American Airlines Passenger Bought Himself A Seat – And Two Seats For His Dog

Emotional support animals on planes have become less common since the Department of Transportation began allowing airlines to impose bureaucratic hoops for passengers to jump through to bring them on board. Previously air carriers had been fearful of turning away almost any living creature for fear of liability under the Air Carrier Access act.

Still, it’s possible for someone that’s seen “Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground” on planes to be a bit surprised.

You can buy your pet a seat on the plane. Twenty three years ago US Airways stirred controversy allowing a passenger to buy a first class seat for a pig but the government backed them up on it. You can also buy yourself an extra seat. Some airlines will even let you buy yourself a whole row.

But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a passenger book more than one seat for their animal before. Yet here is a man traveling with his dog. He has one seat, the great dane has two. And the dog needed every inch of it.

Throughout this cross country flight to New York JFK on an American Airlines Airbus A321T, the 140 pound pup stood up, sat down, napped, and interacted with the rest of the cabin.

@gibbon1215 Who says Great Danes aren’t airplane dogs. Shoutout to @American Airlines for making our move to Brooklyn a piece of cake though! (Yes I bought 3 seats for us on the plane) #greatdane #dog #gay #fyp #tiktok #newyork #brooklyn #doggo ♬ Funny Background – Stefani

(HT: Paul H)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I leave for MSP in a few minutes to pick up a Puppy. I fly home tomorrow. I booked two first class seats for us. Plus the fee for bringing a dog in the cabin. Not sure how this is going to work since both seats are in my name on a sold out flight.

  2. Lovely story. I hope I meet him on a flight some day.

    This might be a new thing. I don’t recall buying a seat as being an option as of about 5 years ago. Transporting our 25 lb. dog was the most difficult and stressful aspect of our relocation (and back).

  3. Good for him buying the space so everyone is comfortable

    Unlike the ESA grifters

  4. Infuriating they allowed this. The dog obviously is an bs ESA /fake service animal and should not have been allowed in cabin.

  5. This is fantastic. I see absolutely no reason why anyone should not be allowed to buy more than one seat for themselves or their dog. As long as the dog is well-behaved and can relax while in flight, I’d much rather be flying with dogs than people. If I were going to do it, I would certainly make sure that my dog was groomed before we took our trip, took care of his business prior to getting on board, and would probably have a blanket to cover the seat making it easier for the crew to wipe things down after we left. I would also have a muzzle so that nobody could claim that my dog took a bit out of them. Although he never would. But absolutely, you should be allowed to bring your dog. No questions asked.

  6. Nothing has changed folks you can’t bring your dog in cabin unless it fits in a carrier and weighs less than 25 lbs. This guy is a grifter calling the dog a service animal…

  7. @Nick: Whats infuriating about it? 3 seats were paid for, 3 seats were used. As long as the dog is chill, what’s the issue?

    Doesn’t even appear anyone claimed the dog was ESA. And thw problem with the ESA fakers is they don’t buy extra seats and push their animals into other passenger’s space.

  8. @Christopher There is a 25 lb limit for pets in cabin and they have to fit in a carrier. That is an ESA/fake service animal. I would love to bring my dog everywhere I travel too and so would everyone else. Rules are rules for a reason.

  9. @Nick THIS is infuriating?!? There are so many other things to get worked up about with air travel than some guy trying to do the right thing by purchasing three seats for him and his dog so no one is moved, no one is inconvenienced.

    Other than your opinion, do you have proof this is a BS ESA? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say no, you don’t. My guess is this dog made for a more interesting and pleasant flight for a lot of folks who found joy in seeing such a lovely creature.

    My hospital has an ESA program for patients staff. I can;t begin to describe how nice it is to have 60 seconds with an ESA when we’re having an difficult day.

  10. There are some Great Danes or dogs pretty much like them that are nearly the size of some horses. Does the airline have a maximum size limit for dogs in the cabin? Some of these dogs won’t fit in the smaller regional jets that AA uses.

  11. Looked it up. Yes, this was a service dog. Service dogs normally fly free, but because of the dog’s size the owner decided to buy the seats for him so he would be comfortable.

    ANY breed can be a service dog. Chihuahuas can be service dogs. Assuming it’s a fake service dog is contributing to the issues caused by fake service dogs (I’m not denying they exist, but I’m not assuming this was one).

    And service dogs can be petted when they’re off duty, which he presumably was for at least part of the flight.

    So, yes, this is a legitimate service dog until *proven* otherwise. And proven otherwise usually means that you can tell they ain’t a service dog because they ain’t behaving ;).

  12. My emotional support pit bull flies with me almost everywhere I go and everyone loves him
    Just don’t act scared in front of him though. Normally he is a gentle dog like a large stuffed animal

  13. It is impressive how many people hate the idea of dogs on airplanes
    I wish there was a better way – meaning more predictable and manageable – to travel with “dogs of size” without having to play the “emotional support” vs “service animal” and other games.

