Flying Pets in Cargo on American Airlines

While some pet travel restrictions still apply—especially for international flights—flying pets in cargo on American Airlines is the most permissive option. It’s also the most expensive. Otherwise, the biggest difference is that you won’t be able to fly with your pet, or at least you won’t be guaranteed to fly with your pet in cargo.  

Like any type of pet travel and pet policy, knowing and following the rules for flying pets in cargo with American Airlines is the best thing you can do to reduce the headaches for yourself and for your pet. Here is the information you need to know. 

 

How much does pet cargo cost? 
It depends on where you’re flying and how big your pet is, but it will likely cost at least a few hundred dollars. You can use this cost calculator for pets under 100 lbs. See below for larger animals.  

 

What animals are allowed to fly as pet cargo?
Dogs and cats that are at least 8 weeks old. Snub-nosed breeds are prohibited from flying in cargo. However, some birds, primates, and other animals may be allowed. Pregnant pets and pets that have tendered litters within 48 hours are not permitted. 

 

What pet travel and health forms are needed? 
The health certificate follows the same USDA guidelines as pets traveling as checked baggage, but you need to bring two copies. You’ll also need a rabies vaccination certificate unless your pet is less than 12 weeks old.  

 

What size kennels are allowed for pet cargo?
The maximum size of the kennel depends on the aircraft. Fortunately, American Airlines Cargo has a chart that shows the kennel allowance for each plane.  

 

Aircraft Type  Kennel Type  Maximum Height 
MD80  400 series or smaller  28” 
A321T  500 series or smaller  46” 
B737-800  400 series or smaller  28” 
B757-200  All kennels  40” 
B767-200  All kennels  63” 
B767-300  All kennels  63” 
B777-200  All kennels  63” 
B777-300  All kennels  63” 
B787-800/900  All kennels  63” 
A330-200/300  400 series or smaller  22” 

 

 

How to Make a Reservation for Pet Cargo on American Airlines 

You can start a reservation for pet cargo with this request form or by calling 800-227-4622. You will not be able to confirm the reservation until 10 days before the flight, but you should still make the reservation and hold your pet’s spot as soon as possible. For a flight less than 72 hours away, you must call to make a reservation.  

 

Other Types of Pet and Animal Travel with American Airlines 

 

More FAQ Info for American Airlines Pet Cargo 

 

How do I pay for my pet travel reservation?
For cargo travel, pets and kennels that weigh more than 100 lbs must use ExpediteFS. To get a rate quote, you’ll need to call 800-227-4622 or email LiveAnimals.Cargo@aa.com. Under 100 lbs and your pet can fly Priority Parcel Service. Cash and checks are not accepted as payment. 

 

Are there other requirements for pet kennels?
The kennel must be made of sturdy material with a metal door and screws/bolts. The door must be in front not on top of the kennel. It must be fastened with cable ties (provided by airline). The kennel must be escape- and leakproof with absorbent material and ventilated though the door and two sides. Water and food bowls must be accessible but attached inside the kennel with enough food for 24 hours secured to the top of the kennel.  

 

Where do I drop off and pick up a pet traveling in cargo?
You’ll drop your pet off and/or pick them up at the American Airlines cargo facility located at the departure and destination airports. These are typically located on the airport grounds but not at the main passenger terminals. This information should be provided when making the reservation with American Airlines Cargo, or you can visit our Airport Travel Guide to locate cargo facilities at specific airports.  

 

Are there other American Airlines pet travel restrictions?
Although the cargo hold is temperature-controlled, warm-blooded animals are prohibited from traveling in the checked or cargo compartments when temperatures are below 20°F or above 85°F. An acclimation certificate will allow your pet to fly when the expected temperature is between 20°F-45°F. Cold-blooded animals must follow IATA Live Animal Regulations. 

Due to heating limitations, American Airlines Cargo cannot transport warm-blooded animals on any Airbus 319, 320, 321S or 321H aircraft. Acceptable animals that can be transported on the Airbus 319, 320, 321S or 321H include tropical fish, lobsters and other “aquatics”.