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American Airlines' pet policy: Here’s how to fly with your cat or dog

Aug. 21, 2022
5 min read
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Flying with a pet can be complicated. Each airline has its own guidelines, and the devil is really in the details.

In this story, we'll cover the most important details you need to know about the American Airlines pet policy, including the American Airlines pet cargo policy.

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American Airlines' pet policy

(Photo by Capuski/Getty Images)

American Airlines only allows passengers to carry on cats and dogs; no other types of pets are allowed. According to the American Airlines pet policy, you can bring a cat or dog along (assuming they meet the size and age requirements) on most flights up to 12 hours or flights to or from the following locations:

  • The 48 contiguous United States.
  • The United States and Canada.
  • Alaska.
  • Mexico.
  • Puerto Rico.
  • St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

American Airlines charges a $125 charge for each one-way itinerary where your pet accompanies you in the cabin. You'll also incur an additional $125 charge on any one-way itinerary within the U.S. with more than a four-hour voluntary stopover. You might be able to recoup some or all of the fees if you charge it on a credit card that offers airline fee credits.

Additionally, the American Airlines pet policy prohibits pets from traveling in first or business class on the following aircraft types:

  • 777-200.
  • 777-300.
  • 787-8.
  • 787-9.

You'll want to make sure you book your pet early as part of your reservation. Unlike the United Airlines pet policy, American Airlines publishes the number of pets allowed in the cabin on each flight. So, we know American Airlines only allows up to seven kennels on its mainline flights (although service animals don't count toward this limit).

Meanwhile, American will only accept five kennels per flight — and a maximum of one carrier in first class — for American Eagle flights. While American has largely eliminated change fees, you'll be stuck rescheduling your trip if your particular flight has already reached its cap for in-cabin animals.

Lastly, American Airlines considers a pet carrier a carry-on item. So, if you're bringing along a pet, you'll only be permitted a personal item along with your pet carrier. Any other bags will need to be checked, with the appropriate fees applied.

Related: A comprehensive guide to traveling with pets

American Airlines' pet carrier requirements

(Photo by vasiliki/Getty Images)

The American Airlines pet policy allows for both hard-sided and soft-sided carriers. Hard-sided carriers have different size restrictions based on whether your flight is on American Airlines or American Eagle, American's regional carrier.

Hard-sided kennels can be no larger than 19 inches by 13 inches by 9 inches on mainline flights and no larger than 16 inches by 12 inches by 8 inches on American Eagle flights. However, the American Airlines pet policy recommends soft-sided carriers, which can be no larger than 18 inches by 11 inches by 11 inches on both mainline and American Eagle flights.

Lastly, the American pet policy states that the animal must be able to stand up and turn around in the pet carrier.

Related: 8 things to consider before flying with your pet

American Airlines' pet cargo policy

(Photo by Tobias Titz/Getty Images)

American Airlines will only allow a pet to travel in cargo if you are a member of the U.S. military on active duty or a U.S. State Department Foreign Service employee traveling on official orders. There are several additional requirements for a pet traveling in cargo which you can find on the American Airlines website.

Related: What you need to know about traveling with dogs on a plane

How to use the American Airlines pet policy

(Photo by Su Arslanoglu/Getty Images)

The only way to use the American Airlines pet policy is to call reservations to add a pet to your reservation. An agent will be able to help you with adding a pet to your record, assuming there is still capacity for kennels on your preferred flights.

Related: How to change or cancel an American Airlines flight

Bottom line

The American Airlines pet policy can make it challenging to travel with your pet. You won't be able to bring anything other than a cat or dog on board. And American is one of several airlines that severely restrict the ability to have your animal travel in the cargo hold.

The American Airlines pet policy contains some restrictions on the size of kennels on certain flights and destinations. Finally, American Airlines will only accept a certain number of pets in the cabin per flight, so you'll need to reserve space for your pet early.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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