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If you have to fly with your dog, you will want to make sure you buy a dog crate that is specifically made for airline travel. You can fly with your pet either in the cargo or bring him in the cabin, as long as your dog is in an airline-approved crate or kennel.
An IATA-approved dog crate is designed to remain stable during landing and takeoff, as well as provide adequate visibility and make sure your pet is always comfortable.
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What to Consider When Choosing Dog Airline Crates
We’ve flown many times with our 75-pound dog and know a thing or two about shopping for the right airline-approved dog crate.
Here are a few things to consider when searching for the best dog crates for air travel.
Please keep in mind that dogs flying cargo will have different requirements than dogs flying under your passenger seat on the plane.
1. Comfort and Convenience
For small dogs going on the plane with you, you will want a crate that’s easy to carry around. After all, you’ll be trying to beat security lines and get to the gate before it’s closed. Your dog carrier should be lightweight and perhaps fitted with rollers. Backpack-style crates are also super travel-friendly.
For large dogs flying in cargo, your crate is not allowed wheels, but as you won’t need to move them around the airport too much, this shouldn’t matter.
It’s a no-brainer that the dog crate should be well-ventilated. Crates for large dogs will have holes along the sides or backs for ventilation. For smaller dogs, you must find one with breathable features like a meshed side if they are going under your seat.
Consider the construction quality and materials, too. Your crate should be built to last, so pick something engineered from high-quality and durable materials. Not something that’ll fall apart after a couple of uses.
For smaller dogs who are going under your seat, check the integrity of straps, zippers, hinges, and other parts that are susceptible to wear & tear.
For larger dogs flying cargo, metal kennels are not allowed (although, the front door can be metal).
The Best Dog Crates for Travel
Now that you know what to look for in a create, let’s discuss the best dog creates for travel. Dog crates for travel are a dime a dozen on the market, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
Which is right for you? Here are the 5 best airline-approved dog crates that’ll deliver the most value for your top dollar.
1. Airline Approved for Small Dogs: Soft Sided Pet Carrier by Mr. Peanut’s
- PLEASE NOTE INTERIOR SIZING & PET MEASURING GUIDELINES BEFORE PURCHASE - Fits Pets to approximately 16"Lx10"H and up to 15lbs. Airline capable carriers are designed for pets lying down, so your pet may not be able to stand. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND that we show the exterior dimensions as well as approximate interior dimensions to best portray the usable interior space for your pet. The interior space will be less than exterior due to the fabric thickness and plush faux fleece padding.
- AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS - Always keep in mind each airline sets their own requirements, and they can even vary from their domestic, international and shuttle routes so it is always advised to check with your airline of choice. All will require your pet to be comfortable in the carrier, well ventilated and to remain under the seat in front of you during flight. All prefer a soft sided carrier for its adjustability, and we have designed our carrier to have a pliable top so that it can easily stow
- OXFORD 2 TONE FABRIC - Easily Wipe Down Washable and it comes with an interior fleece bedding pad (Hand Wash or Dry Clean Recommended)
Comfort is essential for your pup when traveling which is why we love Mr. Peanut’s airline-approved crate.
It comes with a washable fleece bedding pad that will keep your pooch comfy and warm throughout the flight.
It’s sturdy but lightweight and only weighs 2.7 pounds. There’s breathable mesh on all sides so you don’t need to worry about ventilation.
You can clean the exterior of the crate by wiping it down and it comes in three different colors.
As a bonus, Mr. Peanut’s donated a percentage of gross profits to animal welfare organizations!
2. Airline Approved for Small Dogs: X-ZONE PET Airline Approved Soft-Sided Carrier
- Medium Cat Carrier Measures: 17.5” L x 11” W x 11” H, Recommended max load of 16 lbs (7 kg).Please do not choose your carrier based on weight--please reference your pet's length and height in selecting a carrier size.
- Airline Approved Carrier : With airline-approved design, you can take your pet to go to everywhere. Pet carrier provides two connecting loop handles for balanced carrying as a dual seat belt or luggage strap to secure transport
- Safe and Durable : Cat carrier is made of durable, lightweight and waterproof polyester fabric.Mesh windows for ventilation, top and side entry with locking zippers for safety
This affordable airline-approved dog carrier has over 6,500 reviews from happy purchasers!
It has mesh sides for proper ventilation and locking zippers to ensure your pet doesn’t get loose during the flight (and yes—I’ve seen it happen!).
