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Airplane carriers for in-cabin pet travel

Please note that this post refers to maximum carrier sizes accepted for in-cabin pet travel by the leading U.S. airlines.

Chloe in her SturdiBag (Large)

Chloe in her SturdiBag (Large)

We bought SturdiProducts’ large-sized pet carrier in the belief that it was just barely acceptable to most airlines. We now know that it’s too big (12Hx18Lx12W). On the bright side, its support struts are very flexible, so it does, in fact, fit under every seat we’ve encountered (and Chloe’s been fine — the carrier has a lot of headroom). Also on the bright side, it’s a beautifully-made product, with great features like top ventilation panels (with privacy blinds) and a small top hatch that zips open to allow pats. It’s very light (the large size is 2 lbs., 10 oz., and the small size is 3 oz. lighter), which helps with the airlines’ weight limits. It also has built-in loops through which a seat belt can be buckled, making it an excellent car carrier. If you have a dog that fits into the small SturdiProducts carrier (which, at 10Hx18Lx10W, is pretty close to the major airlines’ maximums), I recommend it unhesitatingly.

I will keep on using our large SturdiProducts carrier, because it’s worked on every trip we’ve taken and Chloe’s comfortable in it. If you have a non-compliant carrier, I suggest keeping dog and carrier out of the ticketing agent’s line of sight as you check in for your flight — put your dog and carrier on the ground between your feet and the ticketing desk, not up on the counter. If you’re questioned about the size of a soft-sided carrier, point out and demonstrate its flexibility. An upbeat-but-anxious tone will go a long way towards persuading the ticketing agent to let the flight crew deal with the problem. (None of this will be of any use, ultimately, if your carrier does not actually fit under an airline seat, so don’t try bending the rules with an oversized hard carrier or a soft-sided carrier that really won’t flex sufficiently.)

Sherpa makes a very popular line of carriers. The small size (8.5Hx15Lx10W) will satisfy all the U.S. airlines Dog Jaunt lists; the medium (10.5Hx18Lx11W) is officially too large for all of them except Alaska/Horizon and Midwest. Although Sherpa suggests that their large size is acceptable for some airlines, at 11.5Hx20Lx11.75W it’s even larger than Chloe’s carrier. [2/21/11 Looking at the Sherpa site just now, I notice that the current dimensions for the large Sherpa bag are 11.5Hx19Lx11.75W — if the company has shortened the bag by an inch, that’ll make a difference in its workability. A carrier 18 inches long fits comfortably left-to-right under most airplane seats we’ve encountered; 19 inches is riskier, but possible, especially if you take the stiffener out of the bottom of the bag and trim a half inch off of it.] I’ve bought the medium and large sizes, and returned the large right away (if I’m going to break the rules, I’ll do it with the SturdiProducts carrier, which is better-designed and better-made). I hesitated over the medium, because I’d bought the rolling version and on the trip I used it I loved being able to wheel Chloe behind me. If she were slightly smaller I would have kept it (I gave it to a friend with Papillons). I don’t love the product, though. The only mesh openings are on the sides and end, so you can’t see into the bag when it’s in its usual spot under your feet. The privacy panels roll up, but where they’re secured in the SturdiProducts carrier with velcro straps, the Sherpa panels are secured with fiddly clips. Though the Sherpa and SturdiProducts carriers are in the same price range, the Sherpa bags feel cheesy.

Please note that this is the one time you won’t hear about Chloe’s beloved PetEgo messenger bag, since at 13Hx20L10W it’s substantially over the airlines’ limits and its wedge shape doesn’t make the best use of the space available. We pack it in her suitcase, for use when we arrive at our destination.

For smaller dogs, as always, there are far more choices, and some are very well-designed.

Creature Leisure, the maker of Chloe’s travel crate, sells a very nice carrier called the Carry-Den. The medium size (9Hx17Lx10W) is pretty close to the major airlines’ maximums, and the product is well-thought-out and well-made. The Carry-Den XT converts to a backpack. The same company offers a cleverly-designed rolling carrier called the Pet Pilot XL. In its normal configuration (14Hx19Lx9W), it’s within shouting range of the airlines’ maximum sizes (it lies horizontally under the seat), and it has a gusset that can give your dog several more inches of breathing room. It has useful external pockets, and it rolls. It’s for dogs who can be comfortable in a interior space measuring 12Hx17Lx7.5D (12” deep with gusset expanded).

PetEgo’s Jet Set Carrier, in the small and medium sizes, is worth considering. It can also be bought as part of a JS Travel Kit that includes two small suitcases (one rolling). I can’t get enthused about that option, because the suitcases seem small and fussy to me (and at least one of them would have to be checked), and would provide me with wheels only at the point I no longer really need them (I need them on layovers, to get out to pet relief areas, not at the end of my trip, when I can loop Chloe’s carrier ‘s handles over my own suitcase’s handle). The JetSet Carrier itself is a very nice product, though.

