The Bottom Line:
- Does Westjet Still Accept ESA Letters? - To align with federal policy, Westjet no longer allows ESAs to fly in the cabin as service dogs. ESA letters are not accepted.
- What is a PSD Letter? - PSDs are still considered service dogs. A PSD letter provides documentation to support that your dog is a PSD.
- How Do You Get a PSD Letter? - See a licensed mental health professional in your state to get evaluated for a PSD letter.
- How Do You Qualify for a PSD Letter? - When you meet with your mental health professional, you will be evaluated to determine if you qualify for a PSD letter.
- How to Get Started? - The Pettable 3-minute quiz provides information to Pettable that can be used to match you with a licensed mental health professional in your area.
Are you traveling with an emotional support animal? You might be in for a big surprise. As of January 2021, traveling with ESAs has changed. Here's what you need to know about WestJet ESA policy and why a psychiatric service dog may be right for you.
Recent Changes To WestJet ESA Policy
The United States Department of Transportation announced revisions to its Air Carrier Access Act in December 2020. The changes, which went into effect in January 2021, define a service animal as a dog that is trained to perform tasks for someone who has a disability. Under the revisions, emotional support animals are no longer required to be allowed to fly in a plane's cabin. However, the revisions do require that an airline treat a psychiatric service dog the same as other service dogs.
Under the new guidelines, which WestJet adopted in August 2021, airlines may require a DOT form that attests to the dog's health, training, and behavior. Airlines may also require up to 48 hours advance notice when a service dog will be traveling in the cabin and limits the number of service dogs a person can travel with to two. Passengers who wish to fly with a psychiatric service dog will need to complete a DOT form as well as secure a psychiatric service dog letter.
How To Fly With Your Psychiatric Service Dog on WestJet
WestJet no longer allows emotional support animals to travel in the cabin. However, service dogs, including psychiatric service dogs, are still accepted. WestJet allows up to two service dogs per person on flights to or from the United States.
The owner of a psychiatric service dog is responsible for gathering all required documents for flying, including a copy of the dog's vaccination records (this is especially important for international flights), the required USDOT travel form, and the dog's PSD letter. Those who have service dogs that will not fit comfortably at their feet should contact WestJet at 1-888-937-8538 at least 48 hours in advance.
How To Get Your Legitimate Psychiatric Service Dog Letter With Pettable
Using Pettable to get a psychiatric service dog letter is a straightforward process. First, take an assessment regarding your needs for a PSD. It takes about three minutes to complete. Once completed, Pettable will use the information provided to connect you with a therapist in your state. The professional will meet with you to discuss your needs and upon approval, you'll typically receive your PSD letter within 24 hours. Remember, the PSD letter should be used in combination with the DOT form, so don't forget to print out both.
What Is the Air Carrier Access Act?
The Air Carrier Access Act is defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation and prevents airlines from discriminating against people who have disabilities. The main points focus on the accessibility of facilities, accommodations, administrative provisions, and the prohibition of discriminatory practices.
Service animals are protected under the ACAA. While an airline like WestJet can require 48 hours' notice if someone is traveling with a service dog, it cannot refuse to transport a service dog unless it is deemed a danger to other passengers. All airline workers undergo special training to help them work with the traveling public, including those who have disabilities and who travel with service animals.
Emotional Support Animals Under the ACAA
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently revised the ACAA. Since January 2021, emotional support animals are no longer protected under the ACAA. Since August 2021, WestJet has chosen to adopt this policy and no longer allows ESAs to travel in the cabin. Travelers have two choices: they can allow their ESA to travel as a pet instead, or they can opt to obtain a letter stating that their dog is a trained psychiatric service dog. PSDs have the same rights as service dogs who focus on a person's physical disabilities. WestJet allows up to two service dogs per person as long as each one is properly labeled and has the correct documentation.
What Is the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Psychiatric Service Dog?
