small dog pomaranian spitz in a travel bag on board of plane-Airline-Approved Pet Carriers

Best 10 Airline-Approved Pet Carriers of 2024

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Traveling with pets has become increasingly common, and for pet owners looking to fly with their furry friends, the right carrier is essential. Airline-approved pet carriers are specifically designed to meet the dimension and safety standards set by airlines, ensuring a smoother travel experience for you and your pet. These carriers alleviate the stress of flying with pets by providing a secure and comfortable environment for animals during the journey.

When selecting an airline-approved pet carrier, it’s important to consider size, durability, ventilation, and comfort. The carrier must be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably, yet it must also fit within the airline’s specified dimensions for in-cabin or cargo travel. Additionally, it is important to choose a carrier made from robust materials that can withstand the rigors of travel while keeping your pet safe. Adequate ventilation is also essential to ensure that your pet has fresh air throughout the journey.

Given all these considerations, it’s not hard to see why choosing the best airline-approved pet carrier is such an overwhelming process. We’ve carefully evaluated a wide range of pet carriers, taking into account factors such as safety features, materials used, pet comfort, owner convenience, and adherence to airline guidelines. With these considerations in mind, let’s explore our findings on the best airline-approved pet carriers of 2024, so you and your pet can travel with confidence.

Best 10 Airline-Approved Pet Carriers of 2024

Traveling with our pets can be stressful, but the right carrier can make all the difference. We’ve researched and reviewed numerous options to bring you our top picks for airline-approved pet carriers in 2024, ensuring a smooth and comfortable journey for your furry friends. Whether you’re flying cross-country or just heading off on a short trip, our selection prioritizes safety, comfort, and compliance with airline regulations.

Henkelion Pet Carrier

We believe this carrier is well-suited for pet owners who frequently travel by air, thanks to its convenient design and adherence to airline regulations.

Pros

  • Allows pets to join on flights with airline-approved size.
  • Carrying comfort enhanced by adjustable shoulder straps.
  • Well-constructed with durable, lightweight materials.

Cons

  • Size restrictions could be an issue for larger pets.
  • May not withstand heavy wear over time.
  • The collapsible design might not provide the same protection as hard-sided carriers.

the Henkelion Pet Carrier has a lightweight build that doesn’t weigh you down as you maneuver through busy terminals. Its foldable nature is a bonus when you need to stash it away.

The security of the carrier will put you at ease during the flight, and our furry friend will appreciate the visibility and ventilation afforded by the mesh sides. It’s also sturdy, making it reliable for a soft-sided carrier.

However, it’s important to note its size capacity. It’s a cozy fit for small to medium pets. If you have a larger pet, you might need to look elsewhere. That said, for a mid-sized pup, this Henkelion carrier will feel like a portable haven.

Sherpa Deluxe Traveler

The Sherpa Deluxe Traveler is an excellent pick for pet owners who prioritize their pet’s comfort and adherence to airline regulations.

Pros

  • Ample ventilation and view for pets
  • Compressible to fit under seats
  • Cozy, plush liner for pet comfort

Cons

  • Size may not fit very large pets
  • Shoulder strap comfort varies by user
  • Limited color options

The Sherpa Deluxe Traveler is highly rated and for a good reason. The adjustable strap allows for a convenient carrying position which makes the trek through the airport much smoother.

For car rides, the carrier secures easily with the seatbelt, which doubles as a luggage strap. The side pocket can also come in handy for storing treats and paperwork – an essential for any travel with pets.

The carrier’s ability to compress and fit under the front seat while keeping your pet safe and secure was pivotal during your flights. The locking zippers provide peace of mind knowing that even your crafty Houdini couldn’t make an unexpected escape mid-flight.

ZaneSun Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

If you’re seeking an effortless way to bring your petite pet on your next flight, this piece meets airline standards and grants peace of mind.

Pros

  • Lightweight and convenient for travel
  • Foldable with a comfortable handle and shoulder strap
  • Comes with a removable, washable travel bed

Cons

  • Only suitable for pets lighter than 8 lbs
  • Not the most durable option available
  • Limited to small pets due to its size

The ZaneSun Soft-Sided Pet Carrier is a great choice for traveling with your pet by air. Its dimensions fit the guidelines, making airport processes seamless. Its Oxford fabric looked sophisticated and felt robust, all while being incredibly light to carry.

The carrier’s side pocket comes in handy for stashing treats and a toy which can provide your pet with a bit of entertainment and comfort during transit. Walking through the airport is also a breeze thanks to the carrier’s padded shoulder strap.

After the journey, you’ll appreciate the removable bed inside, which makes cleaning straightforward following a bit of in-transit messiness. Additionally, the carrier is a solid, stylish, and stress-reducing choice for your small furry companion.