Teafco Argo’s Petascope Airline Approved Pet Carrier (Small) is chic, well-made and, at 9.25Hx16Lx11.5W, credibly close to the airlines’ maximums. I don’t love their regular carrier because it has small ventilation panels, but it’s certainly comparable to a Sherpa bag and is better-made. Here’s the Amazon link, if you want to check it out for yourself: Teafco Argo Aero-Pet Airline Approved Pet Carrier (Small). If you have a truly tiny dog, consider Teafco Argo’s Petaboard Airline Approved Carrier (Extra Small). It’s well-made, has plenty of ventilation, and includes a built-in sleeve/pocket that can be slipped over a suitcase’s handle. Fascinated as always by rolling carriers, I want to love Teafco Argo’s rolling option, the Tally-Ho Wheeled Pet Carrier (Medium), but I can’t, again because the ventilation panels are small.

Also suitable for a tiny dog is the very cool Sleepypod Mini. The base can be used as your dog’s everyday bed; add the mesh dome, and the bed is ready for car travel (pass the seatbelt around the base and through the top handle) and, potentially, air travel. Both sizes of Sleepypod exceed the airlines’ height allowances (the regular is 13.5″ high; the Mini is 11″ high), and I fear that the 17″ diameter of the regular size would allow too much of the carrier into the area that flight attendants yearn to keep clear. The Mini, however, would likely work as an airplane carrier: the mesh dome is flexible, and it’s a more modest 13″ in diameter . Remember to subtract a couple of inches for padding when you eye your dog; she’ll need to fit in an interior space measuring 9″ high, 11″ diameter.

RoccoAndJezebel.com’s Brody Bag is equally cool, but with a different vibe — the Mini (8.5Hx14Lx8W) would satisfy any airline, and the Medium (9.5Hx16Lx10W) is within spitting distance of the airlines’ requirements.

Here are three more rolling carriers for your consideration. FetchDog’s Travel Easy Tote is 10.5Hx16Lx13W, which isn’t too far off the maximums. Since the tote converts to a backpack and includes wheels and handle apparatus, I wish the company provided its interior dimensions. I’d also like to see the product, to determine whether the back (which will be the bottom, once the bag is under the seat) has enough padding over the handle apparatus.

Pet Gear offers a line of I GO2 rolling carriers that convert to backpacks. The Weekender, at 13Wx17Hx10L (I write the measurements that way, because the bag will be on its back under a seat), is pretty close to the airlines’ maximums. I worry, though, about the 13″ height of the bag, since this particular product is made of less flexible material than other Pet Gear carriers. The carrier does include a pad to cushion your dog from the handle apparatus. It’s too small for Chloe, but would likely do well for a dog under 10 lbs. The Traveler, at 11.5Wx17Hx13L, is a bit roomier, but still within eyesight of the airlines’ limits; the Escort (9Wx17Hx16L) provides a different, and not particularly pleasing, configuration; the Traveler Plus (14.5Wx22Hx17L) is just too big for airplane use.

In the Company of Dogs offers The Clever Trolley as “airline carry-on approved,” but it’s really too large to go under a seat (9.5Wx21Hx15L — this is another product that lies on its back). Though the 9.5″ height isn’t too bad (especially since the ballistic nylon exterior has some give), the 21″ length is fixed and can’t be fudged. That’s a shame, because the trolley is very attractive, provides good ventilation and (as a bonus) can convert to a backpack.

The last carrier on our list is an intriguing oddball: a rolling carrier that can be collapsed (when not in use) to 3.5″ wide. Pawprint Essentials’ rolling pet carrier comes in two sizes, small (9Wx17Lx13H) and medium (9Wx20Lx13H). It has large ventilation panels on the top and three sides (the fourth side has a large storage pocket).  All of the edges are rigid, so there’s no fudging with this one: you’d be safest with the small size. I can’t think of a reason that I’d want the collapsibility feature of this carrier, but maybe you can.

More Amazon links:
SturdiProducts Pet Carrier (Large) — Black
Sherpa Original Deluxe Bag (small)
Sherpa Original Deluxe Bag — Medium
Petego-EGR Jet Set Pet Carrier Travel Kit+Grooming Bag+Trolley Bag
Sleepypod Mini – Jet Black

[I wrote this post early in Dog Jaunt’s history. Since then, I’ve reviewed many more aspiring in-cabin carriers, so please look at the related posts (listed below) and my other blog, called Pet Carrier Reviews, for additional ideas.]

