Only we pet lovers can appreciate the pain we would feel if we had to leave our pets behind when we have to travel. We always try to manage and take our pets wherever we go. Don’t you all agree? But when it comes to longer jaunts that entails travel by an airplane, it becomes difficult to make arrangements and take our pet with us.
But that need not be the case. It is quite possible to carry your loved pet with you inside the aeroplane. All you need would be a pet carrier which will accommodate your pet. The important and basic requirement is that the carrier is IATA approved.
You will also need to have some knowledge about the rules and regulations.
In this article, we will talk about the best among various pet carriers available on the market. You can then choose the carrier which best suits your pet.
We will also tell you the points you need to keep in mind once you decide to take your pet on the flight with you. Then there will be some doubts cropping into your minds. We’ll try to answer all of those for you.
So, here are the best of the products and their reviews:
Top 10 Airline Approved Pet Carriers
1. Sherpa Travel Pet Carrier
The first convenience for any pet carrier should be the easy carry mechanism. The Sherpa travel pet carrier has adjustable straps for convenient carrying. Moreover, the straps are padded and don’t chafe your skin while you carry it. It has a seat belt that’s a luggage strap, too.
Since you must accommodate the pet carrier below the front of your seat in the plane, it should be big enough to house your pet, but you should also be able to downsize it and stash it below the opposite seat. This product gets full marks for this because its frame provides for pushing down the rear of the carrier by quite a few inches.
The pet should be able to breathe easy while inside. The mesh windows help with smooth air flow.
Also, you have these locking zippers on the top and the sides. So, breathe easy. You can lock your pet in securely while travelling.
The product comes in different sizes and the only precaution you must take is to check the size before buying to see that your pet can sit inside and there is sufficient leeway for it to change positions freely. Needless to mention that you should conform to the weight specifications prescribed by the airline.
- Height adjustment of the bag is a plus.
- Good adjustable straps/belts.
- The wheels make it convenient to carry.
- Varying sizes to fit varied sized pets.
- Machine washable inner lining.
- You can flatten it up and store in your suitcase.
- Price on the higher side.
2. Pet Peppy Pet Carrier
Best Large Pet Carrier
The carrier can carry a pet of a maximum weight of 14 lbs.
This product comes with a provision for expansion on both sides. Made with a thick wire frame on the top so that when it’s at the full expanded size, it doesn’t sag. This expandability allows the pets to turn this way or that and allows space for lying down too. The mesh on both sides provides air flow. Plus, ventilation is provided through the top surface of the carrier.
There is an inner layer packing which protects the pets from any jarring motion.
There is fleece lining at the bottom and a side pouch to store food and snacks.
A shoulder strap is provided to enable carrying the carrier over your shoulder. Also, this can be folded flat, so you can carry it in your suitcase when not needed.
- The sidewise expandability is its specialty.
- The mesh on these sides provides strength and sturdiness to the shape of a carrier.
- Flexibility on top to accommodate it below the seat.
- Good ventilation from top and sides.
- The top and bottom are both well-padded/lined.
- Zip openings.
- Bonus water dish.
- The price is reasonable.
- Not waterproof.
- Not so comfortable shoulder-straps.
- No separate provision for looping the seat belt through.
- Doesn’t come with wheels.
- Strong inflexible mesh on the expanded sides means limited below seat squishing.
- Not for tall pets because of the height of carrier's less.
- The bottom layering is not waterproof.
3. Snoozer Wheel Around 4-In-1 Pet Travel Carrier
Best Pet Carrier with Wheels
Snoozer’s are proud to announce that their pet carrier is a 4-in-one product. It has wheels, can be carried like a backpack, is a bed for your pet and becomes a car seat.
This carrier can accommodate pets weighing up to 21 lbs. So, those of you with pets which weigh more and are difficult to carry, go ahead and buy this.
You can carry it as a backpack or wheel it around easily while you are walking around.
While flying, put the bag horizontally by removing the collapsible base. This way even the large sized carrier fits properly under your cabin seat.
