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In-cabin pet carriers: Should I buy the one my airline sells, approves?

When you’re looking for an in-cabin pet carrier, one option you’ll likely consider is buying a carrier sold or approved by the airline you’ll be flying on. Five U.S. airlines will sell you carriers, two others have commissioned Sherpa to make carriers in approved sizes, and eight airlines (nine, if you count Northwest) have partnered with Sherpa in a “Guaranteed On Board” program based on Sherpa’s regular line of carriers. Take a look at the choices, and see what you think.

[7/3/13 I’ve updated this post, since things have changed a bit since 2010. Please click over to this post for more current information.]

Airlines that sell in-cabin pet carriers

JetBlue sells a “soft-sided JetPaws carrier, designed to fit easily under JetBlue’s cabin seats.” It costs $50 and it measures 16″ long x 8.5″ high x 10″ wide.

Photo by Southwest Airlines

Southwest too sells its own pet carrier, for slightly less ($45). It measures 18.5″ long x 8.5″ high x 13.5″ wide. (The link I’ve given you takes you to the “Freedom Shop,” which is apparently under construction right now.) The description states that it expands to 10.5″ tall.

Continental reportedly sells in-cabin carriers measuring 17″ long x 8″ high x 12.5″ wide at its ticket counters for $55.

AirTran sells in-cabin carriers at “many” of its counters “for a nominal fee.” The customer service representative that I spoke to told me that the carrier they sell is Petmate’s Cabin Kennel Solid Top carrier, a hard-sided carrier measuring 17″ long x 8″ high x 12″ wide. This carrier, like Southwest’s carrier, is really an odd shape — it’s no wonder that the only animal you see pictured in carriers like these are reclining cats.

Alaska/Horizon also sells in-cabin carriers at many of its ticket counters, but you have a choice of either a hard-sided carrier (brand name unknown, but typically measuring 17″ long x 7.5″ high x 12″ wide) or a soft-sided carrier (typically measuring 17″ long x 9.5″ high x 10″ wide).

If you compare the measurements of the carriers these airlines offer against the actual under-seat space available on their planes, you’ll see that you can do better, particularly as far as height goes.

A carrier that is 7.5-8.5″ tall will allow only the tiniest of dogs to stand up and turn around, which all of these airlines require an in-cabin pet to be able to do. Trying to come up with a list of dogs that are 8″ tall at the shoulders? (For carrier height, you measure to the top of your dog’s shoulders, not to the top of his head.) Think toy Poodle, or a small Chihuahua or Pomeranian, or a Dachshund.

But a dog need not be a toy breed to travel in-cabin on these airlines’ planes. The JetBlue planes I’ve been on had under-seat heights of 9″. A Dog Jaunt reader reported that Alaska’s under-seat space is 10″ high. Southwest’s under-seat space is 11″ high at the front (shortened by a life jacket container to 9.5″ at the back). I haven’t collected measurements from AirTran or Continental yet, but I would be surprised if they were markedly different from their peers. Chloe’s large SturdiBag (and no, I do not get a kickback from SturdiProducts!) has a flexible top, so even though it’s 12″ tall, it tucks into the actual space available. Chloe’s other favorite carrier, the Sleepypod Air, has a less flexible top, but it can be wedged into spaces that are as low as 9″ tall.

Please also note that of the listed airline carriers, only Southwest’s is 18″ long. All the rest are 16-17″ long. They just don’t need to be that short. Again, I don’t have width measurements for AirTran and Continental’s under-seat spaces, but an 18″ long carrier will fit comfortably into the actual available space on the other airlines (please check Dog Jaunt’s reports to select the seat with the widest under-seat space).

As soon as possible after take-off, I pull Chloe’s carrier out so that her carrier is below my legs and my feet are in the under-seat space. Although Chloe typically curls up, I want her to have sufficient room to stand up and turn around from time to time. Choosing a larger carrier with a flexible top makes that possible. You run the risk that your carrier will be rejected by a ticket- or gate-agent, but so far I’ve been able to demonstrate that Chloe’s carrier will flex to fit.

Delta and American: Approved Sherpa bags

Delta and American have taken a different approach. If you want to, you can buy branded Delta and American in-cabin pet carriers from Sherpa.