99 comments

  • Patricia

    Hi-

    Awesome site! We have a small terrier mix (possibly Cairn) who weighs a little over 13 lbs. She is long though, from tip of her nose to her rump she is longer than any of the carriers about 23 inches (and about 11.5 at the shoulder) – I wonder how long your Chloe is and how she deals with it in the large Sturdibag. I am reluctant to buying one and then find out she won’t fit into it. Curled up she is 17 inches by 12 inches lol. But that means she couldn’t really stretch.

    We intend to fly to Switzerland (an 8 hour flight), stay there for a while and then to Israel (only about 4). We do this trip usually once a year and we stay for about a month and really want to take her with us. The airline (Swiss) has these rules:

    Pet pack: your pet is kept in a clean, escape-proof, scratch-proof, soft-sided pack. (Length + width + height = max. 115 cm)

    The pet has enough room in the pet pack. It is not allowed to move about freely on board.

    The Sturdibag (large) is within those parameters, so is the Contour Messenger Black Label Bag. Which do you think would be more comfortable?

    Thanks,
    Patricia

  • Patricia

    Hi Cara –

    Awesome site! We have a small terrier mix (possibly Cairn) who weighs a little over 13 lbs. She is long though, from tip of her nose to her rump she is longer than any of the carriers about 23 inches (and about 11.5 at the shoulder) – I wonder how long your Chloe is and how she deals with it in the large Sturdibag. I am reluctant to buying one and then find out she won’t fit into it. Curled up she is 17 inches by 12 inches lol. But that means she couldn’t really stretch. Measured from the shoulder to the base of the tail she is 13.5 inches.

    We intend to fly to Switzerland (an 8 hour flight), stay there for a while and then to Israel (only about 4). We do this trip usually once a year and we stay for about a month and really want to take her with us. The airline (Swiss) has these rules:

    Pet pack: your pet is kept in a clean, escape-proof, scratch-proof, soft-sided pack. (Length + width + height = max. 115 cm)

    The pet has enough room in the pet pack. It is not allowed to move about freely on board.

    The Sturdibag (large) is within those parameters, so is the Contour Messenger Black Label Bag. Which do you think would be more comfortable?

    Thanks,
    Patricia

  • Hi, Patricia! Thanks so much for the kind words. You know, I think with a dog that’s long and (relatively) low like your pup, I’d think about the Sleepypod Air or the large Kobi Carrier. They’re not quite as tall as I’d like — both are 10.5″ tall, while the SturdiBag is 12″ tall — but they both have the option of being very long indeed. The Air can be 22″ long when its ends are down, and the Kobi can be 21″, I think, when its end is unzipped (I haven’t gotten my hands on one yet, so I’m estimating). I don’t recommend the Contour Messenger bag as an airplane carrier — it’s a wonderful around-town bag, but it’s snug triangular shape won’t give your pup the room she deserves.
    Having said all this, I just re-read your message, and I think, in fact, that your dog is about the same size as Chloe, though a little shorter at the shoulders. She too is about 13.5″ from shoulder to base of tail. In THAT case, give serious consideration to the large SturdiBag. Chloe spends most of her time in it curled up, but I’m sitting next to her at the airport right now and she’s lying comfortably on her side with her head against the front window, sort of diagonally across the bag. It’s not a full-on stretch, but she’s certainly not crowded. And I surely do like giving her the head room, height-wise, that the bag offers.
    Please let me know what you decide, and how your trip goes!

  • Katie

    Hi Mary-Alice,
    I’ve been pouring over your blog as I prepare for Adama’s first flight with us. Adama has the benefit of being an emotional support animal (meaning he can be out of his carrier during the flight), but I’m still trying to figure out what carrier would be best. He seems to be as tall as Chloe (12 inches), but he’s 20 inches long. He’s a small dog, only 14 pounds. He’s a Shihchon (Shih-Tzu/Bichon) we think. (He’s a rescue).
    Do you have any recommendations? I’ve been trying to find the right carrier to go with.
    Thanks for all your help!
    Katie

  • How are you measuring him, Katie? The crucial bits are height from floor to top of shoulders, and length from nape of neck to base, not tip, of tail. Still 12″ by 20″?

  • Katie

    Ah, that does make a bit of a difference. Now he’s still 12 inches tall, but he’s only about 16 inches long. Though he’s wiggling so it’s hard to measure, but that seems more accurate.

  • Ah, ha! That means he’s just about exactly Chloe’s size, Katie. We’re devoted fans of the large SturdiBag carrier (do a search for “SturdiBag” in Dog Jaunt’s search bar, and you’ll see what I mean!), and I think it would work well for Adama too.

  • Katie

    That seems great! Thanks for the advice Mary-Alice. I truly appreciate it.
    Can I ask a few more questions?
    What do you use the messenger bag carrier for with Chloe? What brand did you get? I’ve had trouble finding one that would be the appropriate size/weight capacity for Adama.
    Thank you again!

