Best 7 Airline(IATA) Approved Dog Crates for Cargo Hold

Many pet parents travel and relocate around the world due to professional and personal reasons.  Relocating itself is stressful and pet relocation through an airport is more complicated. Pet carriers are handy portable boxes, crates, or cages that are used to transport pets of any size from one location to another. This article will provide insights into the best airline approved dog crates that will ease one’s relocation process. After all, one’s pet deserves a great piece of luggage for themselves, too. 


Why Do Furry Friends Require a Crate for Air Travel?

Furry pals are den animals and hence one needs to look for gadgets like dens for comfort in times of stress like air traveling. A crate or carrier solves this tension of providing it a den-like structure giving the pooch a safe place to sleep, retreat and maybe even eat during travel.

Product NameSize/DimensionsRatingPrice
Aspen Pet Porter Heavy-Duty Pet CarrierSize: 15 lb
23" x 15.2" x 11.8"
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Petmate Compass KennelSize: 10-20 LBS
24.60 x 16.90 x 15.00
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IRIS Deluxe Pet Travel CarrierSize: 34-Inch
34.2 x 24.4 x 26 inches
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SportPet Designs Plastic KennelsSize: 10-20 LBS
24 x 16 x 16
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Marchioro Clipper Ithaka pet carrierSize: 27.75-inches
27.75"L x 19.5"W x 20.25"H
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What Are The Minimum Cargo Crate Requirements

1.Standard cargo crater requirements

This section provides the general crate requirements that are specified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) and are accepted by many airlines.

2. Size and design 

  • The pet crate should be spacious enough for the pet to turn around, rest, and stretch comfortably. 
  • Snub-nosed breeds require one size larger crate than most airline-approved specifications when the pet is checked in the cargo section. The sizing instructions are explained in detail in later sections. 
  • The crate design needs to be sturdy and not collapsible. 
  • The carrier roof should be solid and can have ventilation if its strength is not compromised. 
  • The accepted crate material is fiberglass, metal, rigid plastics, weld metal mesh, solid or plywood.
  • The floor of the crate must be solid and leak-proof.

#3. Handles and door

  • Handling space handles need to be present on the longer side of the carrier.
  • The carrier door should have a secure, spring-loaded complete locking system with the pins that extend at least 1.6 cm beyond the horizontal extrusions above and below the carriage door. 
  • Many airlines also specify that the door needs to be further secured with cable ties at each corner of the crate.
  •  Doors must be a build-up of welded or cast metal or heavy plastic strong enough such that a pet cannot bend it. 
  • The doors also need to be nose and paw proof for pet injury prevention.

#4. Ventilation

  • The dog carrier needs to have a minimum of two to four side ventilation for domestic as well as international flights. 
  • The openings should be a minimum of 2.5 cm over the upper two-thirds of the opposite end and the remaining two sides, 10 cm from the center to center of each opening.
  •  The total ventilated area should be 16% of the total surface of the four sides. 
  • Additional holes on the roof or sides are permitted if it doesn’t affect the strength of the crate. 
  • The ventilation holes should not be taped or blocked in any way.

#5. Water and food 

  • Water and food bowls need to be attached to the interior of the front door and should be refillable from the exterior of the crate without opening the door. 
  • Small funnels that are attached to the door by cable ties enhance it easier handling at the airport as any crew member can refill water bowls.
  •  Food needs to be attached to the carrier top in a zip-lock plastic bag.

#6. Paperwork and documents

  • The container should have a “LIVE ANIMAL” sticker on the top and sides in letters at least one inch tall.  A Shipper’s Declaration sticker with the pet’s last food and water feed needs to be recorded.
  • Containers without wheels are recommended, in cases where they cannot be removed one needs to securely tape it so that the kennels do not roll down.
  • The container must have the pet’s name and owner’s contact information attached to the outside of the crate with a duct or other sturdy tape.

#7. Extra recommendations

  • Many airlines recommend steel crate hardware instead of plastic fasteners. 
  •  Most airlines recommend the use of cable ties in the corners of the crate over plastic clips.
  • If the pet exceeds 132lbs or 60 kg one needs to provide a forklift spacer.