Delta’s Sherpa carrier looks like a “Sherpa Original Deluxe Bag,” but its measurements (one size only) fall between Sherpa’s usual medium and large sizes. The Delta carrier measures 18″ long x 10.5″ high x 11″ wide. This carrier is more reasonably sized than the five I listed above, and is worth considering if you’re a frequent Delta flyer. It has the Sherpa features I don’t like, but you might like the comfort of knowing that your carrier will sail past any Delta ticket- or gate-agent.

American has three approved Sherpa carriers. The “American Airlines Standard Navy Carrier” is simply a medium Sherpa bag with the AA logo on its tag and strap. It measures 17″ long x 10.5″ high x 11″ wide. The two AA “duffle carriers” are sportier-looking; the medium is the same size as the standard AA carrier, and the small is 16″ long x 8.5″ high by 10″ wide.

I haven’t yet measured any of American’s under-seat spaces, but I do have American’s policy at hand, and here’s the wacky thing: American’s stated maximums are much different than the measurements of their AA-branded Sherpa bags. According to American’s web site, “the maximum size for cabin pet carriers is 19″ long x 13″ wide x 9″ high. Soft-sided pet carriers such as Sherpa bags may exceed these dimensions slightly because they are collapsible.” If I were you, I’d choose the large SturdiBag for my pet instead of the American carriers from Sherpa — it’s 18″ long and 12″ wide, both under the airline’s maximums, and its 12″ height flexes to be much lower on demand. Heck, you could even choose the large Sherpa carrier: At 19″ long x 11.75″ wide x 11.5″ high, it’s a monster, but it meets American’s written maximums.

Sherpa’s Guaranteed On Board program

Nine airlines (eight, really, since Northwest has been absorbed into Delta) have partnered with Sherpa in a program where, if you jump through some hoops correctly, Sherpa will guarantee that your pet will be allowed on board.

Here’s how it works. Starting at the home page for the program, you choose your airline (AirTran, Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, United, U.S. Airways, Southwest) and fill out the provided form. If you answer the questions accurately (don’t be tempted to minimize your pet’s weight and height), the answers are within the airline’s maximums, and you are denied boarding (there are a bunch of exceptions, so read the fine print), Sherpa will refund the cost of your airplane ticket and your pet fee.

Please note that while the forms for AirTran, Alaska, Continental and Delta all initially allow you to choose a large Sherpa carrier, if you choose the large size you will ultimately receive a message saying that those airlines do not accept a carrier with those dimensions. The customer service representative I spoke to agreed that that’s wacky.

In fact, all of the participating airlines only accept small and medium Sherpa bags, EXCEPT Southwest, which only accepts small Sherpa bags. (The small Sherpa bag measures 15″ long x 8.5″ high x 10″ wide. The medium Sherpa measures 17″ long x 10.5″ high x 11″ wide.)

Speaking of wacky, please note that under this program, Delta accepts only small and medium Sherpa bags. However, Delta’s own Sherpa bag, specially commissioned, is larger than a medium Sherpa bag! If you fly frequently on Delta with your pet, buy a Delta-branded Sherpa bag and pass on the G.O.B. program.

I would only take advantage of this program if I had a very small dog (and therefore wasn’t concerned about carrier size) and I was extremely risk-averse. Otherwise, you’re giving up valuable under-seat real estate. Southwest, for example, does not have a stated maximum carrier size — it just tells you the measurements of its under-seat spaces, and lets you buy a carrier accordingly. Those spaces will accommodate a larger bag than a small Sherpa bag — we travel regularly on Southwest with Chloe in a large SturdiBag carrier, and because its top is rounded and flexible it fits comfortably in front of the lifejacket container (the Southwest under-seat space is reduced to about 9-9.5 inches in the middle by a hard lifejacket case). I do have to travel in a middle seat (or a window seat, with some wedging) to make it work, but it gives Chloe more room than a small Sherpa bag.

* * *

All three of these options are designed to give you peace of mind: If you buy a carrier approved by your airline, and your dog fits in it to the airline’s satisfaction, your worries are over. If you are risk-averse and have a very small dog, you may want to pursue one of these options. However, many of the approved carriers don’t take full advantage of the under-seat space that’s actually available. If you have a larger small dog (in the 10-15 lb. range), consider instead buying a carrier that can flex to fit in an under-seat space shorter than your carrier’s height, knowing that you’ll move it under your knees during flight.

