10 Best Airline-Approved Pet Carriers

September 7, 2021 | by TravelingCreatures.com

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If you are flying with your small pet, chances are you’d like to have them next to you throughout your flight. If so, it is important to find the appropriate travel carrier for them, providing both comfort and a sense of security. Consider purchasing your pet's carrier a few weeks to months before your departure date. This will allow your pet ample time to get accustomed to their carrier


Things to Consider:

-The size of your pet: Think about your pet’s comfort level. If you have a Daschund, for example, a longer carrier may be appropriate. On the other hand, if you have a taller breed, such as an Italian Greyhound, you may want to opt for a carrier with a bit more height.

*Measure your pet from nose to the base of their tail, and from the top of their head to the ground. Typically, pets exceeding 18 lbs and 17 inches long are too large to fit in an airline-approved carrier (your pet should be roughly 1.5-2” smaller than the dimensions of the bag in order to fit comfortably).

-Your pet’s species/breed: Your pet’s species and breed may be a big deciding factor when choosing the right carrier. Certain carriers may be more suitable for birds than they are dogs.

-Your preference: Think about what you are looking for: Do you want something that rolls? That will comfort your anxious pet? That expands? The carrier is as important to your needs as it is to your pet’s.

-Maximum carry-on size: The general rule across all airlines is that your pet’s carrier must fit underneath the seat in front of your. Depending on which airline you are flying with, the allowed carrier dimensions may differ slightly. Be sure to check in with your airline prior to purchasing a carrier.


Maximum Carrier Dimensions:

Alaska Airlines:

-For hard-sided kennels: 17” L x 11” W x 7.5” H

-For soft-sided kennels: 17” L x 11” W x 9.5” H

American Airlines:

-Maximum-allowed dimensions are determined by your flight (Contact American Airlines Reservations to determine which size carrier you are allowed)

Delta:

-Maximum-allowed dimensions are determined by your flight (Contact Delta Reservations to determine which size carrier you are allowed)

JetBlue:

-17” L x 12.5” W x 8.5” H

Spirit Airlines:

-18” L x 14” W x9” H

Southwest Airlines:

-​​18.5” L x 13.5” W x 8.5” H

*Southwest pet carrier

United:

-For hard-sided kennels: 17.5” L x 12” W x 7.5” H

-For soft-sided kennels: 18” L x 11” W x 11” H (LxWxH)


Pet Carrier Requirements:

1.) Enough Room: Your pet has adequate room to stand up, turn around, and lay down, all without any part of your pet’s body protruding from the carrier.

*Purchase a soft-sided carrier; this will allow you to purchase a carrier with a bit more height and width, which can be squished slightly to fit your pet under the seat in front of you.

2.) Proper Ventilation: The carrier has at least 2 sides with proper ventilation (some airlines require 3 or 4 sides).

3.) Proper Fastening Mechanism: Find a carrier with a zipper as opposed to clips that fasten it shut.

4.) Leak-Proof Bottom: Opt for a carrier with a leak-proof bottom, as this will make accident clean-ups much easier!

*Airline-approved carriers, such as the ones recommended in this article, are constructed from liquid-proof materials.

 

10 Best Airline-Approved Pet Carriers:


Best Overall: Siivton Expandable Pet Carrier

Pet parents love the versatility of the Siivton Pet Carrier. With 4 different uses, you won’t have to worry about purchasing four separate carriers for different occasions. Wear this carrier over your shoulder, secure it in the car with a seatbelt, slide into your luggage handle at the airport, or fit it under your airline’s seat: this carrier does it all! A sturdy bottom pad ensures your pet is comfortable and secure. Depending on where you travel, and with which pet, choose either the suede side or cool side. On the suede side, 3 layers of fabric ensure your pet is comfortable and kept warm. This carrier is expanding, with a total of 4 mesh windows. Anti-claw nets ensure your pet will not get caught in the carrier. A clip inside the carrier provides extra security for your pet.