  • We use the large PetEgo messenger bag for her (http://www.dogjaunt.com/2009/04/messenger-bag/ ) — and we use it for sneaking, I’m sorry to say. This morning, we stowed her in the messenger bag while we walked around a possible office space in S.F. (the lease we’re discussing makes it clear dogs aren’t allowed, so I figured she wouldn’t be welcome on the walk-through either). We have taken her into a restaurant, or several, in her day. Sneaking is a controversial topic, of course — I try to keep ours to a minimum, and to places that I can leave in a hurry if her presence somehow creates a problem for someone else.

  • Katie

    Have you ever been called on it?
    By the way, I LOVE your blog. I’ve been reading through everything and it’s so helpful! I’ve been compiling everything on your packing list for our trips.
    What are the dimensions on your travel crate? I tried to follow the link on your post, but it’s dead,

  • Ruth

    I have really enjoyed your reviews. I have a just-turned-two years old rescue chihuaha-dachshund mix, Thumper. She is about 9 lbs, 12″ at the shoulder and maybe 14″ neck to tail base. We had planned a trip to San Diego, from Denver, and wanted to take her. Just by accident, as I kept looking at the ones you had listed, I found the Celltei site – have you seen it? Angie is the owner of a small company in Brooklyn, NY and their carriers are made here in the US!! In fact, they made mine right after Sandy went through, can you believe it? I ordered the medium Backpack-o-Pet, which can be used as a backpack, a car carrier, can be carried over the shoulder or with handles, and can even be used as a travel bed in a hotel. Sturdily made out of Cordura, it has mesh/zippered openings on the top and the ends. The medium is 16.5″ long, 10.5″ wide, and 11.75″ high. These are exterior measurements. It weighs 4lbs 7 oz, but I did not even notice, and I am not big myself. Easy to carry even by the handles. There is also a leash hook inside so she cannot jump out. The zippers lock so the pet cannot open them. Lots of storage – I managed to carry in the pockets: 15 waste bags; 2 kitchen trash bags in case I had to throw away a DryFur pad – which I did not; a bag of treats; a bag of food; a pkg of wipes; a heat pad in case we needed it; and I clipped on a collapsible water bowl. There are two sturdy loops for using with a seat belt. Yes, it cost about $200 BUT this is well made, sturdy, and – Thumper LOVES it!! She does not fuss at all. Check their web site – lots of great features, plus it collapses just enough to fit under a seat. Angie, the owner, is a real pleasure to work with – we called and emailed until I got all my questions answered. I have no regrets about getting this one. I am especially happy it was made in the US. She has many different types of carriers, even for birds! Living in Colorado, I like to hike, and this is perfect – Thumper is small enough to be grabbed by a fox or a coyote – happens where we live – but this way she is safe yet outdoors.

  • Hi, Ruth! Thanks so much for your comment — I have a yellowing to-do note telling me to contact Celltei and try out one of their carriers, but I obviously haven’t yet followed up. Would you send a picture of Thumper’s carrier? Or, even better, Thumper in her carrier? Other readers would love to see it as much as I would — it sounds terrific. I really must get hold of Celltei….

  • Lorraine

    Just wondered if you could tell me which airline carrier is the light-
    est. We’re taking a puddle jumper that has limits of 11 lbs. &
    our Pippa is 13 lbs. & the Delta Carrier is 2.5 lbs. If I could find
    a lighter bag, perhaps, they would look the other way. Thanks
    for your great article & tips.

  • Hi, Lorraine! The lightest carrier I know of is the SturdiBag we use, and the large size is 2.6 lbs. If your carrier is that weight too, I don’t think you can do any better. I suspect the weight won’t be an issue — fingers crossed for you!

  • Michele Bachi

    Hello,
    I’m so glad I happened across your website. I’ve been bouncing between Amazon, eBay, Overstock.com, and some others, trying to figure out what carrier to buy. We are hoping to take our smallest dog, Lilly, to LA with us in the next few months. She’s a Rat Terrier, 14.5″ long, 13″ tall, weight 14.4 lbs. I noticed you recommend the Sturdibag, while not being as keen on the Sherpa, but they both seem do get similar ratings on Amazon. Then I’ve seen that the Bergans seems pretty popular. Added into the mix is a Sleepypod on eBay with a starting bid of .99 due to a rip in the mesh that I think I could fix, and now I’m completely confused. Could you perhaps offer some guidance? Overall Lilly travels well, at least in the car. She’s very “go with the flow”, perhaps due to being in a shelter for 3 years (!) before we adopted her. She was at adoption events most weekends, so she’s used to cars and strangers. I know flying is different, but I think she’ll be fine as long as she can see us through the carrier. I don’t want to spend a fortune, since we don’t fly or vacation as much as I wish we did, but I also want something that will last, in case our travel frequency changes. Plus, we have a 6 year old son to keep track of, so I definitely don’t want to buy the cheapest option and end up having a loose dog in O’Hare or LAX added to the mix. Maybe if we got one with wheels his job could be to pull her? Are they stable enough for that?
    Thank you in advance for your time!
    Michele

