American Airlines offers special cargo services through which travelers may choose to transport their pets. According to the airline's website, shipped animals remain in the baggage and cargo compartments, which are pressurized and set for temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees. Pet owners can ship dogs, cats, birds and other qualified wildlife to other states or countries, even if they are not personally traveling on the flight with their pet. American Airlines can refuse to ship an animal if it determines that the animal is unfit for transport or if it is behaving aggressively.

Select a shipping service for the pet. American Airlines offers Priority Parcel Service, Expedite FS and Confirmed FS shipping services. Each service varies based on animal size and shipping destination. Certain animals, such as poisonous reptiles and amphibians, are not allowed under any circumstances.

Fill out and submit the Animal Shipping Request form at least three days before the desired ship date. Include details about the shipment destination and shipping service, your name and contact information, the recipient's contact information and details about the animal's breed, age and size. Shippers must call 800-227-4622 if they plan to ship a pet within less than three days of the desired ship date. See Resources for the Animal Shipping Request form.

Wait for American Airlines to contact you regarding the request. The carrier will let you know if the shipment is possible and if it is allowed to ship your animal to the desired destination. It also might detail further instructions for your specific animal.

Compile the required documentation for your pet. For dogs and cats, American Airlines requires two copies of a health certificate, the original and one additional copy, bearing the signature of a licensed veterinarian. Include a veterinarian-signed rabies vaccination certificate if this vaccination is not listed on the health certificate. More exotic animals, such as birds and primates, require written proof of being born in captivity or a health certificate indicating that the animal is healthy, has no injuries and is allowed to travel.

Provide a kennel for the animal to stay in during transportation. American Airlines lists several regulations regarding kennel requirements. Some of these include adequate ventilation, separate dishes for food and water attached securely to the inside of the crate, and written markings on the box stating, "This end up" and "Live animal." Owners can purchase kennels at American Airlines if they do not own one or cannot outfit it according to shipping standards.

Include a leash, collar and ID tags inside the kennel in case workers need to walk the pet, identify the animal or remove it from the kennel for any reason.

Deliver the animal to the airport ticket counter or cargo terminal at the appropriate time. Allow at least one to two hours prior to departure, depending on service selection, but no more than four hours for any given service selection.


Certain regulations or weather anomalies might prevent or prohibit you from shipping a pet. These include temperature restrictions, embargoes and unacceptable animal types. American Airlines might notify you that transportation is not possible if regulations prohibit your animal from reaching its destination. See Resources for a detailed list of prohibitions and links to federal regulations.