Modified and Custom Built Airline Kennels Crates Information

Below find tips and information on Custom built or modified airline kennels & crates.

Over Sized Pets

One option for extra large dogs, like Great Danes or Mastiffs is to purchase a custom built wood airline crate or have a Giant size Sky or Vari kennel modified with wood spacers to accommodate over sized pets.  Another option is to build a custom sized dog crate yourself or Convert a standard wood shipping crate into a dog airline crate.

CR reinforced dog crate
Custom Built Crates by






Custom Built Wood Airline Kennels


XL Airline Kit expansion Kits


500plus2kennel height extension kit

New Sky Kennel Height Extension Kits will easily add 3.5″ to the height of your XL 500 Kennel.


Giant Kennel Extension Kit










700plus kennel extension kit



New Sky Kennel Height Extension Kits will easily add 5″ to the height of your GIANT 700 Kennel.




Some Kennels lacked ventilation in back wall, easily modified by drilling holes with a power drill using a wood bore bit and tape measure. This is especially important for international flights where ventilation on all four sides of the pet kennel is mandatory

Diagram for adding ventilation to airline Carrier

Plastic Pegs

Replace all Plastic Pegs with SOLID METAL NUTs & BOLTs to create a completely IATA USDA FAA Airline Compliant carrier / kennel.

Plastic peg pet carrier attachments

ATTENTION: United Air, Delta, Northwest Airline, Alaska Air & Horizon ALL require kennels to be secure with metal bolts, kennels with plastic attachments are no longer accepted by these airlines. Modify your kennel before flying with our exclusive ONE SIZE FITS all kennel hardware kits.

Universal Hardware Kits (MORE…)

Plastic Snap Latches

Another tip sent in by a truly “handy” DryFur Client. “I found the bolts to be perfect length as I Countersunk the nut bySnap Latch Kennel Modified with Nuts bolts drilling larger hole on top portion and smaller hole on bottom portion of carrier.

IMPORTANT: I started by drilling small hole through the two halves while carrier was assembled. Then I disassembled the carrier by separating the carriers top and bottom and re-drilled larger hole in JUST the top portion. Worked perfect and very SECURE!” Thanks and please feel free to use photos and tip on site. Dan

Modify Snap Latch Kennel

Cable Tie holes for Securing Kennel Door

If your Kennel is older or does not have these holes for cable ties you can easily modify by drilling your own holes (slightly behind all four sides of the door) or some kennels have enough room to slip the cable ties through the existing hinge holes.  Delta will accept snap latches if they have been modified as in the above example. Please Watch video below for step by step instructions on how to secure these kennels with metal hardware.

Cable Tie holes around kennel door Hand Screwdriver drill


pet carrier door modified for small traveling animals


For Great Article on how to modify a pet carrier for small animals, Rodents or Sugar Glidders Visit International Pet Glider site

Might also be helpful for traveling pet owners worried about paws sticking out of carrier doors.








Too Few Holes for Attachments

If your Kennel is older it may only have 6 attachment holes for keeping the kennels top and bottom together. If this is the case we recommend you drill additional hardware holes especially towards the right and left front corners of the kennel. This way if an attachment fails or comes loose next to the door there is a backup. The two attachments next to the right and left side of the door are not only responsible for keeping the kennels top and bottom together but also have a secondary function of keep the door in place. One missing attachment next to the door can be detrimental to the integrity of the kennels structure.

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45 Responsesso far.

  1. Hi,
    This year I will be traveling with my cats on an international flight and I have some of my kennels with a “dial latch” type of closure. Do you have any recommendation on how to properly install knots & bolts on this type of kennels (Petmate, Vary Kennel)? Since the roof/floor closure is different from the “snap latch” type…
    Excellent site!, I just reviewed it and got a lot of important and mind-easing info.
    Regards & thaks,

    • Well this type of carrier is still approved by a few airlines but I would absolutely use cable ties or nuts and bolts to keep the dial latches locked in the closed position. Our kennel hardware kits will fit but not exactly made for that type of carrier. But I have had clients use them for that. But check with your airline first. Also this type of carrier does not come with holes around the door so please drill 4 holes around the door so you can cable tie the door closed during the flight. Also be sure the cable ties you use are hand releasable. Thanks for the comment and have a safe trip!