Carrier Dimensions:

-Before expansion: 18” L x 11” W x 11” H

-After Expansion: 38” L x 30” W x 11” H

Maximum Size Supported: 14 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 1

Collapsible: Yes

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap

 

Most Comfortable: Petisfam Pet Carrier

Keep your pet cozy with this fleece-lined Petisfam Carrier. This carrier features anti-escape zippers, along with a leash hook to keep your pet safe: either in the car, on the plane, or just when taking a stroll with them. The presence of 3 entry points allows you to comfortably and quickly load/unload your pet. This carrier is built with a sturdy pad and frame, preventing your pet from sliding to the middle when being carried.


Carrier Dimensions: 17” L x 11” W x 11” H

Maximum Size Supported: 16 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 1

Collapsible: Yes

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap

 

Most Spacious: Smiling Paws 4-Way Expandable Carrier

If you want to give your pet the most space while traveling, this is the carrier for you. The Smiling Paws Carrier features 4-way expansion, allowing your pet to sprawl out pre and post-flight. Some extra safety features include self-locking zippers (that only open when the string is pulled), reinforced metal clips, and an internal leash. If your pet is prone to having accidents, a soft machine-washable pad allows you to easily clean up any travel messes. This carrier has a luggage handle, allowing you to slip the carrier onto your luggage, making for a hassle-free walk (or run) through the airport.


Carrier Dimensions: 17” L x 11” W x 9” H

Maximum Size Supported: Contact Manufacturer

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 1

Collapsible: Yes

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap

 

Best for Anxious Pets: Sleepypod In-Cabin Pet Carrier

This multi-functional pet carrier is perfect for pets nervous about traveling. Dark mesh with a removable privacy panel ensures your pet has the proper ventilation, while also easing their anxiety while traveling. Luggage-grade nylon is used to construct the outer part of the carrier, along with a comfortable polyester interior. A luggage handle allows you to secure your pet on top of your luggage. Not only is this great for trips by air, but also by car. This carrier is crash-tested and includes 2 straps to secure your seatbelt from both sides.


Carrier Dimensions: 22” L x 10.5” W x 10.5” H (wide open) 16” L x 10.5” W x 8” H (compressed)

Maximum Size Supported: dogs up to 15 lbs, cats up to 18 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 2

Collapsible: Yes

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap, privacy panel, retaining strap

 

Most Fashionable: ROVERLUND Travel Carrier

Travel in style with your pet in this ROVERLUND Travel Carrier—be it on the airplane or in the car! This soft-sided carrier has a removable fleece-lined bed inside and conforms to the seat requirements of airlines to keep your pet comfortable. In the car, strap the seat belt around the carrier, or use the shoulder strap to secure your pet. The removable shoulder strap included with this carrier also doubles as a 40” leash.


Carrier Dimensions: 19” L x 11.75” W x 11.5” H

Maximum Size Supported: 20 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 1

Collapsible: Yes

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap (that doubles as a 40” leash)

 

Most Accessories: ZENAPOKI Pet Carrier

The ZENAPOKI Pet Carrier comes with 4 accessories necessary for traveling with your pet. A removable shoulder strap, name tag, collapsible bowl, small bags dispenser are all included in this set. Make your way around the airport easily by strapping this carrier to your luggage handle. A machine-washable mattress keeps your pet cozy on your travels.


Carrier Dimensions: 17” L x 11” W x 11” H

Maximum Size Supported: 15 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 1

Collapsible: No

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap, name tag, collapsible bowl, small bags dispenser


 

Pet Carrier on Wheels: Katziela Pet Carrier on Wheels

When you’re already weighed down by all your bags at the airport, it can be difficult to juggle your pet as well. Wheel your pet around comfortably in this mobile Katziela Pet Carrier. This carrier is equipped with removable wheels, along with a foldable telescoping handle, extending up to 35”. Not only do the wheels come off, but the enture base can be removed as well. A board within the carrier keeps it firm so it will not collapse. On top of the structural board, there is a small mattress pad along with a safety leash, both of which are machine-washable.


