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10 Best Airline Approved Dog Carriers

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on September 7, 2023
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If you’re traveling by plane with your furry friend, you’ll need airline approved dog carriers. Only dogs that can fit under the seat in front of you are allowed in the cabin, unless they’re a service dog, and the exact rules will vary between airlines. With a properly sized carrier, your dog will be comfortable and secure during a flight, so you won’t have to worry about leaving them behind while you travel.

This article will discuss some of the best airline approved dog carriers. Even though these carriers are all designed to fit every airline’s requirements, it’s always best to check your airline’s website first before choosing a carrier to bring on the flight. You may also want to schedule a vet checkup before your first flight just to be safe.

Dog next to airplane bag

How to Fly with a Dog

Flying with your dog for the first time can be overwhelming. Every airport is laid out a little differently and has different rules. Here are some general steps to take when flying with a dog:

  1. Take your dog to the vet to make sure they’re in good enough shape to fly.
  2. Check the pet rules for various airlines to decide which one you want to use.
  3. Find a pet carrier that’s comfortable for your dog while also meeting the airline’s requirements.
  4. Book your flight with your dog (you will have to pay extra fees for your pet).
  5. On the day of the flight, make sure your dog goes to the bathroom before arriving at the airport in case there’s not another chance for them to go.
  6. When going through security, take them out of the carrier. Carry them through the metal detectors and send their empty carrier through the machine. Staff members can help you through this process, and, depending on the airport, you may be able to go through the handicap line so you don’t hold up the regular line.
  7. Keep your dog inside their carrier at the airport and on the flight. If you have time, consider taking them to the pet relief area if there is one.

After these steps, you’re ready to get on the plane with your furry friend. Your dog must stay under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight, so if you don’t think they’ll do well, you can talk to your vet about potential medications beforehand.

Pomeranian in airplane bag

Buyer’s Guide: Airline Dog Carriers

Having a comfortable carrier can help your pet feel more at ease during a flight. There are lots of dog carriers for airlines on the market, so consider the following factors before making a decision.


Keep your dog’s size and the under-seat dimensions in mind when picking out a product. The carrier should be able to comfortably fit your dog, giving them enough room to turn around. It should also easily be able to slide under the seat in front of you on the plane.


Look for durable materials that are easy to clean. Soft-sided carriers are typically preferred for in-cabin pets because they’ll be more flexible for putting under the seat.

Ways to Carry

You’ll spend a lot of time carrying your dog in their carrier before the flight, so you should make sure the bag is easy and comfortable to transport. Most carriers come with carrying handles and shoulder straps so you can choose which one is more comfortable for you. Some carriers even come with wheels so you can move your dog around the airport without having to lift their weight.


Ventilation is crucial for the safety of your dog, so make sure parts of the carrier have mesh so your dog receives proper airflow. Most airlines require you to keep the carrier closed, so all the ventilation comes from the carrier’s materials.


For maximum safety, your dog should stay securely in their carrier in the airport and during the flight. Locking zippers or a safety strap can add to your pup’s security.

Extra Features

Think about if there are other features that you and your dog could benefit from. Some options include pockets or expandable sides.

Dachshund in airplane carrier

Best Airline Approved Dog Carriers

Sherpa Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier
  • Machine-washable soft liner
  • Mesh on all sizes
  • Opens on the top and side
  • Comes with carrying handle and shoulder strap
  • Three sizes available

The Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier is a classic design for airlines. Its rectangular shape fits perfectly under the seat in front of you on most airlines, and the soft padding keeps pets comfortable. Plus, it has mesh on all sides to ensure your pet can breathe easily even when it’s closed. It opens from both the front and top so you can put your pet in easily and comfortably. This carrier comes with two straps, one for carrying over your shoulder and another for carrying by hand. Sherpa also has a lot of other pet carrier designs, including a similar one that has wheels for easier transport.

Ruff Life 101 Expandable Airline Approved Carrier with Wheels
  • Includes removable wheels and collapsible handles
  • Expands on two sides
  • Fleece pad is removable
  • Has zippered storage pockets
  • Comes with carrying handle and shoulder strap
  • Comes in three colors

This unique pet carrier comes with a variety of special features to make travel better for both you and your pet. First of all, the carrier has wheels and a collapsible handle so you can drag the carrier behind you instead of needing to carry your dog’s weight around the airport. When you’re waiting for your flight, you can expand two sides of the carrier to give your pup some extra room to move around. It comes with a removable fleece pad and zippered storage pockets. When you’re on the plane, you’ll need to remove the carrier’s wheels before sliding it under the seat in front of you.

