of the product are 9 inches high x 13 inches wide x 15 inches long (as it is measured lying down) and the top is slightly sloped.
- Outer Dimensions 20 inches long x 14 inches wide x 11 inches deep (For pets up to 15lbs)
- Zipper access
- Three large mesh panels for ventilation and viewing
- Two side storage pockets
- Extendable luggage style handle
- Can be carried multiple ways
What we love – We love how convenient it is to roll your pup around an airport in this carrier! As long as your pet is not frightened by riding in something like this, it could be very handy! The backpack feature is also a win, as it could double as a great bag for hiking trips.
What others love – Many buyers loved the quality and over-all ease of use of this bag. One person said that their Yorkie does the “happy dance” every time he sees it come out! (AW, so cute!)
Cons – Some reviews stated that the bag was smaller than anticipated. The base of the carrier must be removed to fit underneath an airplane seat. The Large size that is sold, will not fit under some airline seats. Stick to the small or medium size.
8. Sleepypod Air in-Cabin Pet Carrier
Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier – So we may have saved the best for last (In our opinion) BUT it is also the most expensive. The quality of this bag speaks for itself however, and the look of the bag is pleasing as well!
Our Overall Rating: 10 out of 10
Dimensions: Compresses from 22 inches long, 10.5 inches wide, 10.5 inches high down to 16 inches long, 10.5 inches wide, 8 inches high (Holds up to 15lb dogs)
- Entire top and ends unzip for incredibly easy pet placement.
- Entire top and ends that open are constructed out of strong/breathable mesh
- Two large zipper pockets on each side of the bag for storing goodies
- Inside safety tether
- Sleek and Chic design while still remaining sturdy
- Luggage grade nylon material makes this bag very rugged
- Sizing is flexible, the ends fold down to fit under aircraft seats, and the entire bag folds flat when not in use
- Equipped with handles and padded shoulder strap
- Side strap for carrying on luggage, or for buckling into a car seat
- Removable ultra plush bedding pad included – and machine washable
- Removable privacy panel – For nervous pets
What we love – This carrier pretty much has everything all combined into a sturdy and sleek design. A lot of thought was obviously put into the creation of this bag. We love pretty much everything about it, from the huge easy access opening for your pet, to the fact that it is made from high quality luggage grade nylon, and even just the overall look and feel of the bag is very nice. Our favorite part though, is the fact that it is a good sized, and roomy carrier for a pup, that easily compresses and folds down to fit under virtually any airplane seat. No more worrying if you will make it thorough the gate or not with Fido!
What others love – Most buyers absolutely love this bag! Reviewers said that the bag was worth the price, and that their pet loved the bag. One person said that it was much roomier than any other travel carrier she’s owned in the past, and allowed her dog much more room to stretch out, while still being in compliance with airline regulations.
Cons – A couple people mentioned that the sides are a little hard to fold down the first few times when trying to get it under an airplane seat. They recommended “breaking it in” beforehand, so you aren’t struggling with it on the first flight. Plus the price point is a bit high on this bag.
Extra items you may want to have
There are a few other items that you will want to grab before you hop on a plane with your furry friend.
1) Leak Proof Potty Pads or Dryfur Inserts.
Many of these carriers are made with water resistant materials, or have waterproof lining within the bedding, however, I think it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to long rides on an airplane. If your pet has an accident, you want to make sure it doesn’t leak through your bag.
Potty pads or a dryfur pet carrier insert will ensure that the accidents stay contained, and soak up quickly, so that your pet can stay as dry as possible.
Potty pads would be best used under the bedding that comes with the carrier, just to prevent leaks from going through the bedding and onto the carrier itself, or worse, through the carrier and onto the floor.
Dryfur pet carrier inserts have a hard and rigid design, so they do not bend or bunch up like potty pads. They can be used under the bedding as well, or they could be used in place of the bedding to allow for maximum absorption, but this won’t be quite as comfy for your dog. These pads are amazing and absorb messes instantly.
The Dryfur inserts come in four different sizes. You can usually find one that will fit in your carrier quite well. These fit especially well inside of the Sleepypod Air.
I would personally recommend the Dryfur inserts if you are going for a longer plane ride. They wont slip around as much, (if at all) and will be sure to keep accidents absorbed and contained.
You will definitely want to make sure you bring water for your pup to prevent him from becoming dehydrated.
A collapsible water bowl is an easy and convenient tool to have with you, enabling you to give your pup a splash to drink, anytime and anywhere!