  14. Nick SERIOUSLY needs a MASSIVE reality check if someone’s dog is so “infuriating” to him. The customer did the right thing by paying for two seats for a sweet and gentle giant that was much better behaved, and more respectful and entertaining, than most children and passengers we experience on flights today. As shown in the video, even the flight crew in the cockpit and the flight attendants welcomed him!

    Plus i guarantee the dog didn’t punch a flight attendant, or refuse to follow the instructions of the flight crew. Nor did he have to be physically restrained by air marshals for egregiously bad behavior, and the flight wasn’t diverted so he and his owner could be escorted off the plane and taken into custody.

    He didn’t kick the back of the seat in front of him, or loudly demand (and expect) “preferential treatment” just because he was seated in a premium location. Plus the kind hearted giant didn’t pass judgment on someone else simply because he possibly disagreed with their choices.

    Most commuters would rather travel with a calm, respectful and well mannered animal on a flight. After all, research has repeatedly proven that petting a dog, cat or other pet will immediately reduce an individual’s blood pressure and produce a pleasant calming effect. In other words, they are definitely a healthy alternative to the stress and chaos associated with travel.

    Yet allowing someone to peacefully bring what is most likely their beloved service animal with them on a full size aircraft is what causes you to be “outraged”?????

    Best (and most important of all), the dog didn’t make himself look extremely foolish, prejudice and pedantic by posting numerous ridiculous, nonsensical comments on an article that will be read worldwide.

    You are seriously outnumbered on this one, Nick. Your completely misguided “outrage” has only made you appear extremely foolish and entitled.

  15. I just wish some airlines deemed some flights dog friendly so people can bring their dogs provided that they pay for the extra seats and the animals are well behaved, and others who aren’t comfortable/allergic, they have the option to choose another flight. Transporting your four legged family members is such a difficulty in 2023.

  16. @Nick calm down, it will be ok. Maybe try petting a dog instead of making assumptions without any facts

  17. @michael I totally agree. I have become a zoom bird, splitting my time between Chicago and Florida. I would love to fly between the two with my great dane, but I will not put her in cargo on the advise of her vet and based on the stories I’ve read of how horribly wrong things can go when putting a dog in cargo.

    My dane is certified as a psychiatric support animal (not an ESA). She is covered under the ADA and is allowed to fly in the cabin, but I do not do it out of the desire to avoid confrontation with someone who’s put out because my 175-pound dog is on plane. Funny thing is, my 175-pound great dane is better behaved than some passengers, a lot of kids, and those small yippy dogs that bark and whine the entire flight unless they are let out of carrier. She’s behaved, because she has been trained to behave and I don’t allow her to think she can do otherwise.

    Instead of making a 1,400-mile trip easier on her, I stuff her in the SUV and make the drive twice a year.

  18. In order to buy a seat for an animal over 25 pounds it does have to be a service animal. Otherwise by law it has to be inside a carrier. I agree with the other comments that this is obviously a fake service animal. I think airlines need to ask for the traing records not the servive animal certificate. My sister n law got her dog a service animal certificate online. This is becoming out of control like ESA. People who are caught with fake certificates are fined.

  19. I’ll sit next to you and your giant dane any time! I’m betting she is very well behaved. Especially if she’s allowed to go off duty long enough to accept a pet or two!

  20. I don’t understand the people here saying it’s a “fake” service animal. Not that it matters bc he paid for the ticket, but I don’t see any mention that the dog was brought onboard as a service animal and if you go to the TikTok video you see the passenger mentions he’s moving (relocating).
    Why do people have such a problem with this? Why is it your problem? You didn’t pay for the seat, he did. He didn’t steal it. I’d love to do the same thing for my dog. It’s a major hassle to do the carrier thing.
    The dog is clearly less of a problem than most passengers on a plane (I’ll take that dog on a flight over a crying baby any day). Get over it people. It’s his money and it didn’t hurt anyone.

  21. I am 100% for this and cracking down on the service animal use. I bet a good number of people would not mind paying instead of calling their dog a service animal….they are doing it because the only other option is to ship their dog cargo.

    Here’s how it should work:

    Option 1-
    Under seat $125 per fee. Pet MUST fit in seat under you

    Option 2-
    Buy out the row instead of pet fee. Pet must be well behaved

    Option 3-
    Pet flies cargo.

  22. The comments here are often enlightening on the topic of human nature, and never more so when the issue of pets in cabins comes up. So much envy and jealousy at play by people absolutely outraged at somebody with more love in their lives than them, having a better time than them, and by somebody unwilling to live inside of the pointless rules necessitated by intolerant killjoys.