It has a leash attached inside. So, you can go ahead and keep the top open when not flying without fear of your pet jumping out. Even in-flight, the sides can be kept open because of the leash.
One of the highlights of this product is the pockets given on both sides. You can stash anything and everything from food items to food and water bowls inside it.
- The best all-in-one pet carrier.
- The wheels/base-on/wheels/base-off option is awesome.
- Good for carrying big/heavy pets.
- Pet can put its head out from the top.
- Inside leash provided.
- It is sturdy and convenient.
- Though costly, the advantages far outweigh the price.
- Good and secure zip locking system.
- Interior padding is not up to the mark.
4. Mr.Peanut’sAirline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier
This soft fleece-lined pet carrier is meant for cats and small dogs weighing not more than 15 lbs. It is obviously a small tote carrier and so expect a space inside the carrier just sufficient for your pet to lie down. You can’t have it standing or moving around.
It is lightweight and has mesh on all sides. It has a plush removable lining/padding to give comfort to your petite pet.
The nylon lining is water-proof and non-staining, hence it takes care of those little accidents by your pets. It is easy to clean too. You just need to wipe it down properly. The soft fleece padding is also washable.
The zipper is of good quality and comes with metal locking clasps for secure closure.
The interior of the carrier has a ring to attach a leash. Also, a buckle is provided for the safety seat belt.
- Its flexibility is its biggest attraction and it helps easily stowing it under the seat.
- The soft fleece lining is plush.
- Air-flow and ventilation from all sides of the carrier.
- Lockdown clasp to zippers protect accidental opening of zipper if pet pushes against it.
- The carrier is soft and pliable except at zipped on position.
- Side mesh soft; enough to get chewed up.
5. Jet Sitter Luxury Soft Sided Pet Carrier
Best Pet Carrier for Cats
You can carry your medium to the large-sized cat or even a medium-sized dog weighing up to 18 pounds in this fashionable but utilitarian pet carrier.
But if you are essentially buying this product for carrying your pet on a plane, check with your airline’s guidelines before you go for the large sized one which is not suitable for carrying in-cabin on certain flights.
It has a stiff board at the bottom for supporting the weight. But it has a plush fleece padding to provide your pet with the utmost comfort. A removable upper covering layer is provided which can be cleaned even in a washing machine. So, you can travel without bothering about little accidents from your pet.
The roof can be opened and the sides are expandable to allow extra space and convenience for your pet.
The mesh is tough and scratch-proof and provides the much-needed ventilation. The zippers are of good quality and do not break-open and get frayed easily.
The large mesh pockets provided on the sides are big enough to store food, accessories, food and water bowls and whatever else you feel is necessary for your travel.
There are the safety belt buckles, luggage loop, and a leash inside; all of which provide the necessary safety and security to your precious pet.
- Reasonably priced quality product.
- The fleece lining is soft and plush.
- Convenient upper opening to allow the pet’s head out.
- Conveniently adjustable shoulder belt.
- The water-proof upper layer is a definite plus.
- Good sized storage pockets.
- It is quite sturdy with four cross bars and strong scratch-proof mesh.
- Can open it from all four sides and from the top too.
- The sewn over seams are delicate.
- The floor portion is not completely solid-based.
- All sides are a soft lining and increases inside temperature when fully closed.
- Complete instruction manual not available.
6. SturdiBag Pet Carrier
This pet dog carrier is big-sized, while at the same time being flexible - adjusting as far as its height goes. This top-collapsing feature allows you to squish the carrier down to fit in the underside of the flight cabin seat conveniently. This carrier allows your pet to happily put its head up through the upper opening while carrying it around. While in-flight, you would have to make it sit on their haunches so that you can push it below the seat.
The body of the carrier can be wiped down and the padding can be removed and washed in a washing machine; make it gentle cycle though.
