Media Tip Sheet: American Airlines Changes Pet Policy

April 2, 2024

American Airlines plane taking off

WASHINGTON (April 2, 2024) – American Airlines is now easing part of its pet policy to allow owners bring their companion and a full-size carry-on bag into the cabin. Most U.S. airlines have a pet policy to let pet owners bring their pets on the airplane in a carrier as a carry-on and put them under the seat in front of them for a carry-on fee. Previously, American Airlines would charge a $150 kennel fee and require travelers to check rolling carry on-bags for another fee. 

Faculty at the George Washington University are available to offer insight, analysis and commentary. To speak with an expert, please contact GW Media Relations Specialists Shannon Mitchell at [email protected] and Cate Douglass at [email protected].

Liang “Larry” Yu is a professor of hospitality management. His current research focuses on hotel market analysis, tourism product value chain analysis, tourist satisfaction and hospitality crisis management. Yu can discuss the positive effects of this decision for travelers and families with pets as well as the potential operating issues that may arise.

“The new pet policy provides convenience for travelers and lowers the cost for bringing the pets and a carry-on bag on board. It could also potentially reduce the false claims of Emotional Support Animals by travelers who want to bring their pets for free,” Yu says. “Anticipating the new pet policy by AA encourages a steady increase of passengers bringing their pets in the cabin, airlines have to strictly enforce the pet rules on board as not to affect the experience of other passengers (smell, animal dander, etc). Airplanes with pets in the cabin need to be thoroughly vacuumed and cleaned before the next flight.”

Yu can also discuss what other airlines might do in response to the policy change at American Airlines. He says that while the policy is not a game changer that will affect consumer switching behaviors of pet owners, incremental improvement in pet friendly service will increase customer comfort and satisfaction and some airlines may follow suit.

Kathy Hessler is the Assistant Dean for Animal Law at the George Washington University Law School. Dean Hessler has been a clinical law professor for 30 years, 22 of which has been teaching animal law. Hessler is the inaugural dean of animal law at the George Washington University Law School, and has helped to develop and found Animal Law Studies and curriculum at a variety of schools and centers. In addition, Dean Hessler was the chair of the Animal Law Section and the Balance in Legal Education Sections of the American Association of Law Schools.