6 Best Airline Approved Pet Carriers in 2021

We may receive commissions when you buy through links on our site. Read here.

You have a service dog and need to fly interstate with them for work?

Or you already have your annual leave booked and ready to travel, but you can’t bear the thoughts of leaving your furry friend behind?

Fortunately, you don’t have to anymore.

Below are the 6 best airline approved pet carriers you can find in 2021 that allow your pooch to either fly with you in the cabin or to ride in the cargo depending on their size.

Read More:

Our Top Picks Product Dimensions Weight Capacity
Editor's Choice Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier (S) 15" L x 10" W x 8.5" H
(M) 17" L x 11" W x 10.5" H
(L) 19" L x 11.75" W x 11.5" H
(S) Up to 8 lbs.
(M) Up to 16 lbs.
(L) Up to 22 lbs.
Best Expandable PetPeppy Premium Airline Approved Expandable Pet Carrier 18" L x 11" W x 11" H Up to 14 lbs.
Best with Wheels Snoozer Roll Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier (M) 20" H x 14" W x 11" D
(L) 23" H x 15.5" W x 12.25" D
(M) Up to 15 lbs.
(L) Up to 30 lbs.
Most Comfortable SturdiBag Large Flexible Height Pet Carrier (S) 10" H x 10" W x 18" D
(L) 12" H x 12" W x 18" D
(XL) 16" H x 12" W x 20" D
(S) Up to 10 lbs.
(L) Up to 30 lbs.
(XL) Up to 50 lbs.
Best For Large Dogs Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier (XS) 21" L x 16" W x 15" H
(S) 28" L x 20.5" W x 21.5" H
(M) 32" L x 22.5" W x 24" H
(L) 36" L x 25" W x 27" H
(XL) 40" L x 27" W x 30" H
(XXL) 48" L x 32" W x 35" H
(XS) Up to 15 lbs.
(S) 20 - 30 lbs.
(M) 30 - 50 lbs.
(L) 50 - 70 lbs.
(XL) 70 - 90 lbs.
(XXL) 90 - 125 lbs.
Budget Choice PetAmi Premium Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier (S) 17" L x 10.2" W x 11.2" H
(L) 19.5" L x 10.2" W x 12" H
(S) Up to 12 lbs.
(L) 12 - 18 lbs.

1. Editor’s Choice - Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier

Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier
Photo Credit : Sherpa

One of the top choices by many, the Sherpa Pet Carrier is designed to allow your four-legged friend to travel by plane or car in style and comfort.

It features the patented soft frame and fiberglass support rods, which gives you the ability to push it down to fit under airline seats while maintaining its structure. With the mesh panels on both sides, plus the cozy, removable, and machine washable faux lambswool for optimal comfort, yet the locking safety zippers to keep your dog from pushing it open.

There is also a stability board that holds the carrier in shape and includes a padded handle and an adjustable non-slip shoulder strap for easy carry. If it gets too heavy while carrying your dog on your shoulder, you can fit the carrier to your rolling suitcase and roll them along. Additionally, it comes with top and side entry to make it easier for loading and unloading your dog, and a large zippered pocket to hold your travel documents.

What we also like about this dog carrier is that it is part of the guaranteed on-board program, partnering with several major airlines such as American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines to ensure a hassle-free air travel experience.

2. Best Expandable - PetPeppy Premium Airline Approved Expandable Pet Carrier

PetPeppy Premium Airline Approved Expandable Pet Carrier
Photo Credit : PetPeppy

Want to give your furry friend extra room to stretch while traveling? Look no further than the PetPeppy Airline Approved Expandable Dog Carrier.

Just like what it looks like in the above, both sides can be unzipped and fold down to give your dog extra space so that they can travel safely and comfortably throughout the whole journey. It features the roof ventilation design to allow for good air circulation to prevent overheating, while the removable plush faux fleece bedding for your dog’s comfort.

There are double zippers on top and both sides for easy access and equipped with self-lock zippers and a leash clip on the inside for added security. Also, it includes a padded shoulder strap and a side strap, allowing you to slide it onto your rolling suitcase handle to ensure you can carry it with ease.

Not to mention, it has extra spacious storage compartments for storing your dog’s essentials, such as food, treats, and toys, suitable for dogs weighing up to 14 pounds.