#8. Add on recommendations for furry pal comfort

  • Place a leash and collar in a plastic bag and tape it to the exterior of the crate.
  •  Provide a biography of the pet’s name and its owner’s name in a printed sheet and tape it on the top of the crate.
  • Inclusion of a pet pad or shredded newspaper is a requirement of many airlines.
  • Place an unwashed t-shirt with the scent of the pet’s favorite person to eliminate the stress of traveling alone and provide comfort to the pet.
  • Tape the original documents in a sealed ziplocked bag that are required at the arrival country to the top of the crate with the following caution “DO NOT REMOVE! ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS”.
  • Refrain from including any hard toys or objects that could bounce around the crate and injure the pet pal.
IATA and USDA Dog crate features:
  • Metal nuts and bolts
  • Food and water bowls with water and kibbles
  • Airholes on two sides for domestic and four holes for international travel.
  • Paperwork and documents taped at a visible place on the crate exterior.
  • Absorbent crate lining for elimination mishaps
  • Toxic materials, treatments, paint, or preservative-free dog crates

For more insights on crate types, choosing of crate types and tips please refer to 

Best 7 Air Line Approved Dog Crate and Kennel for Cargo Hold 

The pet crate should be spacious enough for the pet to turn around, rest, and stretch comfortably. With so many airlines approved pet crates available in the market as well as on the web, it always to tedious to choose one from the many as each one accompanies its unique features, benefits, and some cons. Following is a list of the top seven compliant pet crates for air travel that are worth to explore prior to zeroing on the right carrier.

#1. Aspen Pet Porter Heavy-Duty Pet Carrier

Aspen Pet Porter Heavy Duty Crate

This dog kennel suits the airline specifications of many airlines and is well suited for medium to large dogs. It has an easy-open latch that can be opened with one hand. The crate is composed of the heavy-duty plastic shell and metal screws that not only offer durability and stability for smooth long or short travels but are also easier to clean and maintain. 

Possess ventilation on all sides, therefore this portable kennel is seen to have clear pet’s visibility and fresh air for stress-free travel. The crate can be hassle freely assembled as well as disassembled with metal nuts and bolts. The product has no sharp edges providing extra comforts for the pet.

  • Satisfies the natural denning instincts of dogs.
  • Durable and long-lasting.
  • Compact and stylish.
  • Easy to clean up.
  • Hassle-free assembling and dismantling.
  • Available in nine sizes and 13 color variants.
  • Customer reviews suggest that the top plastic is thinner and is not suitable for pooches that chew plastic during stress, boredom, and anger. 
  • The quality of the product is questionable.
  •  Not compliant with the ventilation international airline travel specifications.

Our view

A decent product at a decent price. Every dog is different hence one needs to not only check for individual dog tastes but also check with individual airlines for their respective carrier regulations.

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#2. Petmate Compass Kennel

Petmate Compas Fasshion

This dog crate is well suited for pets that weigh below 20lbs that is available in four fashionable colors that include denim/black, hot pink/black, island blue/black, and red plum/black. The kennel features a two-way door that is seen to open on either side for easy pet access. Possess ventilated sides for maximum visibility and airflow. 

The portable kennel has a durable plastic construction with steel door latches for security. This pet carrier is seen to comply with most airline cargo specifications for easy sky travel and has a carrying handle for smoother transport. The main features include a slide assembly with four bolts for extra security.

  • Safe for all travel types.
  • Durable and budget friendly.
  • Superior upper and lower ventilation openings for better visibility and fresh air.
  • Slide assembly with bolts that can be dismantled and assembled without hassles.
  • Satisfies the natural den instincts.
  • Back latches appear weak and flimsy.
  • No rear ventilation.
  • Not totally escape-proof.

Our view

Overall, this IATA compliant dog travel crate is loved by most dogs for its space and openness. Good value for money. but one needs to buy the 10 to 20lbs crate for daily usage. Suits well for small to medium dogs. Compliant with the specifications of many airlines.  

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#3. IRIS Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier

The IRIS Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier can carry dogs that weigh up to 75lbs and are available in two colors: navy and red. The kennel is entirely designed to comply with the specifications of many airlines for long travel periods especially.

The cage is amply ventilated with an additional padlock for extra safety. Possess a removable small food and water dish attached to the door.  One can detach the top and use the leak-proof base as a pet bed or remove the door completely in larger models to create a restful pet retreat when not traveling.

  • Highly durable.
  • One-handed latch operation.
  •  A foldable handle on the top of the pet carrier allows for smooth transportation and travel.
  • Collapsible hence easy to store when not in use.
  • Best choice for tall pooches.
  • Not recommended for aggressive dogs and for pooches that have the chewing tendencies as the wire metal door might seem to be a little weak to be able to sustain it.
  • Not advised for frequent relocators as the weight is huge.

Our view

The IRIS Deluxe Pet Travel Carrier is a great investment for smaller and calmer dogs. Not recommended for frequent travelers as the product is not very durable.

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#4. SportPet Designs Plastic Kennels

This dog crate is spacious, sturdy, durable, easy to assemble and airline friendly. It is available in six different sizes right from small to XXX- large that can hold dogs up to 140 lbs. The crate comes with removable wheels for all sizes except for the small, hence it can be easily transported without any hassles. This airline approved crate has also the tiedown holes for bungee that many airlines specify. These plastic dog carriers are suitable for both uses that are as a home crate and travel kennel. 