42 comments

  • Abigail

    Wonderful post here, we have an original Sherpa that we fly with and for that matter our Scottie rides in most days. We are road warriors and other then a little sagging it has held up.

  • Hi, Abigail! Well, there’s a reason the original Sherpa is so popular — I’m glad to hear it works so well for you guys! What size Sherpa carrier did you choose for your Scottie?

  • Mar

    I love your website! It has been so very helpful in planning our upcoming holiday trip home. I just bought the large Sturdibag and the regular Kobi pet carrier so we can compare. Although you have had great luck with the Sturdibag, I am really nervous. We have a 15lb corgi/dachsund with short legs and a longer body. Thank you!

  • tully

    “Knowing that you’ll move it under your knees during flight.”

    Lol, I like that one because you know it’s what we all consider doing even though we’re not exactly supposed too.

  • Hi, Tully! Well, you know, it depends on the airline — please check out this post, which admittedly I wrote a while ago: http://www.dogjaunt.com/2009/06/traveling-by-plane-carrier-on-lap-during-flight-or-not/ Of that first list, I only fly on American and Southwest, and I’ve never had a flight attendant express concern over my pulling Chloe’s carrier out under my knees. In all probability, they’ve never even noticed. I figure, other passengers pull their bags out to for easy access to computers, books, snacks, etc., so why can’t I pull my dog’s carrier out? (I’ve backed off of putting it in my lap, as you’ll see in a later post.) Of course, if a FA objects, their word is law.

  • Hi, Mar! Thanks so much for your comment — I’d love to hear what you think of the Kobi carrier. It’s a little too small for Chloe, but it sure is intriguing. Don’t be nervous — it’s all pretty straightforward!

  • Mar

    So here we are the night before our trip and we are so nervous! None of the relaxants prescribed by our vet has worked and we’re afraid he’s going to whine us off of the flight. He’s a couple of successful jaunts in the large sturdibag without incident but this will be our first attempt in a plane on SWA. Wish us luck!

  • Good luck, Mar! Try keeping your hand in his carrier during takeoff and landing (yes, you’ll feel like a pretzel), and one Dog Jaunt reader sticks her foot in her pup’s carrier during flight (her pup does okay with her head out of the top hatch, but on some flights she can’t get away with that). Perhaps your FAs will let you put his carrier on your lap during the flight, if you’re lucky. Fingers crossed!

  • robyn

    Question, I am flying with my two small dogs and This carrier bussiness is driving me nuts. What is the rule do they have to be able to stand while under the seat or just stand in the carrier?

  • Robyn, this reply is hideously late, so it might be moot. I am so sorry. Officially, the answer is yes to both: Your pup needs to be able to stand up and turn around in her carrier, and since the official carrier height is meant to be the height of the available space, she should also be able to turn around in that space. Far from all of the dogs who fly in cabin are 8-10″ tall at the shoulders (which is the relevant height for an in-cabin pet), so in reality there’s wiggle room. In fact, the available under-seat space is typically greater than an airline’s stated maximums, and in fact, pets typically spend their travel time lying down (and many snoozing pets are 8-10″ tall!). It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, but I can tell you that Chloe, at 12″ tall (at the shoulders), 13 lbs., and about 16″ from nape of neck to base of tail, travels A LOT in her large SturdiBag, without trouble. Check out the pictures of pet carriers actually on planes (there’s a link in the sidebar) and you’ll see that she’s not alone.

  • Amanda

    Hi! I am traveling with my female westie for the first time this holiday season! We just bought her a medium Sherpa pet carrier and we are flying on Southwest Airlines, I called sw and he told me as long as the top pushes down it will be no problem but I’m just nervous! Do you think there will be a problem?!

