Dogs in airline-approved pet carriers.
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Best Overall Airline-Approved Dog Carrier
Amazon
Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier
What Dogs Love:
  • spacious
  • feels sturdy
  • well-ventilated
What Humans Love:
  • durable
  • included live animal stickers
  • tie-down points
Reviewers Say:

​This hard-sided pet carrier is the overall best option for anyone whose dog will be flying in cargo. It meets the requirements of cargo travel, including being rigid, non-collapsible, and ventilated on four sides (which is a requirement for international flights).

It comes with separate food and water bowls attached to the front mesh of the...

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​This hard-sided pet carrier is the overall best option for anyone whose dog will be flying in cargo. It meets the requirements of cargo travel, including being rigid, non-collapsible, and ventilated on four sides (which is a requirement for international flights).

It comes with separate food and water bowls attached to the front mesh of the crate, which is essential so airline workers can keep your pet hydrated. With nearly 5,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, pet lovers adore this carrier.
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What Humans Love:
  • durable
  • included live animal stickers
  • tie-down points
What Dogs Love:
  • spacious
  • feels sturdy
  • well-ventilated
Reviewers Say:

​This hard-sided pet carrier is the overall best option for anyone whose dog will be flying in cargo. It meets the req...

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+
​This hard-sided pet carrier is the overall best option for anyone whose dog will be flying in cargo. It meets the requirements of cargo travel, including being rigid, non-collapsible, and ventilated on four sides (which is a requirement for international flights).

It comes with separate food and water bowls attached to the front mesh of the crate, which is essential so airline workers can keep your pet hydrated. With nearly 5,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, pet lovers adore this carrier.
Best Budget Airline-Approved Dog Carrier
Chewy
Sherpa Delta Airline-Approved Dog & Cat Carrier Bag, Medium
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • ventilated
  • soft liner
What Humans Love:
  • machine washable liner
  • lightweight
  • easy to carry
Reviewers Say:

This affordable pet carrier is ideal for dogs small enough to travel in the cabin. This carrier is suitable for use on most airlines but is pre-approved for Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Air Canada Airlines.

The mesh sides of this carrier increase ventilation to keep your pet comfortable, and it has a handy storage po...

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This affordable pet carrier is ideal for dogs small enough to travel in the cabin. This carrier is suitable for use on most airlines but is pre-approved for Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Air Canada Airlines.

The mesh sides of this carrier increase ventilation to keep your pet comfortable, and it has a handy storage pocket to keep some of your dog essentials in. The long handles and detachable shoulder strap also make it easy to carry around the airport.
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What Humans Love:
  • machine washable liner
  • lightweight
  • easy to carry
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • ventilated
  • soft liner
Reviewers Say:

This affordable pet carrier is ideal for dogs small enough to travel in the cabin. This carrier is suitable for use on m...

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This affordable pet carrier is ideal for dogs small enough to travel in the cabin. This carrier is suitable for use on most airlines but is pre-approved for Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Air Canada Airlines.

The mesh sides of this carrier increase ventilation to keep your pet comfortable, and it has a handy storage pocket to keep some of your dog essentials in. The long handles and detachable shoulder strap also make it easy to carry around the airport.
Most Durable Airline-Approved Dog Carrier
Amazon
Aspen Pet Porter Travel Kennel (for Pets up to 70 pounds)
What Dogs Love:
  • good ventilation
  • feels secure
  • comfortable
Reviewers Say:

This super durable carrier will keep your dog safe on long flights in the cargo section. It has ventilation on three sides and meets most airline cargo specifications, but double-check with your preferred airline before purchasing. Note that ventilation on all sides is required by some airlines, particularly international flights.

However, mos...

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This super durable carrier will keep your dog safe on long flights in the cargo section. It has ventilation on three sides and meets most airline cargo specifications, but double-check with your preferred airline before purchasing. Note that ventilation on all sides is required by some airlines, particularly international flights.

