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10 Best Airline-Approved Cat Carriers for Planes in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

a white cat in an airline-approved cat carrier

If you want to bring a little tagalong aboard your next flight, you know how important it is to ensure the airline carrier matches the criteria. It would be such a hassle to get to the airport only to find out that it doesn’t adhere to the airline’s policy.

While you should still double-check with your specific airline’s guidelines for specifications, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best airline-approved cat carriers we could find, all of which have seen success in getting approved before boarding. Here are our reviews of these products—and hopefully, you can find the one that best suits your needs.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Elite-Field Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier Elite-Field Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier
  • Feature iconPractical design
  • Feature iconMultiple ways to carry
  • Feature iconExcellent polyester composition
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Henkelion Cat Carrier Henkelion Cat Carrier
  • Feature iconAffordable
  • Feature iconMany color choices
  • Feature iconStrong and soft flooring
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Mr. Peanut's Monterey Series Convertible Backpack Mr. Peanut's Monterey Series Convertible Backpack
  • Feature iconHigh-quality, durable design
  • Feature iconFits other items, laptop-compatible
  • Feature iconMany options for loading and carrying
  • Best for Kittens
    Siivton 4-Sides Expandable Pet Carrier Siivton 4-Sides Expandable Pet Carrier
  • Feature iconExcellent airflow
  • Feature iconSpacious for kittens
  • Feature iconMachine washable cushion
  • COFOETLN Cat Backpack Carrier Bubble COFOETLN Cat Backpack Carrier Bubble
  • Feature iconEasy to load/unload
  • Feature iconAdequate ventilation
  • Feature iconAwesome for curious kitties
  • The 10 Best Airline-Approved Cat Carriers – Reviews & Top Picks 2023

    1. Elite-Field Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier – Best Overall

    Elite-Field Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 17 x 9 x 12 inches
    Material: Polyester

    With all the other great products on the market, the Elite-Field Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier was our favorite overall airline-approved cat carrier. It is the most practical, suiting the needs of a larger variety of traveling feline owners.

    This carrier is available in six color choices: sky blue, black, pink, purple, charcoal gray, and sapphire blue. It comes in 17 or 19 inches. The design is totally waterproof and easy to clean in the event of any accidents. There is also mesh on the top, front, and sides to promote adequate ventilation and vision.

    The interior has a removable, washable plush bed for your kitty’s comfort. It even has pockets to store some goodies for your cat or even yourself. It comes equipped with a shoulder strap for easy carrying and a seat belt strap for ultra-security.

    All in all, we think it’s a convenient pet carry-on of excellent quality. However, it only holds up to 12 pounds. So, if you have an extra fluffy kitty, you might want to look for a larger carrier.

    Pros
    • Practical design
    • Multiple ways to carry
    • Excellent polyester composition
    Cons
    • Might need larger carrier for heavier cats
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    2. Henkelion Cat Carrier – Best Value

    Henkelion Cat Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines
    Measurements: 17 x 11 x 11 inches
    Material: Polyester

    We think you might find the Henkelion Cat Carrier useful. It has all of the basics you could want—plus, it’s a safe ride for your feline. We loved that this duffel bag-style carrier offers lots of visibility so your cat can see what’s going on during travel.

    This product comes in six attractive colors: grey, black, blue, green, purple, and pink. Tons of entry/exit points fasten efficiently with strong zippers. You can get your cat out of the top, either side, or the front—totally easy access.

    The interior has a woolen mat that wraps around a foam-fitted piece and wooden panel. This provides comfort and ensures floor strength and shape, not buckling under your cat’s weight while carrying.

    The shoulder strap has slight padding, but it’s very durable and easy to carry. It also has a handle if you prefer that method too. This is totally airline friendly—except for Southwest or Alaska Airlines, so do be careful when purchasing if you plan to fly with these companies.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Strong and soft flooring
    • Many color choices
    Cons
    • Not compatible with Southwest or Alaska Airlines
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    3. Mr. Peanut’s Monterey Series Convertible Backpack – Premium Choice

    Mr. Peanuts Monterey Series Convertible Backpack

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 18 x 11 x 9 inches
    Material: Plush faux fleece

    If you want your cat traveling in the lap of luxury and don’t mind paying for top quality, check out the Mr. Peanut’s Monterey Series Convertible Backpack. The biggest perk to this backpack-style carrier is that it is incredibly well-made. You can literally feel the quality of the product, which we loved.

    This carrier comes in one color, a standard dark gray for a sleek and modern feel. It has entrances on the top and both sides, depending on whatever’s easier for you.

    In addition to the entry/exit points, there are also quite a few carrying options. This design doubles as a backpack, shoulder sling, or straps onto the top of the luggage. There is also a storage compartment in the front totaling 13 inches—the perfect size to onboard your laptop.

    The bottom is firm with an ultra-plush liner for a pleasant in-tow experience. The materials are chemical-free and completely safe for your pet. While we love all the features, the weight proportions might be slightly uncomfortable, especially with back problems.

