what is the best carrier for air travel

What Is The Best Cat Carrier For Air Travel? 5 Of The Best

Are you planning to bring your kitty along on your next flight?

The first thing you’ll need is a cat carrier with special specifications that meet airlines and TCA requirements. So, what is the best cat carrier for air travel?

If you’re looking for a reliable answer to this question, you’re in for a treat! 

In the following article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know before picking the airline-approved carrier. Let’s dive in!

What Is the Best Cat Carrier for Air Travel?

The best cat carriers for air travel are the ones that are known to be airline-approved. These bags are usually within the airline’s regulation for the size.

You should also make sure that the cat carrier is comfortable for your cat and easily transported.

*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Top Recommended Product

Sale
X-ZONE PET Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier for Dogs and Cats, Medium Cats Small Cats Carrier,Dog Carrier for Small Dogs, Portable Pet Travel Carrier,Black
  • Medium Carrier Measures: 17.5” L x 11” W x 11” H, Recommended max load of 16 lbs (7 kg).Please do not choose your carrier based on weight--please reference your pet's length and height in...
  • Fits for under-seat dimensions of most airlines. Every airline has a specific set of rules and regulations, please contact with airline before flying with your pet

Ideally, we recommend X-ZONE Pet Travel Carrier as the best overall cat carrier for air travel.

It fits under most airline seats while staying comfortable and highly ventilated for your kitty’s comfort. It’s also highly portable thanks to its carrying handles,

However, there are also other great options that you might consider, such as:

Top 5 Cat Carrier for Air Travel Available on the Market

There are various styles of cat carriers that are approved for air travel. To find the ideal one for your cat, you’ll need to go through tons of options.

To make the search process more streamlined for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best airline cat carriers after scouring the market. Here’s what each carrier has to offer.

#1 X-ZONE PET Airline Approved Pet Travel Carrier- Best Overall

Sale
X-ZONE PET Airline Approved Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier for Dogs and Cats, Medium Cats Small Cats Carrier,Dog Carrier for Small Dogs, Portable Pet Travel Carrier,Black
  • Medium Carrier Measures: 17.5” L x 11” W x 11” H, Recommended max load of 16 lbs (7 kg).Please do not choose your carrier based on weight--please reference your pet's length and height in...
  • Fits for under-seat dimensions of most airlines. Every airline has a specific set of rules and regulations, please contact with airline before flying with your pet

Kicking off the list with one of the most popular choices when it comes to cat carriers for air travel. 

This carrier is 17.5” L x 11” W x 11” H, which is suitable for under-seats of most airlines out there. 

However, it’s also available in large size but larger cats. The solid base makes it stable for your cat and supports up to 16 lbs.

The cat carriers come with mesh windows on three panels to allow for the maximum level of ventilation and visibility. 

Also, there are zippers on the side and the top, so you can get your in and out of the carrier easily. The zippers are lockable for security while on the flight. 

The bag is also available in a wide variety of colors to suit your taste and identify the carrier easily.

Thing We Liked

  • Available in various colors
  • Sturdy and comfortable
  • Highly ventilated

Things That Could Improve

  • No ventilation on the top

#2 Texsens Backpack Pet Carrier – Best for Portability

Texsens Innovative Traveler Bubble Backpack Pet Carriers Airline Travel Approved Carrier Switchable Mesh Panel for Cats and Dogs (One Size, Ash Black)
  • 1. Revolutionary semi-sphere window design adds a unique function in addition to its switchable mesh panel. Small pets, such as small cats and dogs can be easy to keep in carriers.
  • 2. Economize your carrying effort, eco-friendly casual life style. Adjustable padded shoulder straps and carrying handle make our carrier easy to attach to a seat belt.

If you don’t like hauling an extra bag all the time, this innovative backpack will make things even smoother for you. 

The sturdy frame of the bag will ensure that your cat stays comfortable and protected inside. 

The backpack can easily support up to 13 lbs cats. However, it seems to be ideal for 9 to 10 lbs cats.

The backpack has front side zippers with mesh panels and various ventilation holes across the carrier. 

Also, the carrier has a large rounded window, so your cat can peek out while being securely attached to the built-in leash.

Thing We Liked

  • Excellent for portability and reducing carrying efforts
  • Adjustable straps for custom fitting
  • Durable construction to protect the cat and overcome its scratches

Things That Could Improve

  • The bag needs to be machine washable

#3 Petsfit Pet Expandable Carrier with One Extension – Best for Space

Petsfit Airplane Cabin Travel Expandable Pet Carrier for Dog and Cat Under 15 Pounds, 18" x 11" x 11"
  • Expandable side offers plenty of room for pets to stretch out and sleep during the flight or outdoor travel; The extension is mesh so pets could look out and watch their surroundings
  • Top opening is easy to lift cat out for the TSA check and front door for easy access; The pocket can keep treats, leashes, and other things handy during the flight and trips

Usually, most cats are fine with relatively tight spaces. However, some cats just love to have enough space to stretch and move around. 

This makes this cat carrier from Petsfit a great choice to consider. The cat carrier is available in both medium and large dimensions to suit your cat’s size comfortably.

Additionally, you can expand the carrier to give your cat an extra roaming space inside the carrier.

The carrier comes with a removable fleece floor padding for added comfort on the flight. 

We really love the top ventilation panel in this carrier, as it helps in keeping your cat cool and comfortable throughout the flight.

Thing We Liked

  • Expandable carrier for extra space
  • Highly ventilated mesh panels
  • Two zippers for easy access

Things That Could Improve

  • While the handles are durable, the carrier is quite flimsy

#4 Sleepypod Air in-Cabin Pet Carrier – Best for Comfort

Sleepypod Air In-Cabin Pet Carrier, Glacier Silver
  • Mobile pet bed, in-cabin airplaine carrier and car seat, fits pets up to 17-1/2-pound
  • Includes padded shoulder strap, machine washable Ultra Plush bedding and an instruction card

If you’re willing to splurge some cash to give your cat an instant first-class upgrade, you should look no further than Sleepypod Air.