It is sturdy and the large-sized one is made for a dog which weighs as much as 40 pounds. Of course, during travel, the pet must lay down to adjust to the height criteria. If you buy the XL large size carrier, you could even accommodate much heavier pets.
- Big-sized carrier but adjustable to shorter heights.
- It is very lightweight at around 1.2 – 1.4 lbs.
- It is tough and durable.
- The back storage pocket is spacious at around 6”x11”.
- The detachable shoulder strap is good.
- Doesn’t come with wheels.
- Not fully water (leak) proof.
7. Natuvalle 6-in-1 Pet Carrier Backpack
Best Pet Carriers for Dogs
This carrier bag comes in four sizes, extra small/small/medium/large, the biggest having the capacity for carrying at maximum an 18 lbs. pet, which is not more 17-19” long and 14” high.
It boasts of detachable belts by which you can use it as either a backpack, a front pack, a shoulder bag, a handbag, upright and side positions and as a car seat crate.
You can have the top door open so that the pet can have its head outside while you carry it. The frames are flexible and you can conveniently squish the size to fit it under the seat of the aeroplane.
The floor is made of wood and is sturdy. It has a fleece bed to give your pet a comfortable cushion-like effect.
Comes with water-resistant fabric and the zipper locks are provided for security and seat belt loops are available. Provision is given for inside leash. It has walk-through doors through which your pet can walk-in and out of conveniently.
This carrier bag is ideal for comparatively smaller-sized dogs.
- 6-in-one carrying convenience. All belts are detachable.
- The detachable bottom made of wood is sturdy and non-sag.
- Comfortable fleece padding.
- Squishable so that it adjusts below the cabin seat.
- Seat belt loops and inside leash provision.
- Meant for smaller and medium-sized dogs only.
8. Premium Pet Carrier by PetAmi
Best Budget (Cheap) Pet Carrier
This carrier which can cater to any small or medium-sized cat or dog or any other pet comes at a reasonable price. What is more, you get this product in 14 shades. They offer two sizes; small and large.
It comes with an easy-carry strap which is detachable. It has access from two sides. It has a leash for safety and the zippers have safety buckles.
It’s made of polyester and is quite durable. It has Sherpa lining bedding for the soft comfort of your pet and good ventilation.
Not to mention the name tag ID and the convenient collapsible bowl in which you could serve either food or water.
- The best buy for the cost.
- All the safety measures like zipper lock, leash strap etc. are provided.
- Good ventilation.
- Nice looks and good colours.
- Useful for a wide range of pets of small to medium sizes.
- The collapsible food/water bowl is the highlight.
- Padded straps are comfort-carry.
- Good for even a 20 lbs.pet.
- The mesh not strong enough.
- Some have complained about faulty packaging.
- Also found are some complaints that actual product measurements don’t conform to advertised measurements.
- Not enough storage pockets.
9. Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier
Here’s a pet carrier which goes from an unbelievable 22” x 10½” x 16” (length x width x height) down to 16” x 10½” x 8” sized carrier. This is flexibility at its best. No more worries whether it will fit in with a specific airline’s in-cabin under-the-seat requirement or not. Just this feature alone is worth paying for. This is nothing but a mobile bed for your pet in-cabin or as a car seat. It can house a pet weighing a maximum of 17½ lbs.
The outer surface is made of luggage grade nylon and can withstand rough terrain and wear and tear. The inner padding is made of polyester and gives plush comfort.
Safety belt loops for car travel provided. The manufacturers boast of crash testing certification by CPS for this carrier.
It has a foam padding on the bedding which can be removed and cleaned. The outer surface can be wiped down clean in a jiffy.
The top opens to allow your pet to put its head out while the side openings allow for easy access and exit.
The storage pouches on both sides are large. You can carry all the items needed in these pockets very conveniently.
- Compresses excellently so that you can conveniently stash it under an in-cabin seat from any airline.
- If you want to store it you just have to fold it and put it in your suitcase
- All safety measures like car seat belt and leash are provided.
