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Which seat works best with an in-cabin dog? [Southwest 737-700]

In an earlier post, I advised you to choose a middle seat, since they generally have the most room to stow a dog in a carrier. Not long afterwards, I encountered a middle seat under which I really couldn’t stow Chloe because a significant portion of the space was occupied by a box for electronics. Happily, this wasn’t a plane with one of those railings that cuts off a big chunk of the storage space under the aisle seat, so I stowed her under my husband’s feet.

It raised the point, though, that under-seat space varies by plane, and  therefore choosing a seat for your flight with an in-cabin pet is more complicated than I first thought. I’ve started making notes about which seats, on which planes, best accommodate a pet in a carrier. This post is the first in the series. Keep in mind that most domestic and international airlines have rules about the maximum size of in-cabin pet carriers they allow on board (see Dog Jaunt’s handy charts under the “Taking your pet on a plane” tab above).

Southwest 737 (-700 series)

Southwest has published its under-seat dimensions, and I applaud them for doing so, but I don’t think their measurements tell the whole story. We just traveled on a couple of Southwest 737 (-700 series) planes, and here’s what I learned.

The plane has only one class of seats, so no need to worry about the dimensions under first/business class seats versus coach seats. There’s only one bulkhead, in front of the first row. It has no cut-out in the bottom, so you won’t be able to travel there, nor will you be able to travel in the exit row seats.

The middle seat was the best choice for a pet carrier, being a full 19″ wide. The window seat was slightly narrower — just shy of 18″ wide. The aisle seat had a railing that made it very narrow indeed — between 14″-15″ wide. [9/7/10 We traveled today on a Southwest flight and I finally remembered to measure the under-seat height, which is 11 inches. Why Southwest tells you it’s 8.25 inches is a mystery to me.] [12/4/10 But see a reader’s comment, below, reporting that the under-seat height on his flight was, in fact, 8.25 inches. We’re scheduled to fly on five more Southwest flights in the coming month, so I’ll measure more under-seat spaces and report back.] As you can see from the crossed-out text, the under-seat height measurement wasn’t straightforward, but I think I have it sorted out now. Put briefly, a hard plastic life vest container reduces the under-seat height to 9-9.5 inches — but the container is set well back under the seat, and doesn’t interfere with the large SturdiBag we use, though it might well pose a problem for a large, rectangular carrier with inflexible edges.

Comparing my measurements to Southwest’s published measurements, you’ll see that the window seat on our planes was wider than advertised. Perhaps Southwest’s 737s in other series (-300 and -500) have narrower window seats, and the airline chose to lump all the series together in its calculations.

This discussion of widths may seem pointless to you since the length measurement provided by Southwest (what I’d call “depth” — that is, measuring front to back under the seat) is 19″ for all of its seats, and surely that’s generous enough to cover most carriers. In my experience, though, a carrier inserted front-to-back under the seat pokes a few inches out into your legroom area, and flight attendants hate that.

You may get away with it — my neighbor on the last flight had a Bichon Frise in a huge Sherpa carrier under her seat, and did a remarkable job of concealing the fact that she had no leg room left by crossing her legs and draping a sweater casually over her knees — but be prepared for objections from flight attendants. To avoid them, choose a seat that can accommodate your carrier side-to-side — for most of us, that means the middle seat, or, if you’re lucky, the window seat.

59 comments

  • GoPetFriendly

    I used to travel for business often and was a big fan of the aisle seat. If you bring a pet in a carrier on board, I can see why you would go for the middle or window seat. That said, I sometimes had a bag that stuck out a few inches from under the seat. Like the woman above with the Bichon Frise, I would open a newspaper or magazine across my lap to hide the protruding bag. One thing I had going for me … my bag never barked and gave me away!

  • Heather

    Hi Mary-Alice,

    What carrier do you use when flying with Chloe on Southwest? I am thinking of booking a flight with Maya this summer on Southwest, but I have no idea what carrier I should buy for that. Southwest’s own pet carrier seems so small! Do you have any recommendations?

    Thanks again for all of the wonderful help!

  • Hi, Heather! Most recently I’ve used a carrier that I’ll review next week, but in the past I’ve used Chloe’s large SturdiBag without any problem at all. Your medium SturdiBag will work easily — stick with that one. The bag that Southwest sells is a crazy size, you’re right — more like a laptop bag than a dog carrier — a strange and unworkable design.

