Flying with Your Dog: A Guide to American Airlines Pet Policy

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated: March 20, 2023 / Published: March 10, 2023

American Airlines Pet Policy

Have you ever dreamed of taking your pup on a flight? Whether it’s for a family vacation or a business trip, traveling with your dog can be an exciting experience. Before you book a pet transportation flight on American Airlines, however, it’s important to understand their pet policy for dogs. In this guide, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the rules, regulations, and best practices for flying with your pup on American Airlines.

While you’re researching, be sure to check out our articles on United Airlines pet policy and Delta Airlines pet policy. Learn more about airline-approved pet carriers too!

Pet Travel Rules for American Airlines

No matter the size of your pup, American Airlines has a few rules you must follow if you want to bring your dog on a flight.

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Service and Emotional Support Animals

American Airlines allows service dogs to fly in the cabin with their owners. Service dogs are trained to do tasks that benefit the well-being of an individual with a qualified disability. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Visual impairments
  • Seizures
  • Hearing impairments
  • Mobility impairments
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Emotional support animals of any kind aren’t allowed on American Airlines flights.

Breed Restrictions

American Airlines does not allow any pit bull breeds, including American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Bullies and American Pit Bull Terriers, on their flights. Apart from pit bull breeds, they also don’t allow snub-nosed or brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs or Boston Terriers. There’s a simple reason for this: they pose health risks that could be dangerous for them to fly. If you have a snub-nosed breed, then unfortunately you’ll be limited to ground transportation.

Size and Weight Limits

American Airlines limits pet carriers to one per customer and requires that they fit underneath the seat in front of the customer. The carrier must have enough space for your pup to stand up and turn around. The maximum weight for both the pet and the carrier is 20 pounds.

American Airlines Cargo is a program for those that have larger dogs that can’t fit in a carrier underneath the seat in front of you and need to go in the cargo hold. There are costs associated with this but it’s not too much different than those dogs flying in the main cabin.

The airline currently doesn’t allow dogs to be checked as baggage.

Carrier Requirements

  • Your pet should be able to stand up, turn around in the crate and ensure they do not touch the top.
  • The crate should have secure locking with pins that extend past the extrusions above and below the door. The pins should be hardware instead of plastic fasteners.
  • Buy a crate with ventilation on all sides.
  • The crate should have your pet’s name and your contact information.
  • Water and food bowls need to be attached to the door and accessible from outside the crate.

Training and Socialization

Your pup must be well-trained and comfortable around other people and animals in order to travel with you on American Airlines.

Preparing to Fly with Your Dog

American Airlines Pet Policy

Once you have familiarized yourself with the American Airlines pet policy, there are a few additional steps you’ll need to take before you can bring your pup on a flight.

Documentation and Health Certificates

American Airlines Pet Policy requires customers to provide proof of their pet’s age and breed. They also ask for a Rabies Vaccination Certificate. Your pup must be up-to-date on their vaccinations before you can fly with them. You’ll also need to obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian before you can board the plane. Typically you should go to a veterinarian registered with the USDA and they will issue a signed Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. This is typically done at least 10-14 days before your travel plans.

Required Vaccines:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

Recommended Vaccines:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Influenza
  • Leptospira bacteria

What to Expect at the Airport

When you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to check in with your pup. If your pup is a service animal, you’ll need to provide the appropriate documentation.

Tips for Flying with Your Dog

Flying with your pup can be a rewarding experience. Here are a few tips to better prepare yourself for the process:

  • Get your pup used to their carrier before the flight.
  • Bring a few treats with you to give to your pup during the flight.
  • Make sure your pup has a collar with their contact information.
  • Prepare yourself for unexpected delays.
  • Make sure to stay with your pup at all times.

Bottom Line on American Airlines Pet Policy

Traveling with your pup can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to familiarize yourself with the American Airlines pet policy before you book a flight. Make sure to follow the rules, provide the necessary documentation, and prepare your pup for the flight. With the right preparation, you and your pup can have a comfortable and enjoyable experience flying with American Airlines.