American Airlines has long been the largest airline not only in the United States, but in the world. This held true even more after mergers with TWA and US Airways.

American Airlines has always been one of the best airlines when traveling with your animal, especially when it comes to an emotional support animal.

Unfortunately though, on January 11th, 2022, American Airlines has since restricted travel with emotional support animals. You are still allowed to travel with your service animals, as long as they fit the definition of what a service animal is.

Let’s take a look at the different ways you can travel with your pet and some of the general rules and restrictions on American Airlines.

Carry-On Pets

American Airlines has a very good carry-on pets policy, as you are allowed to bring 1 kennel as your carry-on bag under two conditions:

  • You pay the required fee for carry-on pets
  • The animal remains in the kennel, under the front passenger seat for the duration of the flight

Passengers are allowed to travel with their pet carrier and 1 personal item, but will not be allowed to bring an additional carry-on bag (the pet kennel essentially serves as the carry-on bag).

If the pet is too large to fly in the cabin, it must travel with American Airlines Cargo (info below).

PetEmbark (Cargo)

American Airlines does not allow passengers to check-in their pets, but instead must travel with American Airlines Cargo called PetEmbark.

Here is a link to a quick video provided by American Airlines on PetEmbark.

Checked Pets

American Airlines does not allow the checking of pets for any regular passenger. You must be either an active-duty U.S. military person or someone from the U.S. State Department Foreign Service traveling on official orders.

Up to 2 pets may be checked on any flight and they must meet the minimum age and health requirements of the specific destination. Since capacity is limited, they will only accept checked pets on a first-come basis.

When checking-in a pet with American Airlines, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Contact American Airlines Reservations at least 48 hours prior to travel
  • Check in at the ticket counter with official orders
  • Allow extra check-in time (at least 2 hours)
  • Complete a checklist with an American Airlines ticket agent
  • Provide the animal’s health certificate

To ensure the health and safety of your pet, the health certificate you provide to the American Airlines agent must be issued by a vet within:

  • 10 days of your travel
  • 60 days of your return (travel on the same ticket)
  • 10 days of your return (travel on a separate ticket)

Service Animals

Fully-trained service dogs may fly in the cabin at no charge if they meet the requirements.

A service animal is defined as a dog that’s individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability, including but not limited to:

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

American Airline employees are trained to ask certain questions to determine if the animal is acceptable for travel.

*Please note, service animals in training, emotional support animals, and comfort animals may travel as pets, not as service animals. 

Emotional Support Animals

American Airlines has recently announced changes to its policies and procedures for travel with emotional support animals and service animals. The new policies and procedures are intended to support customers with disabilities and the service animals that travel with them, as well as the team members who work to keep customers safe.

The new rule defines a service animal as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability” — a narrower definition than in the past. American will no longer allows travel for animals that do not meet that definition, such as emotional support animals.

Animals that previously traveled as emotional support animals and no longer qualify as service animals may travel as carry-on pets or as cargo pets, as long as they meet American Airlines’ requirements.

Temperature Restrictions

Extreme temperatures are tough on your beloved animals, so it’s important that temperatures are safe and appropriate for travel. Temperature restrictions are based on the actual or forecasted temperatures for each flight departure time and flight arrival time for each station your flight itinerary.

American Airlines will transport warm-blooded animals when ground temperatures are between 45 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This applies to origin, connection and destination cities.

American will NOT transport warm-blooded animals when ground temperatures are higher than 85 degrees Fahrenheit or less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This applies to origin, connection, and destination cities.

If ground temperatures are between 20 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit, then American Airlines requires that you provide a letter of acclimation signed and dated by a licensed veterinarian. The letter of acclimation must state the exact lowest temperature between 20 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit that the animal may be exposed to. This applies to origin, connection, and destination cities.

*Please note that if your pet’s health certificate includes an acclimation certificate, there is no need to complete any letter. American only requires one certified acclimation statement.

American Airlines will not transport warm-blooded animals if the actual or forecasted temperature(s) is outside of the range provided by the veterinarian in the acclimation letter. They will also not provide transport your pet if the maximum amount of time that the animal may be exposed to temperatures below 44 degrees Fahrenheit is less than 45 minutes.

Aircraft Restrictions

The heat and ventilation capability within much of American Airlines’ fleet allows them to accept pets for transport. However, for the safety of your animal, American will not transport animals on the following aircraft types: Airbus 319, 320, 321, 321E, 321H, 321S, 321X, 32Q and 32B, excluding New York JFK to/from LAX and San Francisco (SFO). Tropical fish, lobsters and other “aquatics” are accepted across their entire fleet.

Breed Restrictions

American Airlines, like most airlines around the world, have restricted certain types of breeds for not only the safety of the animal, but for those handling the animals as well.

Any snub-nosed dogs and cats will not be accepted because of the potential respiratory health risks associated with certain breeds. American Airlines is also strict on certain breeds that have shown a history of aggression.

Although your furry friend is most likely a sweetheart and wouldn’t harm a fly, the airline must take precautions regardless so that nothing bad will happen to the animal or those handling it.

Below you can see a list of the dogs and cats that are restricted from flying on American Airlines.

*Please note that if the animal is considered to be a ‘mixed’ breed, then you will be required to fill out a form stating the predominant breed.