Last Updated on September, 2023
Traveling with your pet on air, land, or water will be the best traveling moments you will make in your life. No doubt, pets make the best travel companions.
Especially when air traveling, your best travel partner will need the best airline-approved pet carrier because airlines have their own set of guidelines for all passengers, including pets, to provide the best experience for all those who board the plane.
So as pet owners, considering your pet’s safety, and the welfare of the airlines and other flying passengers, we must abide by their guidelines to our level best to ensure a hassle-free journey.
To help you choose the best, I have reviewed nine pet carriers, including a buyer’s guide and information on pet policies followed by most major airlines to ensure you satisfy the airline’s requirements to enjoy your next air travel.
Table of Contents
- Top 9 Best Airline-Approved Dog Carriers
- Buyers Guide to Choose the Best Airline-Approved Dog Carrier
- Airline Pet Policies
- Preparing to Fly With Your Pet
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
Top 9 Best Airline-Approved Dog Carriers
1. Away The Pet Carrier
Choosing the best airline-approved pet carrier is key to ensuring the comfort and safety of your furry friend during the next ex-paw-edition.
Away The Pet Carrier is undoubtedly the best choice you can go with, especially because it is certified by the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) and abides by all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements.
So you don’t have to worry about anything apart from your pet’s weight when picking this carrier.
Not only does this airline-approved carrier come out as the winner in terms of essential features and ease of use, but it is also designed to feature a sleek and luxurious look for you to travel in style.
This look is achieved using a water-resistant nylon exterior with leather trim. It comes in two colors but in a single size supporting up to 18 lbs of pet weight.
This soft-sided pet carrier also has a water-resistant interior lining to allow hassle-free clean-up in case of an accident. It also features removable and washable plush sherpa bedding to comfort your pet.
These pet carriers have two access points, one on top with a two-way zipper and one on the side to easily access your pet, clean it or slide in the bedding.
On both these entrance points and on one of the sides, there are mesh panels for ventilation and visibility. You can also use the retractable privacy screen when you want your dog to rest peacefully.
This pet carrier also has many other handy features to improve your travel experience and ensure your pet’s safety. For example, it has a large side zipper storage pocket with compartments to store whatever documents you need and a key clip to attach your keys.
Then there is the side pocket with a waterproof lining and drainage holes to store a collapsible water bowl. On this side pocket is a removable name card attachment to fill in your pet’s details.
Wait, there’s more!
Two latches on the side allow you to slide in the car seat belt and secure the carrier on the seat. Then the luggage strap/ trolley sleeve to attach the carrier to your luggage and a safety collar clip on the interior to prevent your pet from escaping when opening the carrier.
As for the ease of carrying, this pet carrier has two padded short handles and a removable, padded shoulder strap to move it around conveniently.
Now, Now! With all these features, including the CPS recognition, you must be thinking, no wonder this airline-approved pet carrier made it to the top of the list and is my recommended best choice for your travels.
- The interior and exterior use water-resistant materials to prevent absorption and clean easily.
- Mesh panels on three sides to ensure maximum air circulation.
- Trolley sleeve to attach the carrier to your luggage for easy carrying.
- A large pocket and a side pocket to store your and your pet’s essentials.
- Two access points with zippers for safety.
- Carry handles and shoulder strap for easy carry.
- Safety collar clip to prevent your dog from running off when opening, and car seat belt latches to secure the carrier on the car seat.
- Supports up to 18 lbs
2. Gunner G1
The Gunner G1 Kennel in the Intermediate size is available in five interesting colors and is 30 inches long on the interior.
The design of this airline-approved pet carrier contributes in many ways to keeping your pet safe and sound within the carrier during your travels.
It even holds a 5-star crash test certification from the Center for Pet Safety.
It features a powerful frame system and a double-walled rotomold to ensure a sturdy structure and provide twice the impact protection to withstand external pressure or force without harming the dog in the slightest possible way.
Many users have reported real-life car crashes where the Gunner pet carrier has come out with their pet completely safe and unscathed.
The double wall design also keeps the kennel up to 12% cooler than aluminum kennels. So a cooler kennel also means slower heating when exposed to higher temperatures.
This, in turn, results in your dog having to release 20% less energy to stay cool. That’s a lot of benefits achieved with just one feature to keep your dog safe.
The G1 kennel has a reversible door to open it from either side. It has a paddle latch that features a keyhole lock for added protection.
On account of better overall functionality, the G1 Intermediate Kennel has many other additional features like a paddle latch, keyhole lock, backup latches, elements repelling windows, carry handles, tie-down pins, drainage system, a wide base, and non-slip feet.
