Traveling is always an exciting time, but with that excitement comes the stress of having to plan all the details so your trip can go off without a hitch. When traveling with your beloved pet, traveling can become even trickier, but we’re here to assist you in finding the best airline pet carrier.
It’s important you plan to do endless amounts of research. Of course you will want to make sure your pet is comfortable in the best dog carrier for air travel, but you also want to make sure it meets the airline requirements as well.
The good news is all of our suggestions do, but some airlines have unique exceptions. Always make sure to double-check, and never assume. Lets take a look at the various highly rated options so you can find the best pet carrier for air travel.
Best Airline Pet Carrier Comparison Table
15" x 10" x 8.5"
14" X 6" X 8"
21" X 16" X 15"
21" x 16" x 15 "
17.7" X 11.8" X 11.8"
18" X 11" X 10.5"
22" X 10.5" X 10"
18.5"x 10.5"x 8.5"
17" X 12" X 10"
11.2" X 11.5" X 3.5"
The Top 5 Pet Carriers for Travel
The good news is the majority of these pet carrier options come in various sizes. However, know that each brand has specific suggestions in an attempt to provide the best comfort level for your pet. For example, some carriers are specifically for pets lying down so you will want to measure the length.
This best airline pet carrier has the highest rated reviews hands down. For style, it has various colors available like black, gray, brown, and plum. It comes in sizes small, medium, and large, but the medium size is the most popular option sold.
There are many great features for this dog carrier, it has both top and side entry so you’re guaranteed to have no issues getting your pet in or out, a locking zipper to prevent them from being able to easily get out, and mesh panels for ventilation making sure they have enough comfort. And speaking of comfort, this carrier comes with padded hand carry straps and a no-slip adjustable shoulder strap.
This will be great for you for long walks through the airport terminals and if your pet is fussy, no need to worry about the strap falling off your shoulder. With this bag, it is important to remember it’s for pets when they’re lying down so be sure to pick based on that.
If you’re looking for the best airline approved pet carrier, this is another great option. Many users rave how great this carrier is for long periods of travel, making it perfect for international flights. One of the best features is the exclusive “Pet Connect” side opening that allows you to interact with your pet, which is perfect if they become anxious during their journey.
Other highlights include a half zipper on one side, a full zipper on the other, and both are locking zippers to prevent openings. There is an included, but optional shoulder strap as well. Like the previous carrier, this strap is padded making it essential for your own personal comfort during travel, too.
The mat is soft and washable which is a great convenience in case your pet makes a mess with food or worse, an accident. The small bag is for pets 7 pounds or less, and the large is ideal for one under 22 pounds. Customize your carrier style by fun colors like green, blue, or pink. So for the next drive, pack all of the necessary items in this carrier like a brush, harness, grooming clippers, shampoo, nail clippers, and even food. Ok, maybe all that is a bit much but you get the idea.
If you have a larger dog, you will most likely have to find a carrier that isn’t intended for in-cabin, but one that will need to be checked into the baggage/cargo compartment. The Petmate kennel is the best airline approved dog carrier for this option. This carrier is a heavy-duty kennel with 360 ventilation so you can rest assured that your dog is comfortable in this durable kennel.
The sizes of the kennels vary for puppies to bigger kennels for dogs that weigh up to 125 pounds. On the inside there is an absorbent pad for spills or accidents. The kennel also comes with a food and water cup, and even stickers that say “live animal” so people who around the kennel are aware.
The biggest selling point for this option is it comes with pre-drilled zip holes. This is considered a requirement to zip the kennel door shut. Also, the safety latch is of great quality so you don’t have to worry about your dog getting loose.
Petmate offers another hassle-free travel option that is considered the best dog carrier for airline travel for shipping live animals.
The brand states that this carrier meets the USDA and IATA requirements, and many users raved about great customer service incase they needed different type of bolts from the company to meet specific airline requirements.
This carrier comes in the basic colors, but also comes in “true blue,” a vibrant blue that is great if you would like to have your carrier stand out during travel. And even though this carrier can be used for dogs up to 125 pounds, the carrier itself is very lightweight.
