Dog Traveling By Plane? Here Are the Airline Rules

Dog Traveling By Plane? Here Are the Airline Rules

With Covid-19, travel has been complicated, to say the least. Many airlines have changed policy with dogs traveling by plane. Learn about one major airline’s rules that you need to know to take your furbaby on a plane this summer.

Carry On, Check, or Transport Your Pets

According to American Airlines, depending on the animal’s breed, size, and requirements, pets can travel as a carry-on, be checked, or transport with cargo. However, checked pets can’t travel to/through/from Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, or Palm Springs May 1 – September 30. There are restrictions on checked dogs for certain breeds, such as brachycephalic or snub-nosed dogs, or mixed ones such as:

  • Affenpinscher
  • 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 Bull Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel
Dog Traveling By Plane? Here Are the Airline Rules


Dogs also need to be at least eight weeks old to travel within the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The destinations that allow travel with pets up to 11 hours and 30 minutes of flights include, within the 48 contiguous United States, U.S. and Canada, Alaska, Central America, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, and St. Thomas. There are restriction destinations, and these are:

  • Australia
  • Caribbean
  • Continental U.S.
  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • South America
  • Transatlantic
  • Transpacific

Carry-On Pets

You can bring one kennel as a carry-on bag on American flights if you pay the carry-on pet change, and your pets can stay in the kennel and under the seat in front of you for the entirety of the flight. Note that you can travel with your pet carrier and one personal item; however, you cant bring a carry-on bag in addition to a pet carrier and personal item. In this case, the kennel will replace your carry-on bag.

Kennel Guidelines for Carry-On Pets

The following rules apply to pets as carry-on’s and are enforced:

  • Pets have to be able to stand and sit erect, turn around normally and lie down in any position in their kennel (without touching any top or side of the container).
  • For non-collapsible kennels, they can’t exceed the under-seat dimensions of any aircraft included in your flights.
  • Collapsible kennels that are soft-sided can be slightly larger but still need to fit under the seat without having to unnecessarily collapse the kennel. They also must be secure, padded, and made of water-repellant material with no nylon mesh ventilation on two or more sides.

Kennel Limitations

Dog Traveling By Plane? Here Are the Airline Rules

Excluding service animals, 7 kennels are only allowed on American flights, with 5 on American Eagle flights. Only 1 is allowed in Frist Contact Reservations for making arrangements for your pet in advance.

Flying in First/Business

The carrier’s combined weight and your pet must not exceed 20 lbs, weighed in at check-in. Further, pets need to remain in their kennel during the flight. They need to be positioned in a dedicated animal-friendly compartment at the front of the place during taxi, take-off, landing, and turbulence.

Aircraft Restrictions

The following aircraft do not permit carry-on pets in First or Business due to the lack of underseat storage space: 

  • Boeing (757-L, 757-EW, 767, 777-200, 777-300, 787-8, and 787-9
  • Airbus (A330-200, A330-300)

Checked Pets

Up to 2 checked pets that meet the minimum age and health requirements of your destination can travel; however, note that as capacity is limited, the airline can only accept them on a first-come basis. The process includes:

  • Contacting Reservations at least 48 hours before travel
  • Checking in at the ticket counter
  • Allowing additional check-in time (no more than 4 hours before departure)
  • Completing a checklist with an agent
  • Providing a health certificate (needs to be provided by a vet within 10 days of travel, 60 days of your return, on the same ticket, and 10 days of your return on a separate ticket)

Here are the USDA health requirements.


Checked pets can’t travel on the following Airbus Lines: A321, A321neo, A321S, A321H, A320, A319. Traveling on a connecting flight, checked pets are only able to connect through the following cities:

  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago O’Hare, IL
  • Dallas/Fort Worth TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York Kennedy, NY
  • New York LaGuardia, NY
  • Miami, FL
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Washington Reagan, DC
Dog Traveling By Plane? Here Are the Airline Rules


Connecting between American and other airlines require you to claim and recheck your pet and pay applicable charges to each carrier.

Kennel Guidelines for Checked Pets

There are specific requirements for kenneled pets when checking in; they include:

  • Your pet being large enough to stand, turn, sit, and lie down in a natural position (without touching the top or the side of the kennel)
  • Not exceed maximum-sized requirements of the aircraft you’re traveling on
  • Be made of either metal, wood, plastic, or other similar materials
  • A door made of welded or cast mental
  • Secured by yourself with release cable ties on all four corners (they will provide complimentary ties)
  • Secured at the top and bottom with bolts or screws
  • Be rigid and secure enough so your pet can’t escape through gaps or poke any body part through the kennel.
  • Be leak and escape-proof with a securely fastened door
  • Be ventilated on at least 3 sides for domestic U.S. travel and 4 sides for international travel
  • Have separate food and water dishes attached securely inside the kennel
  • Have a small bag of food for 24 hours attached to the top
  • Be clean and have absorbent material or litter (no straw, hay or wood shavings allowed)

Kennel Aircraft Restrictions

Aircraft Type:

  • A321T, 500 series kennel or smaller, with a maximum kennel height of 46 inches
  • B737-800, 400 series kennel or smaller, 28 inches
  • B757-200, 500 series kennel or smaller, 40 inches
  • B767-200/300, 500 series kennel or smaller, 63 inches
  • B-777-200/300, 500 series kennel or smaller, 63 inches
  • B787-800/900 500 series kennel or smaller, 63 inches
  • A330-200/300, 200 series kennel or smaller, 22 inches

Food and water

Because of federal regulations, you must provide written certification that:

  1. Your pet has been fed and offered water within four hours (with a specified time) before you deliver them to an airplane
  2. They are securely and visibly attached to the outside of the kennel
  3. Has your signature with the date and time you signed it


According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, you should NOT give your dog any sedatives or tranquilizers due to respiratory and cardiovascular problems caused by changes in pressure. If your pet is sedated at check-in, you must provide an agent the medication name, the amount, date, and time when your pet took it.

Temperature Restrictions

American Airlines has temperature restrictions to ensure your pet isn’t exposed to either too hot or cold conditions in:

  • Animal holding areas
  • At terminal facilities
  • When moving the animals between the terminal and an airplane
  • On an airplane awaiting departure

Keep in mind that you can’t travel with a pet if the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees at any traveling location; alternatively, if the ground temperature is below 45 degrees. However, they may waive the cold temp restrictions if you provide a written letter from the vet that includes:

  • Your name and address
  • Pet’s name
  • Vet’s name and signature
  • Your vet’s accreditation date and number
  • Temperature your pet is acclimated to
Dog Traveling By Plane? Here Are the Airline Rules


The letter must be dated:

  • Within 10 days of the first flight
  • Within 30 days of other trips in the same itinerary

For lengthy trips, you may need an additional letter. If the temperature is below 20 degrees, you can’t check in your pet — even with a letter from the vet.

Contact Plush Paws Products

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Contact Plush Paws Products

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