How To Choose the Best Pet Carrier Size for Flying IN Cabin

Before you shop for a carrier, know what size is best for your pet when flying in cabin.

Here you can compare each Airline’s Carrier Size Allowance side-by-side, Narrow down which Airlines will allow your Pet in-cabin and Know exactly the maximum dimension for choosing your carrier or if your current carrier will fit under the seat in front of you.


AIRLINELength x Width x Height
DELTA 1-800-221-1212
Small Dogs, Cats, Domestic Birds
Carrier Counts as your Carry-On
22″/56cmX14″/36cm Length
Total Linear:45″/115cm
SOUTHWEST 1-800-435-9792
Dog and Cats
1 Carrier per passenger.
Carrier may hold 2 animals:
same size/same breed.
Allows carrier and a carry-on
13.5″/34.29cm height
UNITED 1-800-864-8331
Dogs and Cats
Pit-Bull Breeds prohibited
Allows carrier and a carry-on.
1 pet per carrier
Soft=11 28cm-height
AMERICAN 1-800-433-7300
Dogs and Cats
Carrier counts as your carry-on. 1 carrier
per passenger.
19″/48.26 cm-length
13 “/33 cm-width
9″/22.86 cm-height
FRONTIER 1-801-401-9000
DOMESTIC FLIGHTS: Dogs, Cats, Birds,
Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters
18″/45.72 cm-length
14″/35.56 cm-width
8″/20.32 cm-height
JET BLUE 1-800-538-2583
Dogs and Cats
1 Pet per carrier. 1 carrier per passenger.
Counts as 1 personal item
17″/43.18 cm-length
12.5″/31.75 cm-width
Dogs, Cats, Singing Birds.
Total Weight 18lbs/8kg (carrier +pet).
Carrier is not counted as your carry on
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight 18lbs/8kg (carrier +pet).
Carrier is not counted as your carry on
LUFTHANSA 1-800-645-3880
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight 18lbs/8kg (carrier +pet).
Soft-sided carriers only
Carrier not counted as carry on
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight: 22lbs/10kg (carrier+pet)
ALASKA AIRLINES 1-800-252-7522

Hard=17″/43cm -length
Hard=11″/28cm -width
Hard=7.5″/19cm -height
Soft=17″/43cm length
Soft=11″/28cm -width
Soft=9.5″/24cm -height
CANADA AIR 1-888-247-2262
Dog or Cat
1 pet per passenger
Hard=21.5″/55cm length
Soft carriers only
Total lineal dimensions=45″/115cm
Property of Companion Pet Travel

See also, 4 Best Pet Carriers for Airlines 2021-In Cabin

2. Next STEP, How to Choose the Best Pet Carrier by Features For Flying In-Cabin

We have flight test the most popular Pet Carriers on the market specifically for flying in-cabin. With so many distinct features to consider choice can be difficult.

Here, we give you an overview of each feature to consider for comfort, durability and price. We tested only carriers that meet IATA standards and considered results from the Center for Pet Safety study for crashworthiness and general safety.

A. The easiest and most important feature choice is whether you want a SOFT or HARD CARRIER.  A soft, adjustable size carrier give you more options—one with an extension to unzip allowing for more room when not under the seat back. Your airplane might change after you book or even last minute . A soft carrier fits easier under the seat that a hard carrier. Soft carriers allow for compressing to fit under a seat, hard has no give—it either fits or doesn’t.

B. Next, most important feature is VENTILATION. Most airlines require Ventilation on at least 2 sides. Some airlines require ventilation on 3 sides.

C. The carrier that allows you to get your pet in and out easiest is important. Consider the DOOR OPENING LOCATIONs.

Doors on top are best–they allow a vet, TSA or you to examine, comfort, and feed your pet easier, often without having to remove your furry friend. Doors, window and ventilation on at least 2 sides is best—especially when your pet in comforted by eye contact.

D. When considering Door Locations and Ventilation PRIVACY SHIELDS are handy—These are coverings over the vents to allow for pets who do not want the distractions of seeing everything and being seen. This creates a quieter, private space.

E. A feature easily missed is a LEAK-PROOF, WASHABLE INSERT. Removable and washable are easier or you can buy soft, absorbent pet-pads to line the floor. Pads should be removable with a hard foam insert. Some inserts have carboard inside—this is the worst. Pets have accidents and cardboard falls apart easily. Find a quality foam similar to a yoga mat.

Related Post: What Airlines Allow Snub Nose Pets?

F. MATERIAL. nylon is common, sturdy and flexible. Plastic carriers are easy to clean, sturdy but inflexible. Check the handles specifically. they break too easily. Quality Material—cleanable
Types and examples
Both Polyester and Nylon/Ballistic Nylon/Nylon with PVC coating are strong and waterproof to resists snags and abrasions. They wear well and are easy to clean.
Oxford not only looks sophisticated it is highly durable and is used to combine style and strength.
The lighter but sturdiest are the best. Does it stand up on its own—does it flop? If not, the material will be too flimsy to withstand surfaces and fall apart with normal wear-and-tear.

Related Post: Can I Bring Pet Food on a Plane?

The material at the bottom/underneath takes a beating. Rough floors in airports and bolts and rails under the seat in front of you will be uncomfortable and scuff or rip your carrier.

G. A COLLAPSIBLE carrier is a nice feature for saving space in luggage or at home when not in use.

H. An EXPANDABLE carrier is worth the extra money to give your pet extra space once the flight takes off, at home or in your hotel.

I. SIDE-OF-CARRIER SLOTS/STRAP TO SLIP OVER LUGGAGE handles makes balancing all your bags and keeping your pet from falling off.

J. WIDE PADDED SHOULDER STRAP—Choose a Detachable strap. If you’re walking through airports or along the streets for a while, you’ll appreciate the comfort of a wider strap—and there’s less slippage.

K. Don’t forget the little things…CLIPS OR TEATHERS FOR LEASHES, HARNESSES and LOCKABLE ZIPPERS. You will have to take your pet out of the carrier and have them walk separately through security. It helps not to have to fumble for your leash going through the x-ray. Non-metal attached clips ensure you move easier through security. Look for self-locking, quality zippers. Cheap zippers can turn a quality bag useless if the closures fall apart.

We suggest you do not waste precious space on wheels when considering a flight carrier. You can carry your pet through the airport or stack the carrier on top of your luggage.

TIP: “AIRLINE APPROVED” tags mean very little—it’s just advertising. IATA International Air Transport Association sets the standard for compliance.

You may like: Can Extreme Temperatures Cancel Your Pet’s Flight In Cargo Or Checked Baggage?

REMEMBER: The carrier often counts as your carry-on item. Many airlines allow 1 carry on and 1 personal item such as a laptop case, purse, backpack. Your pet must be able to stand up and turn around comfortably (although, I have yet to see a pet under a seat able to stand erect in its carrier)

Airlines limit the number of pets on each flight—usually around 2-6.
So, check out How to Book Your Pet to Fly In Cabin and get one of those few available seats reserved!

Published by Stephanie Fling

Everything Pet Travel Related by Air, Sea and Land.

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