It’s also versatile because it can be used for housebreaking. And just like the previous Petmate suggestion, this model is durable and has great safety locks. With these carriers you can even fit a small dog bed in them..
This final option is lightweight and is constructed well. This might be the best dog carrier for plane travel if you want to bring a smaller dog (up to 40 pounds) on the flight with you. This carrier is easy to put under the seats thanks to the structure, but your pet will still have plenty of room as well.
It comes with a 4-point adjustable shoulder pad and quality leather handles making it a convenience for you while going through various terminals or gates in the airport. Another highlight is the retractable privacy flaps on all the mesh windows.
However, you should know that this carrier does not have a “top-load” option to put your pet in. Depending on your pet, you may have to wrangle them to get in this carrier by only having the side option. For all your travelling needs, check out our list of the top 5 best dog backpack carriers.
The Next Best Pet Carriers
This option is similar to the original Sherpa mentioned, but this one comes with wheels. Majority of the users said the carrier did not tilt while rolling, but this is ideal for smaller pets.
This is a compact, but high quality carrier for travel. It’s ideal for pets under 17 pounds. For these smaller pets, they will still have plenty of room, and this bag is guaranteed to fit under the seats since this is what the brand focuses on. I am sure with Dog carrier, you might be looking for best harness for small dogs, here are my picks in case you are looking to purchase the best one.
8. Tefco Argo
This carrier offers great style in various fun colors. The brand states that these are TSA approved, water resistant, and finally, your pet will not be able to damage these bags with their claws thanks to the thick material.
This brand boasts that they are in compliance with most of the major airlines. The bag comes with privacy flaps and is machine washable. This company also offers 100% satisfaction guaranteed.
This option is great for pets that feel claustrophobic. However, please note that this bag is for very small pets, and even for small breeds, it would be best for puppies.
Things to Consider/Look for When Purchasing a Carrier
With the excitement or anxiousness of your upcoming trip, you may want to just go out and purchase a carrier. Before you do though, you should make a list of all the requirements you want your carrier to have. Some carriers even come with extras like side pockets for treats or cups for water.
Check with the airlines
This can’t be stressed enough. Don’t just call the airline you plan to fly with, but call some of the other main airlines as well (if you plan to do international travel, call various well known international airlines as well). Of course reviews online are extremely helpful, but airlines are constantly updating their requirements or creating new fees. Also, don’t forget to overlook possible airline requirements like mesh ventilation or having waterproof material. You want to make sure you arrive at the airport well prepared.
As just mentioned, you will want to look for waterproof material not only if it’s a requirement, but also you want to make possible cleanups easy as possible. If you have a large dog, you will have to go the kennel carrier route, however, with the smaller pets you do have a few options. If you don’t mind having your pet be checked in, you can get a sturdy kennel. If you plan on having the carrier under the seat, you want something that can easily be maneuvered in that little space. You also want to make sure that your dog feels comfortable. If not, they may try to claw, which is another reason to look for a sturdy fabric.
You want to make sure the carrier can not only handle the size of your pet, but that it will not cause any discomfort on you while getting to your destination. Most of the carriers come with padded shoulder pads, but if you still think it may cause a strain on your body, you may want to consider one with handles or even rolling wheels.
Hopefully you have discovered the best airline pet carrier for your needs. Traveling with a pet can seem overwhelming at first, but the right carrier will make traveling a breeze. Many pet owners recommend using the carriers for car travel first so your pet can be accustomed to being in their new surrounding.
The great part is even if your pet is a little anxious while traveling, you can place your confidence in these carriers. They all provide the safety and comfort that you seek for your pet, so you can make the most of your journey with your furry friend. We always recommend putting proper name tags on all the carriers just in case. Also, when traveling with a pet, always plan on arriving early at the airport to allow ample time in case any issues arise.. All of this will be worth it when you and your pet arrive at your new destination. Bon Voyage!
Product images sourced from Amazon.com