3. Best with Wheels - Snoozer Roll Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier

Snoozer Roll Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier
Photo Credit : Snoozer

Looking for an airline approved dog carrier with wheels? The Snoozer Roll Around Pet Carrier is perhaps the best on the market.

What sets this carrier apart from the rest is the 4-in-1 design, which gives you the ability to convert it into a backpack, wheeled carrier, car seat, or a pet bed. That also means you can bring your dog along regardless of where you go without having to carry them on your shoulder the entire trip.

It has 3 large mesh panels for ventilation to ensure your dog’s comfort and includes a safety hook located inside the carrier so that you can clip it to the harness for safety purposes. It is also made with your comfort in mind, with a multi-stage telescopic handle to let you adjust it to your height.

4. Most Comfortable - SturdiBag Large Flexible Height Pet Carrier

SturdiBag Large Flexible Height Pet Carrier
Photo Credit : Sturdi

If you want something more comfortable for your dog to rest in on the plane, then you may want to consider the SturdiBag Pet Carrier.

This airline approved dog carrier has an award-winning flexible height design, with the tension rods that can be compressed to fit underneath the airline seats, and will pop back up to a comfortable height for your dog. Also, it has retractable privacy flaps on all mesh windows, along with cozy, removable, washable, and fastener-secured plush fleece pads on the inside for maximum comfort.

Additionally, it comes with a leash clip to ensure safety, plus the storage pockets for storing your dog’s essentials. It is very durable, made of 600 denier polyester, and equipped with 4 adjustable points padded shoulder strap and a leather grip handle for your comfort, ideal for dogs that weigh up to 30 pounds.

Find out other sizes for SturdiBag:

5. Best for Large Dogs - Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier

Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier
Photo Credit : Petmate

You have a large dog and find it very hard to take them on an airplane as most carriers are made for small dogs? Don’t worry, Petmate Pet Carrier has got you covered.

This crate is designed to carry large dogs and features the high-strength plastic shell, non-corrodible wing-nuts, and a durable interlocking door for added security. Plus, the 4-way latching system to provide increased protection.

It is also made with your dog’s comfort in mind, with the 360-degree wire ventilation windows to allow for good airflow, and includes a clip-on food and water bowl, and 2 ‘Live Animal’ labels that you can attach to the kennel for any flights.

One thing to note is that it is not a complete airline-approved carrier, yet is the only one we have found that meets most dog air travel requirements compared to most kennels on the market. Meaning you have to make some modifications to make it an International Air Transport Association (IATA) compliant crate, which you will need at least 15 metal nuts and screws and cable ties to zip tie the door.

6. Best for Budget - PetAmi Premium Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

PetAmi Premium Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier
Photo Credit : PetAmi

If you only need to take short-haul flights with your furry friend occasionally, then the PetAmi Pet Travel Carrier may be enough to do the job.

This is another airline compliant dog carrier that can fit under the seat, with a ventilated design to make sure it has adequate airflow and the sherpa lined bedding to keep your pooch comfortable throughout the journey. It is equipped with a safety strap on the inside for securing your dog, combined with safety buckle zippers to prevent accidental escapes.

It is easy to carry and features the side strap that allows you to attach it to your rolling suitcase. Also, it has dual access points for convenient entry and exit and comes with an ID tag and a collapsible bowl for food or water.

Why Use an Airline Approved Dog Carrier?

Traveling with Your Dog
Caption : Traveling with Dog

I guess the purpose of an airline compliant carrier is pretty self-explanatory. With it, you will be able to fly with your pooch interstate or internationally, depending on the airline pet policy. In other words, you can explore many different places with your four-legged friend without having to worry about them staying at home alone. It can also come in handy if you have a service dog and need to air travel with them for or to return from work.

Also, you may be interested in other canine travel gear such as car harness, bike trailer, dog sling, and backpack carrier if you are an outdoor enthusiast, different ways to allow your dog to stick around safely.

What to Consider When Buying the Best Airline Approved Pet Carrier?

When it comes to picking the best airline approved dog carrier, there are a few things you need to consider, and below are some of them.

1. Carrier vs. Crate

Essentially, there are 2 ways to take your dog on flights.

  • Carrier.
    One way is to use pet carriers, designed to carry small dogs only, which your four-legged friend will be flying with you in-cabin. The pet carrier will need to be able to fit under flight seats to ensure it won’t obstruct the aisle.
  • Crate.
    And if you have a large dog, an airline compliant crate like the Petmate Pet Carrier is the only choice you have if you are thinking of air traveling with your canine. As you can imagine, there is no way you can fit, say a Golden Retriever under your seat.