- The double-walled rotomolded provides double the protection from impacts and external forces, keeps the kennel cooler, and prevents your dog from unnecessarily releasing energy.
- A powerful frame system maintains a sturdy standing structure despite external forces so your dog stays safe inside.
- A reversible door adds to the kennel’s convenience and ease of use.
- Paddle latch, keyhole lock, and safety backup latches ensure a comprehensive locking system to prevent your dog from escaping.
- Elements repelling window limits snow, rain, or sleet penetration to keep your dog safe.
- Super strong kayak-grade carry handles to allow easy grasp and help to move it around.
- The removable drain plug ensures a reliable drainage system making cleaning easy to keep the crate dry for your dog.
- Built-in tie-down pins to keep the kennel in place, especially while traveling
- A wider base provides better stability by preventing rollovers.
- The raised rubber, non-slip feet keep the crate off the ground protecting it from heat transmissions, conduction, or any spillages.
- Stainless steel hardware ensures lasting use.
Read our honest review here if you want to learn more about this kennel.
3. Wild One Travel Carrier
The Wild One Travel carrier, similar to the away pet carrier, allows you to travel in style. It comes in two classy colors and a special seasonal color.
The most interesting part of this carrier is that you can open it up into a canopy bed to create a mini comfort bed for your pet or fold it flat to tuck away for storage.
These pet carriers are airline compliant and are designed for travel. It comes with a padded shoulder strap that you can use as a leash for a quick solution.
It also has carry handles for a secure grip and a trolley sleeve to carry on luggage. Plus, side pockets to hold essentials.
These carriers feature three openings with durable zippers to allow quick access. All these openings are designed with a breathable mesh for ventilation and view. The dome shape of the carrier allows enough horizontal space for your pet to relax when it is closed up.
- Create a home away from home by opening and expanding the main entrance flap into a canopy bed.
- One main entrance and two side openings for quick access
- Breathable mesh panels on three sides for ventilation and view
- The padded shoulder strap can also be used as a leash, so dual purpose.
4. Tour Paravel Cabana Pet Carrier
The Cabana Pet Carrier by Tour Paravel is another 5-star rated soft-sided carrier by the CPS.
But this carrier will be special for all the sustainable choice lovers because it is crafted out of 100% recycled materials yet looks as chic as it gets.
This carrier uses EcoCraft Canvas, made from 38 recycled plastic bottles, vegan leather detailings, and recycled zippers.
This crafting makes it spill-proof and stain-repellent for durable use.
These carriers feature three access points with recycled mesh panels for reliable airflow.
It has an inner leash attachment to hook your pet’s leash to prevent it from escaping. It features pockets to store treats and toys and a recycled, washable fleece lining to keep your dog comfortable.
These airline-approved pet carriers can support a pet weight of up to 20 lbs, and you can also get it customized with your pet’s name on it.
- Uses 100% recycled materials: EcoCraft Canvas, vegan leather, and zippers for sustainability and durability.
- Recycled mesh panels to ensure good airflow
- Inner leash attachment to keep your dog safe from running off.
- Folds completely flat for easy storage.
5. Arlo Skye Pet Carrier
The Arlo Skye pet carrier is lightweight with a 360-degree ventilation design. It comes in two sizes and can support up to 25 lbs of pet weight.
It features a poly mesh and performance nylon exterior.
It is airline compliant as an in-cabin carry-on, so it fits effortlessly under medium or large airplane seats.
This dog carry-on bag has two access points, one on top and one on the side, secured by zips.
It features carry handles and can also be supported by a shoulder strap. And then there’s the option of a trolley sleeve to support carry-on luggage.
The memory foam mattress is removable and washable to keep your dog clean and comfy. Also, you’ll find a safety collar clip on the interior to keep your dog bound.
- 360-degree ventilation design maintains a cool and breathable space for your dog
- Use of quality materials like poly mesh and performance nylon exterior for durability and visibility
- Includes multiple carry options like handles, shoulder straps, and trolley sleeve
- The washable memory foam mattress keeps your dog comfy and is easy to clean.
6. Sleepypod Medium Mobile Pet Bed
The sleepy pod is more than a shoulder bag or a dog carrier. It is versatile that luxuriously pampers your small dog and gives it its personal space.
It features washable, 100% polyester ultra plush insides to keep your pet comfortable throughout air travel.
The dome top features a mesh design. This dome can be removed and adjusted based on your dog’s mood and as you see fit to provide a cozy sleep experience.
The base is circular shaped to provide a contouring feeling around your pet’s body.
The exterior uses luggage-grade nylon, so it can be easily cleaned by vacuuming or a damp cloth.