  2. Hi, I purchased a large “N2N pet retreat” kennel for my 50lb dalmatian mix and she absolutely loves being in it…she voluntarily sleeps in it, however it has roof/floor closures that pretty much slide to lock the top and bottom together, I am flying on american airlines and used locking zip cable ties to lock the top to the bottom. I purchased the S-M accessory kit which has the nuts and bolts, should i use those (which i dont think will be long enough or will the zip ties be sufficient?

    • I would go to the hardware store and purchase (4) 10-24 carriage bolts that are long enough to fit this crates. I think this crate has 4 holes around the outer perimeter to accommodate nuts and bolts? Cable tie would be ok with AA I think they do not have the new rule like the other airlines have adopted about the carrier must have metal hardware, BUT it has been proven that nuts and bolts are safer. Also the bolts will only cost a few cents each and that way if you travel another airline later it will be accepted. I would also be sure you can get cable ties around the door if not be sure and look into drilling small holes to accommodate since I did see that AA does require carrier to have doors secured with cable ties to be accepted…

  3. We are traveling to Switzerland in June with two cats in one large Vari kennel (the airline OK’d this because they only have room for one kennel per flight). The cats get along fine in the crate and are comfortable, but we notice that the grate grid holes rather large (they can stick the tips of their toes out), and the gap at the bottom curve is large enough that they can get their entire front legs out. Do you have any recommendations for this?

    Thanks, Shawn

    • Hi Shawn,
      Well I know that I have read on some airline requirements something like “ventilation holes should be sized small enough that it does NOT permit pets paws or nose to protrude” But I really do not know of a single carrier/kennel on the market that has a metal door (which is required) that would completely restrict a cat’s paws. If you are worried about the airlines requirements I would bet you are OK. Since most airlines sell the same carrier you are describing so I am sure they are aware of this.

      If you are worried about the safety of your cats paws being hurt, I would bet your cats will find the carrier a safe place and probably would not be sticking their paws out or if they did not long enough for an injury to occur.

      I did noticed that the newer style Vari and Sky Kennels (w/rounded doors) have a rim around the door to help this, but still the bottom and top row of grid has larger holes than the other grid in the middle of the door, not sure who’s bright idea this was, obviously they were thinking, oh no one would use this size kennel for a cat or small dog WRONG!

      PS you might want to check out the forums about SugarGliders (squirrel like pets) they have instructions somewhere on this forum about how to modify dog airline kennels for SugarGliders to travel in. They use a mesh like screen door material and attach it to the entire outside of the kennel door with cable ties. I guess because these little guys could probably get through some of these holes and escape. Thanks for visiting

  4. Hi, I just bought a Petmate kennel cab fashion intermediate and noticed that the airline now requires the metal nut and bolts. If I order the nuts and bolts from or universal hardware kit and drill the holes in the sides, will this work with this type of kennel? I noticed it said Petmate sky kennels, but what about the Petmate kennel cab fashion?

    Thanks in advance,


    • Not the best solution but we do have instructions on our Modified Custom Airline Kennel page. You will want to follow the instructions on how to add metal hardware and how to add cable ties hoes around the door both for this kennel to be “acceptable”. So far I have not heard of airline refusing them once they are modified, but you never know depends on who is at the counter that day. But should be fine as long as you point out the modifications you have made.
      Thanks for visiting

  5. Hiya.

    So we are planning a move from the States to France and we have two big dogs, a borzoi and a white shepard. Both of our dogs are about 34-35 inches tall and from all the information i’ve found the kennels need be 4 inches higher than their heads. Even the Giant plastic kennel is I think only 36 inches high. So we are looking into custom built kennels and wondered if anyone knows whether or not Air France accepts custom built kennels?

    • Hi Nate,
      All airlines will accept custom wood kennels. The biggest question is size of crate? That is where you might run into problems you would need to know which flights are available that can carry over sized. Depends on the planes they use for that flight on how much cargo space they have. Can sometimes get complicated but as far as your question. Yes all airlines will accept Wood Custom built kennels, as long as they are made with the correct wood that is acceptable for import / export and they have enough ventilation etc..

