In this guide, we’ve outlined some of the best airline approved dog crates for air travel, flying and plane cargo.
Because these dog crates go in the cargo area and not in cabin like a soft pet carrier, they should meet stricter regulations that ensure the safety of the pet/s.
Ultimately, it is up to you to check the pet cargo regulations of the airline you are flying with for dog crates before you book your flight.
Most commonly it is the USDA, IATA and specific airline provider regulations that have to be met, but we discuss each of them further in this guide.
Let’s check out the best airline approved dog crate for air travel, flying and plane cargo!
(NOTE: this is a general information guide on dog crate travel. It is not professional advice. You need to ensure you are meeting all airline requirements, USDA requirements and IATA requirements for your specific situation)
Best Airline Approved Dog Crate For Air Travel, Flying & Plane Cargo / Checked Baggage
Our top picks for the best airline approved dog crate are:
Rough Tough Dog Crates
– Gunner G1 Dog Kennel
– Other Cheaper Dog Kennels & Crates
Petmate Sky Kennel (on Amazon) – for pets up to 125lbs. Designed to meet most (not all) airline requirements, and ‘Live Animal’ sticker and clip on water bowl
Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel (on Amazon) – for dogs up to 90lbs. Designed to meet USDA and IATA requirements for shipping live animals
125 lbs Capacity Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel (on Amazon) – for dogs up to 125 lbs. Meets most airline requirements
Sport Pet Designs Rolling Plastic Dog Crate (on Amazon) – for small to large pets. Is IATA Airline Approved, and comes with water dish and 4 live animal stickers, metal bolt and nuts
Petmate Compass Plastic Pet Kennel (on Amazon) – for dogs up to 90lbs. Meets IATA & USDA standards
*Dog crate bed is sold separately – you might look at the MidWest Deluxe Bolster Pet Bed for Dogs (on Amazon)
*NOTE: whilst these dog crates may meet some airline regulations, you need to check the specific regulations for the specific type of flight yourself. Don’t rely solely on a crate manufacturer’s claim that a crate is airline, USDA or IATA approved.
Best Airline Approved Dog Crate: Reviews
Rough Tough Dog Crates
You can read a review of the Rough Tough Dog Crates here.
Specifically with their crates, Rough Tough says on their website that “Our doors, while made of composite material are secured with metal rods. Additionally a metal liner can be purchased as an accessory and side latch rod kits are available for securing the door further. You would also need to include a handle kit for the intermediate, large and XL sizes. Call for further queries.”
Gunner G1 Dog Crate
You can read a review of the Gunner G1 Dog Crate in this guide.
Specifically with their crates, Gunner says on their website that “Our G1™ does meet most airline requirements, provided that you follow certain guidelines that pertain to consumer requirements (i.e. “live pet” label, accessible water and food containers, weight limit and size compliant, etc.) that are the responsibility of the pet owner. We always recommend confirming with whatever your airline you are traveling with, regardless, as each has its own set of specifications. We can say that we have had plenty of customers who have successfully transported their dogs through airlines using Gunner Kennels! “
Petmate Sky Kennel
Check out a review of the Petmate Sky Kennel here.
Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel
125 lbs Capacity Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel
Check out a review of the Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel here.
Sport Pet Designs Rolling Plastic Dog Crate
You can view the Sport Pet Designs Rolling Plastic Dog Crate (on Amazon) here.
Petmate Compass Plastic Pet Kennel
Best Airline Approved Dog Crate: Buyer’s Guide
What Are The Regulations For Flying With A Pet Crate In Cargo?
The main rule to follow when sending a dog crate in cargo on a plane is check the requirements and regulations of the airline you are flying with.
Make sure you are going to comply with those requirements before the day you go to fly. You can do that by contacting the airline, and checking out their website. For example, if you check out Delta’s website – you can check out their ‘Pet Travel Requirements and Restrictions’ and ‘Kennel Requirements’ pages.
Apart from that, be aware that there are usually two main regulations for flying:
- There’s the country based regulations. In the US, the carrier must meet USDA regulations
- Then there’s the worldwide regulations for travel. That’s the IATA regulations
What Are The Current USDA Regulations, Or General Checked Baggage Requirements For Pet Crate Travel?
USDA Pet Crate Travel Regulations
As of January 2018, the current USDA pet crate travel regulations for air travel are that the crate must:
- Be constructed of rigid plastic, wood, metal or material of comparable strength with solid roofs; no cardboard kennels.
- Have wheels that can be removed or made inoperable (applicable to wheeled kennels only).
- Have ventilation openings on 3 sides, in addition to the door opening.
- Have functional handles on the kennel’s exterior to prevent tilting and any direct contact with the animals
- Close securely, but not lock, to allow personnel to open it in case of emergency.
- Display labels with the words “Live Animal” in 1-inch letters on the crate’s top and on at least 1 side.
- Display upright arrow labels indicating kennel’s correct position; Delta Cargo can provide these labels.
- Contain bedding, shredded paper or towels to absorb “accidents.”
- Contain 2 dishes (1 for food and 1 for water) attached to the inside of the kennel door — they must be easily accessible to Delta agents without opening the kennel door.
- Display feeding instructions and food, if applicable — these instructions should be affixed to the top of the kennel, along with shipper and consignee information.
Some general requirements might include:
- Must use an approved shipping kennel, and it must ship in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines
- Kennel must provide enough room for your pet to stand and sit erect — without the head touching the top of the container — and to turn around and lie down in a natural position.
- All kennels must be capable of loading upright in the aircraft bin as required by the Animal Welfare Act and the International Air Transport Association Live Animal Regulations
What Dog Crates Are Generally Prohibited?
Crates that might be prohibited on major airlines in the US could be:
- Kennels made entirely of welded mesh, wire mesh, wicker, cardboard or collapsible materials are strictly prohibited.
- Kennels with opening doors on top.
- Kennels with plastic front doors and/or plastic side latches that secure the top and bottom together without hardware, such as metal nuts/bolts.
How Do Check Myself That A Crate Meets Regulations or Airline Requirements?
Some crate manufacturers might say their crate is ‘airline approved’ or ‘USDA approved’ or ‘IATA approved’, but don’t rely just on these claims.
It’s a good indicator that the manufacturer has designed their crate to meet regulations, but it isn’t a guarantee.
Run the features of the crate against the airline, USDA and IATA requirements and make sure it will comply (for the state, province or country you are flying from and to). If you are unsure, contact the airline you are flying with, tell them the crate model, and they might be able to tell you whether or not it complies. At the very least they should be able to give you a checklist or regulations to meet and prohibitions to avoid.
It’s ultimately your responsibility as the pet owner to make sure you get the right crate and comply with requirements/regulations.
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