  • Tabitha

    Thank you for your awesome website. I am flying my mother from Minneapolis to D.C. in December. She is scheduled to fly on Sun Country Airlines with a 16 pound Bichon. They only allow a pet carrier that is 8” high. Will they make a fuss at a medium sized Sherpa (10.5 high)? I know that they will accept a small sized Sherpa (8.5 inches tall, …I called and asked), but with an 8.5 inch Sherpa I am risking the dog not fitting how they would like it to. What would you do? Please help–my mom really needs the advice! Thanks, Tabitha

  • Hi, Tabitha! If I were you, I’d buy the large SturdiBag — it’s the same size as the medium Sherpa (check out this post, where I compare the two: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/a-side-by-side-comparison-large-sturdibag-next-to-sherpa-delta-deluxe-pet-carrier/ and this one from a reader: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/readers-report-large-sturdibag-vs-medium-original-deluxe-sherpa-and-space-available-on-delta-757-300/ ) but its top is much more flexible, so it can fit in lower or more awkward spaces than the medium Sherpa. Your mom’s pup sounds about the same size as Chloe, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take Chloe in her large SturdiBag on Sun Country, even though it’s a new airline to me. She’s fit on every airplane we’ve taken her on, and I’m that confident about the SturdiBag. Hope that helps!

  • Stacey

    This website is a godsend! Help me! i bought a maltese mix puppy last year i asked how big he was going to be and they assured me no more then 10lbs which was great because i travel back and fourth to florida to see my mom at least 2 a year. WELL he is 18lbs and i cant bear the thought of leaving him when i fly out on Jan3. i went to petco tonight and they had the large sherpa but the dimensions the girl gave me for the carrier 20Lx11.5hx11.75D is too big for Southwests requirement and he will not be able to turn around but can lay comfortably. any advice would be great as I am hoping he can join me. Thanks

  • Hi, Stacey! So glad Dog Jaunt is helping! Now then, take a look at the updated version of this post (http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/should-i-buy-the-in-cabin-pet-carrier-my-airline-sells-or-approves/ ) and you’ll see that I’ve stopped complaining about Southwest’s official carrier, especially with reader Andee’s modification deployed (it helps keep the “roof” of the carrier elevated). Her Cavalier is larger than Chloe, and is, in fact, about the size of your Maltese, so the carrier would very likely work fine for you, and Southwest can’t object to its own carrier. Alternatively, I’d consider the large Kobi carrier (reviewed on Dog Jaunt — just search for it, using the search bone) — although it’s officially 12″ tall, the top is floppy and can be pushed up higher, if needed, by a taller dog — and it has a gusset that lets you add 3″ to the length during flight or in the gate area (not when you’re carrying it over your shoulder). I’ve used that happily on Southwest, and it doesn’t LOOK big, even though it offers a lot of space. Alternatively, go ahead and buy the large Sherpa that fits your pup — it’s a hair longer than I’m comfortable with, but the height and width are fine, and I’m notoriously risk-averse. Dog Jaunt readers have made the XL SturdiBag work on Southwest (do another search on the blog!), and the large Sherpa that you’re describing is smaller than that.

  • Andie

    Recently moved to FL and going back to Boston for the holidays. I hate the idea of boarding my petite beagle (~21 lbs) over Christmas. She fits in a large SturdiBag -can turnaround not stand. Should I be concerned about JetBlue allowing her on the plane ?

  • Cali

    I am traveling with a 22 lb Frenchie over Christmas on Southwest. Although she fits in both the Large Sturdi Bag and Large Sherpa, she seems to be much more comfortable in the Sherpa. She goes in easily from the top and can sit up with her head out until we board the plane. However, with the Sturdi Bag, her neck is so large that she gets stuck when I open the top zipper. She also refuses to go head first into the Sturdi Bag. It’s embarrassing when it looks like I have to force her in (only one way in, one way out) – but she can turn around. I like that you can squish the Sturdi Bag down when they are laying down, but my frenchie stands up and arches her back because she’s trying to feel grounded when I’m carrying her. I’m afraid I won’t be able to demonstrate the flexibility. I recently flew Southwest alone and it looks like there is plenty of room for either carrier, afraid to chance it. I even thought of taking both carriers and using the extra carrier as my one personal item. If I’m refused one, will the other work? I’m leaning towards the Large Sherpa for comfort & it seemed to be flexible too. She even looks smaller in the Sherpa, large in the Sturdi Bag. My question – Sherpa or Sturdi Bag? Side by side, they look to be the same size & the Sherpa even squishes down a little. Has anyone been refused with a Large Sherpa on Southwest?

