Hawaiian Airlines' Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and Psychiatric Service Dog Policy

Hawaiian Airlines' Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and Psychiatric Service Dog Policy

If you are booking a trip to Hawaii with your emotional support animal or psychiatric service dog, changes in recent laws may disrupt your plans. Many airlines no longer categorize ESAs as service animals, including Hawaiian Airlines. ESAs are now considered pets and must fly according to the pet policy. Review Hawaiian Airlines' service animal and pet policies before finalizing your plane ticket if you hope to ride with your animal.

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The Bottom Line:

  • Does Hawaiian Airlines Still Accept ESA Letters? - If you want to fly with your ESA on Hawaiian Airlines, you must either follow the pet policy or provide proof that your dog is a PSD. Airlines will not accept ESAs.
  • What is a PSD Letter? - PSD letters provide documentation that proves that your dog is a service animal.
  • How Do You Get a PSD Letter? - Visit a licensed mental health professional in your state to be evaluated for eligibility.
  • How Do You Qualify for a PSD Letter? - Your mental health professional will evaluate you and provide you with a PSD letter if you meet the requirements to live with a PSD.

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Recent Changes to the Hawaiian Airlines' ESA Policy

As of January 11, 2021, Hawaiian Airlines announced that they would no longer accept emotional support animals as service animals, in line with the US Department of Transportation's updated regulations with the Air Carrier Access Act. However, emotional support animals may be transported as pets on Hawaiian Airlines as long as all pet acceptance requirements are met.

How To Fly with Your Psychiatric Service Dog on Hawaiian Airlines

Flying with a psychiatric service dog on Hawaiian Airlines requires advanced planning. Keep this essential information in mind as you go from booking your flight to boarding the plane.

  • When booking your flight with Hawaiian Airlines, inform the ticket agent about your dog. The agent may ask about your dog's skills, and you may need to repeat this information to the agents at the airport before boarding the plane. 
  • Hawaiian Airlines requires service animals to sit at your feet during the flight. Consider choosing a seat at the front of the aircraft where you may have a bit more legroom and no other passenger in front of you. 
  • Complete all required documents as soon as you book the flight. Hawaiian Airlines suggests you complete the US DOT Service Animal Form at least 48 hours before your flight departure. If your flight leaves in less than 48 hours, bring a hard copy to the ticket counter on the day of your trip.
  • Service dogs should behave appropriately in public settings. Hawaiian Airlines expects PSDs to remain calm and leashed at your feet. A dog that would otherwise run about the cabin, bark at other passengers or cause destruction to the plane is not allowed to ride in the passenger area. Hawaiian Airlines has the right to deny boarding a PSD that behaves disruptively at the departure gate.
  • Hawaii has strict animal travel guidelines. Review the state regulations before scheduling your trip and obtain all certificates before the deadlines. 

How To Get Your Legitimate Psychiatric Service Dog Letter with Pettable 

Finding a reputable company to help you get a valid PSD letter can be challenging if you are interested in obtaining a psychiatric service dog. It's important to beware of scams and illegitimate services. At Pettable, we've curated a simple, reliable method for you to obtain a valid psychiatric service dog letter for your service dog. Below are the steps you will follow when using our services.

Complete Our Assessment

First, you'll need to complete our quick assessment to help us evaluate your situation and psychiatric service dog needs. Next, you'll select the type of PSD letter you need, such as housing, travel, or a combination of both.

Consult With a Therapist

After filling out privacy and consent forms to authorize our clinicians to work with you, you'll be matched with a licensed mental health professional and sent a link to book a live consultation with them. From there, you'll meet and complete a mental health evaluation to determine if you qualify for a psychiatric service dog.

Get a PSD Letter

Once our licensed mental health professional determines that a psychiatric service dog is essential to your care and well-being, they'll write and sign a legally recognized psychiatric service dog letter for you. You'll also be given the option to receive your PSD letter within 24 hours from the time of your consultation, excluding California residents.

In the unlikely event that your PSD letter does not work for you, we will provide a 100% refund. Your satisfaction is important to us, so if you encounter any issues with your psychiatric service dog letter, don't hesitate to contact us for a full refund.

What is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)?

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in air travel. The Department of Transportation has a rule defining passengers' rights and airlines' obligations under this law. This rule applies to all US airlines and flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines, including Hawaiian Airlines.

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), a service animal is a dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Animal species other than dogs, emotional support animals, comfort animals, companion animals, and service animals in training are not considered service animals under the ACAA. 