    These people might see this guy as a “grifter,” but I see him as somebody exercising a reasonable work around that hurts nobody and protects his beloved family member who he refuses to subject to the tender mercies of the cargo hold or uncaring airline personnel and protect from unnecessary danger. Well done sir!

  23. Before the rules against ESA went into effect, our family flew with >75 lbs Goldens frequently – and we often bought an extra seat just to make sure there was enough room or traveled in F. Upon boarding, we would always tell the FA that if there were any issues – even if it meant us down-grading – that we would be happy to move to help keep the peace. There was one time I was in F with my Golden and the passenger next to me was wearing an all black suit – for a variety of reasons that were not completely my fault or that of my dog, at the end of the flight, his black pants were covered in fur. I felt horrible and offered to have them cleaned professionally – he laughed the entire experience off and said the only issue was that when he got home, he was worried that his dog would be jealous.

    There was never a problem until people started abusing the system- now it is a headache, not just with the “rules” but also how they are interpreted. Airlines (other than AS) need to work on a reasonable and predictable and workable solution.

    Based upon what I have seen and read about – I think most pets are probably better behaved than a lot of passengers these days.

    I am sure we can all come up with real-world examples of seat neighbors that would be worse than having a large dog next to us….. give me a great dane any day!

  24. Believe it or not, everyone is not a dog lover and they dislike be told that they have to be accommodating to someone else’s animal. And there are others who are severely allergic to dogs and other animal’s dander and hair. It can be infuriating to people with so-called ESA given preferential treatment over other paying customers whose physical ailments are exacerbated by the presence of such animals.

  25. People don’t think of any thing other than themselves. I am so allergic to Dogs cats rabbits and houses. I would have to leave the plane. A trip to the hospital is not worth it.

  26. How do you do that when I traveled aa from NC to I’ll. They said he can only travel under seat since 7 lb and that cost me 125.00. They wouldn’t let me put him on my lap in bag. Or be in cabin not in bag under seat.

  27. At the end of the day he paid for three seats and he is entitled to his three seats. I appreciate that he did that, imagine having someone with a phobia of dogs or is allergic to dogs seating next to the dog.

  28. I would bring my Jack Russell and pay for her seat happily in a heartbeat. However, in truth I am her ESA, not the other way around.

  29. I’d rather sit next to a dog or cat than a fat person. This man did the right thing. He purchased two seats so his dog would be comfortable. Fat people should be mandated to do the same. PAY FOR TWO SEATS!! It is never acceptable to have your fat body touching someone else in the seat and space they paid for. It’s disgusting.

  30. How about people allergic to dogs and cats?? Where are their rights? And hygiene?? So who is going to clean up the seat after the dog sits on it on his bottom…drooling, and what have you? Airlines banned smoking because of health hazards, rightfully so. If a dog cannot fit under the seat, and no one close by is allergic…okay. a large dog must travel in crate below aircraft. Just because you have the money to buy your dog a couple seats does not give you the right to bring a large animal and sit him on the seat.

  31. The worst part about these scenarios is the narcissistic dog owner that has to film the whole process to get likes on TikTok…

  32. For those of you ignorant armchair jockeys saying great Danes can’t be service dogs, please take a moment to educate yourself. One very well known service dog organization that has been going for a long time is Service Dog Project. They’ve also been a very transparent organization in that they’ve shared 24 hour videos of multiple areas of their facilities, from births to training for at least ten years that I’ve been watching. Kudos to this dog’s human partner for having the concern and the means to ensure his dog was comfortable on the flight, not just well behaved!

  33. Was this dog belted in when the fasten seat belts light was on? If so, how was that accomplished? I don’t personally have a problem with a large, well trained dog in the passenger cabin but safety rules still need to be complied with. I applaud the owner for taking the initiative and buying enough seats to make the flight comfortably.

  34. So tired of people with “allergies” thinking that the world owes them special treatment. If you have a deadly allergy then don’t fly. I am going to enjoy my peanuts regardless.

  35. @ SOBE ER DOC. I understand your position and I would also be more than willing to purchase two seats, preferably in First, for my VA approved Service Dog. Thing is, while having my 80 pound Golden Retriever (hair machine) with me is very comforting . . . to me, I just can’t subject ALL the other passengers to my needs. Consequently I drive my SUV. However, I do have her certification papers with me in case there is an unplanned circumstance where I need to fly home.

    The Wrath of Khan. Spock says, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

  36. BTW, being a retired airline pilot and having flown many different models of Part 121 aircraft, I’m unaware that any have been certified for Emergency Evacuation of passengers and pets, Service or ESA.
    But I’d like to red more about how commenters feel about a Service dog when the “handler” purchases full fare tickets, or travels non-rev.