However, most reviewers haven't had any issues with it for domestic flights, and like that it comes with a liner, so it's very comfortable for their pooch.
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What Dogs Love:
  • good ventilation
  • feels secure
  • comfortable
Reviewers Say:

This super durable carrier will keep your dog safe on long flights in the cargo section. It has ventilation on three sid...

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This super durable carrier will keep your dog safe on long flights in the cargo section. It has ventilation on three sides and meets most airline cargo specifications, but double-check with your preferred airline before purchasing. Note that ventilation on all sides is required by some airlines, particularly international flights.

However, most reviewers haven't had any issues with it for domestic flights, and like that it comes with a liner, so it's very comfortable for their pooch.
Our Other Favorites
Amazon
PetAmi Airline Approved Dog Purse Carrier
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • well-ventilated
  • sherpa lining
What Humans Love:
  • easy to carry
  • anti-escape buckle
  • water bowl included
Reviewers Say:

Your small dog can travel in the cabin with comfort in this compact soft carrier. It's suitable for dogs up to roughly 12 pounds in weight or 15 inches long and 10 inches tall. It's small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, making it compliant with airline regulations for cabin travel.

Mesh parts and additional holes provide ample ve...

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Your small dog can travel in the cabin with comfort in this compact soft carrier. It's suitable for dogs up to roughly 12 pounds in weight or 15 inches long and 10 inches tall. It's small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, making it compliant with airline regulations for cabin travel.

Mesh parts and additional holes provide ample ventilation for your canine companion, and the interior is soft for your dog's comfort. The straps also make it ideal for traveling on trains and busses.
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What Humans Love:
  • easy to carry
  • anti-escape buckle
  • water bowl included
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • well-ventilated
  • sherpa lining
Reviewers Say:

Your small dog can travel in the cabin with comfort in this compact soft carrier. It's suitable for dogs up to roughly 1...

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Your small dog can travel in the cabin with comfort in this compact soft carrier. It's suitable for dogs up to roughly 12 pounds in weight or 15 inches long and 10 inches tall. It's small enough to fit under the seat in front of you, making it compliant with airline regulations for cabin travel.

Mesh parts and additional holes provide ample ventilation for your canine companion, and the interior is soft for your dog's comfort. The straps also make it ideal for traveling on trains and busses.
Chewy
EliteField Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Dog &Cat Carrier Bag
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • soft bed
  • mesh sides
What Humans Love:
  • color choices
  • size choices
  • easy to carry
Reviewers Say:

​This soft-sided dog carrier fits most airline requirements for cabin travel but you should always double-check with your chosen airline before flying. It's well-ventilated and has some handy features, such as a seatbelt loop for in-car use and a piece that helps you secure it on top of a wheeled suitcase.

You can choose between two sizes, a...

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​This soft-sided dog carrier fits most airline requirements for cabin travel but you should always double-check with your chosen airline before flying. It's well-ventilated and has some handy features, such as a seatbelt loop for in-car use and a piece that helps you secure it on top of a wheeled suitcase.

You can choose between two sizes, and it comes with a removable plush bed for a more relaxing journey.
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What Humans Love:
  • color choices
  • size choices
  • easy to carry
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • soft bed
  • mesh sides
Reviewers Say:

​This soft-sided dog carrier fits most airline requirements for cabin travel but you should always double-check with y...

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​This soft-sided dog carrier fits most airline requirements for cabin travel but you should always double-check with your chosen airline before flying. It's well-ventilated and has some handy features, such as a seatbelt loop for in-car use and a piece that helps you secure it on top of a wheeled suitcase.

You can choose between two sizes, and it comes with a removable plush bed for a more relaxing journey.
Amazon
SportPet Designs Plastic Kennels Rolling Plastic Wire Door Travel Dog Crate- Large Kennel, Gray
What Dogs Love:
  • FLOOR GUTTER
  • EXCELLENT VENTILATION
  • GOOD SPACE
What Humans Love:
  • DURABLE
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
Reviewers Say:

​If you need to transport your dog in the cargo section, this kennel meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements for air travel. It's ventilated on four sides and comes with clip-on food and water bowls as well as the live animal stickers you typically need. The wheels also snap off so it won't move around in the hold.