Heaven forbid your little friend does somehow pull a Houdini and get loose in the airport, you will want to make sure that he is wearing an identification tag with at least his name, your name, and your phone number, so you can get your little one back in your arms as soon as possible.
4) Zesty Paws Stress and Anxiety Calming Bites
Some people swear by calming supplements for dogs that are more prone to anxiety in stressful situations. It doesn’t hurt to try! There are a lot of awesome reviews on these chewable calming bites, that are made with special ingredients to help ease a dog’s state of mind without making them drowsy.
Ready. Set. Fly!
We hope these reviews of our favorite Airline approved carriers, has been helpful to you in your search for the perfect travel tote for your little pup! There are a lot of great options, but only you can decide what will fulfill your pet’s needs and your needs the best!
We will be following up this post with another post about preparing for a flight with your pet, and tips and tricks to help them stay as calm as possible, so stay tuned!
Have you used an Airline Carrier before? Do you have one you love that isn’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear from you! 🙂
– Save this information for later, and help us spread the word by pinning this post to Pinterest!
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– Want to learn about another fun way for your pet to get around on your adventures? Check out our review post on our favorite dog strollers!
– It wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring a bag of delicious and healthy treats for your pup to snack on during a flight… Check out this post, where we talk about our very favorite healthy treat options for Fido!
14 Replies to “Airline Approved Dog Carriers – For In-Cabin Flights”
Excellent article. I am so glad they have pet carriers that can be seat belted in cars as well. I always worry about the safety of pets during all sorts of travel. Thank you for this great information it will be a big help.
Thank you, Yes! These kind of safety measures weren’t always available for pets, so it is really nice that you can find carriers like this these days.
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Thanks for sharing all your research on airline approved dog carriers. I would never take any pets on a plane if they had to ride in cargo. I did take my toy poodle on a flight once. He actually stayed on my lap most of the time!
Yes, they used to allow pets to ride in laps! Now, however, they have changed the rules, and they need to stay under the seat in front of you in their carrier at all times. I believe this change was of course for safety, but also because other passengers may have allergies or fear of dogs! Which I understand, but my dog would much prefer to be on my lap as well if she could be! ha!
Thanks for stopping by Sandra 🙂
Sarae, you got my attention. We have had yorkies and I absolutely love them. I wish we still had some as your web site is so good with lots of excellent tidbits.
Reading the article on Carry-ons I love the way you state what you are going to present.
Your graphics are perfect and nicely placed so I can see what it looks like while reading about it. At the end you put in Zesty Paws Stress and Anxiety Calming Bites. I didn’t know about this when we used to take our Yorkies flying although it probably didn’t exist back then.
Thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂 I am so glad this article was pleasant for you to read. The anxiety calming bites can be a wonderful way to help your pups stay calm on those long, and sometimes scary, fights!
Thanks for stopping by!
Hey Yorkie Lover, I decided to check out your website on Yorkie Stuff.
Its pretty cool. The 1st thing that caught my eye was that was all the different items Yorkie can use. Theoverall scheme is very clear. The first paragraph told me about how to travel with Yorkies. SoI knew the site would elaborate on that, which is cool.
The subject of animal travel is major. Especially with recent cruelty experienced by so many.
I look forward to exploring more about travel safety for pups on your site.
Thanx Again for Sharing
Traveling with a pet can be a bit scary if you’re unprepared! I am hoping to ease fears and help people understand the importance of the rules while flying so that you can have a safe trip, and stand up for your dog’s rights if necessary!
This is flipping awesome. I had no clue there were so many options. You have done a great job with this article and with this website. Anyone with a Yorkie should have this website saved. There is no doubt that you do know what you are talking about. I will absolutely be sending a few people to your site.
Thank you so much! I appreciate the feedback, and the sharing of our site!! We are so thankful and love our readers so much. 🙂
I really like the expandable dog carrier. They would have more room to move around a little instead of staying in one spot for so long.
This is great information for anyone wanting to travel with thier dog. These work for any kind of travel wether by plane or car.
It is great to take your pet with you when you go so they don’t miss you and you don’t miss them.
I am a big fan of the expandable bag as well! So much space for stretching those little doggy legs. And yes, these are great options for any kind of travel with your pup!
They sure do love to be with their “Pack” wherever they go. 🙂
I’m thinking ahead about my first flight with my “grandpuppy”. This is very helpful, thank you!
Glad you found it helpful! If you have any other questions please let me know. 🙂