Flying with Your Dog on American Airlines

Published: 11/24/2020

It can be tricky to work out exactly what you need to do to travel with a dog on American Airlines, from fees to vaccinations to crate restrictions. The rules also change depending on the size and breed of your pup, and whether you're traveling on an international or domestic flight. To make your experience a little easier, we've compiled all the information you'll need for flying with a dog on American Airlines.

Domestic Flights

As with most airlines, flying domestically with your dog on American Airlines is a little more straightforward than international travel. However, there's still plenty of regulations you'll need to follow to ensure you have a smooth trip with Scoob in tow.

In-cabin travel

Crate Requirements

There are no specific crate dimension requirements for flying in-cabin with your dog on American Airlines. But you will need to observe some standard crate rules.

You'll only be able to travel with your dog in-cabin if there's enough space for your dog to sit, stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably in their kennel. Your dog must not touch the sides or the top of the crate during these actions.

The crate must also fit completely under the seat in front of you. Soft-sided containers can be slightly larger as they're collapsable. Soft-sided crates should also be waterproof, padded, and adequately ventilated.

Your pet must remain in their crate at all times. American Airlines recommends you contact their reservations department before traveling to ensure your crate is the correct dimensions. 

Health Requirements and Documentation

Your pup must be at least 8 weeks old to fly with American Airlines. It's unclear if the airline requires proof of vaccinations or a health certificate before flying internationally, so it's worth contacting American Airlines well in advance to double-check. You should also consult your vet to confirm your dog is healthy enough to fly. 

You cannot sedate your pet, as this may cause health issues at high altitudes. If you have explicit instructions from your vet that sedation is necessary, you'll have to provide American Airlines with the name of the drug, the dosage, and when it was last administered.

Booking Procedures and Pet Fees

The cost of flying domestically with a dog in-cabin on American Airlines is $125 per kennel. This fee applies per pet, per flight. It's worth noting that if you have a layover of 4 hours or longer, you'll have to pay this fee again. 

American Airlines does not collect fees for in-cabin pets if a flight is operated by a different airline. Check your reservation or boarding pass to find out which airline is operating your flight. You'll be able to add a carry-on pet to your flight at the airport at the services desk. Contact American Airlines before traveling to ensure there's space on your chosen flight. 

Exemptions and Other Considerations

American Airlines has temperature restrictions to ensure animals aren't exposed to the elements. For example, between May 1st and September 30th, flying with a dog on American Airlines to Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, and Palm Springs is prohibited due to extreme heat. 

Your dog won't be able to fly if the temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at any destination along your trip. However, you can get a signed letter from your vet stating that your dog is acclimated to temperatures below 45 degrees. The letter must be dated within 10 days of travel.

Cargo travel

You may find your dog is too large to travel in-cabin, which means they'll have to fly in the plane's hold. While more complicated than flying with an in-cabin canine, checked travel is manageable if you follow the rules. 

Crate Requirements

As with in-cabin travel, your dog must be able to stand up, turn around, sit upright, and lie down without touching the kennel. You can travel with a maximum of 2 dogs. Height restrictions range from 22 inches to 63 inches and vary depending on the plane — contact American Airlines to check your kennel is the right size. Two dogs can travel together in the same crate if they:

  • are a similar size

  • weigh less than 20 lbs

  • are between 8 weeks and 6 months old

Your kennel should be secured with a metal door and ventilated on 3 sides (4 for international travel). You should also securely attach food and water dishes inside the kennel and provide a 24-hour supply of food. Also, place absorbent materials inside in case your dog has to go to the bathroom. 

Health Requirements and Documentation

Over 20 different short-nosed brachycephalic dogs, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs, are not able to fly with American Airlines due to breathing issues. These restrictions include mixed brachycephalic and snub-nosed breeds. Check with American Airlines before booking to ensure your dog's breed can fly with American Airlines. 

When flying with a checked pet, you'll need a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of your departure and 60 days of your return if traveling on the same ticket. If you have booked a separate return flight, the certificate will need to be signed within 10 days of your return. 

As with in-cabin travel, you should not sedate your dog unless instructed by your vet. You'll need to provide American Airlines with the name of the sedative, the dosage, and the last time it was administered. 

When providing food for your dog's trip, you'll need to sign a form confirming you have given your dog food within 4 hours of arrival at the airport. You are only exempt from this if you have a signed letter from your vet stating otherwise.

Booking Procedures and Pet Fees

To book your canine onto a flight, you'll need to contact reservations a minimum of 48 hours before your flight. Only a handful of animals can travel on each flight — contact reservations well in advance. When you arrive at the airport, you'll have to complete a checklist and provide documentation, so allow an extra couple of hours before your flight.

The cost of checking your dog with American Airlines isn't clear as the price varies depending on your destination and the size/weight of your dog. If you’re planning to travel with your dog this way, you're best off contacting American Airlines ahead of time to get a quote. 

Exemptions and Other Considerations

Similar to in-cabin travel, there are restrictions on flying with a dog on American Airlines if the temperature is forecast to be above 85 degrees Fahrenheit and below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at any point during travel. It's possible to get your vet to sign a letter saying that your dog is properly acclimated to extreme temperatures. 

Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs

If you are traveling with a service animal, you won't have to pay any fees for domestic travel. They'll also be exempt from crate restrictions. It's a good idea to bring all documentation and a doctor's letter to ensure everything goes smoothly at the airport. 

You are not required to give notice to American Airlines when traveling with a service dog. Passengers are limited to one animal per person. Your dog must be at least 4 months old and be small enough to fit by your feet or on your lap. 

American Airlines have separate, stricter rules for emotional support animals. Prior approval and assessment are needed for you to fly with an emotional support dog. You'll need to complete three forms:

  • Medical / Mental Health Professional Form

  • Veterinary Health Form, or vaccination record 

  • Confirmation of Animal Behavior Form

These forms will need to be returned to the Special Assistance Desk a minimum of 48 hours before your flight. You can download these forms from American Airlines' website. Once approved, American Airlines will email you an Emotional Support Animal ID (ESAN ID), which is valid for a year. 

American Airlines Cargo

An alternative way to transport your dog is with American Airlines Cargo. This method is similar to checking your dog but requires you to ship your canine separately. Using cargo shipping with American Airlines is most common when sending your dog overseas.

The rules and regulations for using the American Airlines Cargo service are similar to checking your pup onto a flight. You can track your dog's progress either online or through email updates after signing up for notifications. You'll be able to pick your dog up from arrivals around an hour after their flight lands. 

The cost of shipping your dog overseas will differ depending on the country. The minimum price of transporting a dog overseas with American Airlines is roughly $150.

International Flights

International travel is the most confusing way to travel with a dog on American Airlines due to different regulations imposed by different countries. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you should contact your vet as soon as possible to discuss travel requirements for your destination. If you're in a rush or need some quick advice, consider contacting a veterinarian on the Wag! platform.

Check the American Airlines pet page for general information about your destination. Another useful source of information for international travel with pets is the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Your flight must be shorter than 11 hours and 30 minutes when traveling to and from the U.S. with American Airlines. 

Commonly, your dog will have to have blood tests, a microchip, and several vaccinations before flying internationally. Many countries quarantine dogs for a set period to stop the spread of rabies. Some countries require different microchips to standard US chips, so you may have to specially order one through your vet, or order a microchip reader that works with your pet’s microchip. If in doubt, contact your destination's embassy for additional information.