As of January 2021, the Air Carrier Access Act no longer categorized emotional support animals as service animals. Therefore, ESAs are now prohibited from traveling on aircraft unless the airline has specific guidelines for traveling with pets. However, service dogs, including psychiatric service dogs, are still allowed on airplanes, regardless of the airlines' pet policy.

Emotional Support Animals Under the ACAA 

Before 2021, Hawaiian Airlines allowed various emotional support animals in the plane's cabin. Hawaiian Airlines identifies ESAs as an animal providing comfort, companionship, or affection but not performing specific tasks for the passenger. These animals helped many nervous and stressed travelers.

When the US DOT changed the law, Hawaiian Airlines decided to exclude ESAs as service animals. Even an ESA owner with a valid emotional support animal letter is no longer granted the same travel privileges as a service animal owner. Pet dogs, cats, and birds can travel on the plane but must now adhere to different restrictions. If passengers want to fly with their dogs, they can certify them as psychiatric service animals. 

What is the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and Psychiatric Service Dog?

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) recognizes emotional support animals and psychiatric service dogs as vastly different. Below are some critical differences between ESAs and psychiatric service dogs that are important to keep in mind.


Any animal can be an emotional support animal. Under federal law, only dogs and miniature horses can be service animals.


An emotional support animal assists through its presence alone. A service animal is specially trained to perform tasks for someone with a disability.


An emotional support animal requires no training; all that's needed is a letter from a licensed mental health professional explaining its therapeutic value. Service animals must undergo individualized training.

Legal Protections

While the Americans with Disabilities Act protects service animals, it does not cover emotional support animals. Emotional support animals are covered only under the Fair Housing Act.

Public Access

A service animal can go anywhere its owner goes. While owners of emotional support animals may get away with bringing them into places where pets aren't allowed, housing units are the only places legally required to welcome them.

Hawaiian Airlines' Service Dog Policies

Understanding  Hawaiian Airlines' service dog policies means you will not have any surprises at the airport. 

Hawaiian Airlines' Required Documentation

Hawaiian Airlines requires a completed Service Animal Air Transportation Form before travel. This document asks for your contact information, the date of your dog's most recent rabies vaccine, and a signature from a veterinarian certifying that your dog does not have fleas or ticks.

For flights over eight hours non-stop, the airline requires a DOT Animal Relief Form. 

Advanced Notice 

Hawaiian Airlines' service dog policy requires you to complete the US DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form 48 hours before your flight. Electronic submittal notifies the airline of your intent to travel with a service dog.

You can contact customer service at 1-800-367-5320 with additional questions. 

Hawaiian Airlines' Service Animal Seating Requirements

Hawaiian Airlines allows up to two PSDs to fly for free as long as they remain at your feet during the flight. Service dogs cannot ride in emergency exit rows.

If your PSD is too large to fit in the space on the floor, the airline may reschedule your flight for one with more room. The airline can require the dog to travel in the cargo hold if no flight is available. 

Other Hawaiian Airlines' Pet Policies To Know

While most airlines don't allow pets or emotional support animals onto their aircraft, Hawaiian Airlines has a pet policy that allows dogs, cats, and household birds on their planes. However, there are necessary regulations that passengers must follow before they bring their pets on board which we will cover below.

Hawaiian Airlines' Pet Fees

The cost of bringing your pet onboard a plane with you depends on where you're traveling and where the pet rides.

The pet travel fee on inter-island flights between Hawaiian islands is $35 to ride in the cabin and $60 in the luggage compartment.

Pets traveling on flights between North America and Hawaii require a fee of $125 to ride in the cabin and $225 for the luggage compartment.

Hawaiian Airlines' Breed Restrictions

Hawaiian Airlines' pet policy states that rodents, poultry, wild birds, reptiles, and fish are not allowed on flights under any circumstances.

The airline doesn't have any restrictions on specific breeds of animals, but cats and dogs must be over eight weeks old, and household birds over two weeks old to travel. Since snub-nosed dogs, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, etc., might have difficulty breathing, Hawaiian Airlines discourages checking them as baggage.

Hawaiian Airlines' Pet Carrier Size Requirements

According to Hawaiian Airlines' pet policy, pets must ride in carriers in the cabin and luggage compartment. Carry-on pets must ride in a soft-sided carrier no larger than 16" L x 10" W x 9.5" H. The carrier should fit under the seat in front of you. Hard-sided carriers are necessary for checked pets and should not exceed 36″L x 25″W x 27″H.

