American Airlines ESA Policy

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By: Rita Cunha Updated: May 15, 2020

American Airlines ESA PolicyThe American Airlines ESA Policy has fantastic news for emotional support animals owners. If you’re traveling with AA, you can bring your ESA on the flight — as long as you follow their rules. The best part of it all is that they can travel in the cabin for free!

American Airlines ESA Policy: A Pet Fee for Non-ESAs

According to the American Airlines ESA policy, pets are welcomed to join their owners on American Airlines! The American Airlines ESA policy states that pets can be either in the cabin, checked, or transported with American Airlines Cargo.

According to the AA ESA policy, a checked pet 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.

Fortunately, if you’ve got an emotional support animal or service animal then you ESA can travel in the cabin with you, at no extra charge.

ACAA and ESAs: What You Need to Know: Alert American Airlines You Will Be Bringing Your ESA

The Air Carrier Access Act will be your best friend when flying. Thanks to the ACAA you and your ESA will be protected and can enjoy a stress-free flight. However, you still have responsibilities to uphold.

Update: “On July 1st, 2018, a regulation went to effect that passengers traveling with their animals must sign a form claiming their animal’s behavior is proper and will cause no harm or distraction to other flyers. Accompanying this form, customers with emotional support animals will also, as always, need their ESA letter, which has to be signed by a mental health care professional state their need for one.”

According to the American Airlines ESA policy, owners will require 3 forms prior to their departure:

  1. A form from the Mental Health Professional dictating your need for an ESA
  2. Behavior Form which indicates that your animal has the proper training required in order to behave properly when on the flight and in a public setting.
  3. An animal sanitation letter is required for flights that are over 8 hours.

It is important that all the necessary forms are completed and sent to the American Airlines Special Assistance desk. These forms need to be sent 48 hours prior to departure!

If you’re traveling soon and require an ESA letter in the next 48-hours then make sure you get connected with one of CertaPet’s LMHP.

Take the 5-minute screening to see if you qualify today.

CertaPet’s American Airlines ESA Fact Sheet

To get all the information and more in one place, we created an emotional support animal fact sheet when cruising in the sky with your ESA. Easy to download so you don’t have to forget anything!

A List of ESAs That Are Permitted on American Airlines

An update to the American Airlines pet and ESA policy come into effect April 1st 2019. The updated policy states that the airline 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:


  • Burmese
  • Persian
  • Himalayan
  • Exotic Shorthair


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

As long as your cat or dog is of another breed, they should be able to fly free of charge if you have all the right documents.

emotional support dog at airport terminal

Know American Airlines’s 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. ESAs may be allowed out of their carriers, but pets usually will not. When traveling in the cargo compartment or in the cabin, American Airlines has carrier dimension requirements and restrictions.

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.

For pets on cargo hold, the carriers have to respect these rules:

  • Be no bigger than 40″ x 27″ x 30″.
  • It needs to be large enough so that your pet can sit, turn and lie down easily.
  • Be made of wood, metal or plastic.
  • Have a welded or cast metal door.
  • Have bolts or screws securing it on top.
  • Be leak and escape proof.
  • Be well ventilated (on at least 2 of the sides).
  • Have food and water bowls with a 24-hour ration inside.
  • Weigh less than 100lbs with the animal inside it.

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 ESA Go Once I’m on the Plane?”

The American Airlines ESA policy states that your ESA can either travel on the floor, on your lap, or in a kennel. 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! One of the Most Important Steps!

American Airlines ESA policy has strict guideline pet owners need to follow. One of the most important rules is having the correct documentation with you.

So, you’ll have to follow the requirements set by the ACAA and the American Airlines ESA policy if you wish for your ESA to be accepted onboard. If you don’t, you may have to pay a fee and have your furry friend be placed in the cargo compartment.

ESA Letter

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 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

A USDA-approved veterinarian must complete this form within ten days of travel. It proves the animal’s clean bill of health and rabies vaccination record. You can find a fill-out form on their website.

Animal Sanitation During 8+ Hours Form

Service and emotional support animals are required to fill a Service Animal Sanitation Form provided by American Airlines. This form states that during an 8 hour or more flight, your service animal or ESA will not defecate or urinate on a flight. In the event that they do need to do one of these, you’ll have to tell the airline how you’d go about dealing with it.

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, 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 ESA.

Read ESA Owners’ First-Hand Flying Experience on American Airlines

The American Airlines ESA policy is truly winning the hearts of many ESA owners. Here’s what a happy customer has to say about American Airlines ESA policy!

“We fly often from Miami to our home in Belize with my ESA dog. Each time, AA has been friendly, accommodating and professional. I am a faithful AA flyer and will continue to be.

You need to ensure that you are following all of the guidelines and procedures such as having the proper documentation, notifying the airline and that your animal is approved for travel. If you do this, you should have a wonderful and pleasant trip.” ~ Dawn,

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, 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 aircraft

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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