  • Koko

    Hi,
    I’m going to fly southwest with my dog next month and have a medium original sherpa carrier. Do you know how height the under seats are? I just wonder if it’s a bit heigher or 8.25″ exactly.

    Thank you =)

  • Hi, Koko — About a month ago, I too realized that I’d never measured the underseat height, just the widths. I was hoping to fix the problem quietly, but we haven’t flown on Southwest since. Argh! I can tell you that Chloe flies in her large StudiBag when we travel on Southwest, and although it flexes a lot, I don’t squish it 4 inches shorter. My guess is that the space is at least 9 inches high, and possibly even 10 inches high. I’m confident that your medium Sherpa will work fine. (Let me know if I was right! And safe travels.)

  • Koko

    I am now realized that I shoud just bought a small SturdiBag instead of Sherpa. I thought a Sherpa carrier would be more flexible. :/ Well..we will see. I’ll keep you updated.
    Pls keep your fingers crossed for us. =)

  • KERI

    I plan to travel with my little guy over the holidays and was hoping to fly Southwest. I am not worried about the length and width, but does someone know the specific height dimensions rather than a guess?

  • I’ll put your question out there, Keri, and see if anyone answers (and of course, as soon as we fly Southwest again, I’ll measure the height and edit the post accordingly).

  • Cara

    I am flying Southwest with our 13lb puggle in a week and found your site VERY helpful!! It will be her first flight, and with so many options I turned to the internet for knowledge, and your site was by far the most helpful! I went with the large sturdibag, (she is about 12 inches tall) and it should arrive in a couple of days. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for your help!!

  • Ann

    Cara- I’d love to know how it goes. I am planning to fly with my 11lb pomeranian the end of September on Southwest. I am nervous about what bag to choose and how stringent they will be with him flying. I also don’t want him to wimper the whole flight 🙂 I’d love to know how your pup did.

    Any preference between the Sherpa carriers vs SturdiBag?

    Great website. Very useful!!! Thanks.

  • Hello, Ann! I’ll be interested to see the responses you get — I personally prefer the SturdiBag to the Sherpa carriers, since they’re better-made and better-designed, but I love hearing what other people think. Thanks for the praise, and safe travels!

  • Andrea Still Gray

    Hi – Thank you for this incredibly helpful information! I brought my Yorkie, Daisy, home from St. Louis to Boston in September; since then she’s grown a bit, and I’m not sure she’ll be comfortable in the carrier I originally purchased (I think it’s a Sherpa). We’re going back to St. Louis for the holidays and are flying SW Air. Because she tends to get motion sick (the up-down, swinging motion of the bag makes her quite ill), I’ve been thinking the Snoozer Roll-Around might be a good choice. Do you think that the Medium would be an ok fit for SW, or should I get small? (Med: 20″ H x 14″ W x 11″ D // Sm: 17.5″ H x 12″ W x 8″ D ) Keep in mind that the bag lays down to go under the seat. Has anyone had any experience with this carrier? Advice much appreciated.

  • Hello, Andrea — Thanks so much for your comment. If Daisy can fit comfortably in the small Snoozer Roll-Around, that’d be a much better choice than the medium, which is a really big bag. The medium would fit, height-wise, since the 11″ depth would be the height lying down (keep in mind, though, that many airlines’ under-seat heights are shorter than 11″, and this carrier doesn’t flex much at all), but the 20″ width means that the bag would have to be oriented front to back (instead of side to side) under the seat, and would protrude a good deal into your leg room area. A flight attendant might overlook it, but they might not — and it’ll certainly cut down on your own comfort.

  • Andrea Still Gray

    Thank you, Mary-Alice! Very, very helpful.

