Does a Dog Carrier Count as Carry On?

Chihiro Cat Ready to Travel

The Airline standard is: Your Pet Travel Carrier will count as either your Carry On or Personal Item. Most airlines, except budget Airlines, allow each passenger 1 Carry On Bag and 1 Personal Item.  Some Airlines allow a Pet Travel Bag in addition to Your Carry On either Free or an Additional Cost.

I surveyed over 45 of the Largest Commercial Airlines in the World that allow Pets On Board, In Cabin.

I found most airlines count your Pet Travel Carrier toward your Carry-On or Personal Item Allowance.

Except budget Airlines such as Spirit, Frontier & Frenchbee) most airlines allow each passenger 1 Carry On Bag and 1 Personal Item. 

When Flying with Pets you want to know if your Dog or Cat’s In Cabin carrier is free or you have to pay an additional cost.

RELATED: Pet Travel: How to Book Your Pet to Fly In Cabin


Airline Survey Does A Pet Carrier Count as A Carry On Bag?

Airline Pet CarrierAirline DOES/DOES NOT
Count a Carry On
United AirlinesNO, Carrier DOES NOT Count as Carry On:
1 Carry On & 1 Carrier/Kennel/Crate No Additional
Charge
Air FranceYes, Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Additional Charge for Carrier/Kennel/Crate
$45-$135
LufthansaNO, Carrier DOES NOT Count as Carry On:
Free:1 Carry On & 1 Carrier/Kennel/Crate
No Additional Charge
Air CanadaYes Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Carrier Counts as 1 Standard Item toward your
Carry-On Baggage Allowance. Your Allowance is
determined by the class of far (Business, Coach).
Within Canada and Canada/U.S (except HI) $59
Int’l $118
American AirlinesYes, Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Pet Carrier Counts as Your Carry On. You are allowed
1 Personal Item as well.
$125 Each Way
JetBlue AirlinesYes, Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Pet Carrier Counts as Your Carry On. You are allowed
1 Personal Item as well.
$125 Each Way
Alaska AirYes, Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Pet Carrier Counts as Your 1 Carry-On Bag
$100 Pet Fee Each Way
Southwest AirlinesYes, Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Pet carriers is Either a Personal item or a Carryon
Item. $95 Pet Fee
WestJet AirlinesYes, Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Pet Kennel Counts toward Your Baggage Allowance
as either Personal item or a Carry-on, depending on Size.
Within Canada and Canada/U.S (except HI) $59
Int’l $118
Frontier AirlinesYes, Carrier DOES Count as Carry On
Pet Carrier Counts as either a Personal Item or
Carry On but, there is always an additional fee for
a Carry On.
$99 One-Way Pet Fee
KLM AirlinesNO, Carrier DOES NOT Count as Carry On:
Free:1 Carry On & 1 Carrier/Kennel/Crate No
Additional Charge
Pet Fee: $85-$445 Depending on Departure
& Destination
CompanionPetTravel.com: Flying with Pets: Chart of Pet Carrier as a Carry On or Personal Item

FAQ: Pet Travel: Is My Pet Carrier Considered as My Carry On?

What is a Carry On Bag?

Carry-on bag is a piece of personal luggage that you take onboard the plane, stow in the overhead compartment, average size: 22” Length x14” Wide x 9” Height with handle and wheels. Most US Airlines allow 1 carry on per passenger and your Pet Carrier is additional.

What is the Difference between a Carry On and Personal Item?

Most airlines state the difference is that a Personal Item is smaller and fits under the seat in front of you and a Carry On is larger and is stored in the overhead bin.

Although Pet Carriers are required to fit under the seat, they are often counted as your carry-on and at an additional fee. Most airlines have a maximum weight and size allowance for your carry on and pet/pet carrier.

Flight attendants and gate personnel rarely weigh either your carry on or Pet Carrier unless the airplane is anticipated to be full–completely booked.

When this happens, the airline often requests volunteers to have their carry on checked first. But, airlines have discretion to weigh your pet carrier with your Pet anytime before you board the plane.

What is a Personal Item for Airline Travel?

Personal Item is in addition to your Carry On and includes: laptop and case, purse, briefcase, camera bag, backpack or diaper bag.  Personal Items are smaller than Carry On Bags.

These are rarely measured or weighed. So, carrying more of your heavy items in your Personal Item is the best way to maximize your baggage allowance.

Along with your Carry-On and Personal Item, other accessories are usually okay and pass security and Airline gate attendants without issue. 

These include: jackets, umbrellas, diaper bags, food purchased in the airport, mobility devices, child safety seats and neck pillows.

It’s not a good idea to try the old “pillowcase stuffed with clothes” trick to get more clothes on board without going over weight limits.  Hopefully, you can get it passed the flight attendants. 

Even if you do, I have been on many full flights where In Cabin overhead storage is full and you don’t want to be stuck trying to find space for another personal item

Just repack and get rid of what you don’t really need.  After 4 years of full-time travel, I have everything I need in one carry-on and one personal item.

What Size Pet Carrier will Fit Under a Seat?

For most major airlines the size of Pet Carrier In Cabin averages 22”Lx14”Wx 9” and 8kg or 17lbs for your Pet. Soft-Sided Carriers are best for Airlines. The top compresses 1 or 2 inches, giving you more options than a Hard-Sided carrier. The carrier must be stowed under the seat at least for take-off and landing. 

See 4 Best In-Cabin Pet Carriers for Airlines 2022

Do Airlines Weigh Your Dog?

Most commercial airlines will not weigh your Dog at check-in at the airport. Still, most state a maximum weight allowance and reserve the right to put Fido on the scale. The average weight allowance for a Dog and its carrier is 17bs, a few allow larger Dogs.

What is the maximum weight for a pet and carrier In Cabin, on board a plane.

Airlines state maximum measurements for pet carriers and carry on and each airlines vary a bit for on board and In Cabin pet travel. The average size of a Pet Carrier for In Cabin Pet Travel is 22” Length x 14” Wide x 9” Height and the average weight allowance is 18lbs, pet and carrier.

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