What Size Pet Carrier Fits Under an Airline Seat?

Cat Sophie with her Pet Travel Carrier Mr. Peanuts

What is the Standard Size for Airline Pet Carriers In-Cabin?

The Standard Size for Pet Carriers is 22”Lx14”Wx 9” and for Pets In-Cabin the average weight for your Pet is 8kg or 17lbs. 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.

Do Airlines Check Pet Carrier Sizes?

Airline staff observe a Pet in carrier at check-in. If your Pet appears comfortable, the airline gate-agents will only measure if a Dog appears too big or if the flight is over-booked and luggage weight is an issue. A soft-sided IATA approved carrier measuring 22”Lx14”Wx 9” is usually acceptable.

This is why Cats In-Cabin are far less likely to be weighed or measured. 

Over the last 3 years, I have surveyed Pet Travels and find that only a few airlines, Lufthansa and Frontier Airlines, for example, regularly measure Pet Carriers for weight or size. 

However, all airlines state their maximum allowable size and have discretion to enforce their stated size and weight requirements.

Your Pet should be able to stand and turn around comfortably inside of their carrier. If they cannot do so, the carrier is too small for them. Airlines require carriers to be an appropriate size for your Dog or Cat.

See Also, How To Choose the Best Pet Carrier Size for Flying IN Cabin for all the information you need to make an informed choice and find the best carrier for your Pet’s travel.

Do Airlines Weigh Pets for Travel In-Cabin?

Airline Agents have discretion to weigh and measure your Pet and Carrier. Carriers are at primarily visually inspected for ventilation and security. 

But the staff will also observe if your Dog or Cat appears comfortable in their carrier.  A content and Calm Pet does not raise any red-flags with staff who are far more concerned with whether your Pet will try to get out of its carrier than the actual weight.

After 3 years of Pet Travel and talking with so many other Travelers with Pets, most airlines do not weigh your Dog with or without their carrier.

Still, be prepared! If your Dog looks too big or too heavy or is making a fuss in their carrier, staff will scrutinize your Pet more carefully and will be more likely to weigh your Pet.

RELATED: How To Crate Train Your Pet for Air Travel

Sophie kitty and Mr. Peanut's Pet Carrier Pets that are Comfortable in Carriers are less likely to be weighed at the airport
Pets that are Comfortable in Carriers are less likely to be weighed at the airport

MAJOR AIRLINES IN-CABIN PET CARRIER SIZES:


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

22″/56cmX14″
SOUTHWEST
Dog and Cats
1 Carrier per passenger.
Carrier may hold 2 animals:
Same Size/Same Breed.
Allows carrier and carry-on
18.5″x13.5″x10″
UNITED
Dogs and Cats
Pit-Bull Breeds prohibited
Allows carrier and a carry-on.
1 pet per carrier
Hard-Sided=
17.5″x12″x7.5″
Soft-Sided=
18″x11″x11″
AMERICAN
Dogs and Cats
Carrier counts as your carry-on.
1 carrier per parent
19″x13″x9″
FRONTIER
DOMESTIC FLIGHTS: Dogs,
Cats, Birds,
Rabbits, Guinea Pigs,
Hamsters
INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS:
Dogs and Cats.
18″x14″x8″
JET BLUE
Dogs and Cats
1 Pet per carrier. 1 carrier
per parent.
Counts as 1 personal item
17″x12.5″x8.5″
TURKISH Airlines
Dogs, Cats, Singing Birds.
Total Weight 18lb (carrier +pet).
Carrier is not counted
as your carry on
15.7″x11.8×9″
KLM Airlines
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight 18lbs
(carrier +pet).
Carrier is not counted
as your carry on
18″x11″x9.4″
LUFTHANSA
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight 18lbs
(carrier +pet).
Soft-sided carriers only
Carrier not counted
as carry on
22″x16″x9″x
VOLARIS
Dogs and Cats
Total Weight: 22lbs/10kg (carrier+pet)
17.5×12″x7.5″
ALASKA AIRLINES