    I’m researching other bags as well – i know you rave about the Creature Leisure Pet Pilot XL, but I’m not sure I’m ready to shell out $200 for a bag. A friend of mine has a Petote, but I found out that too has a hefty price tag (plus the website has club music playing on it, which is silly – I’m buying a travel bag, not investing in a Spring wardrobe) and so I don’t want to commit to it.
    What do you think about the PetGear iGo2 Traveler for this plane? People seem to be saying that it’s difficult to put together (who assembles luggage??), but it’s right in my acceptable price range…

  • Hello, Andrea! Your comment made me laugh — I was just at the Petote site a couple of days ago, and hunted desperately for the (tiny) button that kills the music… The PetGear iGo2 Traveler would work, with a bit of pushing — the sides are stiff, so it doesn’t flex much at all, and you have to lose a half-inch of height. You might have to turn it around so the sloped part is inward, and the fattest part is closest to you (which would mean that Daisy couldn’t see you during takeoff and landing) –but maybe you could tilt the fat bottom part in under the seat first, and then press the front part down towards the ground. I’ll bet that would work. Keep in mind, though, that a bag this fat won’t fit under many other airplane seats — if you’re a Southwest gal, no problem, but it’s good to know what you’re getting into.
    Have you thought about a backpack for her? She’d move a bit, but not as much as in a shoulder tote. The Kyjen Outward Hound backpack carrier might be a good, affordable choice to add to the list you’re considering: http://www.dogjaunt.com/2010/01/review-of-outward-hound-backpack-pet-carrier/

  • David Mee

    I recently read on your website that the under seat height for Southwest 737s was 11 inches, rather than the 8.5 inches reported by Southwest. Based on your information I recently flew with a dog in a crate that was 10 inches in height. To my surprise, it did not fit. Southwest correctly reports their height limit at 8.5 inches. There is an under seat compartment for life vests that you had not accounted for in your measurements. We avoided a major problem with our crate only because there was an empty seat in our row and I was able to turn the crate sideways. Had the flight attendants wanted to make an issue of it, they would have been fully justified. Turning the crate sideways is not a reliable option because the crate did stick out too far, in my opinion. I am a very experienced flyer and I strongly suggest you correct the mis-information on your website so that others are not refused travel for their dog. It could be a very embarassing and costly mistake.

    As well, we did experience a very rude Southwest employee who clearly left us with the impression that the airline is not very welcoming of pets traveling in the cabin. The reply by Customer Service to my complaint was equally unsatisfactory. I personally will not travel Southwest again with a pet.

    One suggestion for anyone traveling with rescue animals as pets. Try asking if the airline will charge a reduced rate for rescue animals—many service providers do. For the travel described above we were returning from adopting a rescue dog. I asked the Southwest agent upon checkin if they would. Initially she said yes if I had documentation to support my claim—which I did. After checking with a manager she said they would not. I even asked their Customer Services group to consider this for the future but they totally ignored my suggestion. As adopters of rescue dogs, we will continue to try!

  • Hello, David — Thanks so much for your comment, and as you’ll see, I’ve drawn attention to it in my post. The under-seat space I measured was indeed 11″ high, but I’ll keep measuring (we have several Southwest flights scheduled over the coming month) and report back. I’m very glad to have the heads-up, and I’m sorry both that you had a close call with your pup’s crate and that you encountered a rude Southwest employee. I know how upsetting an experience like that can be, but I encourage you to try them again — we haven’t yet met an unpleasant or unwelcoming Southwest agent or flight attendant, and the airline goes to a bunch of useful places, affordably.

  • Nancy

    From what I’ve read so far, there are comments that leave me comfortable with my decision on which travel carrier to use. While others, not so much. I recently purchased a large sherpa bag. With dimensions 20Lx11.75Wx11.5H. Based on past experiences, would this travel carrier fit ok? I know the length is a little too long. However, my main concern would be the height.

  • Laurel

    I am taking my 15lbs Westie on his first flight later this month and this site has been very helpful in deciding on a carrier that will fit on southwest. I initially bought a large sherpa bag which would never squish down to 8.25in in height, especially with Fergus inside, so I am returning it and getting a large sturdibag in black. Does anyone know if southwest asks for the dogs confirmation number when you check in? I want to make sure I am prepared, thanks!

  • Hi, Laurel — I’m so glad you’re finding helpful stuff on Dog Jaunt. Love that! The large Sherpa is, you’re right, just a beast of a bag. The large SturdiBag is much more workable. There’s no separate confirmation number for your dog on Southwest, in my experience — instead, you make your own reservation, then call the airline quickly and add your pet to your own confirmation number. The boarding pass you get once you arrive at the airport (you can’t check in on-line, since you have a dog with you) says “PETC” on it, to indicate that you’re traveling with a dog. The ticketing agent typically also staples a copy of your boarding pass around the handle of your dog’s carrier, to show that (s)he’s seen it and you’ve paid for an in-cabin pet.