These pet carriers also include a carry handle, shoulder strap, washable bedding, and water-resistant foam liner to ensure ease of use and maintenance.
- 100% polyester ultra plush for ultimate sleep support.
- The dome top is adjustable or can be removed to facilitate an open bed.
- The use of mesh on the dome top provides ventilation and visibility.
- The circular-shaped base gives a contoured feeling around the pet’s body to improve coziness.
- High-quality exterior and interior materials to ensure durability and easy cleaning.
7. Petami Pet Carrier Backpack
The Petami backpack pet carrier is polyester and comes in one size but seven colors.
It features a well-ventilated design with multiple openings secured by zippers. The top opening flap can be rolled up and secured away using the button snap closure.
This backpack carrier has a safety strap to keep your dog’s leash hooked onto it.
It comes with two side pockets to store all essentials. The front pocket has a name tag, and the flap is lined with a strip of reflective strap, which is handy when used in the dark.
The two shoulder straps and the back of the backpack are padded for your comfort.
There is a chest and waist strap for added fit and security. And this bag can hold up to 18 lbs of pet weight.
It is equipped with a top and side reinforced steel frame to ensure a strong construction and prevent the bag from collapsing on your pet.
These airline-approved pet carriers come with sherpa-lined bedding and a collapsible water bowl.
- Strong construction featuring a reinforced steel frame to prevent the bag from collapsing.
- Designed with a reliable ventilation system and multiple openings for easy access, good air circulation, and visibility.
- Padded back and straps to reduce weight pressure on your back and shoulders
- Safety strap to keep your dog attached to the bag
8. Sherpa® Original Deluxe™ Airline Approved Pet Carrier
The Sherpa carrier is see-through from all sides. So it only gives a little privacy to your pet.
Instead, it will give a cool and breathable space because its all-around mesh provides ventilation.
The Sherpa carrier is polyester with two openings featuring locking safety zippers to prevent your dog from pushing it open.
These airline-approved pet carriers are equipped with a patented spring wire frame allowing them to be slid under the seats.
Additional features of these carriers include a non-slip carry strap, seat belt/ luggage strap, machine-washable faux lambskin liner, and rear pocket.
These carriers are available in three sizes, three colors and are suitable for pets up to 16 lbs.
- The spring wire frame that can be pushed down to conform under the airplane seat
- Two openings featuring locking safety zippers to prevent your dog from opening it.
- All around mesh design provides good ventilation
- Many other ease-of-use features for convenience.
9. Petsfit Expandable Pet Carrier
The Petsfit expandable pet carrier is the best expandable pet carrier. These carriers are available in four sizes and five colors and can support up to 18 lbs.
These versatile airline-approved pet carriers feature multiple openings for in and out, and the side opening is expandable to provide your pet extra room.
To provide better protection, these openings have a lockable zipper and a safety clip to attach your dog’s leash.
The pet carrier is crafted using durable 600D Oxford fabric, and the insides feature a PVC waterproof layer to prevent leakage of any spills or accidents. It comes with a removable, washable mat for comfort.
The mesh on the ventilation panels is an anti-scratch hexagonal net to ensure long-term use, a clear view, and good air circulation.
It features multiple carry options like a padded shoulder strap with sturdy metal hooks, a trolley sleeve, seat belt attachment, and carry handles to fit the ease of use based on the situation.
- Multiple openings with an expandable side opening add versatility and convenience to your pet
- Openings featuring the lockable zip and the leash clip ensure the safety of your pet
- The use of quality fabric for durability and waterproof inner makes cleaning easier
- Anti-scratch mesh on ventilation panels for maximum airflow and long-term use
Buyers Guide to Choose the Best Airline-Approved Dog Carrier
Below are a few pointers to help you recognize and understand the importance of factors contributing immensely to ensuring you and your dog have a pleasant and comfortable flying experience.
Size is extremely important when it comes to airline-approved pet carriers.
The measurements of the airline-approved pet carrier you choose should abide by the airline sizing guidelines you will be flying with. Choose the best crate size considering your pet’s weight and stature, while ensuring enough space to stand and turn around when needed.
Size and weight limitations change based on the airlines. So be sure to pick a crate to keep your dog comfortable while meeting airline policies. For your reference, the topic below will cover pet policies followed by a few major airlines.
The type of pet carrier you should choose changes based on your dog’s size and weight.
If your dog fits into the airline’s ‘in cabin’ guidelines, then you can go with a soft-sided pet carrier because your dog is likely small, and the pet carrier will be flexible enough to fit under the airplane seat.
However, a hard-sided carrier will be required to travel in the cargo for a big dog because they won’t fit under the airline seats.
