American Airlines Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and Psychiatric Service Dog Policy
American Airlines Main Takeaways:
- Trained service animals allowed in cabin, max 2 per passenger. Complete required forms before flight.
- Pet Fees: $125 per carry-on kennel. Checked pets for military/state members, $200 fee.
- Breed Restrictions: Prohibited breeds listed on AA’s website.
- Pet Carrier Size: Soft-sided carriers fit under seat, hard-sided max 19x13x9 inches.
- Travel Requirements: Restrictions based on forecasted temperatures. Limited carry-on pets allowed.
- Domestic Travel: Pets must be at least 8 weeks old, up-to-date vaccinations. Pregnant pets not allowed to Hawaii.
- International Travel: No carry-on pets on some flights.
- US Inbound: CDC prohibits pets from high-risk rabies countries, service dogs may be allowed.
A trained service animal that meets AA’s requirements and has all the necessary documentation can fly in the cabin at no charge. You can travel with no more than two service animals. Any service dog you travel with must be well-behaved and clean. Service dogs are prohibited in the exit row and cannot block the aisles. Your service dog must be at your feet or under the seat unless small enough to fit in your lap.
AA’s Required Documentations
AA requires the Service Animal Air Transportation Form for all service dogs. If the flight is over eight hours, AA also requires the Service Animal Relief Attestation Form. You are expected to complete and submit the necessary paperwork before departure, but if you purchased the ticket within 48 hours of your flight, you can fill the form out at the airport. An AA rep will still have to verify that your dog qualifies as a service animal, so arrive at the airport early to allow adequate time for this process.
American Airlines provides a form on its website that you can use to submit your documentation before your flight. AA provides instructions to upload the required documents and allows you to add any further comments you may have. If you have questions, call AA customer service at 800-237-7976 for special assistance.
Service Animal ID
Your dog receives a Service Animal ID number from American Airlines when your forms are approved. This number remains valid until your dog’s rabies vaccination expires or up to a year after signing the document. If the ID remains valid, you can fly on AA with your dog without resubmitting your documentation.
Generally, pets are allowed on American Airlines flights that are less than 12 hours long and are to or from the following destinations:
- The US (including Alaska)
- Puerto Rico
- St. Croix
- St. Thomas
Additional country-related restrictions may exist on flights to and from Mexico and Canada. You cannot bring a pet in a carry-on carrier on a flight to Hawaii.
If you take your pet carrier in the cabin, American considers that to be your sole carry-on bag. You cannot take a carry-on suitcase with you in addition to a pet carrier, though you can still have one personal item.
AA’s Pet Fees
American charges a pet travel fee of $125 per kennel when your pet flies in the cabin in a carry-on kennel. The cost to transport your pet via American Airlines Cargo varies.
AA’s Checked Pet Policy
American Airlines doesn’t accept checked pets from all passengers. AA will only allow you to check your pet for your flight if you are traveling on official orders as an active-duty member of the US military or the US State Department of Foreign Service. Even if you meet these conditions, checked pets are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The fee for a checked pet is $200 per kennel.
You must contact the Reservations department at least 48 hours before traveling and provide your official orders during check-in. You must also provide a health certificate for your pet that a licensed vet issued within ten days of travel and 60 days of your return trip (if on the same ticket). If you return on a different ticket, you’ll need another health certificate issued within ten days of your return trip.
AA’s Breed Restrictions
The AA pet policy prohibits the transportation of dog breeds that it describes as “historically aggressive.” It also does not transport pets by cargo with short noses because of associated respiratory issues. Some examples of prohibited snub-nosed dogs are Bulldogs and Pugs. Flat-faced cat breeds, such as Persians, are also ineligible for transport.
Dog breeds that cannot travel by cargo are listed on AA’s website, but it does not specify which are prohibited for health reasons and which are considered aggressive breeds. If you are unsure whether your dog can travel with American Airlines, call customer service.
AA’s Pet Carrier Size Requirements
American requires that your pet must remain in its carrier during the entire flight, and the carrier must remain under the seat. AA requires that the soft-sided kennel fit under the seat, but there is some leniency regarding its size. Hard-sided kennels are permitted but cannot exceed 19 inches long, 13 inches wide, and nine inches tall.
While remaining within those dimensions, the carrier must be large enough for the pet to move freely, e.g., sit down, stand, lie down, and turn around, without touching the sides. Carriers must have adequate ventilation and be made of a material that resists leaks.
AA’s Travel Requirements
Because animals are sensitive to extreme heat and cold, American Airlines will not allow animals to fly if the forecast includes temperatures over 85°F. Pets are generally not allowed to fly if the forecast calls for temperatures below 45°F, although exceptions can be made with a note from a vet.
American Airlines will never transport warm-blooded pets when the ground temperature is less than 20°F or greater than 85°F. Cold-blooded animals are exempt from temperature restrictions but must be packaged with hot or cold packs under IATA Life Animal Regulations. There are limitations on the number of carry-on pets allowed on any AA flight. There are also aircraft restrictions that prohibit pets from flying on planes that don’t have adequate heating and ventilation.
Pets traveling within the continental United States and Puerto Rico must be at least eight weeks old and up to date on vaccinations. Vaccination requirements apply to both carry-on and checked pets. Pregnant pets past 45 days gestation are prohibited from traveling to Hawaii.
There are restrictions for flying to Hawaii. Carry-on pets aren’t allowed on flights to and from Hawaii. Additionally, checked pets are only allowed on flights that connect via Honolulu, although pets aren’t allowed on early-morning flights (before 8:00 a.m.) departing Honolulu between March 5 and November 1.
Carry-on pets are prohibited on transatlantic and transpacific flights. Some international destinations have additional restrictions on traveling with pets. It is your responsibility to find out about them before booking the flight.
As of 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prohibited pets from high-risk countries for dog rabies from traveling to the United States. Service dogs may be allowed with the proper permit.