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.


AIRLINE, IN CABINMaximum Pet Carrier Size
Small Dogs, Cats,
Domestic Birds
Carrier Counts as
your Carry-On

Dog and Cats
1 Carrier per passenger.
Carrier may hold 2 animals:
Same Size/Same Breed.
Allows carrier and carry-on
Dogs and Cats
Pit-Bull Breeds prohibited
Allows carrier and a carry-on.
1 pet per carrier
Dogs and Cats
Carrier counts as your carry-on.
1 carrier per parent
Cats, Birds,
Rabbits, Guinea Pigs,
Dogs and Cats.
Dogs and Cats
1 Pet per carrier. 1 carrier
per parent.
Counts as 1 personal item
TURKISH Airlines
Dogs, Cats, Singing Birds.
Total Weight 18lb (carrier +pet).
Carrier is not counted
as your carry on
KLM Airlines
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight 18lbs
(carrier +pet).
Carrier is not counted
as your carry on
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight 18lbs
(carrier +pet).
Soft-sided carriers only
Carrier not counted
as carry on
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight: 22lbs/10kg (carrier+pet)

Dog or Cat
1 pet per passenger
Soft carriers only
Total lineal dimensions=45″/115cm
Hard=8″ Height
Soft=10″ Height
FlyBondi Airlines (South American Routes)14″Lx13″Wx9″H Chart of 14 Airlines for Pet Carrier Sizes for Pets In Cabin

2. 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.  SOFT OR HARD CARRIER.  The easiest and most important feature choice is whether you want a soft or hard carrier

A soft, compressible 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.

I use my Mr. Peanut’s often because it is 11″ tall so it allows additional headspace in the airport and hotel but, compresses down to fit under the airline seats which average from 9.5″ to 10″.

Cat Sophie with her Pet Travel Carrier Mr. Peanuts
Cat Sophie with her Pet Travel Carrier Mr. Peanuts

A soft carrier fits more airlines seats than a hard carrier. Soft carriers allow for compressing to fit under a seat, hard has no give—it either fits or doesn’t.

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

My two kitties, Sophie and Chihiro can share one carrier comfortably with the Mr. Peanut’s IATA compliant carrier because of the extra room and ventilation on 3 sides. 

Mr. Peanuts Pet Travel Carrier
Mr. Peanuts Pet Travel Carrier

My Mr. Peanuts pet carrier fits up to 25 pounds and at 11″ tall, I have extra room in the hotel but, can compress down 2″ to fit under an airline seat. After numerous flights and 4 years of travel, it still looks good.

This Mr. Peanut’s Carrier fits Pets up to 25 pounds and after numerous flights and 4 years of travel, it still looks good. There is another model with an expandable alcove but, for the price, this one is durable and plenty big enough for both my Cats.

C.  Number of  ENTRY POINTS. The carrier that allows you to get your pet in and out easiest is important. Consider the door opening location.

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.  PRIVACY SHIELDS. 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.

E. LEAK-PROOF BOTTOM. 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.

This is a size comparison of two of the three carriers I use regularly: Mr. Peanuts Rhodium and my go-to Sherpa Original Deluxe. Both are sturdy, compressible but do not collapse onto my Kitties. They are like the “Honda Accord” or Pet Travel Carriers for me–very dependable!

Mr. Peanut's and Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier Comparison
My Mr. Peanut’s and Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier Comparison
Mr. Peanut's and Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier Comparison
My Mr. Peanut’s and Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier Bottom Comparison

Mr. Peanuts Rhodium (Top and Right images) Right is worth the additional money for the additional features: sturdier quality material, thicker bottom with “feet”, more room and ventilation.

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.

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.

See Also, Can I Buy my Pet an Extra Seat or Extra Space on a Plane?

And, Airline that Allows All Large Dogs In Cabin

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.

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 I Fly with 2 Pets In-Cabin?

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).

RELATED: 4 Best In-Cabin Pet Carriers for Airlines 2022

If you already have chosen your carrier, remember, 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!

Documents Needed for Moving or Flying with Pets Internationally

  • Microchip Certificate
  • Rabies Vaccination Certificate
  • Health Certificate. For International Pet Travel, you may need more than 1 Health Certificate–Some transit countries require their own Certificates.
  • Rabies Titer Test results
  • Parasite Treatment certificate—Often Deworming
  • This is just a guide on what is required, please check the requirements for your specific airline and destination country at our page: Pet Passports and Pet Health Certificates.

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