JetPaws Official JetBlue Airlines Pet Carrier
  • Designed to meet JetBlue's in-cabin pet guidelines
  • Includes several mesh windows
  • Lined with a washable pad
  • Has five storage pockets
  • Comes with carrying handles and shoulder strap

The JetPaws Official JetBlue Airlines Pet Carrier is specifically designed to meet JetBlue’s in-cabin pet guidelines, and it fits most other airline requirements too. This carrier strikes a balance between functionality and comfort, featuring durable materials and ample ventilation through its mesh windows. It’s lined with a washable pad to provide comfort to your pet, and it has five storage pockets to ensure you have all your furry friend’s necessities. It has both a shoulder strap and a carrying handle so you can choose which one is more comfortable for you.

Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier
  • Top and sides are made of breathable mesh
  • Entire top opens
  • Includes several zippered pockets
  • Compresses slightly for flexibility
  • Comes in six sizes

Sleepypod is a brand that specializes in making carriers comfortable enough for your dog to sleep in, and this product is the ideal size for flying. The sides are made of solid fabric to provide a dark sleeping space for your dog while the top, front, and back are made of mesh for breathability. The entire top can open for easy access, and there are several zippered storage pockets on the sides. It can compress slightly to help it fit into smaller spaces. Plus, it’s available in six different colors.

Petsfit Expandable Airline Approved Pet Carrier
  • Expandable on one side
  • Opens on three different sides
  • Includes attached safety clip
  • Breathable mesh and a waterproof coating
  • Large side pockets
  • Comes in several sizes and colors

This unique pet carrier expands on one side to give your pet extra space while waiting in the airport. It can open in three different spots, making it easy to put your pet in and take them out when needed. The bottom of the carrier is a washable plush mat for added comfort, and there’s also a safety leash that you can clip to your dog’s harness. There’s mesh on several sides, and the polyester PVC coating on the other sides is waterproof. This carrier comes in several sizes and colors, but you should make sure the size you choose is accepted by your airline of choice before buying it.

Pet Gear I-GO2 Traveler Dog Backpack & Rolling Carrier
  • Has wheels and a collapsible handle
  • Also works as a backpack and car seat
  • Supports dogs up to 15 pounds
  • Includes removable pad
  • Comes in four colors

This is an excellent dog airplane bag because it’s on wheels and has a collapsible handle. So, you can roll it around the airport like a suitcase. It can also be used as a backpack and a car seat. It has several mesh panels for breathability, and the front window can roll down to give your pup a better view. It’s ideal for dogs weighing 15 pounds or less, and it includes a removable pad for added comfort. Because of its unusual shape, it’s extra crucial to check airline requirements before bringing it into the cabin.

SturdiBag Large Pet Travel Carrier
  • Made of durable 600-denier polyester with a mesh front
  • Includes machine-washable fleece pads
  • Height is adjustable
  • Seatbelt strap keeps dog secure
  • Comes with carrying handles and shoulder strap
  • Comes in four sizes and seven colors

Some dogs need a dark sleeping space to feel comfortable on a flight, so the SturdiBag can provide that. It’s made from durable 600-denier polyester with mesh on the front for breathability. The height of the bag is flexible, making it easy to slide into the under-seat area of any flight. It comes with a soft, machine-washable fleece pad that acts as a pillow for your dog to rest on. The carrier includes a seatbelt strap inside for added safety, along with both carrying handles and a shoulder strap for convenience. It comes in four sizes and seven colors, so make sure the size you choose is suitable for your preferred airline.

Mr. Peanut's Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier
  • Made of waterproof nylon with mesh windows
  • Lined with a fleece pad
  • Includes safety tether
  • Comes with carrying handle and shoulder strap
  • Has several storage pockets
  • Comes in four colors

Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier is another popular option designed to meet most major airlines’ in-cabin requirements. It’s crafted from durable nylon material that’s both lightweight and resistant to wear and tear. It features breathable mesh windows on all sides, including tiny ones that can zip open without allowing your dog to escape. Inside, there’s a fleece pad and a safety tether to keep your pup both comfortable and safe. You can use either the carrying handle or padded shoulder strap to carry your dog in the airport, and the side pockets allow you to keep your dog’s supplies close.