  • Hi, Andie — The main thing is her shoulder height — if she’s about 12″ tall at the shoulder, then the large SturdiBag (also 12″ tall) is a good choice for her. Turning around is good, and required, and kind to the traveling pup — standing fully erect with head up isn’t required, and indeed, if your pup is like Chloe, she’ll spend her time curled up and hopefully asleep — shifting positions every so often, but not really needing/wanting to stand up. If that 21 lbs. is all muscle, which I suspect it might be on a Beagle, she should fit fine in the large SturdiBag — you’d worry if she looked like she was sausaged in (rock bottom, your main concern is her comfort for the half day she’ll be in there — and, too, a ticketing/gate agent is likely to express concern about a pup that looks uncomfortable). I’m assuming that you’ve sized up her comfort in a large SturdiBag, and you feel that she is, in fact, comfortable. As far as a large SturdiBag on JetBlue goes, we do that a great deal with Chloe, and in fact, here’s a picture: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/which-seat-works-best-with-an-in-cabin-dog-jet-blue-a320/. As you can see, it fits well. About the first-time flying — I’d poke around the blog, starting with the “Start Here” posts I’ve highlighted at the top of the sidebar, and I’d read the comments too — it’s reassuring to hear not only my stories but also those of other travelers. Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page is another source of info and encouragement. It’s very doable and I believe both you and your girl will be really happy you made the effort!

  • Hi, Cali! It sounds like you have very good reasons to prefer the format of the Sherpa bags to the SturdiBag — you are not the first person I’ve heard from whose dog prefers a top-loading opening, and your pup does have a big, beautiful head — I can see where that SturdiBag top opening just wouldn’t be big enough. So by all means, go with a Sherpa. We’ve traveled with the medium Original Deluxe before, which is slightly smaller than the large SturdiBag. The large Sherpa is the same height and width as the Sturdi, but an inch longer (you know all this; I’m just repeating it for future readers). The Sherpa doesn’t flex the same way the Sturdi does, because its ends are quite stiff, but the top does sag, and the ends can be bent inwards, effectively making them lower in height. The extra inch in length used to bother me, but that was when I was new to flying with Chloe, and anxious. I think the large Sherpa would work fine — you’d just have to show that the top can press downwards in a pinch (and that that still leaves your pup room inside). Southwest’s underseat space is pretty generous — and the part where it’s lower corresponds to the part of the Sherpa bag that can be made to dip down most easily. I’d go for it. Re refusal — there hasn’t been any news recently about in-cabin pups being refused by Southwest (or anyone else) — in the past, they’ve been refused when the pup looked too big for the carrier, not so much because the carrier looked too big for the plane. Buy it in black; project an air of calm, cheerful confidence (you do this ALL THE TIME) (without, of course, being obnoxious); and I believe you guys will do well. Please send me a photo of the large Sherpa in position on your plane(s)!

  • Cali

    Will do! Thanks for your tips and advice. I made sure to book a flight on the newer plane (Southwest 737-800 series) after reading your seat measurements post. This may sound odd, but do you have to lift the carrier up to show the ticket counter your dog or can you have them in the carrier next to you on the ground by where you weigh your luggage? Do you allow Chloe to sit up and poke her head out while you wait to board at the airport? I prefer not to sedate or give her calming treats, any advice for keeping her cool & hydrated when the nervous/anxious panting occurs?

  • Chloe Golden

    Hey 🙂 The Southwest bag that is 8″ high actually expands to 10.5″ high which makes it a very large bag 🙂 Definitely one of the widest I’ve seen that will fit.

  • Hey, Chloe Golden! It does indeed, nowadays — click on the link at the end of the first paragraph of this post, and you’ll get transferred over to a more current version, where I end up praising the SW carrier.

  • Stacey Durant

    I just used the southwest bag for my 19lb Maltese and I was freaking out but worked like a charm no questions asked and it went smooth as silk. Now hopefully the trip home next week goes just as smooth 🙂

  • Smooth as silk is what we like, Stacey! So glad to hear it — thanks for the report, and fingers crossed for your return trip (which I fully expect to be equally smooth).

