There is nothing worse than a dog breaking loose at airport security or running amok down the aisles of the airplane. To prevent any such travel nightmares when traveling with your pet, it should be your top priority to find a carrier that suits all your needs.
There are a lot of different dog carriers on the market, so we’ve put together our top 10 picks for airplane travel so you can find one that works for you and your pooch. Each carrier on this list is tested, proven by many positive reviews from real owners.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2023
|Best Overall||Sherpa Deluxe Dog Carrier Bag||
|Best Value||Petmate Soft-Sided Dog Carrier Bag||
|Premium Choice||Mr. Peanut's Dog Carrier Bag||
|Petmate Top Load Dog Kennel||
|Petsfit Dog Carrier Bag||
The 10 Best Dog Carriers for Airplanes
1. Sherpa Original Deluxe Dog Carrier Bag – Best Overall
|Size:||17 x 11 x 10.5 inches|
|Bonus features:||Shoulder strap, seat belt loop, removable pad, airline-approved, pockets|
Our overall best pick is the Sherpa Original Deluxe Carrier Bag. It’s lightweight and has many features that make it comfortable to use for both you and your small dog. The design we reviewed was medium-sized, but it also comes in small and large.
What we really liked was how adaptable this carrier is. It fits comfortably in all situations, whether it’s car or airline travel. It’s also comfortable to carry over the shoulder when moving around. It has a spring frame that makes it adaptable in various aircrafts, making it flexible to fit under seats without compromising your pet’s space.
2. Petmate Soft-Sided Dog Carrier Bag – Best Value
|Size:||20 x 11.5 x 12 inches|
|Bonus features:||Shoulder strap, removable pad, collapsible, pockets, water-resistant|
If you don’t frequently travel with your dog, quality can be compromised for something of a bit better value. Our pick for the best value airline dog carrier is the Petmate Soft-Sided Carrier Bag. The softshell makes it malleable and adaptable to all stages of your travel while still being durable with the backing reinforced by PVC.
This carrier suits its purpose well, without breaking the bank. However, value comes at some quality cost. While it is a great product, those who heavily used it found it didn’t stand the test of time.
3. Mr. Peanut’s Gold Series Dog Carrier Bag – Premium Choice
|Size:||18 x 10.4 x 11 inches|
|Bonus features:||Top load, shoulder strap, removable pad, interior tether, airline-approved, pockets, water-resistant|
If you often travel with your pup, you may be looking for quality over price. You will need something durable with many features that make your life easier and your dog’s life comfortable.
As such, our premium choice is Mr. Peanuts Gold Series Carrier Bag. This carrier has tons of helpful features. Some which we liked include an internal tether to keep fidgeting dogs still and self-locking zippers. These handy zippers will prevent dogs from pushing their way out from inside.
Unfortunately, the internal pad is not machine washable, so you may consider adding an extra liner during travel for ease of cleaning. Save a trip to the dry cleaners, or worse, washing it in your bathtub!
4. Petmate Two Door Top Load Dog Kennel
|Size:||24.05 x 16.76 x 14.5 inches|
|Bonus features:||Top load, carry handle|
Our first three picks were soft-shelled carriers. However, not all dogs will happily sit during travel, and these fabric carriers risk being chewed through or being unstable with an unsettled dog. In that case, a rigid shell carrier like the Petmate Two Door Top Load Kennel is recommended.
This hard-shell carrier features two entry points, both front, and top, making getting your dog in and out very simple. It is very durable and will create a safe space for nervous dogs. Customers say that the latch can be difficult to open, so if you struggle with grip and hand strength, this product is not accessible.
5. Petsfit Double Sided Expandable Dog Carrier Bag
|Size:||18 x 11 x 11 inches|
|Bonus features:||Top load, shoulder strap, removable pad, interior tether, collapsible, airline-approved, pockets|
The Petsfit Double Sided Expandable Carrier Bag is unique in the carrier category. It features expandable sides that drop down to create more internal space. This feature will give some peace of mind to those traveling for long periods, knowing that their dog has some opportunities to stretch out during transit.
Other than that cool feature, it has all the great things you would want from a soft-shelled dog carrier. It is reviewed to be somewhat unstable and weak against very unsettled travelers who claw, scratch, and push at the carrier.
6. Sherpa Ultimate on Wheels Dog Carrier Bag
|Size:||20 x 12.25 x 10.5 inches|
|Bonus features:||Top load, shoulder strap, rolling, removable pad, airline-approved, pockets|
Traveling is a stressful enough experience without having another heavier thing to lug around, like your dog! That’s why a carrier on wheels like the Sherpa Ultimate on Wheels Carrier Bag can make your life a whole lot easier. It features swivel wheels, so you can navigate the perils of the airport without creating any traffic jams.
It also has a pet flag attached to the back, which looks silly, but it is a great safety feature. A rolling bag can easily be mistaken for a pack of luggage and treated roughly by airline staff. This flag lets everyone around you know you have a pet on board.
7. EliteField Soft-Sided Dog Carrier Bag
|Size:||19 x 10 x 13 inches|
|Bonus features:||Shoulder strap, seat belt loop, removable pad, airline-approved, pockets, machine-washable, water-resistant|
For more options of handy dog carriers, there’s this soft-sided carrier from EliteField Soft-Sided Carrier Bag. One cool feature is the sleeve present for attaching the carrier safely to the handle of your rolling luggage. This keeps your dog close by and saves your shoulder and arms from carrying all their weight.