2. Airline Approved

And, of course, it has to be airline approved. It is important to note that each airline has its own requirements, and that may change from time to time. So, make sure to check whether the dog carrier falls within their policy before you purchase.

3. Size

It certainly is fun to travel and explore with your dog, but it is also crucial that they can fly comfortably. Choose the ones that offer enough room to allow your dog to stand up and lie down, but not too big to ensure it passes the airline sizing requirements.

If you want to be on the safe side and are flying with the major airlines, such as American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines, then you may want to consider the Sherpa Pet Carrier as it is in the guaranteed on-board program

4. Breathability

The best airline approved dog carrier also needs to be very well-ventilated, given that your dog’s movement is restricted, and they won’t be able to get fresh air themselves. Or else, it is going to be very tough for them to get through the flight without having good airflow.

5. Pockets

It may also be a good idea to consider carriers with multiple pockets so that you can keep your dog’s essentials such as food, treats, and other travel necessities in there.

6. Multiple Functions

Instead of choosing a pet carrier only to take your canine on an airplane, consider the ones with multiple functions like the Snoozer Roll Around Pet Carrier, especially if you travel a lot. This can be beneficial as you can convert it into a backpack or a wheeled carrier to help relieve your shoulder stress.

Tips for Air Traveling With Your Dog

Air Traveling with Dog
Caption : Dog Ready to Fly
  • Call to check with the airline to see if your dog can fly with you.
    Most airlines don’t allow short snout dogs to fly like Bulldog, Boston Terrier, and Shih Tzu, as it may be unsafe for them due to them having many breathing problems. It is also crucial to note that some dog breeds are classified as dangerous breeds, hence banned from flying. Again, the pet policy varies between airlines, make sure to call and confirm with them.
  • Choose direct flight, if possible.
    Not only transit flights are tiring for you, but also your dog. Just avoid stopovers at all costs and think how painful it is for them having to unnecessarily stay in the cargo for an extra few hours and not being able to get the fresh air they need.
  • Ensure your dog is at least 8 weeks old.
    Many airlines don’t allow puppies that are under 8 weeks old to fly. In fact, it may be better off to leave them at home at this vulnerable age.
  • Flying in from overseas?
    Make sure to get your dog the rabies vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires dogs to get immunized against rabies, and it has to be completed 30 days before arriving in the United States.
  • Prepare your dog for the flight.
    While there are dogs that respond well to traveling on an airplane, some may need some preparations. You can do this by getting your pooch to ride in the car in the same carrier that you will be using to acclimatize them to the movement.
  • Don’t sedate your dog.
    Don’t give your furry friend medications to tranquilize them, as this can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Instead, you can leave their chew toys in the carrier to help calm them down or to give them plenty of exercises to tire them out so that they can sleep on the plane.
  • Don’t feed your dog just before the flight.
    As a good rule of thumb, feed your four-legged friend at least 4 hours before flying to allow them to digest the food and avoid upsetting their tummy.
  • Arrive at the airport earlier than you usually would.
    Remember, now that you are taking your dog with you, meaning you will need to check them in as well, and that takes extra time for the ticket agent to process the documents.
  • Always check the condition of the carrier.
    The reason is that the airline may deny your dog to board if you have a cracked or broken pet carrier.
  • Keep your dog in the carrier the entire flight.
    Your dog will be required to stay in the carrier the whole time so that they don’t bother other passengers. 

What if You Need to Fly Overseas With Your Dog?

International Vet Certificate
Caption : International Vet Certificate

In addition to the tips above, there are a few things you need to consider.

  • Find out the requirements to bring your dog into the destination country.
    All countries have their own regulations for international pet travel and ensure you have the necessary documentation ready.
  • Consult with your veterinarian.
    Talk to your veterinarian to check if your dog is healthy enough to fly and have the health certificate updated, which most countries may require anyway.
  • Get your dog’s travel documentation reviewed.
    Book an appointment with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) and have the documentation endorsed to make sure all have passed the entry requirements of the destination country.
  • Don’t forget about your camera!
    After all that stressful process, how can you not bring your camera to capture the memories that you will be creating with your furkid?