...

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​If you need to transport your dog in the cargo section, this kennel meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements for air travel. It's ventilated on four sides and comes with clip-on food and water bowls as well as the live animal stickers you typically need. The wheels also snap off so it won't move around in the hold.

The floor gutter design helps keep dogs dry and comfortable on long flights. Sizes range from small to extra-extra-large, so there's one suitable for most dogs.
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What Humans Love:
  • DURABLE
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
What Dogs Love:
  • FLOOR GUTTER
  • EXCELLENT VENTILATION
  • GOOD SPACE
Reviewers Say:

​If you need to transport your dog in the cargo section, this kennel meets International Air Transport Association (IA...

Read More
+
​If you need to transport your dog in the cargo section, this kennel meets International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements for air travel. It's ventilated on four sides and comes with clip-on food and water bowls as well as the live animal stickers you typically need. The wheels also snap off so it won't move around in the hold.

The floor gutter design helps keep dogs dry and comfortable on long flights. Sizes range from small to extra-extra-large, so there's one suitable for most dogs.
Chewy
Petmate Vari Dog & Cat Kennel, Medium
What Dogs Love:
  • great ventilation
  • roomy
  • interior moat
What Humans Love:
  • durable
  • secure
  • tie-down points
Reviewers Say:

​With its hard shell and ample ventilation, this dog carrier meets USDA and IATA requirements and, therefore, the requirements of all major airlines. But you'll need to buy some extra accessories, such as live animal stickers and bowls that clip to the inside of the door.

It's also ventilated on four sides and features tie-down holes that ar...

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​With its hard shell and ample ventilation, this dog carrier meets USDA and IATA requirements and, therefore, the requirements of all major airlines. But you'll need to buy some extra accessories, such as live animal stickers and bowls that clip to the inside of the door.

It's also ventilated on four sides and features tie-down holes that are required by some airlines, too.
More Info
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What Humans Love:
  • durable
  • secure
  • tie-down points
What Dogs Love:
  • great ventilation
  • roomy
  • interior moat
Reviewers Say:

​With its hard shell and ample ventilation, this dog carrier meets USDA and IATA requirements and, therefore, the requ...

Read More
+
​With its hard shell and ample ventilation, this dog carrier meets USDA and IATA requirements and, therefore, the requirements of all major airlines. But you'll need to buy some extra accessories, such as live animal stickers and bowls that clip to the inside of the door.

It's also ventilated on four sides and features tie-down holes that are required by some airlines, too.
Amazon
Smiling Paws Pets 4-Way Expandable Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • expandable
  • mesh ventilation
What Humans Love:
  • well-made
  • top load design
  • lightweight
Reviewers Say:

At 17 inches by 11 inches, this soft carrier meets the requirements for transporting a dog in the cabin of an aircraft. But it has the added bonus of expanding on the front, rear, and left and right sides to give your dog more room where it's appropriate.

Compliant with TSA and IATA requirements, it's designed to fit under the seat in front of...

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At 17 inches by 11 inches, this soft carrier meets the requirements for transporting a dog in the cabin of an aircraft. But it has the added bonus of expanding on the front, rear, and left and right sides to give your dog more room where it's appropriate.

Compliant with TSA and IATA requirements, it's designed to fit under the seat in front of you for safe take-off and landing. The base is also waterproof in case of accidents.
More Info
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What Humans Love:
  • well-made
  • top load design
  • lightweight
What Dogs Love:
  • comfortable
  • expandable
  • mesh ventilation
Reviewers Say:

At 17 inches by 11 inches, this soft carrier meets the requirements for transporting a dog in the cabin of an aircraft. ...

Read More
+
At 17 inches by 11 inches, this soft carrier meets the requirements for transporting a dog in the cabin of an aircraft. But it has the added bonus of expanding on the front, rear, and left and right sides to give your dog more room where it's appropriate.

