American Airlines ESA Policy

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By: CertaPet Staff Updated: September 16, 2021

If you’re traveling with AA with your furry friend, refer to American Airlines ESA Policy/American Airlines Pet Policy. Below is CertaPet’s Review for flying with AA and the rules you must follow.

**Please note, as of January 11, 2021, under new regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the allowance of Emotional Support Animals onboard flights may vary from airline to airline. Please contact your airline of choice for their most up-to-date policies on Emotional Support Animals.

And according to American Airlines, “Starting February 1, 2021, only trained service animals can fly in the cabin and you’ll need to complete and submit the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Service Animal Air Transportation form before your trip. If you’re traveling with an animal that doesn’t qualify as a trained service animal, it may be transported as a pet.”

American Airlines ESA Policy: Pet Fees

According to the American Airlines ESA policy, pets are welcomed to join their owners on American Airlines in the cabin!

According to the AA ESA policy, a checked pet (this now includes an emotional support animal) traveling within the U.S.A, Canada, Mexico, Central, and South America may cost $200 per kennel. A carry-on pet will cost $125 per kennel.

If you’ve got a service animal then your SA can travel in the cabin with you, at no extra charge.

Please note the change in checked pet service. As stated by American Airlines, ”Due to increased flight changes, we’ve stopped checking pets for now. We do accept checked pets at the ticket counter for active-duty U.S. Military traveling on assignments, fees, and applicable restrictions apply.

Carry-on pets, service and emotional support animals may fly in the cabin if they meet the requirements. If your pet is too large to fit in the cabin, please contact American Airlines Cargo.”

ACAA and ESAs: What You Need to Know!

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel. However, you still have responsibilities to uphold.

Yet, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced as of January 11, 2021, emotional support animals are no longer protected as assistance animals on flights. As stated by the DOT, this new law “allows airlines to recognize emotional support animals as pets, rather than service animals.”

There have been many calls to tighten ESA regulations (including from us at CertaPet) to help legitimize the true needs of individuals with emotional support animals.

“[But] unfortunately, the DOT has chosen to take the easy way out and ban [emotional support animals] altogether,” says Prairie Conlon, LPC, NCC, and CertaPet’s Clinical Director.

A List of ESAs That Are Permitted on American Airlines

American Airlines Pet and ESA Policy will only allow dogs and cats in the cabin on their flights. Regardless of whether people are flying with a pet or an ESA.

If your ESA is not on the list, we recommend calling American Airlines for more information, but the updated policy is quite clear: cats and dogs only!

Breed Restrictions

Despite dogs and cats being allowed with their owners in the cabin, there are some breed restrictions. Most recently, the American Airlines ESA policy states that short-nosed dog breeds and cat breeds cannot fly with American Airlines. These breeds are also known as snub-nosed or brachycephalic.

Here’s a list of some of the dog and cat breeds that may not be allowed to fly on American Airlines:

Cats

  • Burmese
  • Persian
  • Himalayan
  • Exotic Shorthair

Dogs

  • Affenpinscher
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bulldog (all breeds)
  • Cane Corso
  • Dogue De Bordeaux
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin

esa policy american airlines

Know American Airlines’ Pet Carrier Requirements!

Not everything is fair game aboard an American Airlines flight! There are some rules you’ll need to obey when it comes to pet carriers. When traveling in the cargo compartment or in the cabin, American Airlines has carrier dimension requirements and restrictions.

Note: As of now, American Airlines has stopped checking pets.

What Is Allowed

For pets traveling inside the passengers’ cabin, here are American Airline’s pet carrier requirements:

  • It must be big enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down in a natural position.
  • If it’s a non-collapsible kennel, it can’t be larger than 19″ x 13″ x 9″.
  • If it’s a collapsible kennel, it must be made of a water-repellent material, have padding or nylon mesh ventilation on at least two sides.

Your dog must also be at least 8 weeks of age to travel with this airline.

What’s Restricted

As the American Airlines ESA policy states, you can’t bring pet carriers that don’t oblige these requirements listed above. You also won’t be able to bring three or more items with you during the flight. This means bringing only one carry-on bag and a pet carrier.

“Where Does My Furry Friend Go Once I’m on the Plane?”

The American Airlines ESA Policy and Pet Policy states that your pet/ESA must stay in this carrier, with the door closed and under the seat during the duration of the flight. According to the American Airlines ESA policy, emotional support animals in the cabin should not:

  • Block aisles
  • Take up a seat
  • Have a bite from the tray tables.

Bring and Fill Out the Required Documents/Forms

Due to the new regulation, American Airlines will be recognizing emotional support animals as pets so you will not need your ESA letter + other mentioned forms. But you’re more than welcome to travel with the documentation below if it helps you.

ESA Letter

Though it’s not necessary for your pet traveling with American Airlines, the ESA letter is a letter prescribed to you by your mental health professional. This letter dictates that you are legible to have your ESA with you due to emotional impairment. Generally, an ESA letter needs to on your mental health professional letterhead.

Behavior Form

A behavior guidelines document is not required but states that you guarantee your animal will not misbehave during the flight. This means that they will obey your commands as well as not get in the way of anyone — passenger or crew member. This document also ensures that your ESA will not display any aggressive or menacing behaviors such as growling, biting, jumping, and lunging.

Veterinary Health Form

You do not have to have a veterinary health form when traveling with your pet or emotional support animal. But to know, A USDA-approved veterinarian completes this form within ten days of travel. It proves the animal’s clean bill of health and rabies vaccination record.

Prepare Your ESA for Flight!

No one enjoys the added stress of an animal on board that can’t stay still! Although you aren’t obligated to train your ESA, you should still do your best to prepare your ESA so that everyone enjoys the ride.

Teach Your Dog the Proper Behavior When in Public and on the Airplane

Teach your dog to behave like a good boy. This means no growling or barking at people, staying still for long amounts of time, and responding to your commands. You need to make sure you can control your ESA/pet, otherwise, you could be denied boarding.

They’re There for Your Comfort, Not Disturbance

Airplane safety is very important. Accidents can happen, and it may be difficult to solve them thousands of feet away from the ground. To prevent any mishaps from occurring, make sure your ESA can behave properly on the flight. Talk to your veterinarian about how you can safely travel with your furry friend.

Are You Traveling Internationally? Check Out Location-Specific Resources to See if Your ESA Is Allowed

ESAs can’t fly to all countries in the world. According to the American Airlines ESA Policy and Pet Policy, they are not allowed in transatlantic flight, for a start. There can also be problems with the local country’s customs and their quarantine policies.

To make sure nothing will go wrong last minute, check to see your destination’s stance on ESAs flying there.

american airlines pet policy

Here is a list to pay attention to. Some of these places will deny your ESA entry. Others will only allow it if you request approval days or even weeks before your arrival:

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • London (Heathrow Airport), England
  • All other English destinations
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Japan

Check out our article on American Airlines Pet Policy if you’ve got a non-ESA pooch!


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