  • Hi, Nancy — I just can’t recommend the large Sherpa bag. It’s not only too long, it’s also quite tall and wide, and it doesn’t flex much. Given David’s alarming report (above), it appears that some Southwest planes have an under-seat space that is, indeed, 8.25″ tall — and there’s no way in the world that a large Sherpa would fit in that space….

  • Lizabeth

    I just flew on Southwest with my jack russell terrier, Avery. I travel a lot with my dogs, but this was my first time to fly one of them. After much consideration and reading the pros and cons of bags reviewed on your site, I got her the Sleepypod as her travel bag. Avery loved traveling in it. Our seat height was 11″, so no compression needed at all on top. I folded up one end to compress the length from 22″ to 19, which made it fit easily under the seat without sticking out and left room for my coat and handbag. I remember reading your Sleepypod review and mentioning that the ends wouldn’t stay up during your testing. As per the instructions on the Sleepypod web site, I worked folding and unfolding the end flaps several times prior to my trip and the end did go up and stay up when I folded it for our flight. The flight attendents were awesome and presented with with a *my first flight* certificate at the end of our trip.

  • Hello, Lizabeth! What a useful comment — I will work on the ends of our Sleepypod Air carrier (I wonder if my review made them add that to their directions? They never mentioned limbering up the ends before. How proud I’d be, if so!). I’ll update my review, too, to reference your advice and feedback. How glad I am that the bag worked out for you and Avery, and that you had a good experience on your first flight with her! I’ll post the wonderful picture you sent of her on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page.

  • Marissa

    I’m planning on flying with my 15lb chihuahua (mix) with me on a flight for the first time from Chicago to Dallas on Southwest next week (ack! holidays!) and I’m very nervous about his size… I bought a collapsible, soft-sided carrier that measures 19.5L x 10W x 11.75H, which he fits in comfortably. I think the length and width are OK, but the height is definitely more than the published 8.25 inches. I’m hoping since it’s collapsible I can smash it down a little, or since it is Southwest, I can move around until I find a seat it fits under. I just hope I have an understanding flight attendant! From previous pet-free flights I do feel like Southwest attendants are more friendly than some other airlines.

    I’ve been doing a lot of research on this because I know my dog is borderline too big, and I would just be mortified if I was bumped from the flight, but I’ve found your blog site to be the most helpful!

  • Michelle

    So I’ve been researching all of the blogs and boards about flying with pets as I was embarking on a flight with 3 layovers flying from the western US to NY on Dec 21st. I was flying with my 18lbs Mini Schnauzer in a large Sherpa bag. After reading all of the posts of fickle airlines I was skeptical and doubtful that my dog would make it all the way through without problem. However, I was surprised that not a single flight attendant/SW employee had said anything about my dog on the whole trip. It was smooth sailing all the way! And my dog fit comfortably under the seats on all legs of the flight. Here’s the interesting part about the underseat dimensions- I was paying careful attention to this per the message boards conflicting info. The underseat dimensions are in fact slightly different on the 700 series vs the 300 & 500 series.
    The 300 & 500 series were no problem at all (larger and more roomy, even under the aisle seat) – the 700 series was slightly smaller but still nothing that I couldnt smoosh down the carrier to fit under. [I had a window seat on all legs of the trip]. I would recommend that if you are flying SW with a pet get early bird check-in, this way you can be sure that you will get on in time to get a seat that fits your pet. Otherwise, Southwest was great for me and lil doggy.

  • Missy

    I’m flying with my Pug in a few days and am curious which aisles/seats people have sat in on Southwest. Since the measurements vary so significantly- David’s encounter with 8.25″ and yours with 11″, I’d like to pick the right one and not run into any issues with the bag not fitting.

    Thanks for all your helpful info. I’d never feel comfortable flying with him if it weren’t for your in depth explanation of every last detail.

