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Does American Airlines Allow Dogs? 2023 Update

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By Nicole Cosgrove

dog inside a carrier held by a man at the airport

When it’s necessary to fly with your dog, you need to know which airlines permit pet travel. American Airlines does allow dogs, but there are restrictions you must follow. Let’s look at the airline’s pet policy and discuss the various options for flying with Fido.

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American Airlines Pet Policy

American Airlines allows dogs on their flights, but there are specific rules and requirements that you need to be aware of before making a reservation for your pet1:

In-Cabin Travel

Small dogs that can fit in a pet carrier under the seat in front of you are allowed to travel in the cabin. To ensure your pet is accommodated, contact American Airlines Reservations as early as possible to confirm a spot for your pet. The maximum number of pets allowed in the cabin is seven per flight.

The pet carrier should meet the following requirements:
  • Maximum dimensions: 19 inches long x 13 inches wide x 9 inches high for most flights; 16 x 12 x 8 inches for regional American Eagle flights.
  • Soft-sided collapsible kennels should be secure, padded, water-repellant, and have nylon mesh ventilation on two or more sides.
  • Your pet must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably without touching any side or the top of the container.

There is a fee of $125 per kennel for pets traveling in the cabin. If your trip includes a stopover of more than 4 hours, you may be charged this fee for every segment of your trip.

pomeranian in a bag rides an airplane
Image Credit: nadisja, Shutterstock

Checked Baggage

American Airlines only accepts pets as checked baggage for active-duty U.S. Military and U.S. State Department Foreign Service personnel traveling on official orders. If you do not fall into this category, your pet cannot travel as checked baggage and must be sent via American Airlines Cargo. Fees and restrictions apply.

International Travel and Documentation

When traveling internationally with your pet, you’ll need to comply with the destination country’s regulations and requirements, which may include vaccinations, microchipping, and health certificates. Make sure to research these rules well in advance and prepare the necessary documents for a smooth travel experience.

Service Animals

Fully trained service dogs may fly in the cabin at no charge if they meet the requirements. Service animals in training, emotional support animals, and comfort animals may travel as pets, not service animals. All requirements and applicable fees will apply.

Service dog giving assistance to disabled person on wheelchair
Image Credit:24K-Production, Shutterstock

Temporary Ban on Dogs From High-Risk Countries

To protect travelers from potential rabies exposure, the CDC has imposed a temporary ban on all dogs (checked and carry-on) coming into the U.S. from any country considered high-risk for rabies, including service animals.

However, American Airlines will make exceptions for service dogs that come to the U.S. armed with an approved Dog Import Permit or have met certain vaccination requirements administered by the CDC itself. These steps serve to satisfy their criteria of eligibility while flying with them onboard their aircraft.

It’s also worth noting that cats entering these countries are not allowed as cargo pets during this suspension period, unfortunately, due to safety concerns regarding contracting Rabid canines in transit abroad.

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The 7 Tips to Safely Fly With Your Dog

Traveling with your pet requires more than just a few snacks and toys. Whether you’re flying locally or abroad with your furry friend, here are some tips to keep your pet safe and healthy during your adventure.

1. Visit Your Veterinarian

Before traveling, schedule a check-up with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is in good health and up-to-date on vaccinations. Obtain a health certificate if required, dated no more than ten days before your departure.

cheerful middle aged male vet holding a pug at veterinary clinic
Image Credit: Friends Stock, Shutterstock

2. Gradual Acclimation

Help your pet become familiar with the carrier or kennel by gradually introducing them to it. Encourage them to explore it and make it comfortable by adding their favorite blanket or toy.

3. Exercise and Hydration

Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise before the flight to help them remain calm during the journey. Keep them well-hydrated, but avoid feeding them large meals just before the flight to prevent discomfort.

4. Comfort and Familiarity

Line your pet’s carrier with absorbent material, like a puppy pad, to manage any accidents that may occur during the flight. Ensure proper ventilation and add your pet’s favorite toy or a piece of your clothing with your scent to provide comfort during the trip.

5. Flight Timing

When possible, book direct flights or minimize layovers to reduce stress on your pet. If your dog must travel as checked baggage or cargo, try to choose flights during cooler hours of the day to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations.

Dog In Airplane Carrier
Image Credit: Cameron Cross, Shutterstock

6. Identification and Contact Information

Ensure your pet’s collar has a tag with your contact information and the carrier or kennel is labeled with your name, address, and phone number. For international travel, make sure your pet is microchipped and registered with the appropriate database.

7. Check-in and Arrival

Arrive at the airport early to allow ample time for check-in procedures and any last-minute requirements. Upon arrival at your destination, examine your pet for any signs of distress or discomfort and give them time to adjust to their new environment.

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American Airlines does allow dogs on their flights, but it’s crucial to follow the airline’s guidelines and requirements for in-cabin or checked baggage travel. By planning ahead, researching your destination’s pet regulations, and taking steps to ensure your pet’s comfort and safety, you can enjoy a stress-free travel experience with your canine companion.

Featured Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

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