    Pros
    • High-quality, durable design
    • Many options for loading and carrying
    • Fits other items, laptop-compatible
    Cons
    • Pricey
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    4. Siivton 4-Sides Expandable Pet Carrier – Best for Kittens

    Siivton 4-Sides Expandable Pet Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 18 x 11 x 11 inches, folded
    Material: Polyester

    When it comes to space, Siivton 4-Sides Expandable Pet Carrier has you covered. This design folds out on all four sides, creating a spacious experience for your traveling kitty. Even though it offers lots of expansion, it still remains sturdy to support your cat.

    We really love the circulation of this carrier. If your cat needs that extra space to calm the nerves, it offers just that on stops or while you’re waiting to board. This bag also offers lots of storage compartments for extra goodies—like treats or your belongings.

    This bag has both handles and a shoulder strap, depending on how you prefer to carry it. The cushion is machine washable but the cat bed is not, so keep that in mind.

    Because of the extra space kittens crave, this works especially well for young cats. This bag is perfect to fit under your airline seat, however, it won’t work for all airlines. Make sure to check with your local airline for requirements and guidelines.

    Pros
    • Spacious for kittens
    • Machine washable cushion
    • Excellent airflow
    Cons
    • Might exceed the space needs of some cats
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    5. COFOETLN Cat Backpack Carrier Bubble

    COFOETLN Cat Backpack Carrier Bubble

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 11.2 x 11.4 x 16.5 inches
    Material: Polyester, ABS

    COFOETLN Cat Backpack Carrier is a terrific carrier that will show off your lovely cat while showing them the world from a great vantage point. This backpack has a basic style that keeps your cat safe while allowing them to feel seen. It would definitely work best for curious cats since they love being in on your business.

    You can choose from several modern colors: yellow, black, blue, gray, green, and red. There are three rings on each side and the bottom front that provide optimal ventilation. You have two zipped pockets on the side for easy exits. The front frame completely comes down for quick loading.

    This backpack is equipped with a handle and traditional backpack straps, so you have the choice. Ultimately, this design won’t work for all cats—especially if they have anxiety or insecurity about being out of the house.

    Pros
    • Awesome for curious kitties
    • Adequate ventilation
    • Easy to load/unload
    Cons
    • Not recommended for anxious cats
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    6. Prodigen Pet Carrier

    Prodigen Pet Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 17.5 x 10 x 11 inches
    Material: Polyester

    The Prodigal Pet Carrier is a very straightforward and functional cat carrier that is airline-friendly. It comes with incredibly strong fabric, anti-scratch mesh sides, and lots of compartments. The pet bed is four layers for optimal comfort.

    You can choose from a wide selection of colors here—gray, black, blue, green, pink, and purple. The interior is waterproof, with a machine washable cozy three-layer fleece bed. You can hook it to luggage, carry it on your shoulder, or use the handles—it’s very versatile.

    This design has three entry and exit points—on both sides and on the top. It is equipped with self-zippers that are very well-made and stay on track well. This bag has proper airflow, but there isn’t a lot of room to see out.

    So, if your cat wants in on everything happening around them, this may be too restrictive.

    Pros
    • Anti-scratch mesh
    • 3-layer washable fleece bed
    • Versatile design for easy carrying
    Cons
    • Restrictive view
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    7. YAOJIAVLSE Pet Carrier

    YAOJIAVLSE Pet Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 18.89 x 14.96 x 11 inches
    Material: Oxford cloth

    The YAOJIAVLSE Pet Carrier is a perfect choice for people looking for a little extra storage. Many carriers don’t have pockets, or just small ones. But this carrier has two compartments in the front that Velcro shut for extra storage—plus a mesh portion in back for additional items.

    This backpack-style carrier has two straps that adjust and strap across the chest. It also has a padded top handle for carrying. The back portion is padded for extra carrying comfort, too.

    We think that this carrier has excellent ventilation, offering open mesh parts on the front and both sides. Plus, there are extra air holes at the bottom to make sure your cat is getting enough fresh air.

    This product is made of high-quality oxford material that is scratch-resistant. Also, this carrier lays completely flat when it isn’t in use, so it’s easy to store away when it’s not in use. Be sure to measure, as this might not be a big enough design for larger cats.

    Pros
    • Made of scratch-resistant oxford cloth
    • Stores away flat
    • Optimal airflow & storage
    Cons
    • Not for overweight adult cats
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    8. FUKUMARU Cat Carrier

    FUKUMARU Cat Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 18.5 x 11.8 x 11.6 inches
    Material: Nylon

    FUKUMARU Cat Carrier is a durable little handheld pet back with optional shoulder straps. This product is a good option for cats with anxiety toward outside stimuli on the road. If you’re looking for additional coverage but optimal breathability, it’s worth your consideration.

    This carrier is grayish blue with no other color options available. Both sides have optional mesh windows with sections you can roll up for visual stimulation or fold-down curtain to block sight. There are two compartments in the front for extra storage.

    Your cat has a few choice options for the interior, too. It has a mat with dual sides, offering rattan and flannel textures—whichever your cat prefers. Also, the design is anti-shock, so it stays very stable to provide ideal security.

