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

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

The Bottom Line:

  • Does Hawaiian Airlines Still Accept ESA Letters? - If you want to fly with your ESA on Hawaiian Airlines, you will either have to follow the pet policy or provide proof that your dog is a PSD. An ESA will not be accepted.
  • 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 if you meet the requirements to live with a PSD, provide you with a PSD letter.
  • How to Get Started? - Visit Pettable to complete the Pettable 3-minute quiz. You will be matched with a licensed mental health professional in your state based on your responses.

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.

Recent Changes to the Hawaiian Airlines' ESA Policy

Effective January 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation no longer requires airlines to accept ESAs in the cabin of a plane. The revision of the Air Carrier Access Act means each airline now determines their policy of whether emotional support animals ride in the cabin or travel in the cargo hold like other pets.

Hawaiian Airlines’ ESA policy has changed due to this updated law. Emotional support animals are no longer recognized as service animals and must follow the pet policy rules.

So what is the new definition of a service animal? Hawaiian Airlines follows the U.S. DOT’s designation as only dogs trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. A psychiatric service dog meets this classification because it provides a service to its owners who have mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, stress, anxiety, phobias, and ADHD.

While Pettable no longer offers ESA travel documents, we encourage you to download our PSD letter to fly with a psychiatric service dog.

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 with 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 plane 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 U.S. 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 properly 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.

The state of Hawaii has strict guidelines for animal travel. Review the state regulations before scheduling your trip and obtain all certificates prior to the deadlines.

How To Get Your Legitimate Psychiatric Service Dog Letter with Pettable

Having a Pettable PSD letter in addition to the U.S. DOT form is beneficial. The PSD letters are compliant with the Air Carrier Access Act and have a money-back guarantee. You can apply for a letter directly on the Pettable website.

Your first task is a short quiz answering a few questions about your needs and details about your service animal. The answers to this quiz allow Pettable to find a licensed mental health professional in your state. You then schedule a convenient time to have a phone conversation with them.

If the therapist approves your request, you receive your Pettable PSD letter within 24-hours.

What is the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)?

The federal government initially passed the Air Carrier Access Act in 1986. It has since undergone updates but still exists to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities when traveling by plane. These laws are in force on all domestic and international flights originating or arriving in the United States.

The law specifies requirements that airlines must follow to accommodate those with disabilities. These regulations extend to passengers with psychiatric service dogs. Some important details to note are:

  • Airlines must allow disabled passengers pre-boarding before all other early boarding passengers
  • Airlines must transport wheelchairs and mobility scooters at no cost
  • Employees must help disabled passengers on and off the plane and in and out of seats

Emotional Support Animals Under the ACAA

Prior to 2021, Hawaiian Airlines allowed various emotional support animals in the plane’s cabin. Hawaiian Airlines identifies ESAs as an animal that provides comfort, companionship or affection but does not perform specific tasks for the passenger. These animals helped many nervous and stressed travelers.

When the U.S. DOT changed the law, Hawaiian Airlines decided to exclude ESAs as service animals. Pet dogs, cats and birds can travel on the plane but must now adhere to different restrictions. If passengers want to fly with their dog, they can certify their dog as a psychiatric service animal.

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

While the terms emotional support animal and psychiatric service dog seem similar, there is a distinct difference. What separates them comes down to training.

An animal needs no specific training to earn the title of an emotional support animal.

A psychiatric service dog undergoes a higher level of training than an emotional support animal. These dogs might wake their owners during nightmares, sense a panic attack and provide deep pressure stimulation.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Service Dog Policies

Understanding Hawaiian Airlines’ service dog policies ensures that you do not have any surprises at the airport.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Required Documentations

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

Advanced Notice

Hawaiian Airlines’ service dog policy requires you to complete the U.S. DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form a minimum of 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. If no flight is available, the airline can require the dog to travel in the cargo hold.

Other Hawaiian Airlines’ Pet Policies to Know

Hawaiian Airlines’ pet policy allows dogs, cats and some birds on planes. While the rules permit cats and dogs under 25 pounds in the cabin, birds may only ride in the luggage compartment.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Pet Fees

The cost of bringing your pet onboard varies depending on the location of travel and where the pet rides.

The pet travel fee on inter-island flights between Hawaiian islands is $35.00 to ride in the cabin and $60.00 in the luggage compartment.

Pets traveling on flights between North America and Hawaii require a fee of $125.00 to ride in the cabin and $225.00 for the luggage compartment.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Breed Restrictions

Hawaiian Airline’s pet policy states that rodents, poultry and wild birds, reptiles and fish are not allowed on flights.

There are no restrictions on specific breeds, but cats and dogs must be over eight weeks old and birds over two weeks old to travel. Since snub-nosed dogs might have difficulty breathing, Hawaiian Airlines discourages checking them as baggage.

Hawaiian Airlines’ Pet Carrier Size Requirements

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 health certificate from a veterinarian dated within two weeks before the departure date.

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.

Domestic Flights

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

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

International Flights

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

US Inbound Flights

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.


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 Hawaiin Airlines deny my ESA?

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

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.