This carrier only has a front entry option, but it does feature a side opening that you can use to reach in and comfort your dog while still keeping them secure in the carrier. While this product is highly rated, some say it can be flimsy, losing its structure over time.
8. Frisco Plastic Dog Kennel
|Size:||25 x 26.75 x 29.5 inches|
|Bonus features:||Wire mesh door, great ventilation|
Often, when we travel with dogs, they don’t get the luxury of flying in the cabin (there are some exceptions), and instead, they must be loaded as luggage. This range of hard-shelled kennels from Frisco Plastic Kennel makes this travel a lot more secure for your dog. It’s incredibly durable with a securely latched door.
This range comes in 6 sizes, with the smaller ones having a carry handle and the larger ones with lifting grooves for two-person lifts. Kennels like this one come with a flat, hard floor, so bedding is recommended for comfort. This particular kennel has a slight moat on the floor, making cleaning mess a lot more straightforward.
9. Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Dog Carrier Bag
|Size:||18 x 11 x 10 inches|
|Bonus features:||Shoulder strap, interior tether, collapsible, airline-approved, water-resistant|
For something a bit more stylish, take a look at the Pet Magasin Soft-Sided Carrier Bag. This bag comes in three colors: blue, orange, and pink, and it shows off a sleek design. This carrier only comes in a very small size, so it would only suit toy breeds or tiny dogs. However, the carrier itself is lightweight, making transporting these small dogs effortless.
It has many helpful features in a small package. It is also quite good value, crafted from high-quality materials but only slapped with a medium-sized price tag. The worst part about it, gathered from reviews, seems to be the durability of the zippers.
10. Pet Magasin Collapsible Dog Carrier Bag
|Size:||17 x 14 x 13 inches|
|Bonus features:||Top load, removable pad, collapsible, water-resistant|
Combining the structure of a hard shell with the flexibility of the soft shell comes the unique-looking Pet Magasin Collapsible Carrier Bag. The hard top and bottom, soft sides, and ample ventilation holes make this carrier look a bit like a spaceship. This design creates a very sturdy design while still being easy to transport. It also collapses easily for storage when not in use.
The large holes provide excellent ventilation, but it also does not have the option to cover these holes. This can be stressful for dogs that get very anxious seeing the busy and moving environment of an airport around them. If your dog is anxious, we recommend a carrier in which you can obscure their view.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing The Best Dog Carrier For Airplanes
Taking your dog flying is generally a stressful experience, both for them and you! Most dogs don’t tend to handle the stress of such travel very well, even if they don’t show it. Making sure they are comfortable should be your utmost priority.
This one seems a no-brainer, but we saw many reviewers saying a carrier was too small during our research. Many of them went by the carrier’s maximum weight limit, not the dimensions. The maximum weight limit is the very most the carrier can hold, while the dimensions will give you an accurate indication of the size.
Measure your dog to get an idea of their height and length and compare that to the carrier dimensions to see just how much space they will have. Room to turn around is ideal, but a more confined space will be okay for short trips. You will want your dog to have the maximum amount of space for the long haul.
We touched upon this briefly during our reviews above. Most carriers will feature some sort of mesh windows or holes. This is primarily to create ventilation, which is very important for your dog as they travel.
Additionally, windows will change your dog’s experience while traveling. They may enjoy looking around and seeing the sights and become more stressed if they cannot see their surroundings, or they may be more stressed the more they can see and benefit from a darker space.
Only you will know how comfortable your dog is in these situations. To be safe, though, you could opt for a carrier with roll-down windows so you can alter the view as needed.
The fact of the matter is that traveling can be very stressful. Airports especially can be busy and tense places. When you are rushing about catching flights and making connections, the less you have to juggle, the better!
Take into consideration the other items of luggage you have with you when deciding on a carrier for a trip. If you have spare space, a shoulder bag may be preferred to keep your dog close by. Otherwise, something with wheels that attaches to your luggage might make all the difference in minimizing your own stress.
There are plenty of other features that can make life easier for you as you travel. These can include the entry points of the carrier, storage, and handles.
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Ease of Use
You also want your dog’s carrier to be a breeze to use. It should function simply but effectively. You will have less fussing about when organizing travel with your dog. Additionally, collapsible features are great as they make storing the carrier very easy when not in use.
Also, consider how easy the carrier is to clean. Even with no accidents, the carrier will need to be cleaned between uses, but larger messes can easily occur. Removable pads are ideal, especially those that are machine washable.
Overall, our favorite dog carrier for airplanes is the simple but quality design of Sherpa’s Original Carrier Bag. It had lots of handy features, all within a sleek design. It is moderately priced and comes with many reviews from happy customers.
For something quite similar but of better value, we liked the Petmate Soft-Sided Carrier Bag. It was very similar to our top pick; however, it was very affordable for the product. For occasional use, this carrier would do the trick!
What carrier is best for you will depend on your needs and your dogs. We recommend that you thoroughly research your airline’s requirements for traveling with pets, as each airline has very different rules and regulations. Safe travels!
Featured Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock