American Airlines Eases a Portion of its Carry-On Policy to Make Pet Travel a Bit Easier

Traveling with pets can be stressful for both animal and human, but a U.S.-based airline is making some changes to relieve a little bit of the stress.

American Airlines has shifted its carry-on policy to allow pet parents to bring both their pet and a full-sized carry-on into the cabin. Before the update, customers traveling with pets could only bring their pet carrier and a small personal item. Any full-sized carry-on bag, like those with wheels, had to be checked for a $35 fee. This was on top of the $150 fee charged for flying with a pet. Now, pet owners can choose between a full-sized carry-on or a personal item, but they can’t take both.

Cat being transported via pet carrier

Some travelers had taken issue with the extra fee to check their bags, when they were already paying one to have their pet in the cabin. The only other option was putting their pet in the cargo hold, which has restrictions. An airline spokesperson said the policy was updated to make things more convenient and comfortable for customers traveling with pets.

You can see the new policy on American Airlines’ website, which also details some of the other rules. Those include the fact that the pet needs to remain in their carrier below the seat in front of their owner the entire flight. Also, only dogs and cats that meet size, age, and destination requirements are allowed.

Each airline and destination will have its own policies, so be sure to understand what’s expected of you and to have satisfied all those requirements before bringing your pet to the airport.

Dog sits in suitcase before owner travels

The American Kennel Club offers some tips for flying with pets. Those include scheduling a vet appointment seven to 10 days ahead of time to make sure your pet is healthy and up to date on all shots, with any necessary paperwork reflecting that. Ensure you’ve packed their medications and any prescription food, or that you know where to purchase the food upon arrival. For anxiety, talk with your veterinarian about options other than sedation, if possible. Aim for direct flights, bring an appropriately-sized carrier, and be extra careful with brachycephalic dogs because temperature and humidity changes can worsen respiratory issues.

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