    Even though it’s very private, it still has adequate ventilation.

    Pros
    • Terrific for anxious cats
    • Anti-shock design
    • Extra storage compartments
    Cons
    • Might be too visually restrictive for some cats
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    9. Zenapoki Pet Carrier

    Zenapoki Pet Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 17 x 11 x 11 inches
    Material: Polyester

    The Zenapoki Pet Carrier has a few extra perks that might be worth checking out. It comes with several add-ons, like an ID tag, a collapsible bowl with attachment, and a bag dispenser. These items could come in handy on the road.

    The overall quality of the bag is pretty durable. We loved the visibility, as it touts mesh openings on the top, sides, and front. It’s also quite easy to carry—you can place it on a suitcase, carry it on your shoulder, or lift it with the handle.

    There is a removable cozy bed inside that is machine washable—but only washed in cold water. The bag works very well, but it does have a strong chemical smell upon opening. But with all the extra goodies, it might be well worth your purchase.

    Pros
    • Fits on shoulders, in hands, and on suitcases
    • Cozy machine washable bed
    • 3 bonus surprise items
    Cons
    • Strong chemical smell upon opening
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    10. Lekesky Cat Carrier

    Lekesky Cat Carrier

    Airline Restrictions: Varies
    Measurements: 17.7 x 9.8 x 11 inches
    Material: Not mentioned

    The Lekesky Cat Carrier Bag will be a perfect conversation starter while traveling. It comes in an awesome Magic Schoolbus-style design saying “Pet Bus” in big letters. The front has a decent-sized storage compartment for all of your cat’s on-the-go belongings.

    This bag opens on both ends and on the top. Where the windows go, it’s thick anti-scratch mesh all the way around. While we love the look, there is no open to close these portions for a secluded feel.

    This bag is perfectly designed to fit under airline seats, so you can bring your cat onboard without issues. Inside, there is a three-layer washable pad to give your cat firmness and comfort as you carry them.

    You can load up your cat from the sides or the top—whichever you prefer. This might be a really super cute design, but it could only work for experienced travelers.

    Pros
    • 3-layer washable pad
    • Adorable bus design
    • Anti-scratch mesh liner
    Cons
    • No curtain coverage for mesh
    • Might work best for experienced traveling cats

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    Buyer’s Guide

    Before you make the commitment to purchase any airline carrier, it is important to note that every airline differs slightly. Dimensions that work for one airline might not for another, to the disappointment of many pet owners. To alleviate traveling frustration, it’s best to know the restrictions and requirements before shopping.

    Just because a carrier has “airline-approved” in the title does not mean it is accepted by all airlines.

    bengal cat in a cat carrier

    Checklist for Airline Carriers for Cats

    Proper Measurements

    Proper measurements are the number one criterion for airline approval. Make absolutely sure your carrier matches the airline’s regulations.

    Sufficient Space

    Your cat is going to be cramped in a very tight space. It can cause your feline a great deal of stress if they feel trapped in an unfamiliar setting. It would be best if you got a carrier big enough for them to feel comfortable while you fly.

    Optimal Safety

    Your cat is going to be in a bustling and potentially dangerous place. Airports and plane rides are no joke when it comes to crowds. So, for the safety of your cat, make sure the carrier is absolutely reliable in every way.

    Test it beforehand to ensure all zippers, fasteners, and mesh windows work as they should.

    Ultra-Durability

    You probably won’t be able to afford the time to buy another carrier on the road. If your carrier fails for any reason, this could potentially delay your trip and put your cat at risk.

    Plus, if the design isn’t very durable, it could buckle, sag, or prove difficult to carry. Durability ensures your cat—and you—will have a hassle-free experience.

    Adequate Ventilation

    Protection is important, but your cat also needs to be able to breathe. If your cat has a restricted oxygen flow, it can be scary and downright dangerous for them. Buying a carrier that has lots of ventilation will ensure your cat can get air comfortably without struggling or getting overheated.

    cat inside an airplane
    Image Credit: Photo-Spirit, Shutterstock

    Safe Materials

    You want to make sure all materials that go into the carrier are totally non-toxic and safe for your feline friend. If they accidentally ingest some of the material by chewing or licking, it can be very harmful. You won’t want to make an emergency trip to the vet on your outing. Always double-check material labels.

    Storage Space

    If your cat has belongings in tow, you want to ensure you have adequate storage space to place their things. Many carriers come with compartments to store treats, harnesses, collapsible bowls, and other goodies.

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    Conclusion

    We still stand by our top choice for best cat carrier —the Elite-Field Soft-Sided Airline-Approved Cat Carrier. It is the most practical, matching with many airline requirements and coming in all kinds of color choices. It is safe, durable, and we think you can get some great product life out of this bag.

    If you’re looking for top-notch savings, look at the Henkelion Cat Carrier. It’s affordable, comfortable, and useful—plus, it can fit your laptop if you need that extra perk.

    With any luck, these reviews did you a favor—preventing you from swimming through endless online products—best of luck to you and your kitty on your upcoming travels.

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