  • Hi, Michele! We are extremely fond of Chloe’s large SturdiBag, and nine times out of ten that’ll be the one I recommend. The Sleepypod (Air, I assume?) wouldn’t be a good choice for your pup, since she’s so tall (the Air is 10″ tall, and it’s a little short for Chloe). The Bergan is not a bad carrier, but it’s not as well made as the SturdiBag. The Sherpa I don’t like because it doesn’t flex the way the SturdiBag carriers do. Its ends are stiff, so its harder to fit in a space that’s shaped oddly by dangling life jacket containers, etc. Re wheels — that’s a tough one. The best of the bunch is probably the medium Snoozer Rollaround. It’s a big bag, though, so you’re buying yourself a little anxiety that it’ll be questioned. People do travel with it. The rolling Sherpa bags are not a good choice — the medium is too small for dogs our dogs’ size, and the large is very large — also, they wobble. They are “guided” only by the shoulder strap, rearranged to pull the bag, and the carrier flails around behind you, tending to tip. It would not be a good choice for a child to pull (indeed, it was a bad idea for this adult). Here’s a post about other rolling options: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/readers-report-pet-stroller-as-airport-layover-solution-under-seat-space-on-uniteds-embraer-rj-145/ And if you’re traveling with family, one of you can bring a wheeled carry-on, and you can loop your dog’s carrier’s handles (or built-in luggage strap, if it had one) over its handle. If so, you might want to consider this as a reinforcement, to make sure the carrier doesn’t slip or swivel around: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/securing-your-pets-carrier-to-the-top-of-your-wheeled-suitcase-the-bag-bungee/ Hope that helps!

  • Michele Bachi

    Hi Mary-Alice,
    Thank you for responding so quickly! Your website has been very enlightening since I found it yesterday. I really like to research and plan things-Dog Jaunt is like a pot of (information) gold! You have definitely helped me. I was starting to feel like I needed an Excel spreadsheet to accurately track all the feedback on carriers. :-/ My next step will be to hunt down the best deal on the Sturdibag.
    I wish we could bring all our dogs, but the other 2 are big enough to be required to go in cargo-no thanks on that. I’ve heard enough stories of dogs dying, getting hurt, or as one person commented on your site, abandoned in a freight elevator. Plus, Rocky gets too excited, and Frankie is a Pit Bull mix, so I don’t even want to imagine an airline’s reaction to her. As you can see from my profile picture, we did have four dogs. Bailey, the white Pit Bull to the left of my son, got sick and passed away just before Christmas. She wasn’t the best traveler either.
    I haven’t managed to read everything on the site yet, so I apologize if you’ve addressed this, but have you flown Southwest since discovering their first come first served policy? That’s who I was thinking we’d fly with, but now I’m not so sure. I guess at least since 3 humans will be flying, we should still be ok in the pet carrier vs carry-on situation. A 6 year old boy with a carry-on and a purse wouldn’t seem too odd, right? 😉
    Thanks again to you and pretty Chloe, this website is awesome!
    Michele
    P.S. I love the name Mary-Alice!

  • Michele Bachi

    Hello again,
    I noticed Costco still has the Smart Space carrier…is it too small for our dogs? I also saw a set by Pet Ego called the Jet Set pet carrier and travel kit on Craigslist for $133, which appears to be quite a markdown. Do you have any feedback on that one? I don’t really think I need something that involved, but was intrigued because it appears to have it’s own suitcase.

  • I’m so sorry about your Bailey, Michele — I know it’s been a little while, but I know too that it still hurts like crazy. About Southwest — we have indeed (we travel on Southwest most of the time), and it’s never been a problem. When I wrote that post I was as concerned as you are, but so far it’s turned out that the quota of in-cabin pets has never reached capacity. I would not hesitate, if I were you. Thank you for the kind words about the blog (and my name!), and please do send a picture of your caravan.

  • I see it back in stock too! That one is the large one, that I own, and that I reviewed in the original of this post: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/new-in-cabin-pet-carrier-smart-space-by-brinkmann-pet/ (the update talks about the smaller carrier). Our dogs, yours and mine, fit in the large size, but it’s a tricky object to fit under an airplane seat (as you’ll see in the review). The Jet Set pet carrier and accoutrements is a very attractive bundle, but the carrier itself is too small for our dogs. I recommend the large SturdiBag or the large Kobi pet carrier. Hope that helps!