The manufacturers have used metal slats to mitigate the dog chewing problem in the ventilation holes. The crate has a feature where during accident moat pulls the spills are seen to take place away from the fur pal’s body, out to the edges of the kennel. It possesses a strong metal kennel door with a smooth, easy-to-grasp poly shell latch.

  • Compact design and durable.
  • IATA airline approved.
  • Removable wheels for easy transportation.
  • Tie-down holes for bungees specified and required by many airlines.
  • Metal kennel and ventilation door to overcome the chewing habits of most dogs.
  • Customer reviews suggest buying a size extra of the pet measurement.
  • The crate needs extra padding.
  • The wheels are seen to break off easily

Our view

A sturdy easy to assemble pet carrier that can be used both as a home crate and a travel carrier. The main attraction of this airline approved crate is that it has removable wheels and air holes for bungees that add on to secure the main doors of the crates for escape artists. Value for money.

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#5. Marchioro Clipper Ithaka pet carrier

The IATA approved airline dog carrier is constructed with durable plastic for a lifetime of use and metal windows for better ventilation. It is easy to assemble or disassemble for compact storage when the carrier is not in use. 

It is suitable for medium dog’s breeds that weigh between 18-55 pounds. The spring-latch door is seen to stay securely closed but can be easily opened by us with opposable thumbs. It comes in five different sizes and the two different colors.

  • Increased security.
  • Better ventilation.
  • Has provisions to add on accessories.
  •  Easy to assemble and dismantle.
  • Overpriced.
  • The door cannot be opened from the left as it runs into the lip of the crate hence cannot be even forced to shut.

Our view

Marchioro Clipper Ithaka pet carrier is a customizable, airline-approved option for the furry pal’s travel. Although one needs to shed extra money for its purchase, it is worth the investment for the versatility and security that the crate offers.

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#6. Petmate Sky Kennel

This hard-sided crate is a great option to relocate a dog in. It comes in six different sizes, suitable for dogs up to 125lbs. The crate has a secure, but easy to open latch which is seen to allow easy access at food and watering time for one’s pet on a prolonged flight. 

The dog kennel comes with a pair of clip-on doggie bowls so one needs not to have to pack extras to keep the dog watered or with enough food during the travel. Possess high gauge wires on the doors and sides that are seen to not only safeguard the dog but also allow for adequate ventilation in the cargo area.

  • Eco-friendly compact design.
  • Heavy-duty plastic shell, non-corrodible wing-nuts, and extra strong steel wire.
  • Interlocking door enhance security.
  • The crate has a travel kit full of airline specified necessities, that includes two “Live Animal” stickers, clip-on bowls, and ID stickers.
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Bulky and difficult to transport.
  • Usable actual size is not specified.
  • Reviews report that handle comes off with increased usage. 

Our view

This cheapest of the hard crate options not only makes for savings on one’s wallet but is also the closest for most of the airline specifications. 

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#7.  Ruff Maxx Portable Kennel

Ruff Maxx Portable Kennel is composed of sturdy durable plastic with 360-degree ventilation that provides ample airflow and visibility for pets that travel in it. The metal door with a squeeze latch and a strong plastic shell enhances the durability of the product. 

This kennel is available in three sizes, ranging from 30 to 90 pounds. This portable dog kennel meets most of the airline’s cargo specifications and is also seen to include nuts and bolts for stress-free assembly. The camo design of this kennel is the best-suited option for hunting dogs.

  • Camo design suits well for all hunting dog breeds.
  • Great for the outdoors.
  • 360-Degree ventilation.
  • Outdoor-friendly colors.
  • Easy assembling.
  • IATA compliant.
  • Lacks the travel essentials.
  • Air vents are seen to be easily chewed on by anxious or bored pet pals.
  • Not a great option for destructive dogs.

Our view

A budget-friendly IATA compliant kennel that is well suited for most of the hunting dogs. The unique design makes this kennel the most attractive dog crate for air travel.

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How to Prepare Your Dog For Cargo Air Travel?

Not all pets are used to staying in a closed den crate for a long time. Hence one needs to crate train the pet pal for cargo air travel 45 to 50 days prior to the actual departure date. For a detailed explanation of crate training please refer to

Pet travel by air is not an easy process one needs to do prerequisite arrangements for its safe departure and arrangements. For more insights on preparing a pet to travel in the cargo section of the airplane please refer

How to Choose An Airline Approved Dog Kennels for Cargo?

This section will provide a short insight into buying a dog crate for air travel. The following steps need to be considered while zeroing on the right kennel for air travel.

1. Accurate pet measurement 

Length: Measure the length of the dog from its nose to tail. While measuring the tail one should never forget to add 2-4 inches approximately to the overall length, depending on the dog breed.