Hard-Sided=
17″x11″x7.5″
Soft-Sided=
17″x11″x9.5″
CANADA AIR
Dog or Cat
1 pet per passenger
Hard-Sided=
22″x16″x9″
Soft-Sided=
21.5×16″x10.5
AEROMEXICO
Soft carriers only
12″x16″x8″
KOREAN AIR
Total lineal dimensions=45″/115cm
Hard=8″ Height
Soft=10″ Height
Chart of 14 Airlines for Pet Carrier Sizes for Pets In Cabin

Cat, Sophie and her Sherpa Pet Carrier
Cat, Sophie and her Sherpa Pet Carrier

How Do I Know If My Dog will Fit Under the Seat?

1. Know the Standard Size for Airline Pet Travel In-Cabin

The Standard Size Pet Carrier for Dogs In-Cabin on Airlines is 22”Lx14”Wx 9” and 8kg or 17lbs weight. Soft-Sided Carriers are often best. 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.  

2. Check the Airline’s Pet Policies for Potential Flights. Each airlines lists their own maximum measurements.

3. Check the actual aircraft under seat measurements for the potential routes.

The airline’s pet policy page will tell you the MAXIMUM measurements but, that does not mean every aircraft with that airline has seats large enough—they vary.

Sites such as SeatGuru.com give you aircraft and seat measurements for many flights.  This also allows you to better choose the best seat for you and your Pet. 

Most airlines only allow certain seats for Pets—usually the window or seats at the back of the cabin.  This is mainly for evacuation protocol and to accommodate other passengers who have allergies. 

It is not uncommon for a Pet Traveler to be asked to move to a seat at the back of the plane when the seat you have booked is adjacent to a passenger with allergies. 

If this happens, at least you will be nearer to the aircraft lavatory and may be more likely to use the bathroom for your Dog or Cat to relieve themselves. See Where Do Dogs Pee on an Airplane?

4. Soft-sided Pet Carriers are best for In-Cabin flights with Pets.

Soft-sided Pet carriers are usually the best option for In-Cabin flights because they are compressible, they allow more flexibility in choice of carrier.

The top 1 or 2 inches of soft-sided carriers can fold and compress to fit under the seat in front. 

This extra couple of inches means that a Pet Carrier that measures 11 inches tall can often be used for airline seats with maximum measurements of 9 inches.

Some airlines no longer allow hard-sided carriers. Also, a soft-sided carrier that compresses under the seat still has that additional space for use at home, in hotels or taxis.

What is an Airline-Approved Pet Carrier?

“Airline-approved” is a marketing term.  There is no one-size-fits-all. Airlines have their own approval criteria.

Look forInternational Air Transport Association (IATA) approved” instead.  This is the government authority for safety and security when choosing a pet carrier.

The Best Pet Carriers for In-Cabin Airline Travel have these features:

1. A  Compressible Soft-Sided Carrier is Best. These are sturdy and flexible and allow for compressing under the seat.

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

3. Number of  ENTRY POINTS. The carrier that allows you to get your pet in and out easiest is important. Consider the door opening location. Two entry points provide flexibility, and a top entry point makes it easier to give treats and comfort to your Pet in flight.

4. A 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.

5. 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 enough to resists snags and abrasions. They wear well and are easy to clean.

The lighter but sturdiest are the best, especially when the maximum weight allowance is only 17lbs including your Pet.

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

Does a Snub Nose Dog need a Special Pet Carrier?

Yes. Because of their breathing issues many airlines require a pet crate that is at least 4”/10 cm larger than the dog or cat (this includes 1 size larger is using Standard Crate Sizing or 10% larger). This additional space allows for extra ventilation and air flow.

The correct size crate for a snub-nose pet is one size larger than the standard for their size. All other pets should use the standard crate for their size.

What size pet carrier fits under the seat on an airline?

A soft-sided IATA approved carrier measuring 22”Lx14”Wx 9” is best. Soft-sided to compress down to fit many airlines and 10.5″ or less.