It is easy to get caught up in some of the pet-friendly features and fun designs of pet carriers. We want them to be roomy, comfortable and maybe even to match the luggage. The problem with this is that it is too easy to look at models that are not airline approved. There are strict rules in place on the types of dogs that are allowed on flight in cabin carriers, as well as the size and construction of the carriers. Those that don’t follow the rules can’t fly. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the most important rules to consider, the features that all the best dog carriers contain, and some of the leading products. Each product chosen has the dimensions and features that ensure they are airline approved, but they have different individual selling points that relate to key travel considerations.
Remember that every airline has its own rules and regulations
Before we start with some of the best models in soft-sided carriers for dogs and cats, it is important to look at some of the basic rules of travel. You should never assume that your dog will be allowed on the plane, even if they are a small breed that is well-behaved. There are some airlines that don’t allow any animals but service dogs in the cabin. Other pets will have to travel in the cargo hold. Also, there can be restrictions on the number of animals that are allowed on a plane at one time. If the plane is full, your pooch can’t get on. If there is space, the dog must be in a carrier that is the correct size to fit under the seat in front. This can vary from airline to airline.
Service dogs are the exception to the rule and the majority of airlines will do all they can to accommodate the animals as long as they are legitimate service dogs. Remember that there are still rules here. They don’t need to be in a carrier like other pets, but they can’t go onto the seats or into the aisles. You also can’t have a seat in the emergency exit row. There is a grey area with emotional service dogs as they are not recognized in the same capacity. All owners should check with their airline before booking.
Look for a Model With the Right Capacity
|Airline Pet Carriers||Carrier Size||Carrier Weight Capacity|
|Mr. Peanut's Pet Carrier||18.5″ x 11.4″ x 13″||14 lbs|
|Jet Sitter Pet Carrier||18" x 11" x 11"||12 lbs|
|Sherpa Pet Carriers||19” x 11.75” x 11.5” ||22 lbs|
|AmazonBasics Pet Carrier||19.7" x 10.2" x 11.2"||22 lbs|
|Sleepypod Pet Carrier||22" X 10.5" X 10.5"||17.5 lbs|
|Caldwell’s Pet Carrier||18” x 10” x 13”||25 lbs|
|Pawfect Pet Carrier||17.5" x 10" x 11"||12 lbs|
|Sturdibag Pet Carrier||18" X 12" X 12"||30 lbs|
|Pet Magasin Pet Carrier||18'' x 11'' x 10''||15 - 20 lbs|
|Pawdle Pet Carrier||18”L X 11”W X 11”||14 lbs|
The capacity of the carrier is clearly one of the most important factors with these in cabin models. They have to have the right dimensions that conform to the space available. Adjustable models like the Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier are a great choice here because they can be adapted to suit the varying spaces on different airlines. The dimensions of this model are 18.5″ x 11.4″ x 13″. However, the structure of the ventilated roof means that it can collapses down to 8.5″ where needed. This is all done without sacrificing the comfort and security of the carrier.
Then there are those expandable models out there that can offer a little more space as needed. Again, just be aware of the dimensions of the carriers and the best dimensions for your pet. Don’t get complacent that a folded out model will be suitable. One of the best expandable options is the Jet Sitter Luxury Soft Sided Pet Carrier, which claims to be TSA Approved for many airlines. The medium size option is 18x11x11″, which means that the large may be too big. It expands on both sides to increase the floor space and folds down flat when not in use. Users can zip the sides up when traveling, and let them concertina out for a quick, extension to the carrier. Those folding sides are mesh and animals enter from the front or a top-loading entry point.
Then there is the comfort of the animal to consider
The comfort of the animal is vital for a pleasant experience. This means the right sort of bedding, materials and a safe place to sleep for the journey. One option that has this covered is the Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carriers. The larger size model is designed for pets 18″ x 11’’ and up to 22 lbs in weight. Like other models, this can be adjusted to fit with a patented spring wire frame, but this doesn’t affect the comfort inside. Pets can enjoy the inclusion of the machine-washable faux lambskin liner and the use of three large mesh windows.
Also think about the ventilation offered through those mesh panels
Comfort doesn’t just come in the form of a soft piece of bedding and that soft-sided canvas material. There is also the need for decent ventilation in order to keep the animal cool with decent air flow. We all know how difficult it can be to travel in those cabin with that weak air con system, so our pets need all the help they can get. One of best airline approved options for the job is the AmazonBasics Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier.
Like all the best options, there is mesh ventilation panels for breathability. However, here it is on all four sides, whereas many other options have three, or even just the one over the top. This means great airflow and a great view for the animal. However, it also pays to add a blanket in cases they get a little too cold. This model is quite large at 19.7 x 10.2 x 11.2 inches and should conform to the regulations of most airlines.
Storage is another important feature on the best airline approved in cabin carriers
All pet owners traveling with their companions also need to make sure that they have everything they might possibly need for the journey. This means toys and treats for the animal (ones that won’t be too smelly or noisy for other passengers) as well as a supply of water and other important items. These items need to be kept secure and safe in adequate storage areas. At the same time, you don’t want large pockets taking up too much space. The Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier gets the balance just right with two large zippered pockets and an adjustable size. This means that there is no problem getting the carrier to fit the designated space and all essentials can be carried on-board.
