American Airlines tightens rules for support animals in-cabin
Enhanced requirements: Traveling with emotional support animals
For tickets issued on or after July 1, 2018, emotional / psychiatric support animals must meet a set of enhanced requirements.
Flying in the cabin
Emotional / psychiatric support and fully-trained service animals can fly in the cabin at no charge if they meet the requirements.
Animals must be able to fit at your feet, under your seat or in your lap (animals to be seated on lap must be smaller than a 2-year old child). For safety reasons, you won’t be able to sit in an exit row when traveling with your service or emotional / psychiatric support animal.
Emotional support and service animals cannot:
- Protrude into or block aisles
- Occupy a seat
- Eat from tray tables
Emotional support and service animals must be trained to behave properly in public; they must be tethered by leash and / or harness and under your control at all times. Animals won’t be permitted in the cabin if they display any form of disruptive behavior that can’t be successfully corrected or controlled, including but not limited to:
- Biting or attempting to bite
- Jumping on or lunging at people
If this behavior is observed at any point during your journey and isn’t corrected or controlled, the animal will be considered a pet and all pet requirements and applicable fees will apply.
Some animals can’t be permitted as service or emotional support animals due to safety and/or public health risk. If you have questions, contact our special assistance help desk.
- Sugar gliders
- Non-household birds (farm poultry, waterfowl, game birds, & birds of prey)
- Animals with tusks, horns or hooves (excluding miniature horses properly trained as service animals)
- Any animal that is unclean / has an odor
Trained service animals
Trained service animals have been specifically trained to perform life functions for individuals with disabilities. Examples include animals that assist with:
- Visual impairments
- Mobility impairments
As the requirements for transporting each type of animal differ, our employees are trained to ask certain questions to determine the classification applicable to your animal.
Emotional support and psychiatric service animals
Advance notice required
To travel with an emotional support and psychiatric service animal in the cabin, you must contact the Special Assistance Desk with all required documentation at least 48 hours before your flight.
Documentation validation will include American Airlines contacting your mental health professional.
Forms required for travel
On flights over 8 hours, documentation is required stating your animal won’t need to relieve itself or can do so in a way that doesn’t create a health or sanitation issue.
Emotional support and psychiatric service animals
The emotional support and psychiatric service animal document packet contains instructions and 3 forms that are necessary for approval to fly:
- Mental Health Professional Form
- Behavior Guidelines
- Animal Sanitation During 8+ Hours Form (only required if your flight is scheduled to be over 8 hours)
Mental Health Professional Form
This form is to be completed by your Licensed Mental Health Professional. In lieu of this form, your Mental Health Professional may provide a document on letterhead within 1 year of the initially scheduled flight.
- State you have a mental or emotional disability recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and are currently a patient
- Show the need for emotional support or psychiatric service animal for air travel and /or activity at your destination
- Provide proof of their licensing as a mental health professional or medical doctor (including date, type and state of license)
Documentation during your trip
After submitting, we recommend keeping the completed documents as well as veterinary health records in your possession throughout your journey. If at any point, we’re unable to validate your documentation or it wasn’t received at least 48 hours before your flight, the animal may need to travel as a pet in a kennel and all pet requirements and applicable fees will apply.
Destinations with restrictions
Emotional support and trained service dogs and cats can travel in the cabin to / from all Hawaiian islands. All other animals (with the exception of service dogs and cats) must first go through Honolulu for acceptance by Hawaiian quarantine officials.
Your service animals must meet our travel requirements as well as the quarantine restrictions and documentation requirements set by the state of Hawaii. You must provide applicable documentation for both at check-in.
London, England (LHR)
Dogs and cats traveling to LHR need approval from the Heathrow Animal Reception Center (HARC). You should contact them as soon as possible, but at least 72 hours before your flight. The HARC charges a fee (£366) for animals that do not meet the criteria for assistance animals.
Emotional support animals aren’t accepted on flights operated by British Airways for destinations outside the U.S.
To fly to LHR:
- Notify the HARC via email
- If approved, a letter will be sent
- Print the letter and provide it at check-in
Edinburgh, Scotland (EDI)
To fly with dogs and cats, email Scotland’s animal travel agency at least 48 hours before your flight. You’ll need to carry an ID card or valid certificate from the organization that trained or supplied the animal.
Dogs and cats can travel in the cabin. You’ll need to contact the Animal Quarantine Service no less than 40 days before your arrival.