Whether it’s a long-awaited escapade or a cross-country move, ensuring a smooth travel is among the biggest problems dog owners struggle with. Fortunately, we can now travel by air with our four-legged companions. All we have to do is follow the strict pet policies mandated by airlines. More so, choosing the best airline that can accommodate your tandem is among the things you need to check off your list. Since we love our pets so much, we wholeheartedly go along with the grueling process. So, are you traveling soon? We hope you’ll find the best airline approved pet carrier for cargo in our list!
8 Best Airline Approved Pet Carriers for Cargo
1. Petmate Sky Kennel
Petmate Sky Kennel is the gold standard for pet travel. It can house small to large dog breeds, as it offers a wide array of sizes ranging from 21” to 48.” This portable hard-sided pet carrier has an ergonomic handle to aid dog owners and porters when transferring pets to and fro.
Security is a priority for Petmate Sky Kennel. The manufacturer designed the carrier with a four-way vault door and 360-degree ventilation. This allows pets to move around freely without the fear of suffocation. The said feature also prevents unnecessary cage movements, especially when the plane encounters turbulence.
Furthermore, this pet carrier features a durable plastic shell and has non-corrodible wing nuts.
- Durable and portable
- Secure latch system
- Adapts to air traveling guidelines
- 4-way vault door prevents sliding and shifting
- Comes with travel necessities (i.e. clip-on food/water bowl and “Live Animal” stickers)
- Actual usable space is unspecified
- Handle easily comes off when used one too many times
- Hardware (bolts and nuts) made with heavy-duty plastic must be replaced with metal ones
2. Aspen Pet Porter Heavy-duty Pet Carrier
This durable heavy-duty constructed pet carrier is lightweight, making it an easy fit for dog owners who are on the go. This sturdy pet crate features an easy-open latch mechanism that allows pet owners to open the carrier conveniently with just one hand. The carrier also has opening cutouts for visibility and maximum airflow. Additionally, cleaning the carrier is a cinch.
Moreover, the Aspen Pet Porter Heavy-duty Pet Carrier proudly offers cat carriers that can house up to 30 pounds and large dog kennels that can absolutely house up to 70 pounds of pet weight. It is available in amazing neutral and vibrant color combinations (i.e. Breeze/Black; Lady Pink/Gray; Light Gray; Dark Pink/Blank; Storm Gray/Black) making it more visually appealing.
- Sturdy and Lightweight
- Secured with metal nuts and bolts
- No-hassle set up
- Easy-open latch feature
- Can accommodate 30-70 pounds of pet weight
- Neutral and vibrant color combinations
- Easy to clean
- No rear ventilation
- The plastic case is not thick enough / Can easily be chewed on
- Sharp plastic edges
- Not totally escape-proof
3. Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel
Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel accentuates a raised interior. It has wire-vents and tie-down strap holes to provide security for our pets. This particular hard-sided carrier features a heavy-duty plastic shell secured with metal screws, keeping it strong and sturdy for longer. Not only is this carrier perfect for pets, but it also cares for the environment, as it proudly claims to be purely made of pre-consumer recycled materials.
Moreover, this kennel has an easy-open latch feature that allows dog owners to open and close the kennel with ease. The wire vents surrounding the crate also allows better visibility and ample fresh air for pets. If you are on the lookout for a hassle-free setup, this carrier is your best bet. Its assembly does not require a bag of tools. It is also available in several sizes that can comfortably accommodate pets ranging from 25-90 pounds.
Most importantly, it meets airline cargo specifications.
- Reliable and comfortable for travel
- Houses an average of 25-90 pounds of pet weight
- Made of eco-friendly plastic
- Easy-open latch feature
- 360-degree visibility and superior airflow
- No-tool construction for stress-free assembly
- Raised interior
- Meets most airline cargo specifications
- Not totally escape-proof
- The handle comes off easily
- No traveling essentials included (clip-on water/food bowl)
- Latch mechanism pops off easily when force is applied
4. IRIS Medium Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier
Achieve a worry-free flight with IRIS Medium Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier. With its two-sided latch mechanism, you can open this durable hard-sided carrier both ways. Its 360-ventilation also allows for ample airflow and full pet visibility. Portability is also on par with other high-end carriers because of its two strong handles and heavy-duty quality shell.
