When it comes to taking a flight with your precious pet, your primary focus should be their health, safety, and comfort– especially if you will be traveling together on a plane. You’re going to have to do many things to ensure that your precious pet has everything they need to remain calm during a trip, and this starts with choosing the best possible carrier for them to use. A correctly sized quality crate is an essential investment for those traveling with their pets, and it will help make the trip less stressful for both of you.

Why Crate Size Matters

Ensuring that you have the correct size crate for your pet is essential in keeping them safe and calm during a trip. A too-small crate can make your animal feel cramped and significantly increase your pet’s stress during travel, while a too-large crate will make it difficult for them to maintain their balance when the crate is carried or suddenly moved. You should also determine if the crate should be one that can fit under your seat during the flight. The length of your travel time is also a factor in choosing an appropriately sized crate. If you’re traveling a long distance over many hours, you should make sure the crate is large enough to accommodate things like food and water bowls and a litter box.

Related: Is Relocating Your Pet Affordable?

How Big Should a Pet Carrier Be?

The size of your pet carrier depends on several factors, ranging from your pet’s size and weight to the length of time that you’ll be traveling. At a minimum, your pet should be able to sit, stand, and turn around in its carrier to be comfortable throughout the trip. 

Do Airlines Measure Pet Carriers?

Airlines won’t take the time to pull out a measuring tape to check your crate’s size. However, you must make sure the crate you’re using is approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and that it will fit wherever it needs to on the plane. This is especially the case if you intend to keep your pet under the seat in front of you.

Related: Relocating Your Pet: Help Them Deal With The Stress

What Size Pet Carrier Will Fit Under an Airline Seat?

A soft crate for pet air travel.


Your pet carrier needs to be able to fit entirely under the seat in front of you and remain there at all times throughout your flight. Hard-sided kennels should have maximum dimensions of 17.5 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 7.5 inches high. This translates to 44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm. Soft-sided kennels typically have a recommended maximum size of 18 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 11 inches high, which translates to 46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm.

Are you planning a memorable trip with your pet but don’t know what’s required? Check out All Paws Express to learn more today, or call them toll-free at +1 (800) 626-5023.

How To Measure Your Pet for A Pet Carrier

To find the correct size of the carrier your pet will require, you’re going to need to take the time to measure your pet. You will need to measure a few things during this process, including your animal’s length, height, and width. Your pet’s weight should also be measured and taken into consideration before purchasing a crate.

Measure Your Pet’s Length

The first thing you’re going to need to do is to measure the length of your pet. This is where you measure from the tip of your pet’s nose to the base of their tail.

Measure Your Pet’s Height

To measure your pet’s height, you should have them in a standing position and measure from the tips of their ears down to the floor for animals with upright ears. For other animals, you can also measure from the top of their head to the floor.

Measure Your Pet’s Width

To measure your pet’s width, you only need to measure the distance across their shoulders.

Weigh Your Pet

Pet carriers and crates are manufactured with specific size and weight limits for the animals they can contain. Measure your pet’s weight to determine if the carrier will be adequate for the. If your pet happens to be between the size or weight limits of carriers, choose the larger size.

What to Do When Your Pet Fears the Measuring Stick

You should know that there is a possibility that your pet may be skeptical or even outright fearful of yardsticks and measuring tapes. If that’s the case, the easiest way to determine their measurements is to allow them to stand next to you for comparison’s sake. Find the top of where your pet’s ears or head reach on your leg, and then measure your leg. 

Where to Find an Approved Pet Carrier for Air Travel

A cat in a hard skipper carrier.

A specific list of requirements created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for pet carriers must be met for them to be taken onto flights. Major airlines in the United States that ship pets will often sell a selection of approved pet carriers and kennels at the cargo counter. However, it’s very unwise to wait until the last minute to buy one. Take a look at local pet stores and see what’s available online so that you can buy the carrier as soon as possible.

Related: How to Bring Your Cat When You’re Moving Overseas

When You Might Need a Custom Crate for Your Pet

In some cases, you may need a specialty or custom crate to serve your pet’s needs. A custom crate may be required if you have a large dog breed, like a Great Dane or Saint Bernard. Because of the large size and weight of these particular animals, they may require an expertly made custom crate to keep them safe and secure during travel. Custom crates may also be needed if you have a breed of dog considered to be more “aggressive,” such as Pitbulls, Dobermans, and Rottweilers.   

You Need a Proper Sized Pet Carrier For Safe Air Travel

Airlines require that you have an appropriately sized pet carrier to ensure your pet’s safety during flight, and it is imperative for you to keep all of these protocols in mind. Not adhering to these requirements could mean the difference between boarding your flight without a hassle and not being allowed on the flight altogether. The last thing you want to be worried about on a trip is not being allowed to fly because of an insufficient pet carrier.

Do you want to find out more about the rules and regulations of traveling with your pet? Call toll-free at +1 (800) 626-5023 or reach out to All Paws Express for more information.