      • Thanks for the reply. The plane is a 777, we’ll have to find out if AF accepts oversized kennels on that flight. Do you know if birch ply is acceptable for import/export? Is there a resource that you know of that lists appropriate wood types? I’ve looked over the CR1 document for the IATA requirements and it does not list particular types of ply. Thanks for the help. This is a great resource.

        • It is my understanding mostly from my experience of importing and exporting products not pets…That the wood must be manufactured and yes Plywood of all types are considered manufactured wood products. If the wood is solid wood like a 2×4 then it must be heat treated and stamped which gets very tricky. So always best to stay away from un-manufactured solid wood or lumber. Plywood is considered “manufactured” since it is many thin flexible veneers all adhered together in opposite directions to make it stronger. This I guess cuts down on the possibility of unseen insects that could be bored down deep in the wood.

          If you find a need for a piece of wood that is shaped or structured like a 2×4 or block you can take a stack of 4-6 sheets of Plywood adhere them together with wood glue, nails or screws then cut it into the shape you need. That is what I see on the bottoms of the skids that come from overseas to our warehouse. For more information I would contact USDA-Aphis I am sure someone could clarify.

  6. Hi. I am traveling back home with my two new dogs in April. I already have travel kennels that I purchased at a local hardware store here, but they don’t have ventilation in the back. If I were to use a wood bore drill, how far apart and how many holes, and what size drill bit would I need? These kennels are fairly stable as they are, would putting holes in the back weaken the structure?

    • Hi Haylee
      I usually use about a 1″ or 1.5″ . As far as how many holes..really depend on what size kennel you have. But you are right make them about 3″ apart do not over do it, that will keep the crate nice and strong and still provide the extra ventilation required for international travel.
      Thanks for visiting

  7. Hi I Just found in my grandmothers garage the original “vintage wood sky kennel”. The one you have pictured on your website when its talking about the history of airline kennels. Its six pieces of wood with only four bolts at the top. the back has a smaller metal grate for a vent and the front is a larger piece of metal that latches and its the door. i was wondering if you knew what year this was from and if there are many around. I tried to find info on them and your website is the only one I could find that mentioned them and had a picture. Do I have a rare find or are they everywhere. I like older stuff and actually they always seem to do it the right way unlike today where they dont put as much thought into their product like the back vent. Todays models some of them dont come with a back vent and some people are actually drilling holes in their new crates to meet airline standards. the older stuff is built right ans not to mention lasts soooo much longer.

    • Hi Dustin,
      Yes Somewhat rare but still a few around. I own a Cat Boarding Kennel and we see maybe 1 every few years come in and we board thousands of cats for owners who travel. A large fraction of our clients are elderly and retired so we see a lot of older pet carriers. Some of my favorites are the ones that look like an old Pentagon shapes suit case with vents, usually brick red in color also the WOOD S&H Green Stamps cat carrier that was only available by redeeming Your STAMPS. I want to some day start another page and show all the old carriers but I keep forgetting to photograph them as I see them come in with clients. I think your Find is worth quite a bit if it is in good shape I have seen them sell for maybe $160-$300. Maybe a bit more for the right buyer. They were built by hand in a garage and sold out of the pickup truck to airlines when they first came out I think in the 60’s. would have the history… but they have never included the history on their site??? Kind of a shame.

  8. how big do you need to make the extra ventilation holes in the back panel of the kennel, what size wood drill bit?
    Thanks Tommy C

    • Hi Thomas,
      I prefer a 3/4″ to 1″ wood bore bit… This is the same size bit Petmate uses when they add holes in the back wall of the SKY Kennel 100 and 700. Both these kennels were never re-designed when the ventilation rule took effect so they still modify those 2 sizes after the molding process. The 200-500 sizes were re-designed to include the extra ventilation in the back wall so those come out of the molding process with back wall ventilation. Just a little history…Thanks for visiting!