  • Hi, Michelle — Thanks so much for your very useful comment! I’ve been traveling on a bunch of Southwest flights myself this month (three so far, two more to come), and I’ve been measuring under-seat spaces. So far, I’ve encountered similar measurements on the -300 and -700 series planes we’ve been on (no -500 series as yet) — I’ll post an edit when I have all my new measurements in hand, but so far I’ve seen a lot of the hard plastic boxes that reader David mentioned a few comments ago. They reduce the under-seat height from 11 inches to 9.5 inches. HOWEVER, those boxes are set pretty far back under the seat (about 6″ to 7″ from the front), so our large SturdiBag, rounded on top and oriented left to right, does not run into the boxes, and works well. I’m impressed that your large Sherpa works (I’m always impressed when a large Sherpa works!). On our last flight, the gate agent questioned the workability of our large SturdiBag, and I had to do some fast talking to convince her it works. I don’t think she would have let the large Sherpa past. So often, really, it comes down to the individuals you encounter!

  • Hi, Missy! Thanks for your comment! Take a look at the recent comment by Michelle, and my response — that contains the most recent info I have about Southwest’s under-seat measurements. I generally travel with my husband, who prefers an aisle seat, so I sit in the middle with Chloe — which works well, since the middle seat has the widest under-seat space. As you’ll see, though, Michelle was comfortable in the window seat, which has a slightly narrower under-seat space. (While the under-seat HEIGHT is still being thrashed out, the under-seat WIDTH measurements haven’t changed — on my last three flights, the widths were as I’ve reported them.)

  • Mari

    First off- Thank you so much for this site and reader comments! We were traveling with our puppy for the first time and found all of the most crucial information here.
    We just traveled from Boston to San Francisco for the holidays on SW, with our 19lb bulldog puppy. We first purchased the large Sherpa bag, but it didn’t seem flexible enough for a potential 8.25″ height. We wanted to purchase the SturdiBag, but didn’t have enough time to get it shipped. We ended up getting the large Bergan Comfort Carrier, and were happy that it was only about $40 because we knew this would be the only trip that our puppy would fit in it. All of the flights went well, and the bag fit wonderfully on all 4 planes. Our puppy was a little cramped when she stood, but fit comfortably laying down. She slept much of the time, but we traded chew treats to keep her busy as well (bully rings seemed to last the longest!). We didn’t have enough time to let her go to the bathroom between connections, but she held it and we did keep water from her the morning of the flight until during the last part of our travel day. All of the SW employees were friendly, they put a tag on our bag to show that she was paid for, and sometimes flight attendants didn’t even notice we had carried her onboard. We took the middle seat, as it did have slightly more under seat room than the window seat. It did get a little warm for her on a few of the flights, but flight attendants were happy to provide us ice cubes to cool our little girl down. After we paid our $75, we were a little surprised that nobody weighed her, inspected how comfortable she was in her carrier, or asked for any health records (although SW doesn’t officially require a health certificate). All in all we were very happy with our experience with SW and pleased that our puppy was a good little girl for both cross country trips!

  • Thank you, Mari! And thank you so much for your excellent, detailed report — it’s really helpful to hear stories like yours, especially about traveling with a pretty big small dog (heck, it’s easy to travel with a tiny dog! it’s the ones that push the limits that make us wring our hands). I’m so pleased that everything worked out so well for you and your girl on your flights!

  • Dan

    I have to say that I am surprised at the number of positive responses on the message board here about Carrying on to SWA. I was denied boarding to a flight because my bag (19x19x8) was deemed too large by the supervisor at a glance. They did not measure it. The second, back up, bag I brought (19x10x8) was denied because my dog was “too big” even though I was not given the opportunity to show the employees that he does fit(dachshund). They did not even allow me to see the SWA brand bag when I requested to do so. I would recommend heading over to American Airlines. The staff while checking is was respectful and courteous and the flight attendants were all swooning over how cute our Lou is. I will never fly SWA again due to a complete lack of professionalism (employees that wear shorts!?) and suggest you do the same.

  • Maryanne

    Traveling with our new 7 lb puppy on Southwest in June. Purchased a Sherpa medium bag and putting her in get used to it now. Concerned with the height dimensions. Hopefully we will have good luck and a good first flight experience. At least it is a non-stop.

