Animals traveling in the cargo hold of an aircraft must be provided with additional amenities. If a pet is traveling with you in the cabin, you are wholly responsible for its actions and care. Cargo travel, however, is different—kennels must be sturdy, include food and water dishes, and have a single metal door. They cannot have wheels, top opening doors, or plastic latches. The best kennels for cargo travel are going to make your life and the life of your pet that much easier.
Before purchasing a crate, we recommend checking out your airline’s cargo kennel requirements. Each airline has separate rules and restrictions relating to pets in cargo, and you want to purchase a kennel to fit these parameters. Once you have your list of necessities, check out our list of airline-approved and IATA-compliant kennels below. We have reviewed some of our favorite airline-approved kennels that are designed to improve your pet’s cargo travel experience.
Petmate Sky Kennel—$58.99 from Amazon
What We Like: This kennel’s heavy-duty frame is an ideal choice for air travel, and the carrier meets all IATA airline requirements for the cargo hold. With a single metal door made from a single piece of metal, pet escape is impossible—your dog will not be able to pull the door inward to collapse the crate. Our favorite feature of the Petmate Sky Kennel is one that most other containers fail to provide: pre-drilled zip tie holes. When traveling with a pet in cargo, airlines require pet parents to zip tie the kennel doors shut. This crate makes the process a bit easier. Additionally, the crate is made of 25% recycled materials, so you can feel good about this purchase.
Size: The carrier is available in six sizes. Their measurements, from smallest to largest are (Length x Width x Height): 21”x16”x15”, 28”x20.5”x21.5”, 32”x22.5”x24”, 36”x25”x27”, 40”x27”x30”, and 48”x32”x35”.
Additional Features: Featuring air holes on all four sides, two attachable food and water dishes, Live Animal stickers, and an extra safe lock, this crate has everything you could possibly need. There is, however, one caveat to purchasing this crate; it comes with plastic nuts and bolts, but you’ll need metal replacements for air travel. This small detail is easily fixed, but you should reserve an extra few dollars in your budget to purchase the required addition.
Aspenport Pet Porter Kennel—$48.74 from Amazon
What We Like: Slightly pricier than the Petmate Sky Kennel, the Aspenport Pet Porter is another fantastic option. It features a single, locking metal door, metal nuts/bolts, and ventilation on all four sides. The plastic shell is durable, and the latch door cannot be pulled inward. This kennel is safe, comfortable, and secure, providing the perfect container for cargo shipments. You will need to supply your own food and water dishes.
Size: The Aspenport Pet Porter Kennel also comes in several colors and sizes—nine, to be exact. The sizes are determined by weight range—up to 10lbs, up to 15lbs, 15-20lbs, 20-25lbs, 25-30lbs, 30-50lbs, 50-70lbs, 70-90lbs, and 90-125lbs. The range of weight availability makes this a solid choice for larger, heavier animals. You’re sure to find a suitable size for your pet no matter how large he is.
Additional Features: This kennel features a handle, side latches, metal nuts and bolts, compartment covers, and tie down holes, making it one of the most secure containers available.
Skudo Plastic Pet Carrier—From $25.19 from Amazon
What We Like: The Skudo Plastic Pet Carrier is one of our favorites; it boasts all necessary features for an airline-approved kennel but offers pet owners a few additional pieces. The container is available in six separate sizes and boasts a traditional handle, built-in hooks for a shoulder strap, easy snap-lock buckles, ventilation on all sides, and a durable plastic shell. You will need to purchase your own metal screws (the crate comes with plastic) and food bowls separately.
Sizes: The Skudo Pet Carrier is available in six sizes. Their measurements, from smallest to largest, include: 21.5”x14”x8.2”, 23.6”x15.8”x9”, 26.8”x18.8”x11.5”, 31.4”x23.1”x15”, 36.2”x24.9”x16.5”, 36.2”x27.2”x27.2”.
Additional Features: The carrier offers removable wheels and a pull handle, which is perfect for transporting heavy dogs before the flight. In general, American airports do not allow animals to leave their crates while in the terminal buildings. This can make traveling with large dogs quite a hassle—carrying a 75lb dog in his carrier is not as easy as you might think. The wheels and handle make moving this kennel a breeze, and their ability to be removed makes the container IATA-compliant.
Marchioro Clipper Ithaka Pet Carrier—$233.12 from Amazon
What We Like: Though one of the more expensive kennel options, the Marchioro Clipper is one of the most secure containers on the market. It features “side-clackers” and additional pins to keep each part of the crate firmly in its place. The front door boasts a spring-latch, making it both secure and accessible. The carrier meets all International Airline Standards and is IATA -compliant.
Sizes: This kennel comes in four sizes: 27.75”x19.5”x20.25”, 32.25”x22.25”x23.5”, 36.5”x25.5”x26.75”, and 41.5”x29.25”x31”.
Additional Features: This kennel stands apart from the rest because of the number of accessories included in the purchase. Each kennel includes attachable wheels for easy transport, a shoulder strap, a water bottle, and a no-spill cup. This eliminates the need to purchase additional materials for pet cargo transit.
Folding Metal Dog Crate—$582.99 from Pet Travel Store
What We Like: Larger, more rambunctious dogs may need more structure and security than what a regular plastic crate can provide. This Folding Metal Dog Crate is the most secure (and one of the most expensive) available. It is made of high-quality, heavy-duty aluminum and features welded rivet construction, rounded square vents for increased airflow, and a marine grade slam latch.
In reality, you likely won’t need this level of security to get your pet to a destination. However, you never know how your pet will react to air travel, and planning for the worst-case scenario is never a bad idea. If you have a large, potentially volatile dog in need of transport, this may be your best option.
Sizes: This kennel is available in four sizes: Medium (24.5”x23”x18.5”), Large (34”x28”x22.5”, Extra Large (40.5”x28”x22.5”), and Giant (27.5”x32.5”x26.5”).
Additional Features: This kennel features the best security technology available, including welded round cross bars for stability, airline rails, and impact/stacking corners for impact protection. The crate can fold flat for transport, and the package includes a handle for easy carrying.