  9. Hi!

    We’re military and may be moving to Hawaii (from CA) in Jully. We have 2 great danes, have started the checklist to avoid them going to quarantine there and our biggest obstacle is now the kennels. The airlines we have spoke with (Continental and United) accommodate a 700 series kennel but they need to be taller. I realize this is where extenders come in, BUT….the 700 series is only 48″ long and our dogs about 49″ from tail to tip of the nose (as per usda pet traveling guidelines). We’re concerned we may need to have a wooden create built for both (one each) and are afraid this may cost a fortune and weigh a ton. Can you help with any suggestions? Can they be built so that they are easily disassembled like a plastic one to fit in a car once you leave the airport? I’m nearly panicking picturing renting a massive van and all the extra costs we’d incur for this…but they are worth it! Thanks

    • You should see this page on our site, Building a Custom Wood Kennel and be sure to watch the video it will be highlighted in blue text about mid way down the page. That will show you a wood shipping crate that can be broke down and assembled in minutes and then follow our instructions on how to make that crate a dog crate…Pretty straight forward. Please call them to see if they can build the size you need a bit more since it is not really stock size. But the idea they are broken down is awesome. If you do this please please send us some photos we would love to post them for others in your situation. Good luck and thanks for visiting

  10. Hello,
    My husband and I are going to be transferred to Guam here in about 3 months… We have 2 great danes and we can not find flight cages to accommodate them… Do you actually build the cages and ship them??? Or do you just tell how to build them to suit the airline requirements??? We are so desperate at the moment b/c we have to ship our sweet babies soon so they can be kept for quarantine reasons soon… Please help if you can!!!

    Thank You,

  11. I am having trouble finding Sky Kennel expansion kit.
    Could you kindly suggest where to look / which company to call?
    Many thanks in advance.

  12. I just purchased the L-XL Deluxe pet travel kit for my fiance’s dog. We will be travelling to Peru to Florida and he has a kennel that seems to Measure out to the XL size or 700 size Kennel. Unfortunately, it has a latch type of closure for the sides, which is why I bought the deluxe kit with metal hardware. I noticed in one of the above comments that a gentleman wrote the he made a small whole while the kennel was together and then he took it apart and made a slightly larger hole on the top half. Which diameter drill bit should be used to make the holes and how many best to have along the sides? I did go ahead and purchase the extra hardware set that was offered.
    Thanks for any help you can provide. I am already so happy that I stumbled upon your site.

  13. Hi i have to fly my Dane across canada this summer but i cant find a kennel to fit him. What is the cost and aprox time to ship it out?

  14. I am planing to travel from Puerto Rico to Ohio have 2 dachhounds and I will like to know what travel crate I need to buy

  15. I just purchased a medium petmate sky kennel series 200 for transporting my cat who is approx 21″ long to the UK. First off has anyone else used a kennel this size for a cat? I am planning to transport her with BA world Cargo and I think their minimum size for cats is a series 200 kennel, she has plenty of room in there anyway.

    The other thing I noticed is she can get her paws through the side ventilation panels – is there anyway I can modify the panels myself with wire or perhaps rope so she can’t fit her paws through or do you think that she won’t be doing that when we travel anyway.

    • Hi Sophie,
      Yes the 200 is the smallest BA will accept on their flights I am still puzzled why this is??? But it started 1/1/12. The 200 is great size for cats I think the 100 is fine too but the 200 will give her extra room and extra rooms means it will be better ventilation which is good. The side panels and the door of any and all kennels most cats could get a paw out but this rule is NEVER EVER an issue. I really do not know why it is even listed on some Pet Airlines sites, seems silly. I have had a few comments on our site with tips on how to modify the door and side panels for Sugar Gliders (squirrels) not for the feet but to keep the whole pet from getting out. They used screen door material and cable ties. I used to have a picture but can’t seem to find at the moment. But trust me it is not and issue with a cat I guarantee the airlines know it is possible for any cat to stick a paw out of these doors and side panels and they have never in all the years I have been in the loop said anything about it since these are the only options for kennels is the standard grated doors. So try not to worry if you cat does exhibit sticky his paws out then for safety you could use the screen method but only if you think he will be doing this behavior while checking him into the airline….
      Thanks for visiting DryFur!