PetAmi Dog Purse Carrier for Small Dogs
  • Purse-like dog carrier for dogs 12 pounds and under
  • Made of 6000D high-grade polyester
  • Has mesh on three sides
  • Includes safety buckle and seatbelt strap
  • Removable Sherpa-lined bedding
  • Comes in a variety of color patterns

This dog airline bag can be carried as a purse, so it’s best for dogs 12 pounds and under. The exterior is made of 6000D high-grade polyester to improve its longevity. It has mesh on the front, top, and back, and one window can be opened so your dog can stick their head out. For safety, it includes a strap to attach to your dog’s harness and a safety buckle to stop your dog from opening the door on their own. Plus, it has removable Sherpa-lined bedding for comfort and large side pockets for storage. It’s convenient for all types of travel, including most airlines.

Prodigen Airline Approved Pet Carrier
  • Mesh windows on all sides
  • Includes removable, machine-washable fleece bed
  • Multiple storage pockets
  • Comes with a carrying handle and shoulder straps
  • Includes built-in leash tether
  • Comes in two sizes and six colors

The Prodigen Airline Approved Pet Carrier offers a well-rounded solution for travelers looking for an affordable yet reliable option. Designed to comply with most airlines’ in-cabin requirements, this carrier features a sturdy construction made from high-quality, tear-resistant fabric. It has mesh windows on all four sides, providing excellent ventilation and allowing your pet to have a clear view of their surroundings. The carrier also includes a fleece bed that can be removed and washed, along with multiple storage pockets for pet essentials. Plus, it incorporates safety features such as robust zippers and a built-in leash tether, adding an extra layer of security and peace of mind for pet owners.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does “Airline Approved” Mean for a Pet Carrier?

The term “airline approved” for a pet carrier signifies that the carrier meets specific requirements set by airlines for safe and secure transport of pets in the aircraft cabin. These requirements typically include specifications related to the carrier’s dimensions, materials, ventilation, and locking mechanisms. It’s important to note that “airline approved” does not mean universal acceptance by all airlines, as each airline may have its own set of guidelines, so it’s crucial to check with the specific airline you plan to fly with.

What are the Under Seat Dimensions on a Plane?

The under-seat dimensions on a plane can vary widely depending on the airline and the specific type of aircraft. Generally, the space may range from about 8 to 11 inches in height, 16 to 20 inches in width, and 17 to 20 inches in depth. Always check with the specific airline for their exact under-seat dimensions to ensure that your pet carrier or any other item will fit comfortably and safely during your flight.

Can Dogs Come Out of Their Carriers During a Flight?

Most airlines do not allow dogs out of their carriers during the flight. The carrier must remain securely stowed under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight for the safety and comfort of all passengers and crew. Service animals are usually the only exception.

How Much Do Airlines Charge for Dog Carriers?

The cost of bringing a dog carrier on a flight can vary significantly depending on the airline, the size of the pet, and whether the pet will be traveling in the cabin or the cargo hold. Fees for in-cabin pet travel typically range from $50 to $125 each way for domestic flights, while cargo fees can be significantly higher and may be based on the weight of the pet and carrier combined. Always check with your specific airline for the most accurate and up-to-date fee information.

How Do You Take a Dog Through Airport Security?

When taking a dog through airport security, you’ll typically need to remove the dog from the carrier and carry or walk the dog through the metal detector while the carrier goes through the X-ray machine. Once you and your pet have successfully cleared security, you can place your dog back into the carrier before proceeding to your departure gate. 

Where Do Dogs Go to the Bathroom at an Airport?

Many airports now have designated pet relief areas, both pre- and post-security, where dogs can go to the bathroom. These areas are usually equipped with waste bags, a trash receptacle, and artificial or real grass. It’s important to check the airport’s layout in advance or consult with airport staff to locate these pet relief zones.

Which Airlines are Pet-Friendly?

Many airlines offer pet-friendly services, but the specifics can vary. Southwest, American, United, JetBlue, Delta, and Frontier are just a few pet-friendly airlines. Check each airline’s website for the most up-to-date information on their pet policies.

Do Service Dogs Need to Be in Carriers on Airlines?

Service dogs are not required to be in carriers when traveling on airlines. They’re usually allowed to sit at their handler’s feet or in an adjacent empty seat if available, provided they do not block the aisle or emergency exit routes. However, it’s crucial to check with the specific airline’s policy and provide appropriate documentation verifying the dog’s status as a service animal.

Dog in airline approved carrier

Final Thoughts

You’ll need a quality airline-approved dog carrier if you want your furry friend to join you in the cabin. Any of the carriers in this article can make a great choice, but before you use one, check your airline’s requirements. Your dog will need to fit under the seat in front of you for the whole flight, so make sure the carrier is comfortable for them. If this is your first time flying with your dog, you should talk to your vet first to see if they recommend medication for your pup based on their medical history.

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