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Cat Travel American Airlines

Updated on February 8, 2013

Cat Travel - American Airlines 800-433-7300


American Airlines provides transportation for household pets and welcomes the opportunity to transport your cat. Employees have been trained to provide safe and professional handling at all times. The information contained here only addresses domestic travel. If you plan to travel to an international destination or to the State of Hawaii please contact American Airlines directly at the number above for the latest rules and regulations.

American Airlines, like all major carriers, offers three options of transporting your cat: as carry-on, as checked luggage or as cargo.


  • American Airlines accepts pets in the passenger cabin on domestic flights within the 48 contiguous United States, Alaska, Puerto Rico, St Thomas and St Croix. Carry-on pets are not allowed if the flight is going to Hawaii.
  • Arrangements must be made prior to your travel date by calling the reservation office at the number above. American has a maximum limit of seven household pets allowed in the passenger cabin of any one flight. The 'seven' applies to a large wide-body aircraft. The limit will be less depending upon the size of the aircraft you will be flying.
  • Your cat traveling in the cabin with you must go through the check-in process at the ticket counter. Curbside and self-service check-in is not allowed if you are traveling with your pet. The recommended check-in time for domestic travel is 90 minutes before departure. Allow extra time for this process is you are checking your pet, but not more than four hours before scheduled departure.
  • The applicable fee for a carry on pet is $80.00 per container. This charge applies for each origin and destination without a voluntary stopover/connection of 4 hours or more. If your travel plans call for a voluntary stop or connection of more than 4 hours between your origination point and your final destination then the charge of $80.00 will apply per flight.
  • Your pet must be placed in a carry- on kennel approved by the carrier, and remain in the kennel for the entire duration of the trip. The kennel must fit entirely under the seat in front of you. For this reason the maximum size of the kennel is 23" long by 13" wide by 9" high. Your cat must be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position. Soft sided kennels or pet carriers are accepted as long as they are wate repellent and have ventilation on at least two sides.
  • A passenger is allowed two carry on pieces of luggage. The kennel counts as one and the carry-on pet fee mentioned above applies to this one piece.

Checked Luggage

  • If you are planning to check your pet as luggage no advance reservation is required. However, be aware that on heavily traveled flights capacity may be reached and checked pet are accommodated on a first come basis.
  • The fee to check your cat as luggage is $100.00 per container and this fee is collected at the airport. Each passenger is allowed to check two containers.

  • Your cat must travel in an approved kennel. This kennel must be leak-proof, escape-proof, the door must close securely and the kennel must have ventilation on at least two sides. Kennels must also have a water dish that can be filled from the outside in case the flight is delayed. Collapsible kennels are not accepted.
  • Temperature restrictions do apply to protect your pet from excessive heat or cold. If the outside temperature is currently or forcasted to be above 85 degrees Fahrenheit your cat will not be accepted for transportation. On the low end, if the outside temperature is currently or forecasted to be below 45 degrees Fahrenheit you must have a written veterinarian statement certifying the temperature the animal is acclimated to. This letter must be dated within 10 days of travel date. Under no condition will your cat be accepted if the temperature is, or expected to be, below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • In the summer months it is best to travel with your pet early morning or mid to late evening.

    • In the winter months the best time to travel with your pet is mid-day.

Cargo or Air Freight

The difference between having your cat travel as checked baggage or as cargo is with cargo your pet is traveling alone. The same rules apply to shipping carga as checked luggage, but the rates will differ. It is bes to call American Airlines Cargo directly at 800-227-4622 for the latest rules and regulations concerning pet travel.

General Conditions

1. The airline reserves the right to accept or deny any animal for transportation and will deny travel to any animal showing aggressive behavior or exhibiting any type of health problem.

2. American Eagle and AmericanConnection are the commuter affiliates of American Airlines and as such normally operate smaller aircraft. On these smaller aircraft a maximum of two kennels are allowed in the cabin. Be sure to check with the reservation agent to see if your schedule includes a commuter flight.

3. Cats must be at least 8 weeks old to travel. American will allow two cats in the same kennel, but the cats can be no older than six months, be the same species and weigh less than 20 pounds.

4. No health certificate is required if your cat is traveling in the cabin with you, or as checked luggage. However, some states require proof of rabies vaccinations for cats. It is the responsibility of the passenger to know the requirements of the state to which you are flying. http://www.aphis/

5. Cats should NOT be given sedatives or tranquilizers before flying.

Other Helpful Links:

USDA Pet Travel

Hawaii Travel

American Cargo

Cat Travel - Northwest Airlines

Air Travel for Domestic Cats

Any information contained herein is subject to change by the carrier or government with or without notice. The airline makes the final determination as to whether or not it will accept the animal for transportation. You must contact the carrier for the latest information and requirements prior to travel date. It is suggested you make arrangements at least four weeks in advance.

Tom Kartes



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    • Tilly Holiday profile image

      Tilly Holiday 

      9 years ago

      It's great to be able to bring pets in the cabin. In New Zealand you are never allowed to have your pets in the cabin unless they are seeing eye dogs.

    • crazycat profile image


      10 years ago from Philippines

      Good news for pet owners who want to bring pets during travel.


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