Last October Gretel and I were invited to attend the PetSafe Paw Print Blogger Summit in Knoxville, TN. The approval to bring Gretel came last minute, and I had never flown with her before, so I was left scrambling to find an airline approved pet carrier. Sleepypod came to the rescue. They were kind enough to send me a Sleepypod Air In-cabin Pet Carrier to take on our trip in exchange for sharing my thoughts about it.
When the carrier arrived, I immediately loved the soft and plush pad on the inside. I didn’t think Gretel would have an accident in there but I liked that it was removable and washable just in case.
The Sleepypod Air was the perfect dimensions for us. Gretel is 10 lbs, about 12 inches long (without tail) and 7 inches tall. She had room to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position, like the airline requires, when the carrier was expanded full size.
There a handle across the top of the carrier and one strap that can be used to carry the bag across your body like a messenger bag. Carrying the bag across my shoulder was pretty comfortable. A friend of mine had warned me that the strap could make my shoulder sore but I set the pad strap to the bony outside of my shoulder and, although I was aware I was carrying a 10 lb dog, it wasn’t super uncomfortable.
There is a second “option” for carrying the bag when walking through the airport – opening a zipper on one side and sliding the carrier over the handle of your rolling suitcase. I tried putting the bag over the handle of my carry-on suitcase to give my shoulder a rest but it didn’t work. The zipper opening is wider than the suitcase handle is so the carrier shifted side to side when Gretel moved around. I tried to close the zipper part way to make the opening smaller but it still wouldn’t fit snugly around the handle. It might have worked if Gretel was lighter or the suitcase had been larger.
While I was walking through the airport Gretel just laid down and observed the word for the most part. If she was moving around she had a tendency to slide to one end if the bag and tilt it on my body. Those times took a bit of adjustment to even her out but it was no big deal.
There are, essentially, two outside pockets on the carrier. There is a dedicated pocket on one side and the bottom zipper on the luggage sleeve can be zipped shut to form a second pocket on the other. During our trip I learned, among many other lessons, why it’s essential to have pockets on the outside of any in-cabin pet carrier.
I used the handle across the top of the carrier when boarding the plane. I was able to easily turn it long ways to fit between the seats with plenty of space to spare and it was comfortable to carry. When I got to my seat, I folded up the ends like they are designed to do and, with a little pushing, squeezed Gretel under the seat in front of me.
American Airlines requires that in-cabin pet carriers be no larger than 19″ long x 13″ wide x 9″ high to fit under the seat during takeoff and landing. The airline has a policy that all parts of the dog must remain inside the carrier during the flight but doesn’t require that the carrier stay under the seat the whole time. For your pet’s comfort, the instructions for the Sleepypod Air tell you to pull the carrier out from under the seat and turn it length-wise between your feet so it can expand to full size (22″ long ×10.5″ wide ×10.5″ high) once the seat belt light is turned off.
I am not sure how Sleepypod could make it work because the sides of the carrier needed to be rigid but it would have been nice to have a small window in the sides of the carrier. The top and ends of the carrier are mesh but are not visible when the carrier is under the seat so I couldn’t see Gretel.
Despite the inside pad being removable and washable, I did buy the (affiliate link) DryFur absorbent insert for the carrier. It covered up the cushy pad and made the bottom a little harder than I liked though so I didn’t use it on the return flight. I’ll probably be sorry if Gretel ever has an accident in-flight though because it would be way more complicated to clean up.
I didn’t use this feature but straps on both sides of the carrier allow it to be secured in a car. Sleepypod crash tests its entire line of dog harnesses and pet carriers in the same frontal crashes that ensure the effectiveness of child safety restraints.
Sleepypod actually designed Max and Duke, the crash test dogs, for their safely testing program. Learn more about Max and Duke, and the program, in this video:
Unlike most pet restraints that that are designed only for keeping your dog from roaming lose in the car and distracting you, each Sleepypod pet carrier is designed to secure a pet in the seat and keep them from flying around in the case of an accident. If I had rented a car when I reached my destination, I would have really appreciated this feature.
I’ve never used any other pet airline carrier but, overall, I had zero complaints about the Sleepypod Air. I look forward to using it the next time I fly with Gretel.
You can purchase the Sleepypod Air through for $159.99 on the Sleepypod Webiste. The limited edition robin’s egg blue carrier we have is not available until spring but several other colors are available.