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Which seat works best with an in-cabin dog? [Alaska 737-800]

I don’t fly on Alaska or Horizon, so I was thrilled when a Dog Jaunt reader took the time to measure not only the spaces around her (she’d been upgraded to First Class) but also the under-seat spaces in Coach Class. She was traveling on an Alaska 737 (800 series) between Puerto Vallarta and San Francisco. Here’s what she reported:

In First Class, there is room for a pet carrier in the open space between the two seats (she spoke with a flight attendant, who told her that that space is available). The space under the seats is taken up, in large part, by hard plastic panels (protecting electronics, probably, or a life preserver). A carrier up to 11” H x 17-18” W x 18-20” L will fit in the area between the seats.

In Coach Class, the middle seat is the way to go for anyone with dog carrier. The aisle seat has the least width, and the window seat space is “okay, but you have trouble getting out.” She recommends a carrier that is up to 10-10.5” H (maybe 11 inches, she said “if really squishy top“) x 18” W x 18-20” L. There is less vertical room for a carrier in Coach Class because a life preserver is hanging in a soft container under the 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).


  • Abigail

    This a wonderful addition!!! I just ran into this issue, I was flying Southwest and realized too late i had chosen the wrong seat. The aisle had the least room for my Sherpa!!!

  • I’m so glad it’s helpful, Abigail! That’s a bad feeling, I know, when you bend down and see that silly rail underneath. Hopefully your middle seat neighbor was thrilled to switch with you….

  • Tuck

    Someone should spread a new rumor about the aisle seat. I just met someone who was a stewardess for 30 years with American, and she had the false belief that the aisle seat had the most room because you had the “space” of the aisle. So she transported (on standby and passes like ex-stewardi get) a rescue dog from Mexico to Phoenix and took the aisle seat and a large, wheely Sherpa someone loaned her. She said that because she had been a stewardess for so many years she knew if she took it back to the back of the plane and showed the others they’d let it run around back there, which they did. And evidently people are used to travelers with dogs taking their pooch into the bathroom and using piddle pads. But the aisle seat, Not.

  • Hi, Tuck — It’s so true! Aisle seats are great for humans, but so often there’s a rail under the seat that makes the space almost useless. Love your friend’s story — flight attendants deserve all the perks they can get, even after they retire!

  • Greg

    I’m traveling over the holidays with Continental on a 737-800. I’m assuming it will have relatively the same seat dimensions as the Alaska 737 listed above. We’ll be carrying our 18lb Boston Terrier in our large SturdiBag. Do you think I will have any issues traveling with it? It’s 12″ high, but has a flexible top. Also continentals carrier dimensions specify 8″ high, does any anyone have dog travel experience with Continental? This will be the first time traveling with our dog. I’m a little nervous about the size of the carrier. Any advice will be much appreicated.
    Thank you,

  • Hi, Greg — Here’s what I can tell you. Chloe fits well in her large SturdiBag (she currently weighs 13.5 lbs, and is about 12″ tall at the shoulder). I think a slightly burlier dog could also fit well in the carrier, but not one that’s much taller. I’ve flown on Continental, but not since we’ve had Chloe, so I don’t have any measurements to offer you. There are variations among 737 configurations (Alaska’s 737s apparently allow up to a 10.5″ carrier, and Southwest’s 737 under-seat space is up to 11″ tall, but people are reporting, and I’ve now seen, life vest boxes that reduce that space to 9″ high), so I can’t predict what Continental’s under-seat space size will be. All that said, I think the large SturdiBag is an excellent choice — because of its flexible top and sides, it bends to fit in every space we’ve encountered so far (just as long as your pup is small enough that there’s room for the bag to flex). Where does that leave you? If your pup fits in the large SturdiBag, with room to turn around and some head room when she’s lying down, I’d try it.

  • Greg

    Great thanks for the info. Our flight is tomorrow night. I’ll try and get some measurements to post. Our pup definitely fits in the bag and has room to turn around. The standing up part is a borderline questionable, but she’s comfortable being inside. I’m sure she’ll be lying down sleeping for the duration of the trip. I hope they don’t question us about the bag at the check in. We’ll let you know how it goes.
    Thanks again.

  • Leanne

    Your website is such an amazing resource! Looking to fly with my dog really soon as we are relocating and didn’t think it was going to be possible to have him in the cabin with me. He is a terrier/Chihuahua mix about 11″ tall at the shoulder and 13″ long from shoulder to base of tail. Until reading your website I honestly thought he wouldn’t fit but he sounds about the same measurements as your dog Chloe. Your guides have been extremely helpful and I thinks we are going to go with a large sturdibag for our trip on the Alaska flight.

    Thanks again!

  • Nicole

    This is a wonderful website. We have two dogs. One is 20 lbs. and the other is 17 lbs. How can a couple travel, taking each of the dogs as a carry on, on the plane? Would we have to sit in different areas?

  • Thank you, Nicole! My husband and I have traveled from Ohio to Seattle with two pets (a new cat and Chloe, our traveling dog), and sat next to each other. I’ve never heard of any restriction of that kind, so you should be absolutely fine. Your main concern will be the size of your pups, but they’re still in the range of do-able, especially if they’re just muscular, not really BIG. Whichever carrier you get (and I would think about the large Kobi carrier), get them in black to they at least look smaller, and don’t let on that your pups are weighty — pick them up casually, without wincing or grunting, and don’t volunteer your concerns about their size.

  • kacie

    Hi, your website is wonderful. This will be my first flight with my dog. He is a westipoo. He weights about 14 lbs. I am flying an Alaska flight (Boeing 737-800). I was look to get the large sturdibag (12x12x18). Alaska only allows 9.5x12x17. Do you think I can make it work? It seem like the large sturdibag is flexible enough to fit under the sit. I am flying with my boyfriend and we have the middle and window seat (BOS to PDX). Thanks for any tips!

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