American Airlines with Carry-On Pets

If you’re a pet owner, you understand the bond between you and your pampered friend. And it’s easy to get attached to them to the point where you can’t imagine leaving them behind when you travel. Thankfully, most airlines allow pets on board, so you don’t have to be separated.

But how strict is American Airlines with carry-on pets? In short, pretty strict. They allow only small cats and dogs in the cabin, one per passenger, under a certain size, age, route, and carrier restriction. In addition, you must keep your pet in its carrier under your seat during the flight.

Let’s enlighten you further on American Airlines pet policy so that traveling with your pet is as hassle-free as possible.

American Airlines Pet Policy – Flying with Your Pet in the Cabin

As far as carry-on pets are concerned, American Airlines is quite strict. If you’re planning to fly with yours, there are certain requirements you must meet. Here’s a breakdown of each.

What Animals Can You Carry in the Cabin?

As of now, American Airlines only allows small cats and dogs in the cabin, not other species. According to their pet policy, you can bring only one cat or dog, so long as they meet the size and age requirements. However, emotional support and service animals have slightly different policies.

What Are the Age and Size Requirements?

Your pet must be aged 8 weeks or older and should weigh no more than 20 pounds, including their carrier. However, you can’t bring an animal that isn’t well-behaved. At the same time, all carry-on pets must be fully house-trained.

What Are the Carrier Restrictions?

Pets must be transported in approved carriers or hard-sided containers that fit under the seat in front of you. 

American Airlines recommends collapsible, soft-sided kennels that measure no larger than 11 inches high, 11 inches wide, and 18 inches deep (including wheels). Or, you can use hard-sided containers no bigger than 9 inches high, 19 inches long, and 13 inches wide.

What Are the Carrier Restrictions?

The carrier should also have adequate ventilation, contain absorbent materials in case of accidents, and be sturdy with secure locks. Likewise, if a carrier isn’t large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around, you’ll have to book them as checked baggage, instead.

What are the Routes and Booking Restrictions?

You can book your flights with American Airlines as early as 10 days before departure and you’ll find a field to indicate you’re carrying a pet with you. 

However, keep in mind that there are a select few routes where carry-on pets aren’t permitted. So check this list of allowed routes early on-

  • Within the USA’s 48 conterminous states
  • The U.S. and Canada*
  • Mexico*
  • Alaska
  • Puerto Rico
  • St. Thomas
  • St. Croix

*There might be extra limitations when taking pets to and from these areas.

Unfortunately, pets are not allowed to or from Hawaii, EU countries, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, and Bolivia in the cabin. However, service or assistance dogs are allowed on flights to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Are There Any Aircraft Restrictions?

You should also be aware that some airplanes aren’t designed to carry pets, no matter their size. As such, American Airlines requires you to check online which aircraft accept carry-on pets before flying. As of now, the following aircraft don’t accept animals-

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

Similarly, if your flight has more than one stop with a transfer involved, you’ll need to pick different aircraft as they might not be pet-friendly in both destinations.

What Documents Do I Need?

When bringing your pet on an American Airlines flight, you’ll need some essential documents. You’ll need a health certificate for your pet issued by a licensed veterinarian within 10 days of your travel, and proof of rabies vaccination certification.

What Documents Do I Need?

Depending on your destination, you may also need to show additional health documents, such as certifications of imminent travel, import permits, temperature approvals, and quarantine certificates. 

It’s best to check with the state or country you’re traveling to in order to ensure you have everything you need.

What is the In-Cabin Pet Carriage Process on American Airlines?

When taking a carry-on pet on American Airlines, you should pay attention to the steps needed for checking in.


You’ll need to arrive at the airport early enough to check in your pet. Ensure that you have all the necessary documents and that your pet is in a carrier that meets the airline’s requirements.

Security Screening

Once you’ve checked in, you’ll go through security screening with your pet. You’ll remove your pet from the carrier and walk with them through the metal detector. The carrier, in the meantime, goes through the X-ray machine.


When it’s time to board, you’ll need to wait until your boarding group is called. American Airlines allows you to board with your pet before general boarding. Once on board, you’ll store your pet’s carrier under the seat in front of you.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have further queries regarding boarding with a carry-on pet on an American Airlines flight, here are the answers to some of the most common questions to help you out.

What is the cost of bringing a carry-on pet on an American Airlines flight?

For domestic flights, American Airlines charges a fee of $125 per kennel to take your pet onboard. For international flights, the fee is between $200 to $300. All these fees are non-refundable. Additionally, emotional support animals and service animals fly for free.

Does American Airlines allow sedated pets for carry-on?

No, sedated pets are not allowed on American Airlines flights, for safety reasons as the use of sedatives and tranquilizers can cause respiratory or cardiac issues. As per American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines, pets should never be sedated for a flight.

Do American Airlines flights prohibit carry-on dogs of certain breeds?

Yes, American Airlines doesn’t allow brachycephalic or “short-nosed” dogs of any breed, including boxers, pugs, bulldogs, and shih tzus. In addition, 12 breeds such as American Staffordshire terriers, Doberman pinschers, and Rottweilers, cannot travel in cabins due to their size and aggression.

Do American Airlines flights prohibit carry-on cats of certain breeds?

Yes, American Airlines doesn’t accept cats of Persian, Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, or Himalayan breeds for pet carriage in their cabins. Also, kittens of any breed under 8 weeks of age are not accepted for in-cabin or cargo travel.

Does American Airlines require pets to be vaccinated?

Yes, American Airlines requires all pets to have an up-to-date rabies vaccine certificate and a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian. Also, this certification must not be older than 10 days from the travel date. 


As you can see, American Airlines is quite stringent about its pet policy for flights with carry-on animals. Yet, it’s nice that they have an airline assist desk for more specific questions about traveling with pets.

So, be sure to call ahead and familiarize yourself well with the detailed requirements for size, age, carrier type, and other restrictions. And keep every document handy, so you won’t have to go through any mishaps at the airport. 

Lastly, it’s important to note that regardless of how strict the American Airlines pet policy seems, it’s all designed to protect pets’ comfort and safety during flight. So, stick to all of the requirements for a safe and pleasant trip!


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