Hawaiian Airlines' Travel Requirements

All animals flying to or from Hawaii must get a valid animal health certificate from a veterinarian dated within two weeks before the departure date.

Additionally, animals flying into Hawaii must go to the animal quarantine facility upon arrival at the Oahu airport. If you fly directly to any other airport in Hawaii, you must also obtain a Neighbor Island Inspection Permit from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Know that Hawaii has strict stipulations for bringing pets and service dogs to the islands. Review this process early to avoid the state's mandated 120-day quarantine.


Pets are not allowed in first class on any flights between Hawaii and North America. Also, flights between Hawaii and Boston, New York, Austin, or Orlando do not permit animals in the cabin or as checked pets.

Embargo restrictions are in place between April 15 and October 15. During this time, animals cannot fly in the Hawaiian Airlines cargo department on flights between Hawaii and San Jose, Phoenix, Las Vegas, or Sacramento.


Trained service animals can fly in the cabin on international flights, but no pets are allowed.

US Inbound

US inbound flights follow the same regulations listed under domestic flights.

Pettable's Tips on How To Fly with Your ESA and Psychiatric Service Dogs

Traveling with trained service dogs or emotional support animals is always an adventure. Follow these tips for a great trip. 

Arrive Early, But Not Too Early

Arrive about two hours before your flight. You should anticipate longer check-in times and more scrutinization through security.

However, do not arrive so early that you and your service dog spend an extended time waiting at the gate. You both might spend hours sitting on a flight, so keeping wait time to a minimum is ideal.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Pack a bowl in your carry-on bag for your dog. While you don't want to give your dog too much water on a long flight, dehydration is detrimental to its well-being.

Try Short Flights First

Flying to and from Hawaii takes as long as five or six hours. See how your dog does on a shorter flight or long car ride before booking a trip to Hawaii.

Be Prepared

Before flying with your emotional support animal or psychiatric service dog, remember the rules and regulations regarding pets, ESAs, and PSDs before heading to the airport. Ensure you have the proper documentation, including a valid ESA or PSD letter for travel. Be prepared to pay any fees that may come with bringing your pet on board. Knowing the correct requirements for your pet (including breed, carrier, and destination restrictions) before boarding the plane can make the traveling process a lot less stressful for you and your animal. You can also try calling Hawaiian Airlines reservations and speaking to a Hawaiian Airlines agent in the reservations department to reserve a spot for your ESA or service animal.

Consider the Temperature

Keep the outside temperature in mind if you must check your emotional support animal into the cargo compartment. If it's extremely hot or cold outside, you could be putting your pet at risk. Schedule direct flights, so your animal spends less time on the tarmac, and travel during the cooler parts of the day in summer (early morning and late evening) and the warmest part of the day in winter (midday). Some airlines won't even allow pets in the cargo area if the outside temperature exceeds certain thresholds.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have more questions? These answers may help.

Do service dogs fly for free on Hawaiian Airlines?

Only trained service animals fly free on Hawaiian Airlines.

Does Hawaiian Airlines allow ESA dogs?

No, Hawaiian Airlines does not accept emotional support animals. They now fly as pets. 

Can Hawaiian Airlines deny my ESA?

Hawaiian Airlines no longer recognizes ESAs, so they can prevent you from bringing your animal on board. 

Which airlines are still allowing ESA dogs?

The following airlines continue to allow ESA dogs on the plane:

  • Westjet
  • Volaris
  • Latam Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • Air France
  • KLM
  • Asiana Air
  • Singapore Air
  • Lufthansa

Can my dog sit on my lap during a Hawaiian Airlines flight?

A dog smaller than a lap child may ride on your lap during the flight. 

Can I fly to the state of Hawaii with a service dog?

Your service dog must travel with the disabled user on arrival in Hawaii. It is strongly advised that all required documents be sent to the Rabies Quarantine Branch well ahead of your intended arrival date to prevent delays upon arrival.

Can ESAs fly in cabins to Hawaii?

As of January 11, 2021, emotional support, therapy, comfort, and companionship animals will not be accepted as service animals. They will be considered pets and can travel one of two ways: in the cabin, in accordance with Hawaiian Airlines' pet policies, or as checked baggage.

Does Hawaii allow emotional support animals?

The Hawaiian legislature finds that the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act allow those with disabilities to be accompanied by a service or emotional support animal in places where animals are generally not allowed.

How do I get an ESA letter in Hawaii?

Online services, such as Pettable, allow you to get a free official ESA or PSD letter signed by a certified mental health professional, no matter your state.