- It is crash-tested and certified by the CPS
- Your pet can relax on the plush bedding
- You need have no worries about small pet accidents too because a separate washable foam padding is provided above the bedding.
- Exterior can be just wiped clean.
- Zipper pockets provided for storage are quite large.
- Mesh is tough and resistant to clawing and tearing.
- It is a bit pricey.
10. Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack Pet Carriers
Best Bubble Pet Carrier
This pet carrier meant for small and medium pets (weighing around 10-13 pounds) is the best you can provide for your pet. It is also very convenient for you because of the adjustable, well-padded shoulder straps which come with the product make carrying your pet effortless.
But the unique and the best part of this product is the semi-sphere window which allows your pet to have the freedom to look out while at the same time protecting it from escaping outside.
Another unique feature is the mesh which is switchable with the bubble. The mesh is made of soft PVC net.
This well-ventilated carrier comes with all the safety measures like the leash, safety belt etc.
- The semi-sphere window design and the switchable mesh are the unique features.
- The quality is good. It is strong while at the same time soft and comfortable.
- Unmatched carrying comfort.
- Side entries available for easy access.
- The no-worries pad is soft and washable.
- No instruction manual is available.
- Reports suggest that the underside of the backpack pokes while carrying the backpack.
Buying Guide - Pet Carrier for Aircraft Travel
- The very first thing you need to know are the guidelines. Basically, the IATA (the International Air Transport Association) has framed certain guidelines about the pets, pet carriers, the specifications etc.
Some examples of the relevant and need-to-know guidelines:
- Your pet should be able to stand, turn around within the carrier and also lay down comfortably. Beware snub-nosed breed pet owners. Your pet carrier should be a size bigger.
- The carrier should have proper ventilation (2 sides ventilation for domestic and 4 sides-ventilation for those carried on international flights).
- The carrier should have enough safety equipment and a secure locking system so that it doesn’t escape outside.
- It should be sturdy and should not collapse.
- The bottom surface needs to be non-sagging and should not leak.
- You need to put an ID tag on it.
- Please have the feed bowls attached inside. Don’t leave any hard items loose inside the carrier; your pet might get hurt during movement of the flight.
- The IATA gives broad guidelines. But each airline has its own rules in the matter of carrying of pets. For example:
- While some airlines allow you to carry your pet in-cabin, some allow the pet to be transported only under check-in/cargo. There are others who do not allow pets at all.
- Generally, airlines allow pets weighing up to 15 lbs, whereas some allow even up to 20-22 lbs. Each has its own rules.
- Likewise, the dimensions of the carrier allowed in-cabin also varies. While specifying the measurement capacity-wise, others have specific measurements for length, width and height. So, it becomes imperative for you to check the particular airline's website and then make your decision for the purchase.
- There are even minimum age criteria for the pup.
- Though this is mentioned at the end, you should be considering this matter first. You should check your budget and decide. This is because while on one hand you will have to pay extra charges to the airlines, you have to spend an extra amount on the cost of the pet carrier, too.
- Size matters; and weight does too. As you have seen in the above-said paragraphs, if your dog is too tall or too heavy, you should be considering other options for travelling with it.
- Check the height, weight, width etc. of your pet very carefully and then buy the carrier of the right size. Later you may be able to accommodate your pet inside somehow or the other but it would be torturous for the pet during travel to adjust its body in the carrier.
- There are varieties in carriers which are meant especially for dogs or cats or other pets etc. You will find such segregation in these reviews too. Please choose to keep this in mind.
- It is advisable to buy your pet carrier well in advance. Try to make the pet use it a few times before your travel. This way your pet will get used to being inside the carrier.
- Is your pet prone to small accidents? Even otherwise, put pet pads on the bottom surface and also carry some extras in the pocket which will be usually available with the carrier. This is because any pet which is travelling newly by aeroplane is bound to feel a certain amount of anxiety. So, when you choose a carrier, make sure to check that the bottom surface is relatively well-padded and preferably waterproof.
