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Airline Pet Carrier Sizes

Updated on February 22, 2016

Pet Carrier 101

It really doesn't matter which airline you decide to travel on, your pet must be in an approved pet carrier before they can be allowed on the plane.


Now the hard part is to determine which pet carrier you need and which will be acceptable to the various airlines.

Stick with me on this Hub and you should find out all the information needed to prepare you for you for your next flight.

A Pet Carrier Is A Necessity For Pet Travel

If you have to put your pet on an airplane, you need an approved pet carrier

Airline pet carriers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, "this guy isn't a pet carrier"!

The first thing to remember is...all pets on airlines need to be in a pet carrier.

The size of your pet doesn't matter, when it comes to taking them on an airplane. They could be a 5 pound Terrier or a 50 pound Shepard.

What really matters when you are going to take them on an airplane, is the size of their carrier or crate. If you can't get your little "furry" and their crate under the seat in front of you, then you have a problem.

If you try to check them as baggage in a soft sided carrier, then you have another problem.

Too small and your pet suffers an uncomfortable trip, too large and you might be turned away by the airline.

There are airline rules and regulations for the size and type of carrier or crate you can use, the combined weight of the pet and carrier and when you can take them out of their carrier (which is NEVER) when inside the cabin.

Your pet can travel in the airline cabin with you, be checked as baggage or sent as cargo. No matter how your pet travels,pet carrier size is very important.

Photo is from me, Bob Schroeder

How Much Do You Know About Pets Traveling On Airplanes?


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Learn How To Pick A Pet Carrier

Pet Travel in the Cabin with You

A pet with you in the cabin needs the right size carrier

Since we all love our pets, having them in the cabin with us is the first and best option.

Your pet and carrier MUST be placed under the seat in front of you and your pet must remain in the carrier throughout the flight.

Of course, a large dog such as a Doberman will not go in the cabin with you since the maximum size for cabin pet carriers is 19" long x 13" wide x 9" high.

Soft-sided pet carriers may be a little larger because they are more flexible.

Your pet needs to be comfortable, so you need to ensure that they are able to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position in the carrier. A soft-sided pet carrier should be constructed of water-repellent, padded nylon with mesh ventilation on two or more sides.

Keep in mind that a pet carrier counts as either a passenger's one carry-on bag or personal item.

Your Precious Pet Needs A Great Carrier

Nellie Loves To Travel as long as she is in the right pet carrier.
Nellie Loves To Travel as long as she is in the right pet carrier. | Source

CORRECT CARRIER SIZE IS VITAL - Don't ruin your trip because of the wrong size kennel or carrier

For inside the cabin, your pet carrier should be approximately 19 L X 13 W X 9 H. It's a good idea to check with your airline for the exact size they allow.

How Bigger Pets Can Be Checked As Baggage

Even though your pet can't travel with you in the cabin, they can be checked as baggage

Checking pets as baggage can present problems of their own.

Once again size of the kennel or carrier can be important.

In order to travel as baggage, your pets carrier needs to be constructed out of rigid plastic, wood, or metal with solid roofs,

  • ...it should have wheels that can be removed,
  • ...it needs to have handles on the outside of the carrier,
  • .must close securely but not with locks.

You should also have a sign on the carrier that says "LIVE ANIMAL".

Put bedding in the carrier and paper towels in case they "potty".

Don't forget the food and water!!!! These must be in dishes that are attached to the inside of the carrier and can be accessed by the baggage handlers.

On most airlines, the maximum weight for dog and crate combined is 100 pounds.

Carrier maximum size will be about 40" long X 27" W X 30" H.

WHEN NOT IN THE CABIN, HOW ABOUT CHECKED BAGGAGE - If your pet is too large for the cabin, checked baggage is your next choice

Make sure your pets carrier is no bigger than 40 X 27 X 30.

Can't Go with Your Pet, Send Them As Cargo

Big pets and small pets can go as cargo

Many people would shutter at the thought of shipping their pet as cargo........but this happens hundreds of times each day.

You can be sure that airlines do this all the time and will take very good care of your pet.

A little pre-planning on your part will ensure that your pet will have a journey with as little stress as possible. Just following a few basic rules of thumb will be very helpful.

***Make sure that your pets shots are up to date and you have your VET give you a copy of all their medical records and certificates.

***Check the weather at the departure and arrival points and other points in between. Too hot or too cold will stop your pet from traveling.

***Make reservations for your pet 3 days in advance of the departure date.

***Find out where the cargo area is for your airline and their hours of operation.

***Have your pet at the cargo area about 4 hours before the flight

***Weight of pet and crate can't exceed 100 pounds

***Crate size should be around 40 X 27 X 30, but check with the airline for exact size requirements

***Have food and water in bowls that can be attached to the inside of the crate

***Bring a lease in case you have to remove the pet during an inspection by a TSA representative.

***DO NOT sedate your pet, they cannot travel when sedated

***Have bedding in their crate so they are comfortable when lying down

The Most Important Thing To Remember

A good pet kennel is needed when you are traveling or even if you are just keeping your pet at home.

Pets love a place they can call their own, a kennel will give them this sense of well being.

TRAVELING WITH PETS IS TRICKY - What else can be added to this site to make it easier

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