What to Know Before Flying American With Pet Cargo

American ranks among the most pet-friendly airlines, but there are restrictions and fees to consider.
Josh Garber
By Josh Garber 
Edited by Meg Lee

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Whether it’s introducing your furry friend to your family or getting to explore hiking and beaches with your pet in a new destination, traveling with your pet can add to your travel experience.

If you’re considering flying with your pet on American Airlines, here's what you need to know about their pet cargo policies.

American Airlines’ pet policies

The first step to booking your pet cargo with American is understanding its pet cargo policies. This includes knowing what animals you can bring, the extra costs involved, how to book pet cargo and the differences when flying domestically and internationally. Understanding these policies in advance can help you avoid the hassle when you’re ready to fly.

Restricted types of pets and breeds

American Airlines has a number of restricted pets and breeds, which can depend on the destination. While you’ll want to research to ensure that American Airlines will allow the transport of your pet before you fly, no matter where you’re flying, note that American Airlines does not transport:

  • Skunks or other odor-producing animals.

  • Venomous or poisonous snakes, lizards, invertebrates or amphibians.

While you are allowed to travel with more common pets, such as cats and dogs, American Airlines does have restrictions on the breeds you can travel with.

The following dog breeds are not accepted for travel on American:

  • Affenpinscher.

  • American Bully.

  • American Staffordshire Terrier.

  • Boston Terrier.

  • Boxer (All breeds).

  • Brussels Griffon.

  • Bulldog (All breeds).

  • Cane Corso.

  • Chow Chow.

  • Dogue De Bordeaux.

  • English Toy Spaniel.

  • Japanese Chin.

  • Lhasa Apso.

  • Mastiff (All breeds).

  • Pekingese.

  • Pit Bull.

  • Presa Canario.

  • Pug (All breeds).

  • Shar Pei.

  • Shih Tzu.

  • Staffordshire Terrier.

  • Tibetan Spaniel.

The following cat breeds are not accepted for travel on American:

  • Burmese.

  • Exotic Shorthair.

  • Himalayan.

  • Persian.

If you’re not sure about whether American Airlines will allow your pet cargo, be sure to contact the airline by emailing them at [email protected]

Temperature matters

Before you travel, make sure to check the weather. Why? Because you cannot travel with a pet if the forecasted temperature is going to be 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or if the temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. However, you may be able to waive this cold weather restriction with a letter from a licensed vet. Regardless of waivers and documentation, animals may not travel under any circumstances if the temperature is below 20 F at any spot on the itinerary.

Given the restrictions on bringing pet cargo when it’s 85 F or warmer, American Airlines does not allow pet cargo flying to/from the following cities between May 1 and Sept. 30:

  • Las Vegas.

  • Palm Springs, California.

  • Phoenix.

  • Tucson, Arizona.

Pet cargo costs extra money (except for service animals)

The cost of pet cargo varies by region and can be confirmed at the time of booking, although service animals can be transported for no fee. Active members of the military receive a 50% discount on their pet cargo fees.

If you’re curious how much it will cost to bring your pet, American Airlines has a helpful rate calculator, too. You can use the calculator for pets flying within the United States that weigh less than 100 pounds and are smaller than 90 linear inches (which is the sum of your pet’s height, width and length).

There are differences flying pets internationally versus domestically

If you’re flying domestically within the continental U.S., Puerto Rico or into Hawaii, your pet will be flying as Priority Parcel Service as long as:

  • Your pet is under 100 pounds.

  • Your pet’s kennel is no larger than 36 inches long, 26 inches wide and 28 inches high.

If you’re flying internationally, out of Hawaii or your pet exceeds the weight and container restrictions for PPS, your pet will fly ExpediteFS.

ExpediteFS and PPS have different rates, so it’s important you know which your pet will be flying before you book.

Pet cargo requires its own booking

You’ll need to book your pet cargo separately from your own booking, and there are two ways to book your pet cargo:

  • Up to 10 days prior to departure. You can book your pet using the following website: aacargo.com/AACargo/ua/forms/pet.

  • Less than 10 days prior to departure. Call American Airlines at 800-227-4622.

How flying with pets on American compares to other airlines

While you may be nervous about flying with your precious pet cargo, NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find out which are the most pet-friendly airlines in the U.S. and American Airlines landed in spot number 4 — just behind Alaska Airlines, Southwest and Frontier.

In general, American Airlines’ offers some pet-friendly policies relative to its peers, but it got dinged for fees ($125 per pet; higher than the average of $113).

American Airlines pet cargo, recapped

If you plan on flying with your pet with American Airlines, you should be sure to research all the specific requirements — including pet, breed and temperature restrictions — before booking a flight for yourself and your pet on the airline. Note that, except for service animals, you will need to pay a fee for your pet and that the fee can vary based on where you’re flying, the size of your pet and your active military status.

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