  • Sarah

    Thanks for all the good information. I have an 8 week old German Shepherd puppy, 17 lbs, and am planning on flying him with me on a southwest flight from North Carolina to California. I have the Bergan large bag, she can fit into it, but not stand up. Do you think it will work? I am nervous! 🙂

  • Hello, Cali — Typically, for Southwest, you do have to lift your carrier up so the ticketing agent can see it and attach to it Southwest’s pet carrier tag. I typically don’t allow any part of Chloe to stick out of her carrier once we’re in the airport, out of concern for travelers with allergies (and because, you know, it’s against the rules, usually, and I’m a pretty law-abiding gal). That said, one evening when we were delayed into the wee hours in Vegas, and were exhaustedly “sleeping” against the airport wall, I did unzip the front panel of her SturdiBag so she could see us better and stretch out a little more than usual. Cool and hydrated — I go with a battery-powered travel fan and ice cubes. Nervous and anxious — she’s really not, mostly, but when she is, I stick my hand into her carrier and pat her. Other readers have other suggestions — I hate to sound pushy, but you might really like to buy “Bone Voyage,” my book about pet travel. It has more good ideas in it, and isn’t too expensive, really. It’s available on Amazon!

  • Hi, Sarah — I’m so sorry to have taken this long to reply! The important measurement is shoulder-height — if your pup is the same height at the shoulders as the carrier is tall, it should work. (In fact, Chloe has traveled on short flights in a carrier that’s an inch or so too short for her, but it’s a very long carrier, and the flight was short, and she seemed comfortable.) That’s the other point — looking in at your pup, does she seem comfortable in there? If both of those things are okay, then it should work. It’s tricky with a growing pup, of course, to decide if she’ll still be comfortable in a carrier a week from now, but all you can do is your best.

  • Stacey Durant

    If you are worried get a Southwest bag my 19lb Maltese and they never said a word. The bag is nice and wide

  • christin smith

    My husband and I are going to be flying Southwest in 2 weeks — going from Michigan to California. We will be traveling with our 11 pound Shih Tzu. I returned a medium Sherpa pet carrier because the dimension was too high — though Roscoe it into it very well. Tried the small Sherpa bag and it’s too small. Concerned about what carrier to use that will enable accepted without any trouble. I want my little dog (11 Pounds) to be comfortable. My biggest fear is getting to airport and being told he isn’t allowed because he’s too big for their carrier. Yet he’s too big for the small Sherpa carrier and the medium Sherpa carrier that he fits in into high for the accepted measurements. Any suggestions on what to do? I’ve looked at so many online posts and see so many different opinions. I usually fly Delta (previously Northwest) but they will not allow Shih Tzus on their flights in cabin. The online website says no snub nosed dogs allowed due to shallow breathing issues. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Hi, Christin — I know how you’re feeling — the first flight with your pup is stressful. But hey, that’s why I’m here! Now then — you could take your Shih Tzu IN-cabin on Delta — the restriction on snub-nosed breeds just applies to pups traveling under the plane — so if you’re comfortable on Delta, go with them! But we travel with our dog Chloe all the time on Southwest, and I prefer it to Delta (mostly for me — I think Delta packs its seats too closely together). Anyway, the medium Sherpa carrier is a fine choice, and I’ve used it successfully on Southwest (as have many people — it’s a well-known sight at airports). Here’s my post about it: http://www.dogjaunt.com/posts/a-side-by-side-comparison-large-sturdibag-next-to-sherpa-delta-deluxe-pet-carrier/ PLEASE NOTE that the Sherpa carrier I used, which is the same size as the ordinary medium Sherpa, is the approved, branded Delta carrier — so you COULD buy it and travel on Delta with it, without even breaking a sweat. But I’m here to tell you that it also fits just fine on Southwest. You have choices! You can do this, never fear.

  • Susan Bull

    Just took a trip on Southwest Airlines using the medium Sherpa bag. It fit perfectly under the seat. I did remove the wheels just to get that extra 1/2″ .

