I'm about to travel from America to Europe with my 3 cats using Lufthansa. They'll travel in the cargo hold as checked baggage, and I'm having trouble getting a container of the right size.

My cats are roughly 50cm long, 20cm wide, and 40cm tall when standing erect. Looking at e.g. Petmate containers, I see that their 21'' Vari Kennel is too small, while the 28'' is way too large (just tried putting my cat in a 28'' and he occupied maybe a third of the entire container size while curled up in a corner). The ideal container size for me would be around 55x40x45, but I'm not aware of any good brands that carry those sizes.

I'm concerned that the cat will be bouncing around the container when being transported by the airline staff towards the plane, or if e.g. there's turbulence. Not to mention, transporting such large containers to/from the airports will be a challenge.

Has anyone traveled with cats on Lufthansa before? Which container did you use?

  • I can not exactly remember but I think Lufthansa (and maybe more airlines) say the container need to be minimal the length of the laying and hight of the standing animal (added some space for comfort) Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 16:47
  • Yes, I know that. As stated in my question, the problem is that my cats are too big for the "small" containers, but too small for the rest of the sizes. This happens with virtually every brand I've seen, where the "small" container is too small, and the "medium" one is way too big for them.
    – Martin
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 17:14
  • do you need a seperate one for every cat? Maybe (if allowed by the airline?) you can use a big box for two of them. I do not know much about cats, and if they may be more calm with a companion? Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 10:12
  • I found some in size of 68x51x47cm (measure inside), would this fit? To be honest, I am a little confused by the change between cm and '' in your question ;) I have no imagination of a 28'' Kennel Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 10:28
  • Will the payment you need to do depend on the size of the containers? Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 10:36

2 Answers 2


The guideline is that a pet should be able to stand up fully with 1-2 inches (3-5cm) between the top of their head/ears and the roof of the kennel, and they should be able to turn around without touching the sides. This leads to kennel sizes that may (to us humans) seem significantly larger than needed, especially if we expect the pet to spend the majority of the trip laying down.

Keep in mind that the guideline was developed to work for long international flights, ground delays (or missed connections) of many hours and possible quarantine or other delayed pickup such that the pet may need to be in the kennel for several days with enough space to stretch out, pace around nervously to burn off energy while cooped up, etc.

This is why kennels for shipping a pet (they don’t care if you’re on the same plane) must be significantly larger than what you’d use for a short trip to your local vet or such.

  • 2
    this seems not to answer the question... the person asking the question is aware of the right measures (high of the cat + 5cm, length + 5cm and sufficient width are given in the question) Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 10:17
  • This isn't really what I asked. I'm aware the kennel should be larger, I just didn't think it would have to be that much larger. I fear my pet will be bouncing around during the entire trip, not to mention how difficult it would be to move three huge carriers plus the rest of my baggage.
    – Martin
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 16:31
  • 2
    @Martin The answer I have explains why they need to be so large. As to the relatively few sizes available, that is simple economies of scale for the manufacturers. It’s easier to tell you to pick from one of five sizes than make thirty different options.
    – StephenS
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 17:04

The official Lufthansa homepage has a detailed section Transport von Tieren als Übergepäck im Frachtraum (Transportation of animals as excess baggage in the cargo hold), but unfortunately it seems to be only available in German.

Für die Beförderung eines Tieres im Frachtraum wird ein Transportbehälter benötigt, der den geltenden Bestimmungen der IATA (International Air Transport Association) entspricht; andernfalls kann Lufthansa die Beförderung des Tieres verweigern.

Bitte beachten Sie: Der Transportbehälter muss mit Schrauben gesichert werden. Eine Plastikverriegelung gilt nicht als sichererer Verschluss und wird nicht akzeptiert.

Je nach Tierart sind unterschiedliche Transportbehälter erforderlich. Sie müssen den Transportbehälter selbst mitbringen.


For the carriage of an animal in the cargo hold, a transport container is required that complies with the applicable regulations of IATA (International Air Transport Association); otherwise Lufthansa may refuse to carry the animal.

Please note: The transport container must be secured with screws. A plastic latch is not considered a secure closure and will not be accepted.

Different transport containers are required depending on the type of animal. You must bring the transport container yourself.

(Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version))

The specification for transporting cats is as follows:

  1. Der Transportbehälter muss so groß sein, dass das Tier in natürlicher Haltung in ihm stehen kann und genügend Platz hat sich hinzulegen und sich zu drehen.

  2. Die maximale Größe eines Behälters für den Transport im Frachtraum eines Passagierflugzeugs beträgt: 125 × 75 × 85 cm.

  3. Der Behälter muss ausbruchsicher sein. Wir empfehlen stabile Plastik- oder Holzkäfige aus unschädlichem und ungiftigem Material. Der Transportbehälter muss auf allen vier Seiten Belüftungsöffnungen aufweisen. Die Öffnungen müssen so klein sein, dass kein Körperteil des Tieres durch sie hindurchpasst, dass es sich nicht verletzen kann und dass der Schutz vor Bissen oder Kratzern durch das Tier gewährleistet ist.

  4. Die Innenseite des Behälters darf keine spitzen Ecken, Kanten oder hervorstehenden Nägel aufweisen, an denen sich das Tier verletzen könnte.