The carrier boasts Ultra Plush bedding, is suitable for pets up to 17.5 pounds and compresses from 22 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches to 16 x 10.5 x 8 inches.
This can help when interacting with your pet during the flight
These storage features are all brilliant for pet owners that want to offer the best possible solution for their animal. There is a desire to create a home away from home and treat the animal as though it were any other journey. There is no need to ignore them for the length of the flight if you can interact with them in a safe way. A few companies have figured out a solution here with the use of flaps.
Caldwell’s Pet Supply Company’s Airline Under SeatPet Carrier has one of these zippered feeding windows with space to feed the animal and give them a stroke without taking them out of the bag. Remember that no dog is permitted to get out of the carrier. This 18 x 10 x 13 inches airline approved carrier also has two pockets, like the model above, so there is plenty of room for those treats, toys and water.
Remember that the needs of the animal will change depending on the length of the flight
Considerations for feeding, watering and interacting with your dog or cat will depend on the flight. Short-haul domestic flights aren’t so difficult if there is only an hour or two in the air. Owners can make sure that the animal is content and tired out before the flight, leave them to sleep through the flight and relax. Longer, international flights are different and you will have to think about how to provide everything a pet will need. If they won’t cope with being in the carrier that long, international travel could be a bad idea. Also, don’t forget to have all the right paperwork for your dog if crossing borders. You don’t want to see them quarantined on arrival or refused boarding at departures.
The strength of the materials can make or break these in cabin dog carriers
Comfort is important, but so its the security of the animal in a tough, durable pet carrier. Airline approved dog and cat crates have to tough enough to withstand claws, teeth and other damage. They also have to be waterproof enough to prevent leaks. Some brands place more emphasis on materials used than others. One of the best examples here is the Pawfect Pets Soft Sided Pet Travel Carrier. The specification talks about the use of the “ultra safe” and “extra durable” materials, and the fact that they have upgraded to a tougher polyester.
There may be a lot of mesh on the four sides, again for plenty of ventilation, but this designed not to tear due to the “claw defense” material. In addition to this, this Pawfect dog carrier is one of the largest options in airline approved models, measuring at 17.5 x 10 x 11 inches. This means there is plenty of room for slightly larger pets or more leg room for smaller ones. The supplier website pawfectpets.com, claims that this dog carrier will fit under the seats of the following airlines. Southwest Airlines , American Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines, Virgin America, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air.
The security of the animal is essential too
The security of our pets in these soft sided carriers doesn’t stop at the use of strong, tear resistant materials. They need to be secure and safe throughout the flight and during transportation between the home and the airport, and also during the security process. The last thing that anyone wants is the dog getting out of the carrier and causing problems. One product that really delivers on safety features is the Sturdibag.
This option has a safety tether inside that attaches to the collar or harness, but there is the addition of seat belt straps for extra piece of mind and clips on the zippers. There is also a strong level of durability in the construction of the base board and soft-sides, even with the flexible height. This compressible option measures at 12 x 12 x 18 inches. Buyers should be aware that the XL and XXL models are not suitable for cabin use.
The portability of the pet carrier is something that some owner may overlook
This talk of the security of the carrier during transportation leads to another important factor – portability. The best cat and dog crate for airline travel need to be portable for ease of use. Some fold down to be opened out at the airport. Others have strong carrying systems for a secure journey. The Pet Magasin Dog Carrier is an option that does both. This 18″ x 11″ x 10″ crate is designed for all kinds of small animals and has both a folding frame and a range of carrying straps.
The large shoulder strap is padded for additional comfort on the walk to the terminal and the product only weighs 2.2 Pounds. This portability is ideal for those that want to get their pets comfort and at home in their little den before the flight. It makes the experience less stressful for all concerned.
In the end, it is all about finding a model that ticks all the right boxes to keep you, your pet and the airline happy
The models above have been highlighted for one key selling point that they have over the others, such as an extra window for ventilation, stronger security measures or that expandable capacity. Most also have a range of other benefits to the construction and interior to ensure that they are airline approved for in cabin transportation. This is why it is important to check the specifications and really compare models for the best option for both the breed, and the flight.
Where possible, you need a carrier that ticks every box, and the final model, the Pawdle Expandable and Foldable Pet Carrier, is one of those. This is a domestic airline approved model with a capacity of 18.5″ x 11″ x 10.5” for cats and dogs up to 14 pounds. There is a nice blend of features here with the expandable area on one side and a storage pocket on the other. Portability is provided with the choice of the adjustable shoulder strap and carry handle, ventilation from the durable mesh panels and comfort from the removable, washable fleece pad.
Additional Resources for Traveling With Pets by Air
If you need to know more information about individual airline companies and their regulations on traveling with pets by air, you will find below website links to some of the leading airlines in USA, where they state their pet policies and their pet travel regulations.
Southwest Airlines Pet Travel
American Airlines Pet Travel
Delta Airlines Pet Travel
JetBlue Pet Travel
United Airlines Pet Travel
Virgin America Pet Travel
Alaska Airlines Pet Travel
Frontier Airlines Pet Travel
Allegiant Air Pet Travel
Spirit Airlines Pet Travel