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Photo Friday: The large Bergan Comfort Carrier on Southwest and American (MD-80) flights

Back in 2009, I reviewed the large-sized Bergan Comfort Carrier (it also comes in small), and concluded that it was well-designed but poorly made — it’s inexpensive, so it would be a reasonable choice for a trip or two, but not my pick for repeated use. At 19Lx10Wx13H, it also seemed perilously large for in-cabin use — but reader Kristin bought it for Tater, her Yorkie, and used it very successfully on Southwest (Boeing 737) and American (MD-80) flights between Long Island and Palm Springs earlier this year (okay, way, way earlier this year — I’m so sorry, Kristin!).

Tater in (well, mostly in) his large Bergan Comfort Carrier

Kristin kindly sent photos of the carrier in use, and here they are:

Large Bergan Comfort Carrier in a Southwest aisle seat space

Kristin prefers “the aisle seat because I can place my purse/bag in the overhead compartment and it is easy to get to. I can also have a good visual and [patting] access to Tater.” She tried a window seat too, and here’s the picture:

Large Bergan Comfort Carrier under a Southwest window seat

Kristin reports that “the window seat has the most room to fit a carrier and a carryon bag. Or you can use that extra space for leg room. ”

She had an aisle seat on her American flight (they were on an MD-80), and the carrier worked in that space too: “I like the aisle seat also on American because the aisle seat has its own space under the seat (the middle and window share the space under the seat, with no bar separation). In this seat, there is also enough room for one leg to stretch out!” She sent two pictures from this flight, from different angles:

Large Bergan Comfort Carrier under American MD-80 aisle seat (1 of 2)

Large Bergan Comfort Carrier under American MD-80 aisle seat (2 of 2)

Thank you so much, Kristin, for your pictures and for your report! I was nervous about how the carrier would work in-cabin, but your pictures show that on the right planes, it’s a very workable choice. (Kristin did say that that the carrier was a bit tippy: “The only complaint I have…is that it could tip over when placed on the ground and your dog moves around and changes positions. But all in all it was a good fit for the plane.”) Seeing these pictures will help other readers make a more informed choice, and having access to them might help them convince a concerned ticketing or gate agent that the carrier will fit nicely on board.


  • Nancy

    I am SO happy I found your website.
    We have an 8 year old schnoodle, Izzy. She has travelled on many planes with us. We have always used a wheeled carry on with hard bottom and no give in length or width (or height!) made for dog transport. We have never been denied boarding with her. But there is no way she could stand up and turn around in it. She sits while we wheel her and then we lay it flat under the seat and she curls up and lies down and is fine.
    Here is my concern. She used to weigh between 15 and 16 lbs, and now she is 17+ lbs. I know she will always be fine in a plane because she is so easy and has never made so much as a peep.
    But I am worried about being denied boarding in her current carrier. It is 11” high at the base on its side (it slopes when on its side) and that always sticks out. No one has challenged us before but it could be just a matter of time. The medium size Sherpa bag on wheels is actually a little less high than our current carrier, although because it does not slope it is actually higher for some of the bag. It’s still a little too low for her to stand up and turn around if an agent was being fussy, and she hates it! She would fit really well in the large Sherpa bag, which I can order on line with wheels, but that is really pushing the limit, even with squishing, of what goes under the seat. I have just gotten the sturdibag flex you recommend, but I worry because it is so high and without wheels it will be much harder on us carrying her!
    We are flying American next week on a CR7, so it was great to read your traveller’s review of that.
    Then we are flying to Hawaii next month. We flew with her to Hawaii two years ago and had no trouble with Hawaiian air for the interisland flight or United coming home. (She travelled under the plane to get there….)
    This year we are flying Hawaiian from LAX to Honolulu. United now only permits dogs as cargo, and American requires the dog to be checked under the plane on the return from Hawaii which is totally ridiculous. So Hawaiian was the only airline (without going through Seattle on Alaska!) that would allow us to bring her home in the cabin.
    Your site has no reviews for Hawaiian either on its interisland jets or its transpacific jets. I’ll be happy to review after I fly this time! Meanwhile, though, I can’t take even the smallest chance of an agent denying us boarding with her. She loves to travel with us.
    I know you are also concerned about the size of your dog as a carry on pet, so please give me advice!

  • Hi, Nancy! I suspect your current carrier will be fine — it’s wheeled base will stick out, but if it slopes like you say, only the, what, bottom 5 inches or so will stick out. I’d drape a Pashmina over your knees and look casual (and of course, pull her out into your foot space as soon as the plane takes off and levels out, so she has as much head room as possible). The large SturdiBag is an excellent alternative because, although it’s high, it flexes like crazy. If you can manage it, you could bring it (collapsed) with you in your (companion’s) carry-on, and if you encounter push-back that you cannot overcome, you could assemble it and put her in it. It will occupy a good deal of space, even collapsed, but it might give you the peace of mind you need. I’d start with your wheeled carrier, though, because you’re right, a 17-lb. dog does quickly get very heavy indeed on your shoulder. I don’t have a better wheeled carrier to suggest — you’re fortunate to have found one that’s 11″ tall in “height” once it’s laid down. The large wheeled Sherpa is a huge beast of a bag, and the squared top of the Sherpa bags doesn’t flex much, so I wouldn’t go that route. Please let me know how it works out, and please do indeed report on Hawaiian. It’s my belief that you can’t fly TO Hawaii on Hawaiian with an in-cabin pet, but can return with one — is that what you’ve learned? Also, if you have the time and inclination, please let me know how you handle the quarantine hurdle. Thank you, and good luck!!

  • Brooke

    Ok – I just had to write and tell you that lugged my 11 pound yorkie/silkie terrier across the Atlantic in this bag – twice – and it was a terrific little bag. Strong enough to carry around, small enough to fit everywhere and not be obtrusive (even in tiny European planes). We could open the half flap enough to pet him and give him some attention and it was small enough to fit on our laps for most of the ride. Great bag.

    We actually carry him all around town in it. It was getting some wear and tear a little while back (after a LOT of use) and we bought a new one, but still, good size, easy to carry and the dog likes it. What more could I ask for?

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