  • Lisa

    So if you buy a southwest bag and your dog is 14″ tall but would fit in the southwest bag laying down would the airlines deny your dog to travel? She will do just fine on a plane because she is very timid. So it’s mostly at the checkin counter where they look at the carrier? She’s a miniature schnauzer, but a tall one. Around 18lbs. Thanks for any help! Lisa

  • Margie

    HI! We are preparing for a trip from Alaska to Oklahoma in May 2015 to see family. We want to take our beloved Doxie which is a Dachshund and Beagle mix weighing about 15 pounds. She is shorter than most Dachshunds, but bigger due to the Beagle. We will be on AK Air for the whole trip. Currently, AK Air has the following requirements for inboard travel: 9.5H x 12W , 17D. They use depth instead of length. We have looked at the Sherpa large which exceeds the requirements. I am now looking at the Sturdi Bag after reading your articles. I would like to get the larger size for her comfort. But, could it pass their inspection with all of it’s flexibility? What do you think? It would be 2.5 inches over on height, width is okay, and 1 inch over on length (depth). The small size which I believe should be labeled medium is only .5 inches over on height, under on width, and 1 inch over on length (depth). I would appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

    Hi again!
    I just posted about traveling from Alaska to Oklahoma. I forgot to add that I will be sitting with my 2 children in 1 row and my husband will be sitting across the aisle. So, we do have 1 complete row occupied. I don’t know if this would make a difference or not.

  • Oh, Lisa, this is SUCH a late response — I’m so sorry. In my experience, an 18 lb. mini-Schnauzer would fit fine in the Southwest carrier, which is surprisingly capacious. Laying down is just fine — after all, your pup will likely spend most of the flight sleeping, or at least reclining. I hope that by now you’ve taken that flight, and all went well!

  • Hello, Margie — Your pup doesn’t sound that much larger than Chloe, so she should fit comfortably in a large SturdiBag, which I believe will work well on Alaska Air. It is larger than their official maximums, but as you continue poking around the blog, you’ll come to realize that most carriers out there are larger than they’re supposed to be. The large SturdiBag works especially well because its top and sides are so flexible that it moulds itself around the obstructions (like the life jacket packets) that the airlines are trying to account for with their “maximum” measurements, while still giving your pup the most possible room. And as soon as the plane levels off, you can pull her carrier out into your shared leg space, and her bag’s top will pop back up to its full height. I think you guys should be just fine. Have a great trip, and let us know how it goes!

  • Heather

    I’m flying with my two medium-sized cats in March on Delta from Alaska to Ohio, and the Delta rep told my mother (who booked the tickets and will be flying with me) that the carriers need to be 16.5 L X 11 W X 10.5 H. I already have a the Sherpa Delta Deluxe carrier, but its measurements are 18 L X 11 W X 10.5 H. So, basically, the carrier needs to be 1.5 inches shorter than the “Delta approved” carrier I already have. Because it’s soft, can’t it just smoosh down to fit under the seat? I really don’t want to get a smaller size down for miniature-sized animals. It’s going to be 16 hours of travel total, but I don’t want to get rejected at the gate, either!

  • Sandy

    Hi,
    we are travelling from Europe to the USA and back with dogs for several years. Different Airlines with our dogs. Delta is way more tricky when it’s up to get any kind of carrier confirmed and so far most expensive. . We use the Sherpa Original Delux Carrier. Our oldest dog (5 years) is going to get over her 21st flight soon. United, Delta, Lufthansa accepted the bag and it’s more spacious than the Sleepypod Air, they width is way poor on this one, that’s why I did not purchase it. They cannot really move or turn around. Tested it but my dog did not like it. I would have a very little more space for my feet indeed, but they need to stay in the carriers for 10 hours. Tee Sturdy, was our 2nd choice, but it’s way to unstable (wobbly), got no pockets and is not really comfortable to carry at the airport. They usually are sleeping all the time. The Sherpa also has a few pockets for the leash and some treats and their travel papers. It also comes with a faux sheepskin padding and fits perfectly under the front seat. And it can be fixed on top of a trolley. For very small dogs I would maybe also choose the Sleppypod, my dogs are about 11 lbs and there’s no way to travel in it. We currently got 2 dogs, 4 Sherpa carriers and I do just change them because of the colors.

  • Hello, Heather — You should be totally fine. That 1.5″ extra length shouldn’t cause any trouble for you, your pup, or the airline. Don’t draw attention to it, don’t volunteer your concern, just sail through (confidently, though of course not obnoxiously) as though you do this ALL THE TIME, and you should be fine. Let us know how it goes!

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