No matter the type you choose, the hard-sided and soft-sided pet carriers should be crafted using excellent quality materials to ensure comfort and durability to transport your pet safely.
Your pet’s safety through the journey is paramount.
So when choosing a pet carrier, look for features like breathable mesh panels to facilitate proper ventilation because the airplane can get stuffy due to air conditioning, and given that your dog will be under the seat, the more reason to ensure reliable and fresh air circulation.
This mesh will also enable you to check on your dog at a glance.
Although not necessary, pet carriers with a blackout panel can help calm your dog if it is not used to traveling as often.
Also, look for safety buckles that will allow you to secure the pet carrier under the seat to ensure stability. A strong, supportive base with thick padding will add comfort and ensure stability to keep your pet safe while moving around.
Ensure all entrance points have a secure closure system, like a zipper for a soft-sided crate or a latch lock system for hard-sided crates. This will prevent your dog from getting out and give you peace of mind it is safe inside the carrier.
Ease of Use Features
Having features that make using the pet carrier easier will ensure a pleasant and stress-free journey when traveling with your pet.
To ensure a great experience pick a pet carrier with multiple entrance points as you see fit so that you can easily access and reach your pet to pat or feed some treats.
Also, having extra pockets will come in handy to store your dog’s travel essentials like treats, water, and cleaning supplies.
Other features include wheels to allow quick and easy movement of airline pet carriers.
Strong handles and removable shoulder straps for in-cabin pet carriers are great features that will make it easier for you to carry on and ensure safety.
Airline Pet Policies
Every airline that allows pets to travel with you has its own set of policies as guidelines for you to follow.
This will ensure a minimal hassle and maximum safety to the airlines, you, your pet, and the other passengers while giving you the satisfaction of traveling with your pet.
You must check the policies and guidelines of the airlines you expect to fly with to ensure a smooth boarding and flying journey.
It would be best if you went through their carrier dimensions and allowed types, pet weight and breed restrictions, and other relevant guidelines applicable to all flying with pets.
Below I have attached links for your reference to some of the major airlines that are US based;
- American Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- United Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- JetBlue Airlines
- SunCountry Airlines
- Virgin America
To check any other airline pet policies, visit Airline Pet Policies.com for detailed guidelines, pet fees, and information.
Preparing to Fly With Your Pet
Taking a few precautions and preparing for your journey with your pet ahead of time will prepare you to tackle situations and make you and your pet’s journey stress-free and enjoyable.
Help Your Pet Acclimate
If your pet is new to traveling or isn’t trained to be in a confined space like a crate or carrier, helping it acclimate to the carrier is key to ensure pet safety while flying.
Since you have to plan and book seats way ahead of time when flying with your pet, you can also start familiarizing your pet with the carrier to make it comfortable and feel at ease even when closed.
You should also consider other variables involved in the departure process and try to play recordings of various sounds your pet may encounter to help it acclimate and minimize possible stress.
Book Your Travels in Advance
Most airlines limit the number of pets allowed to fly per flight. So booking in advance, at least 5-6 weeks prior, secure your and your pet’s seat. If possible, go for a direct flight instead of a transit to reduce travel time.
Learn About Your Departure Airport
Familiarizing yourself with your departure airport will quicken the process and give you the confidence to go through all the airport checking seamlessly.
You should look into the pet relief area, collect details on how to take your pet through security and be aware of any other procedures specific to that airport when it comes to pet traveling.
Learn About Your Destination
Similarly, you should also research your destination to ensure you have the best experience no matter where you visit.
Be it another country, state, or vacation destination, they may have strict requirements like up-to-date vaccinations or must always travel in cargo.
To avoid disappointments and be well prepared for such situations, look into variables based on the destination.
Consult Your Vet
After you decide on your destination, you can consult your veterinarian and receive advice and tips on navigating your travels with your pet. Ensure updated microchipping, vaccines, health records, and testing, and discuss possible precautions that may be required specific to your pet.
For example, your vet may recommend anti-anxiety meds for your anxious dog or give preventive meds to prevent contracting diseases during travel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Air travel with your pet needs prior arrangements to ensure a hassle-free and smooth journey. If it’s your first time traveling with your pet, your pet should go through an acclimation process and should do extensive research so that you are well prepared for whatever situation may arise.
The overall Best airline-approved pet carrier from the list is the Away Pet carrier.
It is stylish to keep you on trend and has all the important features you expect from the best airline-approved pet carriers. It’s all there, from multiple access points to waterproof finishing to plenty of ventilation.
However, despite your choice, I hope you found these reviews and the buyer’s guide helpful in making the best pick suitable for you and your pet’s travel needs.
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