It measures 26.4" x 18.5" x 20" and has a 44-pound weight capacity. Conveniently, it comes with a detachable roof, and a food and a water tray. Without the roof, you can use this product as a regular dog bed.
However, color availability is limited to two options only (Navy/Red). Nevertheless, it exhibits features that meet the general travel standards while providing security and comfort for our pets.
- Comfortably accommodates small-medium dog breeds
- 360 ventilation
- Includes detachable food and water tray
- 2-sided latch mechanism
- Detachable roof (can be used as a dog bed when the roof is detached)
- Leak-proof base
- Strong and sturdy handle
- Limited color options
- Too heavy to carry
5. Ruff Maxx Portable Kennel
Ruff Maxx Portable Kennel, also a product of Petmate, features a strong and dependable design. It provides 360-degree ventilation, allowing pets the much-needed airflow and visibility from all sides. This particular kennel is designed to house large dog breeds weighing up to 90 pounds. Setting up can also be done in a jiffy, as it comes with nuts and bolts for a quick set-up and stress-free assembly. Consequently, this hard-sided carrier for large dog breeds meets most general air travel standards.
- Suitable for large to extra-large dog breeds
- Strong and dependable design
- Great for the outdoors
- 360-Degree ventilation
- Outdoor-friendly colors
- Easy set-up process
- IATA compliant
- No travel essentials included
- Latch issues
- Air vents can be easily chewed on by an anxious or bored dog
6. SportPet Designs Plastic Kennel
SportPet Designs Plastic Kennels Rolling Plastic Wire Door Travel Dog Crate exhibits measurements from 24” x 16” x 16” up to 48” x 32” x 36.” This dog crate is made of high-quality plastic resin to withstand impact. Portability is given utmost priority. It boasts of snap-on/off removable wheels, making it a breeze for pet parents to transfer the crate to and fro. This product has metal slats on all sides for proper airflow.
Amazingly, the manufacturer also made sure to design an airline approved pet crate. The crate has tie-down holes for bungees, 4 “Live Animal” stickers, and metal bolts and nuts required by most airlines. It also features a hassle-free setup.
- Can accommodate giant dog breeds up to 170 lbs.
- Wheels snap on and off as needed
- Sturdy, durable plastic construction
- Easy to assemble and clean
- Metal slats used for ventilation
- Tie-down holes for bungees
- Includes metal bolts and nuts
- Comes with travel essentials (water and food tray; four “live animal” stickers)
- Thick bottom ridges (crate needs padding)
- Wheels easily break off
7. Yvettevans Top-load Pet Kennel
This cat and dog carrier has dimensions of 23” x 14.6” x 14.6” that can comfortably accommodate pets weighing up to 25 lbs. It also has an easy access feature with 360-degree ventilation providing convenience and comfort for our pets.
Moreover, this ergonomic hard-sided pet carrier also has an easy-carry design safe for pet transportation. It also underwent a durability test proving its heavy-duty design made of durable plastic with the steel-wire front door.
Cleaning would also be a breeze as it can be wiped with a damp cloth or hosed down. Yvettevans Portable Airline Approved Top-load Pet Kennel also made sure that smooth opening and closing is possible through its spring-loaded latch.
- Ergonomic design
- Lightweight and portable
- Suitable for dogs weighing up to 25 lbs.
- Spring-loaded latch
- Steel-wire front door
- Easy to clean
- No travel essentials included
- Only accommodates small dog breeds
8. Impact Collapsible Aluminum Dog Crate
As the name suggests, this crate is collapsible for easy transportation. In fact, you can shrink this carrier to less than eight inches its original size. The Impact Collapsible Aluminum Dog Crate is also extremely rust-resistant, as it boasts of a powder-coated .063 aluminum construction. Likewise, it highlights crush-proof corners, welded “no-rust” rivets, and 3/8" bars with a welded crossbar.
