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Traveling with a service dog can be challenging to navigate, especially if you’re not used to the process. Whether it’s your first time traipsing through the airport with your service dog or you’ve done it a hundred times, flying with an animal onboard is always a unique experience.
Let’s take a look at how to fly American Airlines with a service dog, the steps you’ll need to take to do so and some tips for simplifying your journey.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
American Airlines service dog policy
Can service dogs fly on American Airlines? Yes, they can. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to accept service animals for travel.
However, in 2020, the DOT updated its regulations to include the following definition of a service animal: “A dog, regardless of breed or type, that is 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.”
This regulation has put limits on the types of animals that airlines are required by law to transport. Now, only dogs that are service animals are guaranteed transport.
Similarly, airlines are no longer required to transport emotional support animals and many no longer allow them to fly as service animals.
All of this is to say that American Airlines’ service dog policy matches what the DOT dictates. You may bring up to two service dogs with you when traveling for free. This is true whether you’re flying on a basic economy ticket or in first class.
» Learn more: Emotional support animals may no longer fly for free
Booking a flight with a service dog
If you’re booking a flight with American Airlines, it’s simple to add your service dog. There are a couple of different ways you can do this. The first is to add your dog while booking your ticket. To do so, you’ll first want to search for and select your flight.
During the checkout process, you’ll be required to fill out your personal information, including your name, date of birth and country of residence. In this same section, you’ll see the option to request special assistance.
Selecting the “Add special assistance” link brings up a few different options for special assistance, including traveling with a service animal.
If you’ve already booked your flight, it’s still possible to add your service dog to your ticket. You’ll first need to find your flight using your confirmation code and last name. From there, you’ll be shown all the information about your ticket, including departure date and selected seats.
If you scroll down, you’ll see a section allowing you to request special services.
However, in order to add a service dog to a flight you’ve already booked, you’ll need to have completed your documentation first. This is because American Airlines asks for your service animal ID.
Submitting your service dog documentation
No matter when you add your service dog to your itinerary, there is documentation that you’ll need to complete and submit to American.
If you’ve booked your flight in advance, you’ll need to do this at least 48 hours before your departure time. If you’ve booked a reservation less than 48 hours before takeoff, you can show your documentation at the airport.
Depending on where you’re going and how far you’re flying, there are different types of paperwork that you’ll need. For shorter domestic flights, all you’ll need to submit is the DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form. On flights longer than eight hours, you’ll also need to complete the DOT Service Animal Relief Attestation Sanitation Form.
American Airlines also accepts those with a Service Dog Pass ID, which is issued by an AKC-sponsored nonprofit and exempts you from having to complete documentation.
In order to submit these forms, you’ll need to navigate to American’s contact page. Here, you’ll be able to add your information and submit your documents.
Once American Airlines has reviewed your paperwork, it will email you back with a service animal ID number. This number can then be used to add your service dog to your reservation.
Happily for frequent travelers, the service animal ID issued by American Airlines is valid for one year or until your dog’s rabies vaccination expires. This means you’ll be able to reuse the ID for future flights without needing to resubmit your paperwork.
Note that if you’re flying internationally, your service dog will still need to meet the entry requirements of the country to which you’re traveling. This may mean you’ll need to bring a health certificate or other paperwork along with you.
» Learn more: How to fly with a dog
Tips for flying American Airlines with a service dog
Flying with a service dog can be stressful, but there are some things you can do to help make it a little easier.
Request an accessible seat
Those traveling with a service dog can call American Airlines’ reservation desk to ask for accessible seats. Generally, this means that the airline will put you in a bulkhead seat, where your dog will have more room to spread out. This can also mean that they keep the seat next to you empty.
Scout out service dog relief areas
Many airports within the United States have service dog relief areas. Even better, a lot of these spots are located behind the security screening area, which means you won’t have to exit the terminal if you’re on a connection.
Before you travel, be sure to check maps of the airports and figure out where these spots are located. This is especially important after the flight, when your dog may be sprinting for the nearest potty spot.
American Airlines allows those with disabilities to board before other passengers. This means that those who need a little extra time to fix leashes, unpack bags and settle their service animals can get on the plane first.
Take advantage of this so that you’ll have your dog’s tail tucked out of the aisle when the roller bags start streaming by.
» Learn more: What to know before flying American with pet cargo
If you want to fly American Airlines with a service dog
So, does American Airlines allow service dogs? Yes, whether you’re flying domestically or internationally.
Adding a service animal to your reservation is simple, though be aware that you’ll need to complete certain paperwork in order to do so. Once that’s completed, you’ll be issued an ID number that can be reused to make your future trips with American Airlines a breeze.
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