  • Karen

    I adopted a 12 lb. terrier/poodle mix and was apprehensive about how I’d get him home to visit his grandparents on SWA. Their web site says the dog has to be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier, yet he’s 14” tall and the underseat is 8.5”. My solution was the size large Sherpa bag, in which he CAN turnaround in, albeit a bit hunched over, yet it also fit under the middle seat easily because my dog was lying down. I found the front end of the bag was less flexible, so I positioned him so that his head faced that end, and the back end collapsed down to fit under the seat. That way, he could see my feet and legs as well and know that I was there. The employees gave me no problem. It was as if I was walking onto the plane with a black gym bag. Even the passengers next to me didn’t notice I had a dog until they saw me cooing to him during the flight. I think $75 is a bit expensive to pay since you don’t get a seat for that price and my flight was only 1 hour, but this was my trial run so I can take him on longer trips this summer.

    I was very happy with the large Sherpa and highly recommend it!

  • Hi, Karen! Thanks so much for the report! I’ve always regarded the large Sherpa bag as just too darned large, but there it is, working for you and your pup.

  • Hello, Maryanne! It’s just a fluke of my in-box review that I responded to Karen’s comment (success in traveling on Southwest with a large Sherpa carrier) before I responded to yours (concern about traveling on Southwest with a medium Sherpa carrier). I love it that Karen’s experience was good, but I myself prefer our slightly smaller SturdiBag (size large). The medium Sherpa carrier that you have is the gold standard of in-cabin carriers, size-wise — I cannot believe that any airline agent would look twice at it, and if Chloe fit into one I’d buy it (even though I don’t love the bag itself), knowing that I’d never have to worry about the boarding process. Let us know how your trip goes, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your puppy stays the same easy-travel size forever!

  • Janette

    I am about to go pick up my new 5 month old cavalier puppy. I haven’t purchased the carrier yet, but am considering the medium sherpa bag. I know my puppy will fit in it, but will it fit under thew seat on a SW flight?

  • Hi, Janette! I was writing my response to you when our power went out this morning, so here’s attempt #2. Your medium Sherpa bag will certainly fit under a Southwest seat. Keep in mind, though, that your puppy will grow…. Chloe is a small Cavalier, and as an adult, she can’t fit in a medium Sherpa. You will likely need to consider a bigger carrier in a few months, so enjoy your medium Sherpa trips while you can!

  • Kate

    If you’re truly worried, I’ve found that most airlines sell bags specifically designed to fit under their seats. They can be a little pricy, but it’s not hard to look at the dimensions described and get another bag of that size. When I travel with my 15 lb Jack Russell, he fits in a rather large rolling pet carrier (22″ long, 10″ high, 18″ wide) that fits very nicely under the middle seats on southwest planes that I have been on. Not all rows have the life vest boxes, so if you plan ahead enough to check in as soon as possible and to get a good boarding number, you can take a peek before you sit.

  • Daisy

    Hi I am flying Southwest in a couple of weeks and would really love to take my bichon Maximus with us. Only problem is that he is too tall. I measured him and he is about 15″ tall. Length is not a problem and he weighs 16.6 lbs. The only bag that I found that he may fit in is the X-Large Sturdibag, but I am afraid that this bag may be too big to fit on a Southwest flight. I have not purchased the bag yet and was looking for any type of feed back you may have. If it’s too big then I have no choice but to leave him at a doggie boarding place which I really don’t want to do because I can’t imagine being away from him for 5 days.Help!

  • Hi, Daisy — Is he 15″ tall at the shoulders or at the top of his head? If it’s at his shoulders, then you’re right, the XL is the way to go. Traveling with the XL is a tricky task, since it is a large-looking bag. Get it in black, demonstrate how the top and sides flex (if you’re questioned), and keep your fingers crossed. If he’s instead 15″ to the top of his head, he may well be only 12″ to the top of his shoulders, in which case the large SturdiBag will work (and will save you some nail-biting).

  • sara

    Hi, love the specificity of your info — great service you provide. I’m traveling SW with my poodle-bichon mix, 14#. Her legs are a bit longer than most such mixes, it seems. I have an Outward Hound rolling pet carrier. They state their dimensions as 19H x 14W x 10D. I’ve traveled with her in this on several airlines, always in window or middle, and have only had a problem one time — but it was a big problem. It was a few years ago and can’t recall the airline, but haven’t traveled with her since. I know it sticks out a bit but I’ve done the jacket-over-the-legs thing just fine once we got on the plane. The one time I was turned down (out of about 8 flights) was at the ticket counter and agent wouldn’t give me a chance to make a case. I spent close to $100 in the terminal for an over-the-shoulder bag that Rocket was way less comfortable in but passed the agent ok, but I wouldn’t intentionally travel with her cramped in there. Do you have any experience with this carrier? Any recommendations for increasing likelihood of smooth sailing?