PETKIT Airline-Approved Cat Backpack

Traveling with your pet just got easier with this backpack’s incredible balance of style and function.

Pros

  • Has an integrated fan for providing excellent ventilation
  • In-built lighting feature comforts pets during nighttime travel
  • Straps are designed to alleviate shoulder tension

Cons

  • A power bank is necessary for fan and light operation, not included
  • Size limitation for pets under 17 lbs
  • The initial impression may feel less sturdy before assembly

This carrier comes with a lot of outstanding features. For starters, PETKIT’s ventilation system is exceptional for keeping your furry companion cool and comfortable, thanks to the adjustable fan speed. It also features a built-in lamp, which illuminates the carrier’s interior, offering a comforting glow for our pet.

The carrier’s comfort is notable, as the padded straps and ergonomic back design allow you to carry your cat with ease, barely feeling the weight during your walks. The stylish aspects will also turn heads, with the gradient blue-pink color offering a fashionable flair.

Despite these positives, you will have to invest in an additional power bank as it’s required for the fan. Also, for those with larger pets, the size may be restrictive.

Akinerri Air Travel Pet Carrier

We believe this carrier strikes an excellent balance of comfort for your pet and convenience for you, making it a solid purchase for air travel and beyond.

Pros

  • Folds down for easy storage
  • Two convenient entry points
  • Comfortable fleece pad included

Cons

  • Might be snug for pets close to the weight limit
  • Only one color option is available
  • Metal frame buttons can be tricky

The Akinerri Air Travel Pet Carrier is another practical choice for pet parents. It’s touted as airline-approved, easing the stress of worrying about whether your pet could accompany you in the cabin. The carrier’s metal frame gives it a sturdy feel, and yet it’s impressive how it transforms to a flat profile for storage once you reach your destination.

The dual entry points are also a great feature as they offer you options to place your pet into the carrier. Most importantly, the fleece pad at the bottom of the carrier is cozy enough to keep your pet calm.

However, for pets nearing the 15-pound mark, the carrier can feel a bit constrained. Therefore, larger breeds may require a more spacious option. Additionally, the carrier comes in just one color, which could be a downside for style-conscious pet owners. 

Carrying the Akinerri carrier is very manageable either by its handles or the shoulder strap. The mesh windows ensure good airflow, essential for keeping pets not just safe but also relaxed during travels. Additionally, it also settles securely on your luggage or the car seat. 

PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier

If you’re seeking a pet carrier that balances comfort for your pet and compliance with airline regulations, this is a compelling choice.

Pros

  • Ample ventilation for pet comfort
  • Comes with a cozy Sherpa-lined bed
  • Functional design with secure buckle zippers

Cons

  • Strap durability could be an issue for heavier pets
  • Size may not accommodate all pet builds
  • Carrier flexibility may vary underweight

Carrying your pet in the PetAmi Deluxe Pet Carrier is a breeze. The Sherpa bed will make your pet feel at ease, and the multiple ventilation points keep them cool and relaxed throughout. What’s particularly convenient is the mesh opening that allows for easy checking in on your furry friend without any hassle.

You will find the side pockets quite handy for storing treats and your pet’s leash, which makes it easier than rummaging through your bags. The shoulder strap offers an alternative way to carry your pet when navigating through crowded spaces, although for larger pets, it might be a concern.

Adhering to airline specifications is a necessity if you travel a lot and want to bring your pet along. Fortunately, this carrier checks that box. Slipping it underneath the seat in front of you during flights is smooth, with no issues from boarding to landing. However, given its soft structure, placing it properly to ensure enough space for your pet can take a bit of adjustment.

PetAmi Carrier for Small Pets

If you’re seeking a hassle-free travel solution for your petite pet, this carrier is designed to ensure a comfortable and secure journey.

Pros

  • Airline approved, fits under most seats with ease
  • Exceptional ventilation, providing comfort and breathability
  • Comes with added features like a safety strap and collapsible bowl

Cons

  • Has a weight limit of 18 lbs which may not suit larger pets
  • The bottom frame could be more comfortable for some
  • Limited space for more active pets to move around

If you are looking for a carrier that melds comfort with convenience, the PetAmi Carrier for small pets affords just that. We appreciate its airline-approved size, which eases the hassle of checking if the carrier fits under the seat up front. Its optimal airflow design will make your pet’s journey as comfortable as lounging at home.

We found the included safety strap a prudent feature, ensuring your pet stays secure, and the removable sherpa bed a plush add-on that’s become your pet’s new favorite nap spot. The backpack’s adjustable straps and buckle support give the carrier its sturdy build. However, the size can be restrictive for pets that tend to move a lot. 

The side pockets have proven invaluable for stashing treats and paperwork, making this carrier more than just a pet transporter—it’s a miniature mobile pet home that will make your travel experiences smoother and more enjoyable.