  • Michele Bachi

    I’m baaaack! Another random question…I have been periodically checking prices online for the L Sturdibag, and I noticed that sometimes the other colors cost less than black…(supply vs. demand?) I had a sudden idea today-what if I bought the random color at the lower price, got some black Rit dye, and dyed the carrier. I’m not sure how,ummm, DIY you are, but does this sound remotely feasible? It seems like it would work if you had a big enough container to fully submerg the carrier.
    On a somewhat un-related note, have you traveled to LA with Chloe? That’s where we’ll be going, and I wondered if you had any particular recommendations for dog-friendly places to check out. We’ll be renting a place from Air BNB or Homeaway, so that end is covered. I noticed some dog friendly hikes in guidebooks, but the coyote issue concerns me. Lilly is pretty fierce when she thinks she needs to be, (she charged a very big Black Lab that was barking at her non-stop, but didn’t bite or snap, just made some “back off” noises….that dog
    was surprised!) but a large wild predator is a whole other matter.
    Have I mentioned how glad I am that I found your site? I check it every day for new posts, and have been quite enjoying reading all the older ones as well. I’m also looking into getting a travel vest, that sounds like a very useful thing to have, especially traveling with a dog plus a child.
    Thanks again!
    Michele
    I sent a picture of my son and our dogs to the email address listed on the site, hopefully you got it.

  • Welcome back! 🙂 And thank you for the marvelous picture of all your small ones — did you not get my reply, telling you how great it was? The eyes! The EYES!! Now then — it’s physically feasible, since the carrier arrives without its ribs inserted, and you can remove the stiffened base, leaving you with a sack, essentially, that would fit in a large pot. But the thing is, I have no idea how the carrier would react to being boiled for an hour or an hour and a half (which is what you do with the Jacquard iDye poly product — which is what I’d use). That just seems like a fierce thing to do, and I’d be afraid to try. Let me know what happens if you give it a whirl! Re LA — we’ve been to Orange County to visit friends several times, but LA is new territory. What good timing to go there after the new rule allowing restaurant owners to get a variance allowing pets on patios! Do some searching to find out which restaurants have hopped on board. You’d want to take a field trip to the dog beach at Huntington Beach, for sure, and everyone talks about walking their dog at Runyon Canyon. I hear you about coyotes, and I would worry too about rattlesnakes and mountain lions (oh, I can worry with the best of them), but all of that can be solved by keeping your girl leashed. You might consider letting her off leash if there are lots of other dogs around, and it seems likely that the wildlife has already been warned off, but I’m a big fan of a leash. Please let us know what you guys end up doing together — you’re going to have a great time!!!

  • Sam

    Hi! We will be flying with our dog Charlie in a few weeks, and i was wondering if you could help us figure out if he will fit! He is 14 lbs and about 14″ tall he fits in the airplane carrier well, but I’m worried he is too tall! What do you think? And are they super strict about the dogs being able to turn around and move in the carrier? Charlie is comfortable in the carrier, but it is just a little snug. Thanks for your time!

  • Okay — the Southwest carrier pushes up to a grand total of about 11″ tall (a reader sent me instructions for making that pop-up STAY up, and I have GOT to post them — thank you for the kick in the pants). With a pup your size, I’d go for a different carrier — either the large SturdiBag that Chloe uses, or the large Kobi bag. Both will fit on Southwest planes, and both will give him more height room (when it’s needed — mostly, I suspect, he’ll be lying down, like Chloe does) than the official carrier.

  • Bella

    I will be traveling with my 10″ shoulder height 4 lb toy poodle frequently over the next few months on Southwest. Next week is her first time and I’m very nervous. I’ve been trying to decide on a carrier and have narrowed it down to a Sturdibag, Sherpa, or SleepybodAir. Is there a specific one that you would recommend for her size? I am more concerned about her comfort and being allowed on the airplane than price. Thank you for any help!

  • Hello, Bella! Of those, I would recommend either the Sleepypod Air or the SturdiBag. I prefer the SturdiBag, myself, because it’s easier to reach down into it to pat Chloe when she’s at my feet (through the top, zipped portal). Your pup could fit in the Small size, which would never raise anyone’s eyebrows — we travel very frequently on Southwest with Chloe’s Large size, however, and it works beautifully, so if you want your girl to have loads of room, go with the Large. Happy travels — please let me/us know how it goes!

  • Bella

    Hi Marie-Alice thank you so much for your quick reply! I’m considering the SturdiBag with your excellent reviews however bags that I should consider based on her size? Thanks so much advise from an experienced traveler is so very much appreciated!

  • You’re very welcome, Bella! I think you’re looking at the best carriers already — you might add in the Kobi carrier, but in your case, I don’t think you’re desperate for the extra length, so why take on the extra weight?