  • Hi, Sara! I loved that Outward Hound rolling carrier — they’ve discontinued it, but I was strongly tempted to add it to Chloe’s collection when I reviewed it. It is a big carrier, but Southwest has generous under-seat spaces, and I think it will work fine. You’ll have to choose a middle seat, I’m afraid, since that’s the widest option — you’ll put the top of the carrier in first, so the wide bottom is nearest you. Nothing wrong with casually draping a jacket or a light blanket over your knees to disguise the fact that it projects a bit into the legroom area — but I think it’ll be acceptable even without the camouflage.

  • sara

    Mary Ellen, we used the Outward Hound rolling carrier with great success on Southwest. I got my seat assignment 24-hrs before each flight, and we sat in center seat each time. We had 3 flights total, appx 2 hours each flight; all direct flights and on different days, and all SW folks were great. I was able to slide Rocket under with bottom of carrier going in first so she was able to see me the whole time (I can see how it would work better the other way, but had to try!). It stuck out just a miniscule amount; really, the person next to me had work stuff sticking out more. We didn’t attract any on-board attention — except cooing from other passengers who thought Rocketgal was soooo cute. She slept the whole time we were in the air. I highly recommend the D.A.P. [Dog Appeasing Pheromone] collar I got from our vet to comfort any jittery nerves (I wondered about putting it on myself at one point!). I love our Outward Hound carrier and am sorry to hear they’re not making it anymore — trust they’ve got something even better now. Thank you so much for your detailed information. You’re providing a valuable service. When traveling with Rocket I find we are a magnet for other dog lovers, and I recommended your site to every person who asked me questions about traveling with a pet. Happy trails to you…

  • You cover me with shame for not replying sooner, but I am so glad that the trips worked so well for you guys! Thought they would. This is the first trip we’ve been on that I’ve tried a D.A.P. collar on Chloe, too! The jury’s still out — can’t decide if it’s made a difference or not, but I’m leaning towards thinking it has. Thank you so much for evangelizing — I really appreciate it!

  • Greta

    We travel with two dogs and use the Large Sherpa bags and so far, fingers crossed, have not had any problems. Our larger dog is a 19 plus pound Havanese and she curls up in hers and goes right to sleep. Our other dog is twelve pounds and fits right in. The larger dog goes in the middle aisle and the bag scrunches down slightly and there is no problem. We do use a little ace so the dogs relax and fall asleep. For the most part Southwest has been great, the only exception was flying out of Tampa we had a problem with one gate attendant who made it obvious to the people flying with pets that she did not like animals! Otherwise nobody knows we even have them along. At the end of the flight people next to us have been surprised to see us bringing animals out from under the seats!

  • Love it, Greta! (Well, not the part about the grumpy gate agent, but everything else.) I used to be cranky about the large Sherpa bag, but they trimmed an inch off the length maybe a couple of years ago now — a 19″ long bag is still longer than my preferred 18″, but it’s way, way better than 20″! I need to update my early, cranky posts….

  • Shivani

    Hi, all this information is truly helpful. I will be traveling with my dog for the first time. She is about 17 lbs and fits nicely in an XL SturdiBag. I had cut the board at the bottom of the bag to make it more flexible and the top already is flexible. Has anyone traveled on SWA with an XL StrudiBag. I have measured it and tried to simulate how it will be under seat but just wanted to see people’s experiences. Thanks so much!

  • Chloe

    I am traveling in a few weeks on southwest across the country with my large small dog. I have read a lot of your blogs and bought the large sturdibag which she fits in. Thankfully she’s like a wet noodle and can turn in small spaces but I have a very hard time getting her into the bag since it loads from the front. What other bag would you recommend for a larger small dog? She is about 17-18in long, she hates the tape measure, and about 12in high but she is very meaty and weighs about 22lbs. I do have a large Petco brand carrier that loads from the top which makes getting her in a little easier but isnt nearly as flexible as the sturdibag but relatively the same size.

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