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

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

The Bottom Line:

  • Does Spirit Airlines Still Accept ESA Letters? - Spirit Airlines no longer considers ESAs to be service animals, so they do not accept ESA letters.
  • What is a PSD Letter? - A PSD letter serves as documentation that a licensed mental health professional has confirmed that you are eligible to live with a PSD.
  • How Do You Get a PSD Letter? - A licensed mental health professional in the state you live in can provide you with a PSD letter.
  • How Do You Qualify for a PSD Letter? - You must be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional in your state to determine if you have a qualifying disability.
  • How to Get Started? - Pettable will match you with a licensed mental health professional in your state after you complete the 3-minute quiz.

Traveling long distances with a beloved pet can cause high levels of stress for all pet owners. For those whose pets also serve as emotional support animals, air travel can cause even higher levels of anxiety. You must remain abreast of current regulations and policies that affect your ability to include your ESA in your travel plans. Pettable is an excellent resource to help you overcome the difficulties of air travel with your psychiatric service dog.

Recent Changes to Spirit Airline's ESA Policy

The Spirit Airlines ESA policy has been modified significantly with the recent regulatory changes that were passed by the U.S. Department of Transportation in January 2021. Whereas emotional support animals were previously viewed as support animals, they no longer benefit from that designation and are now subject to the same policies as domestic pets.

The recent DOT regulations outline important alterations in previous policy that all pet owners should be aware of:

Limits the definition of a service animal to a dog that is specifically trained to take action to mitigate its owner's disability

States that an ESA is not a service animal

Allows airlines to require DOT documentation both 48 hours before a flight and at the boarding gate

Allows airlines to limit the number, size and containment method of a service animal

Requires airlines to apply the same allowances to psychiatric service animals as all other service animals

It may be possible to obtain a psychiatric service animal designation for your ESA that will allow you to continue to benefit from its presence on flights. Pettable provides a simple process to help you obtain your PSD letter.

How To Fly With Your Psychiatric Service Dog on Spirit Airlines

Psychiatric service animals are bound by Spirit Airline's service animal policies which allow two service dogs per passenger. You cannot sit in an emergency exit when you are accompanied by a service dog and the animal must be small enough to sit in your lap or at your feet. The animal cannot block the aisle or infringe on another passenger's space. If your service dog's size doesn't comply with these restrictions, you may need to purchase an extra seat.

Airline personnel can ask if your dog is needed due to a disability and what service it provides. They cannot ask for detailed information about a disability or a demonstration of your service dog's skills. Airline personnel may also assess your service dog's behavior. Any aggressive or disruptive behavior from the animal can lead to a refusal to allow it to board the plane.

How To Get Your Legitimate Psychiatric Service Dog Letter With Pettable

If you are interested in obtaining your psychiatric service dog, finding a reputable company to help you get a PSD letter can be challenging since there are lots of scams out there. 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 can expect to 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 U.S. airlines and flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines, including Spirit Airlines.

Under the Air Carrier Access Act, a service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to assist a person with a disability; or any animal that helps persons with disabilities by providing emotional support. Documentation of passengers needing to travel with emotional support or psychiatric service animals may be required.

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 regulations have 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

Prior to 2021, emotional support animals were included in the protections of the ACAA. Under the new regulations, however, the ACAA only applies to service animals and psychiatric support animals.

Per the new DOT regulations, the Spirit Airlines ESA policy is to require passengers wishing to fly with their emotional support animal to do so under the airline's regular pet policy. The airline no longer recognizes an ESA as a psychiatric service animal.

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

Emotional support animals and psychiatric service dogs are 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 Air Carrier Access Act and 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, the only places legally required to welcome them are housing units.

Spirit Airline's Service Dog Policies

Passengers traveling with a service dog will need to follow the Spirit Airlines service animal policies closely to ensure a smooth transaction.

Spirit Airline's Required Documentations

Spirit Airlines requires that you fill out the U.S. Department of Transportation's Service Animal Air Transportation Form. The airline prefers that you submit it on their website. Documents may be presented at the gate, but if Spirit Airlines staff are unable to verify the documents before the flight you may need to reschedule for a later departure.

Advanced Notice

Spirit Airlines requires that you submit a DOT Service Animal Air Transportation Form for each service animal traveling with you. The airline strongly suggests that you submit the form at least 48 hours prior to your flight.

For reservations or questions regarding flights or policy, contact Spirit Airlines toll-free at 1-855-SAVE-555 (855-728-3555); passengers who are hearing impaired should dial 711 for TTY/TTD. You can also reach Spirit Airlines by text at 48763, or use 855-728-3555 on WhatsApp.

