The 10 Best Airline Approved Dog Carriers
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Just because you're going on vacation doesn't mean you have to leave a furry friend behind. Made from durable fabrics and with collapsible frames, zippered pockets, padded floors, and multiple entry points, these airline-approved dog carriers makes it possible for Fido to travel along with you in style. Many of them can fit under airplane seats without compromising your pet's safety or comfort. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 11, 2020:
When embarking on a journey with your faithful canine companion, always be aware of an airline's safety regulations and restrictions pertaining to travel with animals. Before taking your trip, we recommend contacting the airline directly and inquiring as to the specific guidelines required for bringing pets with you on a plane.
We've removed both the Jet Sitter Luxury and Teafco Argo Petagon due to availability concerns.
Newly added are the X-Zone Pet and FrontPet Travel, the former of which includes a removable baseboard and comfy fleece bed for a small breed canine while the latter, being similar in design to the Snoozer Roll Around, can be transported using its built-in wheels and telescoping handle.
When transporting a large pup, the Sport Pet Designs Kennel is still quite a relevant option due to its overall size and durability.
If you're looking for something truly unique in shape and design, the Texsens Bubble Backpack can definitely fit the bill. In addition to its synthetic leather and PVC construction, the semi-sphere transparent viewing window can be interchanged with mesh material, depending on the environment.
December 16, 2019:
Traveling with pets can be stressful for both the owner and the animal, but one of these high-quality carriers can help to make it easier on everyone. It is, of course, especially difficult to travel with large breeds, and the Sport Pet Designs Kennel is one of the best tools for doing so. It's an incredibly durable crate and built with helpful considerations like a small floor gutter to minimize the impact of accidents during cargo-hold travel.
With that out of the way, there are quite a few excellent choices for smaller dog breeds, and most of them work great for cats too. The Sherpa Deluxe is incredibly popular and has been for years; while itwa's relatively lightweight and flexible, it's also quite durable and offers plenty of ventilation, which can really help minimize claustrophobia issues. The Kurgo Wander is the only one that has more ventilation per square inch of its shell's surface area. The Sherpa also offers multiple entry and exit points, which not all models do. The Natuvalle 6-in-1 is another easy-to-use option with multiple entry points.
The Jet Sitter Luxury is especially durable and has a waterproof bottom that can come in handy in case of emergency. Both it and Mr. Peanut's Travel Tote are relatively affordable, and Mr. Peanut's in particular is styled much like a classy-looking piece of luggage. For a very different appearance, check out Texsens Bubble Backpack, which is quite unconventional and somewhat futuristic. It doesn't have much ventilation, which isn't always ideal, but its relatively closed-off nature can help with some dogs that have a more "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" approach to travel. The Teafco Argo Petagon is another highly stylish option, though it's pretty limited as far as the size of dogs it can accommodate. And if you are willing to spare no expense for your pup, the Sleepypod Air is probably what you want. It's one of the few that offers significant protection in the event of an automotive accident and it's very much a high-end piece of equipment. The only reason it didn't hold the number 1 spot on our list is the fact that it's several times more expensive than most competitors.
Whichever you choose, make sure that you acquaint your dog with it comfortably. In fact, it's a great idea to let your pup hang out in the carrier a bit even when you're not traveling so they're as familiar as possible with it. And for times when you're not flying, there are plenty of other great ways to transport your pets, whether you're walking or riding a bike.
Arlo Skye Pet Carrier Offering 360 degrees of ventilation, the leakproof Arlo Skye Pet Carrier has dual entry points and supports a weight of up to 25 pounds. This pricey option also includes a removable and machine-washable memory foam mattresses for those long flights and a foldable design for convenient storage in your suitcase when it's not in use. The convenient back sleeve makes it easy to slip over your carry-on luggage. arloskye.com
What To Look For In An Airline Dog Carrier
Make sure it's large enough for your dog to be able to stand up and fully turn around inside it.
Traveling through airports and riding on airplanes can be rather stressful experiences for dogs. Some airports have taken pains to accommodate pets, even creating rest areas for them, but they can still be hectic environments for animals. If your dog doesn't fly regularly, the sounds and movement of an airplane can scare them, not to mention the close proximity of dozens of strangers. For that reason, it's important that the dog carrier you choose lets your pet feel that they have personal space on a plane. Make sure it's large enough for your dog to be able to stand up and fully turn around inside it.
Dogs like to stick their heads out of their carriers for many of the same reasons they love to stick their heads outside of car windows. So, look for a carrier with an opening in the top, so your dog can pop their head out. Owner comfort is important, too. One might have to walk for up to twenty minutes when traveling between terminals. Carrying a dog for that entire length of time can be exhausting. Fortunately, some airline dog carriers come with wheels and work very much like a rolling suitcase. If you decide to get a carrier that you actually need to carry, make sure it has padded shoulder straps.
If you prefer to have your hands entirely free during travel, then get a carrier that you can wear like a backpack. Airlines usually require passengers with dogs to put their carriers under their seats and in front of them, just like a regular carry-on item. But this means a dog will be next to other passengers' bags and feet. To keep your dog safe from other passengers' bags that could shift during the flight, invest in a carrier with sturdy walls.
How To Keep Your Dog Calm On A Plane
If your plane isn't very full, try to find a mostly-empty row to sit in with your pup. Most animals prefer to be away from the commotion on an airplane. It's a good idea to fly on light travel days for several reasons, actually. The fewer passengers the flight staff need to attend to, the more attention they can pay to keep your pet safe and comfortable. If your pet suffers from severe anxiety on a plane, causing them to urinate in their crate and cry for hours, you can try several natural remedies, including giving them natural herbal supplements or even getting them a massage beforehand. You can also try giving your pup some calming treats for the journey.
Put an unwashed sweatshirt or t-shirt that you wear a lot in your dog's carrier. They'll be calmed by the scent of your pheromones. There are even various pheromone products, like sprays, that you can place in your dog's crate. Remember that your dog looks to you for cues on what to feel, so if you're nervous, your dog will be, too. Act as if flying on a plane is as common as sitting on the couch.
It can help to sign up for priority seating so that you can board the plane as early as possible. This can help your dog get used to simply being on the plane before all of the sounds and the commotion of takeoff happen.
How To Prepare Before Flight Day
Most airlines have a limited number of spots available for dogs. Call the airline long before your flight to reserve a seat for your dog; if you show up the day of your flight hoping to bring your dog, you may be turned away. Each airline has its own rules on dog carrier sizes, but most allow carriers between 16 and 19 inches tall. Have all of your dog's paperwork organized and packed before leaving for the airport. Some airlines require that you have a proof of vaccinations with you.
You can, however, give your dog water right before, and during the flight.
If you are flying during the summer, check the forecast for your day of travel before your trip. Some airlines that take pets in their cargo put an embargo on animal travel on hot days. This is in your dog's best interest, but it can interfere with your plans, so plan ahead for this inconvenience.
Don't feed your dog too close to takeoff. It's best to give food three hours before the flight, so your dog doesn't fly on an empty stomach, but doesn't face any digestive issues in-flight. You can, however, give your dog water right before, and during the flight. Make sure your dog's water bowl is secured to the inside of his crate so it doesn't slide around during the flight. Some carriers have built-in water bowls. While you may not typically use these for adult dogs, pee pads are great to have on hand for a flight, as well. Line your dog's crate with these in the case of an accident.