Height: To determine the height of the crate that one will need, one needs to measure the dog from the top of the head to the ground. If one’s dog has naturally erect ears then the measurement needs to be taken from the tip of the ears.

Width: To obtain the width of your crate one needs to add two inches for smaller breeds and four inches for larger breeds on approximation.

Crate buying guide based on measurements

Checked in dog kennels need to be purchased based on this generalized guide provided in the table below.

Crate size Dog weight Sizes Breed examples
Medium  26 to 40lbs 30L x 21W x 24H30L x 19W x 21H American pit bull, Cocker spaniel, Dachshund, French bulldog, King Charles spaniel, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Schnauzer, Shetland Sheepdog, Welsh Terrier….
Large 41 to 70lbs 36L x 24W x 27H36L x 23W x 25H Basset Hound, Belgian Sheepdog, Bull Terrier, Bulldog, Chinese Shar-Pei, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Schnauzer, Welsh Corgi…
Extra-large 71 to 90lbs 42L x 28W x 31H42L x 28W x 30H Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, Boxer, Dalmation, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Siberian Husky, Poodle..
XXL 90 lbs plus 46L x 30W x 33H Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, Great Dane, Greyhound, Neopolitan Mastiff, Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard

2. Durability

A heavy-duty pet carrier that can withstand damage caused by anxious pets in the course of relocation needs to be chosen as this provides 100% protection against themselves or against outside forces.

3. Ventilation

A carrier with 360 degrees ventilation needs to be chosen as pets breathing at heights is a major issue in flight travels. 

4. Security

Speed bumps are the main concern when traveling through the air. Check if the carrier that one invests in has not only a secured latch mechanism but also has the shell fastened with metal nuts and bolts for added security measures.

5. Portability

The convenience to carry a kennel will give not only give one but also the airport crew more freedom for faster movements and transfer. Choose the crate with a sturdy grip handle for extra pet security.

6. Inclusion of the travel essentials

Check if the crate has food and water trays, “LIVE ANIMAL” stickers, pet documents holder, and other essentials specified by the IATA or USDA.

7. Price

The budget plays a pivotal role in crate purchase. A lot of carriers meet standard airline pet transport rules, however, each brand crates are priced differently. To prevent excessive spending, one needs to research and compare prices among brands to choose a crate based on the pet’s requirements and one’s affordability.

8. IATA Compliance

Most of the airlines accept the dog crates that are approved by the IATA. Hence check this pivotal point or check if the crate complies with the IATA specifications.

9. Travel Itinerary

Not all airlines follow the same rules and regulations for pet cargo travel. Hence one needs to check the individual airline websites for specifications for each breed type and country of entry. The section beneath provides the web address of some of the prominent pet cargo relocating airlines.

Final thoughts

The article provides great insights on choosing the right crate that complies with most of the airline’s specifications. But it’s always a great option to check with individual airlines for their specific rules and specifications to avoid last minute chaos during the pet travel. Happy flying!!!!!!  

FAQs for airline approved crates

Q. What makes a dog crate airline approved?

A. Most IATA complied dog crates are approved by most airlines. But to be on a safer side one needs to contact the airlines that are going to relocate the pet to check for their crate rules and regulations as each airline, as well as the arrival country, have different regulations.

Q. Can two dogs travel in one crate?

A. No two dogs cannot travel in the same crate.

Q. Which are the most pet-friendly airlines around the world?

A. The top twenty pet-friendly airlines around the world include American Airline, JetBlue, Air Canada, Delta, Air India, Air France, Swiss International Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Lufthansa Airlines, Aeroflot, TAP Air Portugal, SAS, Open Skies, KLM, Aer Lingus, Japan Airlines, Alitalia, Copa Airlines, and Iberia.

Q. What if I cannot relocate my pet personally?

A. In cases where you cannot relocate the pet by yourselves, one can take the help of domestic and international pet relocators that are famous in your destination. They are planners who will take all necessary actions right from the documents, health certificate training, travel and departure of the pet within cargo with an assistant or without one.

Q.  Can one rent an airline approved crate?

A. Unfortunately, no airline dog crates are available for rent. A dog needs to have its own crate because it needs to get acclimatized 40 to 50 days before its original travel for a safe and comfortable relocation.

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Yeshwanthi Kamalraj
Yeshwanthi Kamalraj is a freelance copy editor, Pet sitter, and content writer who mainly focuses on scientific journals and health-related web pages. Before becoming a freelance content writer Yeshwanthi worked for Cenveo publishers as document analyst for various science journals published by Taylor and Francis Journals and later continued as a freelance copyeditor for the same publishers. Post marriage in 2009 Yeshwanthi developed a keen interest in pets after her husband and she brought a labrador puppy home. This interest helped her to explore a new niche of the pet sitting world whose journey is still on. Yeshwanthi is a dog lover who in her freetime enjoys listening to music, cooking, and meeting new people.


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