Join Date: Mar 2015
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We've travelled quite a bit with a pet in the cabin in recent years (I flew to get my pup, plus I've flown to agility trials with my daughter and her toy poodle). We've used three different bags: Sherpa medium and large, and Sturdi large. My favourite for the poodle is the Sturdi bag, which measures 17" x 12" x 12". That is much bigger than all the airlines' guidelines, but it looks smaller because of its design (rounded top) and scrunches easily to fit under the seat. I've never had a problem with it and the airline staff have never challenged it.
When I went to get my pup, I took my bag (the large Sherpa) to the United Airlines desk at the airport, a couple of days before the flight, to have it approved. They were a bit bemused as to why I would do that. They just gave it a quick glance and said "it's fine". Nobody measured it. On the day I travelled, nobody looked twice at it.
I chose the large Sherpa for the pup because it has mesh sides all the way around and I thought he'd be more comfortable and less frightened if he had a bit more room and could see what was going on. The Sturdi bag, while bigger, has a solid dome with mesh front and back, so the dog can't really see out. I like it for the poodle because he's a diva and needs his privacy. Before we first used the Sturdi, we gave him a choice - set the Sherpa and Sturdi on the floor together to see which he would choose. He examined both, but picked the Sturdi, so we went with his preference!
I wouldn't worry about the exact dimensions of the bag. Bags are flexible and can be scrunched a bit to fit in the available space. Whatever you choose, you'll be fine. It's unlikely to be measured.
Ruby 13-01-2007 to 18-03-2015.
My dog of a lifetime. I'll miss you forever.