On top of that, this particular aluminum carrier also used a marine-grade stainless steel “slam latch” making it easy to secure our pets inside. This carrier also made sure superior airflow would be achieved with its 4-sided ventilation.
It is also 100% pet-friendly because harmful toxins, chemicals, or dyes were not used in any of the materials. Other great features include airline rail storage slots, spring-loaded handles, full-length piano hinge all proudly made in the USA.
- Collapsible carrier
- 100% toxin-free
- Rust-resistant and crush-proof
- Easy to carry and clean
- 4-sided ventilation for superior airflow
- “Slam-latch” mechanism
- Laborious carrier set-up
- Prone to injure dogs when they try to chew on the crate
- Collapses alone when not secured
How to Choose the Best IATA Compliant Pet Crate for Cargo
Now that we are aware of all the necessary arrangements and preparations needed for pet transport, it is high time to find the perfect hard-sided pet carrier to accommodate our pal. Naturally, many stores would of course claim theirs is the best pet carrier to purchase - because why not, right? So, we’re here to help spot the perfect airline pet crate by going through this guide.
Size of the Carrier
The perfect pet carrier should be large enough for pets to walk around, lie down, sit, eat, stand, and sleep comfortably while traveling. Take note that brachycephalic breeds require 10% larger usable crate space.
A heavy-duty pet carrier means it can withstand damage caused by anxious pets in the course of transportation. This is to give pets 100% protection against themselves or against outside forces.
A well-designed carrier means 360-degree ventilation is incorporated. Our pets can be at risk of breathing problems when ample airflow is blocked by the carrier’s shell.
Speed bumps are still present when traveling through the air. Check if the carrier you’re going to buy has secured latch mechanisms and whether the shell is fastened with metal nuts and bolts for added security measures.
Being able to conveniently carry it will allow you more freedom to move or transfer anywhere. Check how sturdy the carrier handle is to prevent lost grip and eventually hurting our pets in the process.
Travel Essentials Included
Most airlines only allow carriers that have food and water trays included in them, so pets can still have proper meals while being transported. “Live Animal” stickers attached to carriers are also necessary.
There can be a lot of carriers that will be able to meet standard airline pet transport rules, however, there are also a lot of brands that charge more than they should. To prevent wasting your hard-earned money, do your research well and compare prices.
IATA (International Air Transport Association) Compliance
The process of flying with pets can be a little taxing. Make sure to purchase and use only IATA compliant pet crates. Bear in mind that IATA doesn’t promote or recommend carrier brands, as long as they meet the requirements for safe and secure transport.
Other Factors to Consider
Certain companies design their pet crates to suit the needs of a particular pet breed. According to the rule set by IATA, a carrier should accommodate your dog’s movements such as sitting, standing, moving around, and lying down.
No two airlines are the same. Each state or country has its own set of rules when regulating pet transport. Check the official IATA website (https://www.iata.org) to know the pet policies of specific countries.
Travel Documents and Identification
Always be mindful of your pet’s passport and other necessary travel documents to accompany your pet in the course of transportation. These include your pet’s complete medical records, rabies vaccination certificate, and identification. Airlines highly suggest you microchip your pet, as well as include relevant information on your dog’s ID tag and carrier.
Be sure to weigh your pet beforehand, so it won’t exceed the weight capacity of the crate or kennel you choose.
Your Pet’s Health Condition
Have your vet evaluate your pet to ensure he is fit to travel. Likewise, be mindful of your pet’s susceptibility to certain health issues and be sure to address them beforehand. For instance, brachycephalic dogs are prone to overheating and are usually at risk of breathing complications. So, if you have a stubby-nosed Pekingese or a Bulldog, his crate should provide maximum airflow.
Number of Pets in One Cage
It is highly advised by all airlines to confine only one pet per carrier.