Best Airline Approved Dog Crates

Recommendations for the Best Airline Dog Crates

With the holidays right around the corner, many of us are making travel plans to visit relatives and friends. Of course, we have to bring one of the most important parts of the family—the dog! Pet parents bringing their animals aboard a plane will need to find an IATA-compliant airline dog crate. Getting a high-quality travel crate will keep your pet safe and comfortable during the flight. For a dog, flying can be stressful. The cargo hold is a foreign, loud, and anxiety-provoking experience. With the right airline dog crate, you can help put your dog and yourself at ease—knowing your pets is safe and snug inside a proper travel kennel.  

As the number of pet parents rises to 68% of the country, it is becoming easier to fly with our pets. The Department of Transportation ruled last summer that if an airport receives over 10,000 annual passengers, they must offer at least one pet relief area. Installments of pet relief areas began this summer, in 2017. Once remodels are completed there will be over 800 post-security pet relief areas nationwide. One of the most pet-friendly airports, John F. Kennedy has even made an upscale animal terminal fittingly called The ARK at JFK. The ARK is a prestigious pet terminal with climate-controlled facilities, veterinary services, and even dog grooming available. These commercial airline updates are accommodating pets and their owners to make traveling with your dog much easier.

This article will review the International Air Transport Associations travel crate requirements with a list of the airline dog crates we recommend for pet parents.

Guide to IATA-Approved Airline Dog Crates

Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique has compiled this guide using international flight rules. Domestic travel requirements are a little more relaxed, but to cover all ground, we\’ll use international rules as a guideline. Here are the important airline dog crate features to consider:


Pet travel crates are required to be the pet\’s length, plus half of their leg—providing enough room for a pet to fully turn around and lie down. Also, a dog\’s ears cannot touch the top of the kennel while they are standing. When you measure your dog\’s length, measure from their nose to the tip of their tail.

Sizing Chart

SizeIATA TypeCrate Weight & Dog Weight
External DimensionsInternal DimensionsDog Breeds
Small Create: 6.25 lbs
Dog:1 lb. -10 lbs
21\”L by 16\”W by 15\”H
17\” long by 12\” wide by 13\” tallBoston Terrier, Chihuahua, Jack Russell Terrier, Maltese
Medium200Crate: 10.25 lbs
Dog: 11 lbs. – 25 lbs
28\”L by 20.5\”W by 21.5\”H
23\” long by 16\” wide by 19.5\” tall
Miniature Dachshund, Maltese, Miniature Poodle

Intermediate300Crate: 14.88 lbs
Dog: 26 lbs. – 40 lbs
32\”L by 21\”W by 25\”H
28\” long by 16\” wide by 24\” tallAmerican Pit Bull, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund
Large400Crate: 17 lbs
Dog: 41 lbs. and 70 lbs
36\”L by 25\”W by 27\”H
32\” long by 22\” wide by 26\” tall
Basset Hound, Belgian Sheepdog, Bull Terrier
Extra Large500Crate: 27lbs
Dog: 71 lbs. – 90 lbs.
40\”L by 27\”W by 30\”H36\” long by 25\” wide by 28\” tall
Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Boxer, Chow-Chow

Giant700Create: 43 lbs
Dog: 90 lbs. and up
48\”L by 32\”W by 35\”H
39\” long by 30\” wide by 32.5\” tallAlaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound

Single Metal Door

The majority of airlines require that an airline dog crate have a door that is a single metal piece. Distressed animals can pull on the door and potentially collapse it. For this reason, airlines do not allow models with plastic folds. A loose animal in the cargo hold of a plane can endanger himself and other passengers. Also, note that doors need to be zip-tied shut.

Metal Hardware

Some dog travel carriers have plastic nuts and bolts, instead of metal. Although this sometimes makes it easier to assemble, it is not as sturdy as an airline dog crate built with metal nuts and bolts.

Separate Food and Water Dishes

Both food and water dishes need to be attached to the crate door, not the side of the kennel. Airline employees must be able to access the dishes without opening the kennel door. This allows attendants to feed and hydrate animals without risking their safety by opening the door, potentially letting an animal loose in the cargo hold.

Feeding Instructions & Medical Information

Many travel crates have a plastic slot where you can slide your pet\’s most important information. Name, medications, phone number, address, vaccinations, and feeding instructions can all be stored in this slot. Most pet owners also attach a bag of food to the top of the crate. Also required are \”live animal stickers\” and \”this way up\” stickers on all four sides. Most airlines provide you with stickers when you check your pet in, but it\’s always a good idea to bring your own.

Safety & Carrying Side Rim

An IATA requirement is a spacing rim on three of the four sides on an airline dog crate with ventilation holes. This ensures that cargo handlers and attendants cannot be bitten while two handlers carry the kennel on each side.

Air Holes

Air holes need to be on all four sides, at least halfway up on each side. This is mandatory for all dog crates to ensure pets receive enough airflow inside the kennel.

Crate Lining & Cushioning

Dog travel crates must be lined with cushioning like a dog bed and absorbent papers in case of an accident while in the air.

Features Not Allowed:

  • No Top Opening Doors
  • No Plastic Front Doors or Latches
  • No Wheels or Detachable Wheels
  • No Unstable Materials

Our 3 Five Favorite Travel Carriers

JetPaws Carrier

This is the official Pet Carrier of JetBlue airlines and has all the approved features needed for a comfortable and safe flight for your pet on any airline. The JetPaws is recommended for small to medium sized dogs ranging from 10 to 25 lbs. There are several external pockets to store food, treats, and documents. Also convenient, is an adjustable/detachable shoulder strap and internal removable pad that is machine washable. JetBlue\’s corporate logo is decorated all over the carrier, so if you\’re looking for something more fashionable, JetPaws might not be for you.

Suncast PCS2417 Deluxe Pet Carrier

This airline dog crate was designed to keep animals comfortable in the cargo hold. The Suncast is made with sturdy materials—crack-resistant resin—-including a reliable latch system set into a wireframe door. Dogs up to 17 inches tall will have plenty of room in the Suncast. A food and water bowl are included that attach to the door easily, meeting IATA standards. There are also storage compartments on the top of the crate for pet supplies or paperwork.

Petmate Sky Kennel

The Petmate reigns in third in our list because of its heavy-duty design—made with 25% recycled materials. Following IATA restrictions the crate has air holes on all four sides, two attachable food and water dishes, and a single wireframe door. The kennel comes in several sizes accommodating various breeds of dogs and has four pin locking mechanisms to keep animals safe. The only downside to this crate is that it does have plastic nuts and bolts. The crate is officially IATA approved, but you will need to purchase metal nuts and bolts to pass a rigorous inspection.

Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique wish you luck as your dog gets his wings!

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