  • teddy

    Hi Mary-Alice,
    I found your site a month ago, thank the gods! I have a 2 mos old min Schnauzer pup who will be traveling with me from Austin to Dayton, OH in Dec. This will a first time flying for both of us and I’m as nervous as can be. I’ve been researching everything from under seat space to potty areas. We’re on United Coach. Have you had experience with United using the Sturdi? I am considering buying the small but the large sounds attractive too as I can use it when he is full grown. I’m not sure about his weight but at 2 months he can’t be more than 10lbs. I am also concerned about him being in the carrier for so long as it is an 8 hour trip with 1 hour Layover. Can I take his carrier to the plane bathroom and clean up on the flight? I’ve booked seats in either 9 or 10 C aisle Coach class based on what I’ve read here. We’ll be on the Embraer RJ145 and Canadair Regional Jet 700. Any advice you can give me would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Hello, Teddy — I’m so sorry for the delayed reply! I hope by now you’ve found the pictures on Dog Jaunt of pups traveling on United planes in the large SturdiBag (here’s the most recent one: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/which-seat-works-best-with-an-in-cabin-dog-united-767-300/ and there are others here: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/category/taking-your-dog-on-a-plane/pictures-of-carriers-on-planes/%5D. We travel a great deal on United with Chloe in her large SturdiBag, and it has always worked — even on the small regional jets, which, oddly, often have more under-seat room, because the space is shared. Your pup is young, so doesn’t have the mighty bladder control of an older dog — I’d line his carrier with a DryFur insert in case of disaster, and yes, bring pee pads with you, and (hopefully he’s pee-pad trained?) use them in a bathroom stall during the layover (an hour isn’t really enough time to get out to a pet relief area and back, during the holiday rush) and even on the plane. Be sure to choose a time when there isn’t a demand for the bathroom, and be sure to use a ton of pee pads and clean up thoroughly! Give your pup a lot of exercise before you get to the airport, and hopefully he’ll just snooze…. Safe travels, and please let us know how it goes!

  • Patricia Loewy

    Don’t worry about the trip. I was so tense and everything went just fine. I did use some Melatonin for my dog, but we flew from Boston to Zurich, which was a long flight. Our dog shivered a lot on the flight there but on the way back she was an old pro and just slept (I checked frequently). I didn’t give her anything to drink a few hours before the flight but gave her some ice chips during which she loved.

    As far as the carrier goes, I’d get a SturdiBag and buy one that conforms just in case and return that one after the trip if the airline won’t make you use it. Just make sure you buy from a place that will accept returns and refunds.

  • Michelle Curtis

    Do you think the Jet Set Forma Frame Pet Carrier medium would be okay on Southwest airlines? Here are the dimensions of the carrier- Medium up to 14-17 lbs 19.7″ long x 9.8″ wide x 10.6″ high

  • Hi, Michelle — I haven’t seen the Jet Set with its new frame, so take this with a grain of salt. A sturdy-sounding frame has me a little worried, though, since it isn’t likely to allow much flex in height or length. That carrier is about an inch too long to go left-to-right under the seat in front of you (even if you choose the widest, middle seat), so it’ll have to slide in front-to-back. It’ll stick out into your foot area a bit more than I’d like, but perhaps you can get away with that. I’d also be concerned about the height — if you’re on a SW 737-800, there would likely not be a problem, since the life vest packet is soft, and will raise up over your pet’s carrier. On a SW 737-700, however, you’d have to dodge the hard-sided life vest case. I just can’t tell you if your carrier will bang into that case or not.

  • Michelle

    Thanks for the incredibly quick and detailed response!! You have been more helpful then the airline and the carrier company! My back up is the escort or traveler from pet gear. Do you think either one will fit on Southwest? Looks like the two planes are SW 737-700. Should I invest in additional padding since the bag will be on its side.
    Thanks again!

  • Hi, Michelle — I don’t have personal experience with those carriers, but of the two, the Escort looks like it’d fit better in the available space. The question is whether your pup will fit comfortably in it when it’s on its back — all I can suggest is to try it out and see. (I don’t think it’d work to pull it out during flight and tilt it back upright, since I think it’d be likely to take up all your available leg-room, and you’d end up with your legs lapping over into your neighbors’ leg-room — but again, I could be wrong.) Please let us know what you end up using, and how it works!

  • Ruth

    Hi Mary-Alice,
    First, I just want to say “Thanks” for all your great advice. I am a first-time dog owner, and having lots of first-time experiences, so I benefit a lot from your experience. Lily and I live in Texas, and will be traveling for the first time together up to Maine to see family. I know you are a big fan of Sturdibag for your Chloe, but Lily is a Jack-Chi who has long legs. Near as I can measure, she is 14.5 long from base of neck to base of tail, and stands 11.5 tall at the shoulder. I guess my question is, with those dimensions do you still think a large Sturdibag is the best choice? We will be traveling up on JetBlue and coming back on Southwest. Thanks!