  5. Der Transportbehälter muss einen wasserdichten Boden haben und mit saugfähigem Material wie einer Decke oder saugfähigen Matte ausgelegt sein. Zeitungen, Karton oder Stroh sind nicht erlaubt.

  6. Futter und Wasserschalen (ungefüllt) müssen am Käfig angebracht und von außen befüllbar sein. Futter und Wasser für den Flug können optional mitgegeben werden, es muss aber sichergestellt sein, dass diese während des Fluges nicht verschüttet werden können.

  7. Der Behälter darf keine Rollen haben.

  8. An beiden Längsseiten müssen jeweils in der Mitte Abstandhalter angebracht sein.

  9. Die Leine und das Halsband Ihres Tieres führen Sie bitte in Ihrem Handgepäck mit sich.

  10. Pro Behälter ist nur ein Tier erlaubt. Es gelten Ausnahmen*

*Im selben Transportbehälter erlaubt sind bis zu zwei Jungtiere von vergleichbarer Größe, die zwischen 12 Wochen und 6 Monaten alt sein dürfen oder zwei erwachsene Tiere von vergleichbarer Größe und bis zu 14 kg pro Tier oder ein Muttertier mit einem noch von der Mutter abhängigen Jungtier (0–6 Monate). Voraussetzung für die Beförderung mehrerer Tiere in einem Behälter ist, dass alle Tiere in ihm in natürlicher Haltung stehen, sich drehen und hinlegen können und die Tiere aneinander gewöhnt sind. Transportbehälter für Hunde und Katzen

Bitte beachten Sie: Die Oberseite des Behälters darf nicht mit einem Gitter abgedeckt sein. Belüftungsöffnungen im Deckel sind jedoch erlaubt.


  1. The transport container must be large enough for the animal to stand in it in a natural position and have enough space to lie down and turn around.

  2. the maximum size of a container for transport in the hold of a passenger aircraft is: 125 × 75 × 85 cm.

  3. the container must be escape-proof. We recommend sturdy plastic or wooden cages made of harmless and non-toxic material. The transport container must have ventilation openings on all four sides. The openings must be small enough that no part of the animal's body can fit through them, that it cannot injure itself, and that protection from bites or scratches by the animal is ensured.

  4. The inside of the container shall have no sharp corners, edges, or protruding nails that could injure the animal.

  5. the transport container must have a waterproof bottom and be lined with absorbent material such as a blanket or absorbent mat. Newspaper, cardboard or straw are not allowed.

  6. food and water dishes (unfilled) must be attached to the cage and fillable from the outside. Food and water for flight may be provided as an option, but it must be ensured that they cannot be spilled during flight.

  7. the container must not have wheels.

  8. spacers must be placed in the center of each long side.

  9. please carry the leash and collar of your pet in your hand luggage.

  10. only one animal is allowed per container. Exceptions apply*.

*Up to two kittens of comparable size, which may be between 12 weeks and 6 months old, or two adult animals of comparable size and up to 14 kg per animal, or one mother animal with a kitten still dependent on the mother (0-6 months) are permitted in the same transport container. A prerequisite for transporting several animals in one container is that all animals in it can stand, turn and lie down in a natural position and that the animals are accustomed to each other. Transport container for dogs and cats

Please note: The top of the container must not be covered with a grid. However, ventilation openings in the lid are allowed.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Lufthansa also offers a schematic of an acceptabe carrier:

schematic of animal carrier

  1. door hinges and latches must protrude at least 1.60 cm above and below the door openings at the horizontal protrusions.
  2. ventilation openings
  3. rear view
  4. attached feed and water containers
  5. door interlock
  6. spacer

Since Lufthansa references the IATA guidelines for transport containers, here is the current IATA guideline.

The calculated dimensions are internal container dimensions.

A = length of animal from tip of nose to base/root of tail.
B = height from ground to elbow joint. A+ ½ B = length of container.
C = width across shoulders or widest point (whichever is the greater). C x 2 = width of container.
D = height of animal in natural standing position from top of the head or the ear tip to the floor (whichever is higher) / height of the container (top flat or arched)

Minimum internal container dimensions:

A + ½ B = Length
C x 2 = Width
D = Height

Snub nosed breeds require 10% larger container

  • This isn't what I asked.
    – Martin
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 16:31
  • 2
    @Martin It's the best I can do to give you the required minimum size and the maximum acceptable size of transport containers. To be absolutely honest, I don't see a problem in using a too big container, as long as it's accepted by the airline and you have the means to transport them. Do you mind specifying why the big containers are not acceptable for you? Apart from the apparent waste of space, you wrote that money wasn't an issue. I have a feeling that the actual problem you want to solve is not clearly stated, which prompts impecise answers.
    – Elmy
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 20:02
  • The actual problem is that the cat will be bouncing around the container when being transported by the airline staff towards the plane, or if e.g. there's turbulence. Not to mention, transporting such large containers to/from the airports will be a challenge.
    – Martin
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 18:18
  • @Martin if the cat would be bounced around inside the container, this would be not an animal-transportation! If you are concernes about this, you could add some blankets or cushions to make the space comfortable... Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 18:51
  • @Martin I edited your question and added the comment about the cats bouncings around to it. That way other people will find the information without having to read through all the comments.
    – Elmy
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 19:13

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