Additional Spirit Airlines Policies

The DOT form is an official government document; therefore, all information on it must be correct. Deliberate misstatements could be seen as fraudulent and considered a federal crime. Spirit Airlines makes clear on its site that incidences of false documents will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Other Spirit Airlines Pet Policies To Know

The Spirit Airlines pet policy allows small domesticated animals to travel in the aircraft cabin on domestic flights. This includes flights to and from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The current Spirit Airline policy for emotional support animals is that they be treated as pets and are subject to the airline's regular pet policies, whereas service dogs are allowed to travel with you as long as they meet the proper requirements.

Spirit Airlines' Pet Fees

The cost of bringing your pet onboard a plane with you depends on where you're traveling, and Spirit Airlines charges a fee of $110 per pet carrier for each flight, regardless of whether the carrier contains one pet or two.

Spirit Airlines' Breed Restrictions

Spirit Airlines does not list specific breed restrictions for pets; however, the size and weight limits for pet carriers will naturally exclude some breeds. There are no breed restrictions placed on service dogs.

Spirit Airlines' Pet Carrier Size Requirements

Pet carriers must fit underneath a seat and cannot be larger than 18 x 14 x 9 inches. Carriers must be soft-sided and completely enclosed.

Spirit Airline's Travel Requirements

Spirit Airlines has a limited pet policy. Approved animals are small domestic dogs and cats. Except for flights to Puerto Rico and the USVI, this includes rabbits and small household birds. Poultry, waterfowl, birds of prey, game birds, and flightless birds are not considered household birds and are excluded from the policy.

Additional restrictions include:

  • A health certificate is required for animals traveling to USVI.
  • A rabies vaccination certificate is required for animals going to Puerto Rico.
  • Animals must be at least eight weeks old and weaned from their mother.
  • All animals must be contained in a pet carrier for the entirety of the flight and must be able to stand and move freely.
  • No more than two animals can be in each pet carrier, and each passenger is limited to one carrier.
  • There is a limit of six pet carriers on each flight.
  • Pet carriers must be stored under the seat in front of the passenger who brought them into the aircraft cabin.


Service animals and approved pets are allowed on all domestic flights. Additional requirements for a health certificate or rabies vaccination record exist for Puerto Rico and USVI.


With the exception of service dogs, the Spirit Airlines pet policy does not allow animals on international flights. Additional regulations may exist for service dogs traveling to other countries; passengers should contact Spirit Airlines for more information on their destination.

US Inbound

With the exception of service dogs, the Spirit Airlines pet policy does not allow animals on flights inbound to the U.S. from other destinations. Service dogs returning to the U.S. from other countries may fall under CDC dog import regulations as well.

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.

Be Prepared

Before flying with your emotional support animal or psychiatric service dog, it's essential to 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 for bringing your pet on board the place. Knowing the correct requirements for your pet (including breed restrictions, carrier requirements, and destination restrictions) before boarding the plane can make the traveling process a lot less stressful for you and your animal.

Consider the Temperature

If your emotional support animal must be checked into the cargo compartment, keep the outside temperature in mind. 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 more excellent 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.

Don't leave them behind. Get your official PSD letter consultation from a trusted therapist.

3 Tips To Make Traveling With Your Pet Easier for Everyone

Traveling with a pet, even a trained service animal, can be challenging. Use the following suggestions to make the process less stressful.

Be Proactive

Even if your service dog is trained to be calm in any situation, flying on a plane for the first time is an unknown. Speak with your veterinarian about medication to help your dog relax if the flight turns out to be more than it can handle.

Invest in a Service Dog Vest

Your service dog needs to be focused on you during the flight. That can be challenging if other passengers overwhelm it with attention. Wearing a vest that identifies it as a service animal will act as a deterrent for most people, and provide you with a polite excuse if you need to ask passengers to curb their enthusiasm.

Plan for Delays

Adding an animal to your travel plans is certain to make your progress through the airport slower. Add 30 minutes to your arrival time to ensure that you and your pet get to your seat without undue stress.


Do you have more questions about flying on Spirit Airlines with your ESA? These answers may help.

Do emotional support animals fly free on Spirit?

If your furry friend is an emotional support animal or pet, a fee will apply when flying on Spirit Airlines. Psychiatric service animals and service animals are exempt from these fees. Pets are only allowed inside the aircraft cabin, and the total weight of the carrier and the animal cannot exceed 40 lbs.

Can Spirit deny my ESA?

Under federal law, airlines must allow people with disabilities to bring their assistance animals on planes. But airlines are now allowed to restrict service animals to dogs and to treat emotional support animals like pets.

How do I get my emotional support animal on a plane?

To fly with an emotional support animal on participating airlines, you will need an ESA letter from a licensed mental health professional. The LMHP will also need to fill out forms provided by the airline. Most airlines require that ESA documents be submitted 48 hours before departure. With Pettable, you can get an official ESA letter in as little as 24 hours.

Can airlines ask for proof of service dogs?

Airlines that allow ESAs or service dogs may require a U.S. DOT form attesting to the animal's health, behavior, and training and a U.S. DOT form attesting that the animal can either not relieve itself or can relieve itself in a sanitary manner if the animal is on a flight that is eight or more hours.