  • Drat, this is such a late reply, Ruth — but in case it’s still helpful, my answer is yes, I think it’d be a great choice. Your pup has a shorter body than Chloe, but is nearly as tall at the shoulder, and the 12″ tall Large SturdiBag should be a good fit for your girl. I’m so sorry to have taken this long to respond!

  • Valerie

    Hi,
    MOving back to Canada from Japan and my mini shiba is 13,5” at the shoulder and 16” at the butt (LOL). I got the large sturdibag but im concern that they will not let me board the plane with her. She sleeps in it fine but turning is tight and standing up is halfway up kinda. But she goes in and out without a problem.

    I can’t find the XL anywhere in Japan and im freaking out….and excess baggage is impossible since my connecting flight in Canada is with a cargo not heated….but should i bring the huge crate just in case? at least we can do excess baggage to Toronto but i would be freaking out…quite a lot

  • Kali Metzger

    Hi Mary-Alice,
    I have been reading your blog a lot lately, which has been very helpful! I’ve been trying to figure out if my 12lb chihuahua Sheba Inu mix will be able to fly in cabin with us. I just ordered a Pet Gear IGO2 Escort. I took picture’s of her in it and need someone to tell me if the airline would approve how she fits in it. We will be flying Southwest. My Ginger is about 12″ tall at shoulder and 18″long. Thank you!

  • Karen Breitbach

    Hello May-Alice,
    What a wonderful site this is! We travel with our pet and maintain an RV 5th Wheel between Canada and Mexico. At some point we would like to travel with our Jack via air BUT he is 14″ to the withers yet only 13 and a bit neck to croup. I notice most airlines set weight linit at 20 lbs. He is 18 lbs. Do you know of any carry bag that could accommodate him? I looked at the Snoozer bit seems iffy for plan regs.

  • That’s really not an extreme size, Karen — and nine times out of ten, the airlines don’t check on weight. If your pup looks comfortable in a reasonably-sized carrier, it works, generally speaking. With a pup your Jack’s size, I’d look at the Teafco Argo Petagon, or even a custom carrier from Celltei: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/readers-report-custom-celltei-carrier-for-franny-the-corgi/ Or, indeed, the Snoozer Roll-around — I agree that it looks alarmingly large, but plenty of Dog Jaunt readers use it. You would need to gird your loins and approach the ticketing counter (and the gate agents) with cheerful confidence, quietly conveying the sense that you do this all the time and it works great. If you can do that (and if you buy the Snoozer in black), it might be a great choice.

  • Hello, Kali — I’m so sorry to have taken this long to respond! A pup your pup’s size should fit fine in that I-Go2 Escort, and I think it’d work fine on Southwest. Please let us know what you and she think of it!

  • Hi, Valerie — I’d go with the large SturdiBag. The fact is, she’ll mostly be sleeping during her travels. It sounds like she can turn around when she has to, and that’s all that’s required. There’s every chance that she’ll sail through, especially if you keep your cool and project a cheerful attitude of “we do this ALL the time.” If you meet some resistance, advocate like crazy. Show them how the top flexes, assure them she’s a wonderful traveler and you do this all the time, show them pictures of the SturdiBag on 16 different kinds of planes (there’s a link to carrier pictures on the blog — hover over and click on that big “Taking your pet on a plane” box to get to them), and heck, cry (which of course you’ll want to do anyway, by that point). Do whatever it takes, short of being obnoxious, to make it work. Channel Adam, in this post: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/readers-report-update-on-traveling-with-large-small-dog-in-an-xl-sturdibag-carrier/ Sending you positive vibes — please let us know how it goes!

  • Marina Triebe-Gravel

    Hi Mary-Alice, My 9 month old Pomeranian are going to be flying from Toronto Pearson to Paris (BDG) in two months and I have spent SO Much Time over the last week trying to make up my mind. I’ve tried the petmate ‘see and fly’ and some kind of sherpa knock-off, but my heart keeps saying go with the Sturdibag! Wilson is around 10” at the shoulder and 12ˋ” at top of head (plus ears, but I know they don’t matter so much). He weighs around 4kg and from chest to rump is around 12”. I’m mostly worried about the height; Air Canada allows (at this time) 8.25 x 15 x 17 soft sided carriers. Their normal limits are 10.5 x 15.5 x 21.5, but I will apparently be more restricted. The Sturdibag is not available anywhere in my province, so I’m going to have to cough up the shipping and duty, so I’m praying that this truly is the bag for us! If not, I do have a Teafco Argo Pentagon bag (medium I beleive) that I will be using as my ‘purse’ in case of failure with the sturdibag. Wish us luck!

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