  37. I leave in 3.5 more hours. I bought two seats and paid for the dog on the flight. The next dog will be from Knoxville, and I wish I could bring her on a plane, but she will be 40 lbs when I get her, so I need to drive. I would pay for two more seats in a heartbeat if I could get her on the plane. I hate to drive long distances. To the person that asks about the rights of allergy-prone people, that is why they limit the number of dogs, I assume.

  38. The real issue with ESA dogs is their desire to interact with real service dogs. Dogs, by nature, are pack animals. ESA dogs disrupt service dogs endangering the health of those who require real service animals.

    Sadly, ESA owners are too narcissistic to understand there are others with real health issues

  39. Just checked the cost on AA from AUS-LAX on non-stop to ship my dog in cargo . . . $616 Each way, plus health letter from veterinary doctor, 10 day advanced reservation, 3 hour pre-departure check-in at Cargo facility and approved Kennel. This is exactly why folks push the rules for determining what is a Service Dog . . . and I drive.

  40. Fantastic I rather have a plane full of dogs than I rude and abnoxious passenger or parents with kids that have no home training.

  41. As a Service Animal utilizer, just let me state. For the person who asked where they relieve themselves, properly trained service animals will go hours without reliving themselves, they only “go” in areas they are told to.

    I have never taken my 65 pound Great Pyrenees/Box Heeler on a plane. He has been on Amtrak and Greyhound crossing multiple states. But honestly, I prefer to just drive wherever we need to go. We have been to 31 states together. To over 100 casino’s (And Las Vegas is not Animal Friendly – Service or not). We often have people approach and ask to pet, and he is instructed to sit, allowed ‘off duty’ though he knows that he’s working 24/7 as a PTSD/Seizure Alert/Response Animal. This giving the person the ability to approach/pet/maybe stand and hug. Before being instructed to sit and go back ‘on duty’.

    For those who mention showing certificates. Per the ADA that is 100% illegal, and in-fact can get the business shut down for even asking that question. There are only 2 questions that are allowed to be asked. If the animal is Service trained. And if it has been trained for a specific purpose.
    They are not allowed to ask what that purpose is (I actually have it listed on his Collar anyways, but that’s my choice) nor ask for a demonstration.

    They are allowed to ask that the animal be removed if it is aggressive in any manner/relieves itself/or becomes unmanageable.

    REALLY WISH THOSE SAME GUIDELINES WERE IN PLACE FOR 2 LEGGED ANIMALS ALSO!!! Some call them humans, some call them children, some of them are full grown adults who know better. But you definitely see the removal of 2-legged animals from any public transportation system than you do 4-legged animals. Be they Service/ESA/PSA/ fake of any of these categories, or a stray right off the street…

    It’s people like @Nick who really rile me up though. What gives you the right to judge my need for a Service Animal. Did you serve in the military during war time. Have you personally witnessed over 25 deaths. Don’t freaking go around judging other people you ignorant little F#@k!

    Anyways ..

    That said. As to the rest. Any properly trained and cared after animal can be an Emotional Support Animal. It takes MONTHS of training to get them to the Service Animal level (and not all dogs can handle it). Those that have been trained have a purpose, and that purpose is to assist someone else and give them a reason to get out of bed/off the couch everyday. That animal cares and understands more than another human ever can or will.

  42. Service animals are not allowed to sit on a seat seat per AA Inflight Manual. They can occupy the space of the customer including their lap but not on the seat itself. This is for health reasons and would apply to any extra seat purchased by the customer.

  43. I have shipped my 27 pound hypoallergenic dog in cargo. He was so stressed out, he needed some sedation. If he could travel with me, he would be fine. Now I can’t fly because he is 12 and it is too much stress in cargo. He is well behaved, but can’t fit under the seat. I would love to buy him a ticket.

  44. Here the reality dog and cat are so discriminated, jet dogs will search for you during earthquake, or you get loss, are trained to sniff drug at airport and borders, sniff for burried explosive for soldier, assist police officer, cat and dogs provide emotional support, makes up smile and live longer, jet there are not allowed to fly freely, restricted at park, beaches, apartment and so on, the problems is people. This beautiful God creatures are the best gift the good lord have given to men kind, these lovely God creatures loves us unconditionally. People need to learn to respect this animal. To all us that leave with pets they are family period. Not animals and those who do not like need to look at you inner self the problem is with you

  45. Geez Nick, they let kids fly for free so tell me who is a bigger pita? Certainly not a dog…

  46. “Infuriating they allow this.” Are you kidding me? If they can pay for it, it’s fine. I’d 10/10 rather have a dog flying in the cabin than a screaming child. Unfair? Isn’t it unfair to book a bulk of business class seats for a ton of children? No, because the parents pay for it. But again, I’d rather have dogs than damn children.

  47. @Pissed-off in Orlando: How long can an animal go without peeing? DFW-HNL is an 8-hour flight. Trans-cons are easily 6.

    Hard to imagine a dog going that long without needing to pee.

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