This carrier has a removable base insert that gives your pet a solid surface to stand on, along with a removable and washable fleece pet bed.
Lastly, you can adjust the carrying handles and shoulder strap.
3. Airline Approved for Big Dogs: Petmate Sky Kennel
- Extra Security: 4 way vault door provides extra security for the travel dog crate by preventing sliding and shifting (available on 36 inch size and up)
- Durable, Heavy Duty Construction: Durable plastic shell, non corrodible wing nuts, extra strong steel wire, and interlocking door provide heavy duty protection
- 360 Degree Ventilation: Ventilation openings surrounding the travel kennel give pets fresh air and visibility from all sides
Eco-friendly, well-designed, and well-ventilated, Petmate Sky Kennel is the ultimate option for a pet lover who wants to travel with their dog in the cargo. It has been green-lighted by both the IATA and USDA.
4. Airline Approved for Big Dogs: IRIS Medium Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier
- One-handed latch operation, Access door opens from either side
- Includes 1 removable food and water tray
- Ample ventilation for pet and folding carry handle for easy transportation and travel
This is another quality dog crate that offers value for your money. It’s available in 3 affordable sizes, but we recommend the medium one. You can choose from red or navy. No matter your choice, this crate is perfect for long haul flights because it’s amply ventilated, and provide great visibility.
It is approved by IATA for a Toy Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, and Chihuahua.
5. Airline Approved for Big Dogs: Suncast PCS2417 Deluxe Dog Crate
- PORTABLE DOG CARRIER: Perfect for travel and is designed to fit small to medium sized dogs and cats up to 17.5" tall
- KEEPS PETS SECURE AND COMFORTABLE: Hard-sided design with ventilation keeps pets secure and comfortable, and the included bowls for food and water ensure they have everything they need while in transit
- FUNCTIONAL: Comfortable carrying handle and easy access top storage compartments for treats, toys, and other pet necessities make this crate more convenient to use while traveling
This airline-compliant carrier is portable, durable, and built for super strength and ventilation. The price is also not too shabby. It is designed for dogs that are not taller than 17.5 inches.
FAQs for Flying With Your Dog
Here are some FAQs to help you be informed and confident to fly with your dog.
What can I put in my dog’s crate for flying?
Most airlines have specific recommendations as to what they approve or require in your crate.
We’ve flown with several airlines and here is what was always required:
- Two dog dishes attached to the dog so the dog can have water or food if necessary (we freeze the water in her water dish so it doesn’t all splash out at once, rather melts over the course of the flight so she has a constant supply of water available. Her food dish remains empty as per the airlines request, but see the next point about food).
- Dog food in a bag (Ziplock works) taped to the top of the crate. This helps in case something happens there is an unexpected delay. The airline staff may use this food to then feed your dog.
- An absorbent material of some sort at the bottom of the crate in case of accidents. We have never been allowed beds. Instead, we took pee pads and sewed them into fleece blankets so our dog had a comfy and absorbent lining in her crate.
- Leash taped to the top. In case of delays, your dog may be let out of their crate in a controlled area so they can stretch their legs and roam around.
- A note taped to the top of the crate. We always included a little note for the airline workers to let them know that Kaya was a happy dog and we thank them for taking good care of her! (Honestly, I just think this adds a nice touch).
Do airlines provide crates for dogs?
No. You need to provide your own crate. But see my next question for an exception.
What happens if the airline disapproves my crate?
Usually, airports have extra crates on hand to sell you (at an incredibly inflated cost).
Otherwise, you don’t have much leverage. If the airline tells you your crate is unsuitable, your options are to buy a new crate from them (if they have any available) or to forgo your flight.
Crates are generally double the price at the airport. If you are worried about your crate, I recommend calling your airport and asking if you can come down with your dog and your crate to confirm if the size is right. If you do this, get the approval in writing prior to your flight.
If you end up needing to purchase a crate from the airport, they will usually ship your old crate to your designation free of charge.
Finding the Best Dog Crate for Air Travel
To ensure you’ve got the right dog crate for your dog make sure it is:
- fitted and measured to your dog
- IATA approved
- comfortable enough for your dog to stand and turn around in
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About the Author:
Mira is a dog-lover and writer. She and her two dogs (Bren and Nala) can be found hiking during all four seasons, camping and exploring new places together.