American Airlines Pet Policy

Is American Airlines Pet Friendly? – American Airlines Pet Policy (2024)

Written By: Michelle Kelgord

Founded in 1926, American Airlines is the world’s largest airline, offering an average of 6,700 flights per day to 350 destinations in more than 50 countries, so it’s easy to see why so many people choose American Airlines.

But what about passengers who want to travel with their pets? Is American Airlines a pet-friendly option?

If you’re planning to book a flight but want to know if your four-legged companion can come along for the ride with American Airlines, keep reading to learn about all the essential info regarding American Airlines’ pet travel policies.

jet set pets dog friendly policy american airlines

Photo courtesy of @fancy_meeting_u_here

Is American Airlines Pet Friendly?

American Airlines is a relatively pet-friendly airline, especially if you’re traveling with your pet as a carry-on, in the cabin. Of course, like all airlines, American enforces very specific rules and regulations regarding pet travel.

American Airlines Pet Policy Details

Want to learn everything you need to know about American Airlines pet travel policies? Keep reading to discover important info about carry-on pets, flying your furry friends as cargo, and restricted breeds.

American Airlines Pet Policy for Carry-On Pets:

American Airlines allows carry-on pets in your plane’s cabin under three conditions. First, you must pay the carry-on pet fee ($125 per kennel – service animals are free). Second, your pet must be able to stay comfortably in a kennel underneath the seat in front of you for the entirety of the flight. Your pet will count as one of your carry-on items.

Third, your flight must meet destination requirements. American has specific restrictions, but most flights up to 12 hours are allowed to and from the United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. Double-check current restrictions when booking your flight, as they change often. 

There are a few guidelines surrounding carry-on pets with American Airlines. Let’s take a closer look:

  • American Airlines assumes no liability for the health or well-being of your pet.
  • Pets must be able to fit comfortably in a closed or zipped carrier – see specific kennel dimensions below.
  • The kennel must not exceed the aircraft’s under-seat dimensions. 
  • If using a soft-sided collapsible kennel, they must be secure, padded, have nylon mesh ventilation on three or more sides, and be crafted with water-repellent material. 
  • American Airlines only allows seven kennels per flight (excluding service animals) and five kennels on American Eagle flights, with only one allowed in First Class. Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to confirm your pet’s place beforehand.
  • No pets that have been sedated or tranquilized will be permitted on flights.

Specific Kennel Dimension Information for American Airlines:

Aircraft Acceptance
Hard-Sided Kennel
Mainline Flights
19L x 13W x 9H inches
Hard-Sided Kennel
Regional Flights
16L x 12W x 8H inches
Soft-Sided Kennel
All Flights
18L x 11W x 11H inches

*Note: Kennels must be able to fit underneath airline seats. To find out the specific dimensions of your plane’s seats, you can call American Airlines customer service at 800-433-7300.

Those flying in first or business classes on an A321T have additional rules, including:

  • Your pet and accompanying carrier must be at most 20 pounds.
  • Pets must remain in their kennel during the flight.
  • They must also be placed in a designated animal-friendly compartment during taxi, take-off, landing, and in instances of turbulence.

Pets are not allowed on the following aircraft: Boeing 777-200, 777-300, 787-8, and 787-9.

jet set pets pet friendly policy American airlines

Photo courtesy of @booandsullybear_thefrenchie

American Airlines Pet Policy for Pets in Cargo:

Some pet owners may need for their furry friend to travel in cargo instead of in the plane’s cabin. Typically cargo is the only option if a pet exceeds the size limit for carry-on or would not be comfortable confined underneath an aircraft seat. 

However, it’s important to note that, at this time, American Airlines pet travel policy only allows pets in cargo for active-duty U.S. military and U.S. Department of Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders. If you do meet this requirement, you may be able to take advantage of American Airlines’ unique American PetEmbark™ services.

Even so, there are a few critical rules and regulations to consider:

  • Only two pets are allowed to travel in cargo, which is granted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Pets must meet the age and health requirements outlined by the destination.
  • A certified veterinarian must issue a health certificate within ten days of your travel, 60 days of your return (same ticket), or ten days of your return (separate ticket).
  • Checked pets cannot travel on the A319, A320, A321, A321H, A321neo, and A321S.
  • For those traveling on connecting flights, checked pets are only able to connect in certain cities, including: Charlotte, NC (CLT), Chicago O’Hare, IL (ORD), Dallas / Fort Worth, TX (DFW), Los Angeles, CA (LAX), New York Kennedy, NY (JFK), New York LaGuardia, NY (LGA), Miami, FL (MIA), Philadelphia, PA (PHL), Phoenix, AZ (PHX), and Washington Reagan, DC (DCA).
  • No sedated or tranquilized pets are allowed in cargo.
  • All pet owners must provide a written certification claiming that their pet has been fed and given water at least four hours before departure. 
  • You must also provide feeding and watering instructions for 24 hours.
  • Pets cannot fly cargo if temperatures exceed 85F or fall below 45F.