While this carrier is specifically designed for in-cabin flights, it’s a perfect carrier for all purposes, including car seats and vet visits. 

The carrier is available in three different colors to suit different tastes. This includes black, silver, dark brown, orange, and red.

The fabric is resistant to cats’ claws thanks to its luggage grade nylon exterior. However, it’s super comfortable due to its plush polyester interior.

The bag comes with ultra-durable shoulder straps that are also padded for your comfort. 

Not only that, but you can also add an electric warmer pad to your package for the maximum level of comfort.

Thing We Liked

  • Ultra-durable and versatile cat carrier
  • Features outside pockets for storage
  • One of the comfiest cat carrier out there

Things That Could Improve

  • The mesh is a bit too dark for visibility
  • A bit pricey

#5 MuchL Cat Carrier – Best for Budget

MuchL Cat Carrier Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier for Cats, Dogs, Small Animals Pet Travel Bag Airline Approved
  • ✔ WATERPROOF LIGHT WEIGHT DURABLE polyamide materials and Four-Sided Mesh Bring most ventilation for your pets. Let them enjoin their trip with safety and comfortable
  • ✔ IDEA DESIGN: There is removable BASE INSERT, creates a solid surface for pet stand on. SIDE BAGS facilitate the storage of snacks, belts or other fur friends may needed. REFLECTIVE STRIPS at...

If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to compromise for quality. Luckily, with budget-friendly carriers like the MuchL carrier, you’ll still be able to take your cat along in style.

The cat carrier has dimensions of 16.92” L x 8.26” W x 11.81” H. this makes it ideal for smaller cats that weigh less than 8 lbs.

The cat carrier is made of polyamide materials, which is quite durable to support a small cat’s weight. However, it does have that annoying plastic smell.

Additionally, it has mesh panels on both sides of the carrier as well as the top to promote comfortable ventilation. 

Although the mesh has high visibility, it’s surprisingly durable enough to withstand kitty scratches.

Thing We Liked

  • Ideal for buyers on a budget
  • Works well with smaller cats
  • Durable and highly visible mesh

Things That Could Improve

  • Unlockable zippers can be easily unzipped by a cat

How to Choose the Best Airline Cat Carrier for You?

There are various aspects that you should look for while shopping for an airline-approved carrier. 

Let’s have a brief overview of these aspects, so you can pinpoint the ideal one for you and your kitty.

Size

Cat carriers come in a variety of sizes. However, airline-approved ones are within the acceptable ranges of most airlines. 

Unlike us, most cats love tight spaces, so you won’t have to worry about them being stressed in a smaller bag. Yet, if your cat prefers extra space, consider going for an expandable cat carrier.

Sturdiness and Security

Ideally, you should look for cat carriers made from durable materials, such as nylon and PU. 

Polyester is good for internal padding for comfort but isn’t a good material for supporting the carrier’s frame, especially under the cat’s continuous scratches.

Comfort

Keeping your cat comfortable mid-flight is crucial for an easy trip for both you and your feline friend.

That’s why you should make sure that your cat is feeling comfortable in its carrier. Ideally, you look for cat carriers with removable fleece padding to help your cat sleep better. Establishing a balance between size and coziness is critical for long flights. 

Make sure that the internal space of the carrier is large enough for your cat’s comfort but also not too big to reduce their stress. 

Ventilation

Mesh panels are a critical aspect that any airline cat carrier must provide. They should be abundant enough to support comfortable air cycling inside the carrier. 

They also allow you to see your cat easier without having to open the bag. It’s essential for these panels to be durable enough, so your cat can’t poke them.

Portability

For your own comfort, you need to make sure that you’re able to carry the cat carrier easily. Ideally, a good cat carrying must provide means for portability.

This can be through carrying handles and shoulder strap. We recommend that you avoid bags with strolling wheels, as they’re slightly unstable while in the airplane cabin and waste a much needed vertical space.

FAQs

What makes a cat carrier airline approved?

As a rule of thumb, if your pet in a carrier weighs less than 20 pounds and can fit under the seat in front of you, it’s most likely approved for most airlines.

However, the regulations for having pets on board differs from airline to the other, especially if they’re support animals.

Also, the under-seat space varies among airlines. So, the best thing to do is to check with the airline you’re traveling with about their rules. Luckily, the carriers listed above are approved by most airlines.

Do cats prefer hard or soft carriers?

Both soft and hardshell cat carriers are approved for air travel. However, choosing one of them depends mainly on your preferences and cats’ behavior.

Softshell bags are more comfortable and easy to pack but don’t provide security as hardshell ones.

If your cat is generally calm and easy-tempered while traveling, a soft carrier would be easier for you and them.

Can I Buy an Extra Seat for my Cat?

It might differ from one airline to the other, but you’re most likely unallowed to buy a seat for your cat. 

Wrap Up

There you have it. A complete guide with everything you need to know before picking the best cat carrier for air travel. 

As you can see, the market offers a wide variety of cat carriers that are made specifically for the purpose of air travel.

If you’re looking for a comfortable cat carrier that fits under most airline seats while offering decent ventilation, X-ZONE Pet Travel Carrier is your way to go.

However, if you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the MuchL Cat Carrier:. It has everything you might be looking for without poking a hole in your wallet.

Regardless of your final choice, always make sure to make your cat comfortable with the carrier beforehand. 

You can easily encourage your furball to explore the carrier by tossing some delicious treats into the carrier.