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Which seat works best with an in-cabin dog? [United A320]

In case you need a reminder that different airlines configure a plane differently, here’s another A320 to tell you about. We flew on a United A320 today, and on this plane, your best choices with an in-cabin dog are an aisle or middle seat.

The cabin is divided into three classes: First, Economy Plus and Economy. First Class has two seats on each side of the aisle; the rest of the plane has three seats on each side of the aisle. Economy Plus has five more inches of leg room, and if you can, I urge you to choose Economy Plus. Reaching down to pat your dog or give her ice cubes during the flight is way, way more comfortable with the extra space.

There is a bulkhead in front of Row 1, in First Class, and in front of Row 6, in Economy Plus. You can’t have an in-cabin dog if you’re sitting in Row 1, and although there is a big cut-out in the bulkhead in front of Row 6, only service dogs are allowed in that row.

The under-seat space in Economy Plus and Economy is the same in all rows. The seats support a life vest packet, but it’s in a soft package, so it presses up against the seat bottom. That gives you 10 inches of height under all the seats. The aisle seats are 18 inches wide, the middle seats are 19.5 inches wide, and the window seats are 17 inches wide. Measured front to back, the under-seat space is about 17 inches deep.

I only caught a couple of fleeting glimpses of the First Class seats — someone traveling First Class will have to post a comment with measurements! — but the First Class under-seat space is also divided into three sections. The largest, middle section is hopeless — it’s almost entirely occupied by an enormous electronics box. The space closest to the window, however, looked pretty promising. The space closest to the aisle looked very narrow. If you plan to travel First Class with an in-cabin dog on a United A320, go for a window seat.

This post is part of an ongoing series recording under-seat measurements of the various planes we fly on. 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).


  • kalyxcorn

    just the kind of stuff i really want to know as we are leery about taking Baxter on a plane for his first ride. anything to make it less traumatic…keep up the good work!

  • Baxter is adorable! A beautifully-fit dachshund should have no problem fitting, so that’s one concern you can stop worrying about. Take a look at this overview post and see if that helps: (In fact, you might want to read through the “Traveling by plane” category in the sidebar.) I promise, the travel part is very straightforward, and it’s truly a delight to have your dog with you whether you’re exploring a new place or visiting old friends. Please feel free to write with any questions!

  • Helen and Raja

    What a great blog! The only seating on any plane where dogs can’t stay is in the exit aisles. They have the best leg room, but sadly they are off limits to dog travelers.

  • Thanks so much! Exit aisles, definitely, but also bulkheads, it turns out — even the ones with the large cutaways that allow you to poke a bag through and store it under the last seat of the class in front of you….

  • Jennifer Noble

    I have traveled many times on United with my 28 lb. pug. Because of his size, he requires a larger-than-regulation carrier. Therefore, I always go first class. His large Sherpa bag fits snugly under the window seats in a variety of planes, A320, A319, 757, even the small Embraers. I think because I’m paying such an exhorbitant fare, no one has ever challenged the size of my carrier. I’m a little worried about the rules now that United has merged with Continental, however.

  • Thanks so much, Jennifer — I get the most questions about traveling with pets at the upper limits of what’s possible, so it’s really helpful to hear about your approach. Please let me know how you feel about the new regime, when you’ve taken some more flights with your pup!

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