Jon wrote:I cannot speak about other planes, but in the case of my plane the soft side carriers are my only option for large dogs like Dobies. I cannot get a large hard sided carrier through the door and in place with out front seat removal, but I can insert a collapsed soft side carrier into the rear and then set it up and load the pup. Without that ability I would be removing seats which would be a real pain.
Whatever you choose is likely based on the plane and the animals being carried, but one thing is for sure. No animals should be loose in the cabin. That is a recipe for trouble.
When we had our old 182, I kept the backseat out the majority of the time. Our Doberman would ride in that area very easily--he'd grown up flying, so no big deal. There is absolutely zero way I'll ever fly an unknown animal that is not in a crate, however. I figure if I will not drive/transport them in my extended cab pickup unrestrained, I'm certainly not going to fly them while they are unrestrained.
I believe there was a "Never Again" or "I Learned From Flying About That" story some years ago about a female pilot who flew her small dog unrestrained, got into some bad turbulence, dog panicked and lodged himself around the rudder pedals. From the story, things got interesting in a hurry.
On trips where we needed/preferred to have a crate for our Doberman, I used the #400 size with the snap-locks, disassembled it and put it in the backseat area and the dog would ride on the bed we'd put in it. Since it is in equal halves, it stacks in itself easily. But, we tried disassembling the crate one time and reassembling it once it was in the airplane. It was doable, but difficult. Impossible if your seat(s) are still in place.
Now we have a 172 and have only transported a few small dogs, in crates in the backseat. I agree about the PITA of removing seats.