Siivton Expandable Carrier

The Siivton Expandable Carrier is another solid choice for pet owners seeking comfort for their pets and compliance with airline standards.

Pros

  • Expanded space increases comfort for pets
  • Multiple entries ensure good ventilation
  • Convenient to carry and clean

Cons

  • May be less stable when expanded and carried
  • Straps can be uncomfortable with heavier pets
  • Zippers require careful handling to ensure longevity

The design of the Siivton Expandable Carrier can be a game changer. Its ability to expand on four sides means that once you are airborne, your pet can enjoy additional space to stretch out. It’s like giving them a first-class experience in a compact, economy-sized package.

The multiple entry points have proven to be a boon during stressful airport checks. Zippering open the top will allow for a quick, calm hand-in and hand-out of your pet without fumbling. During transits, the ample mesh windows give your pet a comforting view of their surroundings and give you an easy check-in glance.

Its machine-washable fleece pad is another highlight, making post-travel cleanup a breeze. The hassle of hand-washing or spot-cleaning which you might face with other carriers is simply non-existent here. 

Carrying the Siivton Expandable Carrier through a busy terminal can be a little tricky when fully expanded, as it feels less rigid. And while the shoulder strap is a helpful feature, it can dig in a bit when transporting a hefty pet over longer distances. We would advise careful handling of the zippers as well; they do their job well but seems like they might be the first component to wear out with rough use. 

Petmate Sky Kennel

The Petmate Sky Kennel is another top pick for those needing a reliable pet carrier that adheres to airline standards, ensuring your furry friend travels comfortably and safely.

Pros

  • Adheres to IATA requirements
  • Comes with all the essentials for flight readiness
  • Crafted from 90% pre-consumer recycled material

Cons

  • A bit heavy due to sturdy construction
  • Not suited for larger pets over 30 pounds
  • Assembly required before use

Looking for a carrier that makes transporting your pets safely during flights seamless? The Petmate Sky Kennel fits the bill. The airline’s stamp of approval, thanks to meeting all IATA standards, is reassuring. The kennel’s feature-rich design will take some of the stress out of flying; it even includes “LIVE ANIMAL” stickers and ID tags, which is a nice touch.

The crate’s robust construction imparts a sense of security, but without making it onerously heavy to maneuver through busy airports. Not just a pet carrier, it effectively doubles as a cat carrier too, which can be handy for daily use. Your pet will also have enough room to turn around and lie down without feeling cramped, a non-negotiable comfort when traveling with pets.

Additionally, the absorbing materials included make cleanup a breeze. It’s also made from nearly all recycled materials, making it an ideal choice if you are looking for an eco-friendly product. 

Morpilot Wheeled Pet Carrier

We find this carrier to be a convenient option for pet owners who frequently travel with their animals, providing ease and compliance with airline standards.

Pros

  • Airlines recognize the size, avoiding check-in hassles.
  • Wheels offer smooth transport, sparing us from carrying.
  • Folds easily, saving space when not in use.

Cons

  • Some pets may need time to adapt to the structure.
  • The initial odor may require airing out.
  • The assembly may be confusing without instructions.

One of the best things about this carrier is that you don’t have to worry about checking whether you can board your flight with your pet as the carrier dimensions fit snugly under your seat and meet airline approval.

The carrier’s sturdy aluminum frame is quite impressive for navigating the busy terminals; the Velcro strips hold everything together securely. Despite the hustle and bustle around, your pet will remain visible and calm behind the mesh, which also serves as ventilation to keep them cool.

The carrier is also quite versatile for many transport options. While you can carry the Morpilot by hand or over the shoulder, the smooth-gliding wheels take the weight off our shoulders. When not in use, it conveniently folds down to a compact size, seamlessly tucking away into your storage closet.

Finally, the mesh surfaces and lockable zippers provide your furry friend with a safeguarded and breathable space. The carrier’s fabric is resilient to the playful nips and scratches that could otherwise turn a journey sour. 

Cat sitting in the carrier cage

The Ultimate Buying Guide for Airline-Approved Pet Carriers

When selecting an airline-approved pet carrier, there are several factors we should consider to ensure safety, comfort, and compliance with airline regulations.

Size and Fit

  1. Dimensions: Check the airline’s size restrictions for in-cabin carriers. Measure your pet from nose to tail and shoulder height to ensure the carrier is spacious enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Ventilation and Materials

  • Ventilation: Look for carriers with multiple mesh panels that provide ample airflow and let your pets see outside.
  • Materials: Durable, high-quality materials are crucial. A water-resistant base can prevent accidents from becoming messy.

Safety and Security

  • Locking Zippers: Ensure the carrier has locking zippers to prevent our pet from escaping.
  • Leash Attachment: Some carriers include an interior leash attachment. It’s a useful feature for added security when you open the carrier.