- While on the matter of accidents, one way of avoiding accidents would be to provide water and food very sparingly to your pet before the travel and during it. How sparingly? It should be your decision and judgement.
- Also, do make it a point to take your pet for a jaunt for doing his thing during layovers, however short their duration be. Your pet will be happy for the opportunity and will stay nice and clean and you can heave a sigh of relief.
- We all know that you are proud of your pet, love it very much and would like to provide it with all of the comforts. But please note that an airport is not the place to advertise this. Please don’t carry your pet in your hands. Airports frown on this habit. Security checks are the only places where your pet will be out of its carrier. So, the best carrier for such freedom-loving loving pets would be carriers from which the pet can put his head out and enjoy the goings-on around it. Keep this in mind when you choose your pet carrier.
- Please take your pet on a flight in a pet carrier only if it has the temperament to adjust to such a confined stay for a prolonged period inside a cooped up environment. Someone had even narrated his first-hand experience seeing a pet being put through this torture. It is cruelty to the pet if it is not amenable to travel by flight, a nuisance to the co-passengers and will prove to be a punishment to you.
How do I know which is the right sized carrier for my pet?
You should know how to measure your pet. Please measure the length from the nose to the root of the tail. The height should be measured from ground to the top of the head while the pet is standing. The width would be across the shoulders. Add extra inches and check the same against the inner dimensions of the pet carrier you intend buying.
What size carrier will fit under the seat?
Each airline will notify on its website the dimensions of baggage/carrier which will fit under the seat. Some airlines mention total capacity while some give length, width and height separately. Go through the same carefully. Especially for the height, you may verify it against the collapsed height of your carrier. This is because during the flight the pet will be sitting and most of the carrier bags have a provision to collapse the standing height into lower heights.
Can I put a bowl inside the carrier with food for when my pet gets hungry?
Loose, unlatched hard items are not to be put inside the carrier. They may hurt your pet if they roll over.
I find carriers tagged as “IATA/TSA/FAA approved”. Is this sufficient for me to decide on a buy?
While it is true that the carrier may conform to set standards, it is not a matter of 'one shoe fits all'. Each airline has different and set specifications. So, you would do well to check on the website of the particular airline and then decide on the product.
Which carrier is best for my dog?
There cannot be a hard and fast rule because it depends on the size of your dog, its preferences, the price range which you can afford, etc.
But the aim of this article is to give you some pointers and as mentioned in the products page, you will find that the 'SturdiBag' and the carrier by 'Natuvalle' are best for dogs, big and small.
Can my dog sit on my lap once the flight takes off?
No, it is not allowed. You have to sit him/her in the carrier bag till disembarking.
I have two pets. Can I carry them in the same carrier bag?
Yes, you may. But according to IATA regulations, they should be of the same species, be compatible and weigh in total, less than 30 lbs.
How about long duration flights? Will these carrier bags be useful?
The carriers are generally well ventilated and cushioned. But it is not advisable to take pets for journeys of more than 5/6 hours because the pets may not feel comfortable with long duration confinements.
I generally prefer aisle seats for myself since I feel they provide more room. Will the under-the-seat space also be equally convenient?
No. The window and middle seats have more under seat space in most of the aircrafts.
Check out these reference links for details of airline under-seat area dimensions, IATA regulations etc.
Most of us wouldn’t ever like to leave our pet back home when we travel, whether it is for a few days or for a longer duration.
But when it comes to travelling, flights are a different matter altogether as compared to other modes. It entails conforming to many regulations. At the same time, most of the pets undergo some anxiety too. This wrecks the usual nature of the pet and in turn, creates anxiety for us too.
So, to avoid these hiccups, it pays to have the best carrier for carrying them. The best is not necessarily the costliest or most advertised but the one which the pet feels comfortable in. This is why it is so important to choose the pet carrier carefully and wisely.
This article was an effort to bring you to ease in making your choice for the buy.
Have you picked one yet? Bon voyage; to you and to your loved one (I mean your pet of course!)