There are particular requirements pertaining to your cargo kennel, including:

  • It must be large enough for your pet to sit, turn, stand, and lie down without touching any portion of the container.
  • Must be within the size and weight requirements of your specific aircraft. Double-check with specifics before your flight.
  • The kennel must solely be made of wood, material, plastic, or similar materials, with a door made of welded or cast metal.
  • It should be secured on the top and button using bolts or screws. You will also need to secure all four corners with cable ties, which are provided complimentary by American Airlines.
  • It must secure the animal entirely and be leak and escape-proof.
  • Have three sides of mesh ventilations for domestic U.S. travel and four for international.
  • Include food and water dishes attached inside, complete with a small food bag.
  • American Airlines allows two pets to be in the same kennel, but they must be the same species, similar in size and weight, and between eight weeks and six months old.
jet set pets pet friendly travel policy american airlines article

Photo courtesy of @flywithabbylou

Additional Restrictions and Exceptions for Pet Flying in Cargo:

American Airlines does not allow many dog and cat breeds to fly in cargo. 

No mixed brachycephalic cats are allowed, including Burmese, Persian, Himalayan, and Exotic Shorthair. 

American Airlines also does not permit brachycephalic dogs. Snub-nosed and mixed dogs are also on the list. 

The lengthy list of restricted dog breeds includes:

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog
  • Cane Corso
  • Chow Chow
  • Dogue De Bordeaux
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Mastiff 
  • Pekingese
  • Pit Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Pug
  • Shar Pei
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel

Cats and dogs must be at least eight weeks old if traveling within the United States or Puerto Rico. Dogs must meet age and vaccine requirements. Dogs traveling from countries with a high risk of rabies must be at least 16 weeks old and have a rabies shot.

The Process of Flying with Your Pet on American Airlines

Knowing how to book your flight and check in with your pet are very important. Luckily, American Airlines makes it relatively easy.

Booking and Reserving Your Pet's Ticket

To bring your furry best friend along for the ride, you’ll need to secure them a spot on the aircraft. The approach looks different depending on if you’re opting for carry-on or checking your pet in cargo.

To add a carry-on pet to your trip with American Airlines, do the following:

  • Find your trip using the American Airlines website or app
  • Select “Special Services,” then choose “Add Carry-on Pets.”
  • Read through the requirements and select “Agree.”
  • Select which flights your pet will be traveling on.
  • Confirm and complete your reservation.

Remember – only active-duty U.S. military and U.S. Department of Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders can check their pet to ride cargo at this time. If you plan to fly your pet in cargo, contact American Airlines Reservations at least 48 hours before travel.

jet set pets dog friendly travel policy American airlines article

Photo courtesy of @winniegirl360

Checking In and Boarding with Your Pet

If you bring your pet along as a carry-on, it’s pretty simple: head to the ticket counter, pay the fee, and have staff members ensure your kennel meets the requirements. Then, enjoy your flight!

Checking a pet for cargo is a *bit* more complicated:

  • First, you must contact American Airlines’ Reservations at least 48 hours before departure to ensure they can accommodate your pet(s).
  • If you are given the OK, you will check in at the ticket counter. Remember your official orders.
  • You’ll need to complete a checklist with an agent and provide a health certificate for your pet(s).

During the Flight: Tips for a Smooth Journey

When you travel with pets, you have an additional worry: ensuring it’s a pleasurable journey for your furry friend. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make the process as smooth as possible:

  • Choose a comfortable carrier and familiarize your pet with it before the flight.
  • Ensure your pet is well-hydrated and fed before departure, but don’t opt for large meals. Also, allow them to use the bathroom beforehand.
  • Place a comfort item in the carrier, such as their favorite toy or blanket.
  • Double-check that your pet has a collar with an ID tag and microchip for safety purposes.
  • Get their wiggles out before taking off.
  • Although it may seem like a good idea, do not sedate your pet. Like many other airlines, American Airlines will refuse your pet for travel.
american airlines pet friendly travel policy

Photo courtesy of @winniechinchan


American Airlines is a relatively pet-friendly airline that can hopefully accommodate you and your four-legged pals. However, it is essential to double-check the official American Airlines Pet Policy Page to access current information. 

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