Comfort and Convenience

  • Padding: A removable, washable pad is essential for your pet’s comfort and hygiene.
  • Pockets: Storage pockets can hold food, treats, and documents.

Maintenance

  • Ease of Cleaning: Accidents or spills can occur during travel.  Consider the ease of cleaning the carrier’s interior.  Removable bedding and liners, along with materials that can be sanitized effectively, contribute to maintaining proper hygiene for your pet.

Airline Compliance

  • Documentation: Confirm with the airline for specific pet carrier requirements as they can vary.

Remember to weigh your pet, as airlines also have weight limits for pets including their carrier.

cat carrier backpack with red cat walking on street

Types of Airline-Approved Pet Carriers

Besides the above, it’s also important to understand the different types of airline-approved pet carriers. Each type offers distinct advantages and disadvantages suited to various travel needs and pet temperaments. Here’s a breakdown of the most common airline-approved pet carrier categories:

Soft-Sided Carriers

Advantages

  • Lightweight and portable, making them ideal for carrying and maneuvering through airports.
  • Often collapsible for convenient storage when not in use.
  • May provide a more comfortable and familiar environment for some pets due to flexible materials.

Disadvantages

  • The structure may not be as rigid as hard-sided carriers, potentially offering less security for anxious pets during turbulence.
  • Might not be suitable for very large or escape-prone animals.

Hard-Sided Carriers

Advantages

  • Durable and provide superior structural integrity, offering enhanced security and protection for pets during travel.
  • Easier to clean and disinfect due to non-absorbent materials.
  • Ventilation is often strategically integrated for optimal airflow.

Disadvantages

  • Generally heavier and bulkier than soft-sided carriers, potentially presenting challenges during transportation.
  • May create a less familiar environment for some pets due to the rigid structure.

Backpack Carriers

Advantages

  • Hands-free transportation, ideal for extended journeys or navigating busy airports.
  • Can offer a more secure and comfortable experience for smaller pets who enjoy being close to their owner.

Disadvantages

  • May not be suitable for all pet sizes or temperaments, particularly larger animals or those prone to anxiety.
  • Important to ensure proper ventilation and headroom for the pet’s comfort.

FAQ

What Features Should I Look for In An Airline-Approved Pet Carrier?

When shopping for an airline-approved pet carrier, prioritize features that ensure safety, comfort, and compliance with airline regulations. Look for durable materials, adequate ventilation, secure closures, and a leak-proof bottom. Additionally, ensure the carrier has a solid structure that can fit under the seat in front of you if traveling in-cabin and is appropriately sized for your pet to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.


How Do I Know If a Pet Carrier Is Airline-Approved?

To determine if a pet carrier is airline-approved, check the carrier’s specifications against the airline’s pet travel guidelines, which are typically available on their website. Most airlines require carriers to be soft-sided for in-cabin travel or hard-sided for cargo travel, with specific dimensions and weight limits. It is also advisable to contact the airline directly to confirm the carrier meets their current requirements.


Can the Same Pet Carrier Be Used for Different Airlines?

While many pet carriers are designed to meet the general requirements of multiple airlines, there is no universal standard. Each airline has its own specific guidelines regarding acceptable carrier sizes, types, and materials. Before traveling, verify that your pet carrier complies with the regulations of the airline you plan to use. It’s beneficial to choose a carrier that adheres to the most common dimensions and features accepted by a wide range of airlines.


Are There Pet Carriers That Can Expand But Still Be Airline-Approved?

Yes, some pet carriers feature expandable sides that can provide additional space for your pet to move and stretch. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the carrier, when expanded, still fits within the airline’s size restrictions for pet travel. Use the expandable feature during layovers or after the flight, as most airlines require the carrier to be stowed with the sides collapsed under the seat during take-off, landing, and flight.


How Important Is Ventilation In a Pet Carrier?

Ventilation is critically important in a pet carrier, especially during air travel, to ensure your pet has access to fresh air and does not overheat. A well-ventilated carrier will have multiple mesh panels on different sides to allow for adequate airflow. This is not only crucial for your pet’s comfort but also for their health and safety during travel.


What Is The Best Way to Prepare a Pet For Travel In a New Carrier?

To prepare your pet for travel in a new carrier, introduce the carrier to your pet well in advance of your trip. Place familiar bedding or toys inside to make it inviting. Gradually increase the amount of time your pet spends in the carrier, starting with short periods and gradually increasing to longer durations. Positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, can help create a positive association with the carrier.


Is It Necessary To Label The Pet Carrier When Flying?

Yes, it is advisable to label the pet carrier with your contact information, including your name, phone number, and address, as well as your pet’s name. This can be crucial for identification purposes, especially in the unlikely event that you and your pet are separated during travel. Some airlines may also require additional labeling or documentation, so check their specific guidelines.

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