Carrier Dimensions: 22” L x 10” W x 12” H

Maximum Size Supported: 22 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 4

Collapsible: Contact manufacturer

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap, name tag


 

Most Entrances: MASKEYON 5-Entry Carrier

For pets that may have limited mobility, having multiple entry points can be of great use. This MASKEYON Carrier has 1 top-loading, 1 front entrance, 1 back entrance, and 2 side entries. The number of entry points does not compromise the integrity of the carrier itself: a rugged steel-strand frame keeps the carrier upright at all times. There are 3 cushions, 1 bottom and 2 side cushions which may be combined for warmth, or removed to keep your pet cool. These cushions are machine-washable, and the outer material of the carrier is waterproof. Place this carrier under the airline seat, onto your luggage, strap it into your car, or simply carry it on your shoulder.


Carrier Dimensions: 19.5” L x 12” W x 12” H

Maximum Size Supported: 20 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 3

Collapsible: Yes

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap

 

Best Backpack: PetAmi Pet Carrier Backpack

You don’t have to worry about your pet falling over at the airport with the PetAmi Backpack-Carrier. 5 safety buckles located on all of the zippers prevent your pet from escaping when strapped to your back. Keep them upright by utilizing the chest and waist straps while traveling. A steel frame and reinforced structure prevent this backpack from collapsing on your pet, while also keeping them comfortable with a sherpa-lined bed. There are four points of entry located on this carrier, along with 4 mesh windows to give your pet a view of their surroundings. A padded back keeps you comfortable on your travels.


Carrier Dimensions: 12.5” L x 10.2” W x 16.3” H

Maximum Size Supported: 18 lbs

Airline Approved: Yes

Pockets: 3

Collapsible: Yes

Accessories Included: Removable shoulder strap, name tag, collapsible pet bowl


 

Best Bird Carrier: X-ZONE Bird Carrier Backpack

Traveling with some of our more exotic pets can also be made convenient. The X-ZONE Bird Carrier Backpack allows you to travel safely with your bird, while also keeping them perched comfortably. A clear front screen allows you to monitor your pet without fear of them flying away. The 3 screens also have covers that clip on for quiet time. 3-sided ventilation provides adequate airflow to your pet. Clean-up is made easy with a removable sliding tray. This bird carrier can be held one of two ways: over your shoulder, or as a backpack.


Carrier Dimensions: 17” L x 12.5” W x 13.8” H

Maximum Size Supported: Contact manufacturer

Airline Approved: No; but meets dimensions for airline requirements—contact your airline prior to purchasing

Pockets: 1

Collapsible: Contact manufacturer

Accessories Included: Wooden perch, removable sliding tray, feeder bowl

 

This list was created with all of the following in mind: pet comfort, ventilation, material, permitted size, etc. This decision ultimately comes down to your preference, as you will be the one carrying (or wheeling) your pet around. Prior to purchasing your pet’s carrier, remember to check in with your airline to ensure your pet’s breed is able to travel, and confirm the allowed carrier size, and type.


As previously mentioned, it is crucial that your get your pet accustomed to their carrier. Failing to do so and throwing them into it right away will confuse them and leave them very anxious. For the first few days, leave their carrier out and wide open, allowing them to sniff, and move freely in, and out of it. If you happen to see them taking a step into, or sniffing the carrier, offer them a treat and praise to reinforce their good behavior. Continue to do so each day, and if they happen to sit in it, take them on a little stroll around the park or mall. Once travel day rolls around, your pet will have a positive association with their carrier and will be much more willing to spend some time in it throughout your flight.


These recommendations are not given by veterinary specialists, as they are our personal recommendations. It is advised you look into each product prior to purchasing, and consult with your pet's veterinarian regarding any questions. Traveling Creatures is an affiliate and is in no way responsible for circumstances that may occur with the use of any of the recommended products.

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