Compliant with TSA and IATA requirements, it's designed to fit under the seat in front of you for safe take-off and landing. The base is also waterproof in case of accidents.
Amazon
Petmate Ruffmaxx Travel Carrier Outdoor Dog Kennel
What Dogs Love:
  • well-ventilated
  • interior moat
  • roomy
What Humans Love:
  • durable
  • reasonably priced
  • easy to clean
Reviewers Say:

Designed with travel in mind, this rugged carrier is suitable for air travel in the cargo hold of a plane. It measures 26 inches long and is suitable for dogs of roughly 20 to 25 pounds, but be sure to measure your dog to get a good fit.

Ventilated on all four sides, as well as the top, it allows for excellent airflow to keep your dog comforta...

Read More
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Designed with travel in mind, this rugged carrier is suitable for air travel in the cargo hold of a plane. It measures 26 inches long and is suitable for dogs of roughly 20 to 25 pounds, but be sure to measure your dog to get a good fit.

Ventilated on all four sides, as well as the top, it allows for excellent airflow to keep your dog comfortable. The door is extremely sturdy and secure, so escape needn't be a concern, either.
More Info
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What Humans Love:
  • durable
  • reasonably priced
  • easy to clean
What Dogs Love:
  • well-ventilated
  • interior moat
  • roomy
Reviewers Say:

Designed with travel in mind, this rugged carrier is suitable for air travel in the cargo hold of a plane. It measures 2...

Read More
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Designed with travel in mind, this rugged carrier is suitable for air travel in the cargo hold of a plane. It measures 26 inches long and is suitable for dogs of roughly 20 to 25 pounds, but be sure to measure your dog to get a good fit.

Ventilated on all four sides, as well as the top, it allows for excellent airflow to keep your dog comfortable. The door is extremely sturdy and secure, so escape needn't be a concern, either.

What is an Airline-Approved Pet Carrier?

An airline-approved pet carrier is any dog carrier that meets the requirements set out by airlines for travel either in the cabin or in the cargo hold. While they should meet the requirements of all major airlines, it's worth noting that some airlines have slightly different rules, so always check before travel.

Size

Your dog carrier should be large enough for your dog to comfortably stand, lie down, and turn around in, but shouldn't be excessively large. Size is even more important when your dog is traveling in cargo, as airlines have very specific size requirements and you can be turned away if you don't meet them. Be sure to measure:

1. The length of your dog from their nose to the root of their tail
2. Their height from the ground to the elbow joint
3. Their width across the shoulders
4. Their height in standing position, either to the top of their head or the tip of their ears if they have erect ears

For domestic cargo travel, the length of your dog's carrier must be equal to your dog's length, plus half of their elbow joint height, the width of the kennel must be twice their shoulder width, and the height of their kennel must be at least equal to their height. You may want to go slightly larger to make sure your dog is comfortable. Double-check airline requirements for international travel as some have different size requirements for international flights.

Safety Concerns

Always choose a dog carrier that's safe and secure. Soft carriers should have secure zippers and be durable enough that your dog can't sneak out. Hard carriers should have safety latches that are too tricky for dogs to open but easy enough for humans to unlatch in an emergency. It's also important that carriers are well-ventilated so your dog gets enough air during the flight. Having included food and water bowls is a good idea for longer flights, as well.

Things to Know
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements for airline-approved pet carriers?

For cabin flight, the main requirement is that your dog carrier fits under the seat in front of you, so it will generally need to be no more than 18 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 11 inches high for soft carriers. Dogs flying in cargo have more specific requirements as they need to be safe while unsupervised. Carriers must be rigid, non-collapsible, and have adequate ventilation. Plus, they need additional accessories, such as live animal stickers and bowls that clip to the inside of the door.

Are there any rules about flying with particular breeds of dogs?

Because of their increased risk of breathing issues while flying, some airlines won't allow you to travel with brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds, such as pugs and French bulldogs, or require that they're transported in larger carriers.

Are airlines strict about pet carriers?

In general, airlines are strict about pet carriers, so your dog may not be allowed on your flight if the carrier doesn't meet airline requirements. As such, it's always a good idea to double-check the requirements of the airline you're traveling on before you buy a carrier.

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