  16. My husband and I live out of country (Panama) and are planning to fly our 10yr old Westie to Florida in May ’13.
    Anyway, we purchased in good faith from our vet here a Petsmate carrier. It had the appropriate logos on paperwork. But, after research post, I find that the Double Door that they make IS NOT APPROVED. Unforunately, we are out 80$ plus the 160$ round trip via road and jeep to Panama City (we live on a sailboat) Oh well, we learn.My question is: Are the Remington pet carriers approved for travel via airline? My girlfriend will have to bring the carrier from the USA as luggage. The other crates here are prohibitive. I REFUSE to purchase a Petsmate product. Can you help..BTW I like the modification page here and will present it to my husband. Could you please send response via email to my yahoo as well? Our internet is poor here.
    Thank you

  17. Hi,

    We are moving from New Zealand back to the USA in early December. The wooden crate that we will be shipping our German Shepherd in from Auckland to San Francisco, is too big to go on the next plane from San Francisco to Seattle. We have researched, researched, researched and our dog does seem to fit in a 500 series crate which is the largest crate allowed on our domestic flight. She seems comfortable and just wants to lie down, but she is the same heigh as the crate itself. Thankfully, she never stands completely erect in it so there appears to be a few spare inches of space above her head. However, just to be safe, we were planning on purchasing a “Dogit” crate that is slight larger in height (by one inch) and width (by 1.5 inches) than the standard 500 series crate. Alaska Airlines, who we will be flying, has told us that the extra inches will still be acceptable for the flight. However, I have just realised that the Dogit crate has the snap locks, rather than bolts. Do you think that we can modify it by drilling holes for nuts and bolts? If not, our alternative is to by the Vari Kennel which is questionable in height should our dog want to stand extremely alert and erect (which I really don’t think she’ll want to do anyway). Would the airlines allow us to give her a big more head room by using one of the expansion kits pictured above? Or would that make the crate too tall and therefore not suitable for the plane? We sent some pictures of our dog in a Vari Kennel and in the Dogit kennel to an animal transport company in LA and the women who helped us said that based on the photos, it appears there is plenty of room for our dog, but we are afraid of being turned away on the day by the check-in staff, especially after flying our dog for 12 hours already. I would really appreciate any advice you can give!

  18. I bought the metal bolts and nuts from you, I am curious as to why there are two lengths of bolt. Do you recommend the longer bolt for a particular spot on the crate or are they provided in case needed? Would I preferably use the shorter ones for all holes? I have a Giant size Skykennel.

    • Hi Jill, You should use whichever bolt that when tightened down does not have any of the bolt extending outside the nut. It should be flush with the nut. Petmate revised the 200-500 years ago and those absolutely need the long bolts. Also the Plasticrate and Remington need the long bolts too. So really depends that is why we send both so we cover all situations.

      • Many thanks for the reply, and for thinking ahead to what people may need. Have found the long ones too long as they extend above the nut. The shorter ones are mostly slightly below the top, but appear quite solidly tight and and the two halves ‘fixed’ together.

        I appreciate the other things included in the Travel Kit and now feel I have everything together so my dog’s trip to the UK will go as smoothly as it can.

  19. Hi 🙂 I have a question. We are in the military and our family is PCSing from the US to Italy. We are taking our dog with us, he has a medium sized kennel. It has ventilation on four sides, many bolts connecting the top and bottom, holes to tie down the kennel if necessary, and cable tie holes by the doors. I think the brand is Doskocil? We are flying on Delta Airlines and Air France. I do have one question though, my kennel has metal bolts, but black plastic nuts. Would this be acceptable? Or do I need to go to the hardware store and buy new metal nuts? It is very solid and secure. I just don’t want to show up and our kennel be rejected! I also have another slightly of topic question. When flying internationally, the dog has to have a food and water bowl screwed to the kennel. Would I be allowed to use a food bowl, and a pet water bottle that attatches to the outside instead? Or no? It seems to make more sense to me as the water won’t spill that way, but I can’t find any info on it either way, and when I called and asked Delta, they didn’t even know what a pet water bottle was! Lol

  20. Hi, I would appreciate some advice.

    I am flying with our two dogs from Japan to Europe next month with Air France. The dogs will travel as luggage from Osaka to Paris.

    Air France has pointed me to the following requirements for crates:

    Our “Gulliver” size 6 crates are non-compliant in 3 ways: double lock (instead of 3-way), snap latches instead of rivets, and the door hinge does not protrude above the top of the door.

    The only crates we can find that comply are the Vari Sky Kennel (L-size). However, this product does not seem to be available in Japan. We can buy the Vari Ultra Kennel (L-size). Do you know whether the door on this crate has a 4-way dial-latch (like the Sky Kennel)? If not, would it be possible to replace the door with one that has a 4-way dial-latch?

    We’re a bit stressed about this!

    Many thanks and best regards,


    • Hi Dara,
      I am sorry you are getting all this conflicting instructions. I will do my best to clear it up.

      here is the door you are looking for I do not think the kennels come with them but I think you can buy the replacements at this link. But it seems ridiculous since I am certain they no longer sell them that way. All the sites I have seen offer them with the spring door lock not the faulted with the exception of the 700 Giant.

      They say on this site they come in the Giant, XL and Large size with this door but from my experience I think Petmate does not offer them with that type of lock unless it is a Giant 700. But you should email anyone before you try and order and find out for sure. The best bet is if you can order the Vari Kennel ultra in your part of the world and order only the door from the US if that is necessary. One thing I can say the website that I pointed to with the Sky Kennel with those doors those are very old pictures those kennel no longer exist with square doors they now come with rounded doors so I would be surprised if this information is accurate.

      Email me back if you need more help. But I agree even if they allow you to use the snap latches please do not these have been proven to be very dangerous and have caused many pet deaths and losses on airlines here in the US. They are just to unpredictable.

      • Hi,

        I am very grateful that you answered so quickly.

        I didn’t realise that the snap latches were dangerous. Thank you for letting me know about that.

        I examined our Gulliver crates again tonight, and discovered some things:
        1) There are 4 holes for screws to attach the top and bottom together.
        2) The door hinge actually does extend above and below the horizontal extrusions as required.

        So, I can use the 4 holes to secure the top and bottom using bolts and wingnuts.

        Then it will be entirely compliant with the exception of the 2-way locking instead of 3. If I use a cable tie to secure the door, it may be acceptable to Air France. (Especially as the 3-way lock is difficult or impossible to get, in sizes other than XL).

        Or we can go with the other option – buy the Vari Ultra locally and the door direct from Petmate.

        Please let me know if you have any advice; we have got quite stressed looking for a cage that will meet their requirements, but at least now we have some options.

        Thanks again,


  21. Hello,

    I am having a difficult time booking my 95 lb. lab as cargo on any airline (with the exception of Delta at $1300) from Denver to Anchorage. I have a 700 series vari kennel and it seems that both United and Alaska Airlines no longer will take any kennels larger than 34″ tall. I was considering modification to the kennel to shorten it to meet the height requirements. What do you recommend? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Jessica when you say “700 series” I think you mean classified 700 Giant correct? The Series is a term Petco uses with their carriers and they are in no way similar in size. For instance a Petco 700 series is actually classified a 400 Vari Kennel.

      So I am assuming you mean a 700 Giant which measures:
      VariKennel or Sky Kennel #700 (Giant) 48″L x 32″W x 35″H OUTSIDE Dimensions (Advertised size)
      Inside Dimensions (usable capacity) 44″L x 30″W x 34″H
      (Actual Crate Weight: 44 Lb)

      But long story short I have no idea on how to shorten the kennel, I know they have extensions to make them higher but I have no information on how to shorten a kennel. But if you do end up with some good tips please forward to us I would love to share.

  22. Hey, I’m moving back to Germany next months with my two big mastiffs and I was woundering if anybody knows a manufacturer in the Edmonton or Calgary (Alberta, Canada) area! Thank you so much for your help!

    • Unfortunately the only one I am aware of in Canada is Manoir Kanisha they are located in Quebec… There is Atwoods in Seattle WA area which is close to you but in the USA which cause the issues with importing etc…

  23. Hello,

    I am looking for sky kennel expansion kit, i live in Portugal, can you please send me Mr. Lee Atwood email adress?