Emotional support animals can be any type of animal and usually provide comfort simply by being in the same space as the person who is dealing with psychiatric symptoms. PSDs can only be dogs and typically have special training that helps them to notice when a person is experiencing anxiety or depression. They may also be trained to help redirect the person's attention.
Psychiatric service dogs are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act and the ACAA, but service animals are not. Service dogs can go into public establishments, including airplane cabins, but ESAs are not typically permitted public access.
WestJet's Service Dog Policies
WestJet accepts dogs who provide services for people who have physical or psychiatric disabilities. It is the traveler's responsibility to ensure the dog meets all entrance and import regulations as well as adheres to destination-specific restrictions. If there are any fees or costs associated with transporting the dog, the traveler is responsible for them. WestJet never assumes responsibility for incomplete or inaccurate documentation. Those who are traveling internationally should contact each country's consulate to ensure they adhere to all specific guidelines.
WestJet's Advance Notice Requirements
WestJet recommends providing adequate notice when traveling with a service dog. Providing notice of at least 48 hours ensures that passengers and service dogs are both well-accommodated and comfortable on the flight and greatly reduces the chances of delays or denial of travel. Passengers who booked a WestJet Vacations package should provide at least 7 days' notice to ensure all accommodations, transfers, car rentals, and additional services can accommodate a service dog. Passengers may be required to tell travel representatives what tasks the dog performs. Passengers can provide advance notice by calling 1-888-937-8538.
WestJet's Identification Requirements
Psychiatric service dogs should travel with vaccination records, the proper USDOT form, and a PSD letter. Proper documentation helps to ensure that the travel process goes smoothly.
WestJet's Seating Requirements
Passengers who are traveling with a psychiatric service dog cannot sit in the emergency exit row or allow the dog to occupy an empty seat. If the service dog will not fit comfortably at the passenger's feet, notice at least 48 hours must be given. This allows the airline ample time to provide additional floor space. This space is free of charge on flights within Canada but may require the purchase of an additional seat outside of Canada. Passengers can expect to discuss their dog's breed and physical characteristics to ensure it receives enough space.
WestJet's Control Requirements
WestJet ESA policy indicates that all service dogs are on duty during their time at the gate and on the aircraft. Since they are on duty, psychiatric service dogs should be under the owner's control, wearing a well-labeled harness and leash, and behave in a way that indicates being well-trained. Service dogs who are running freely, barking or growling, jumping, or relieving themselves in the cabin or gate areas may be denied transportation.
Other WestJet Pet Policies To Know
WestJet's pet policy provides three traveling options for pets: carry-on, checked animals, and pets as cargo. When traveling with pets, a passenger cannot reserve space for them online. Reservations can be made via phone call at 1-888-937-8538. WestJet limits how many pets can travel on each flight, so it is important to book space for your pet as soon as possible. One pet per passenger is acceptable in the cabin of the airplane.
WestJet's Pet Fees
Passengers who have a pet traveling in the cabin or as checked baggage must pay a pet kennel fee. Pets who are traveling in the cabin will be charged $50-$118 USD, depending on where the passenger is traveling to. Pets who are traveling as checked baggage will cost $100-$236 USD, depending on travel arrangements. If a dog will be traveling alone as cargo, the owner must contact WestJet Cargo at 1-866-952-2746.
WestJet's Breed Restrictions
WestJet does not have any breed restrictions. Pets are limited to one per passenger. Service dogs are limited to two per passenger. Any animal showing aggression or otherwise posing a danger to passengers or crew may be denied travel.
WestJet's Pet Carrier Size Requirements
The pet's kennel is considered the personal item in the carry-on baggage location. Kennels must fit under the seat, which typically means they need to be no bigger than 16 inches long, 8.5 inches high, and 10 inches wide. Kennels must be airline-approved, soft-sided, secure, well-ventilated, and leak-proof. They cannot be a duffel bag, backpack, or any type of non-kennel bag that allows the animal's head to stick out.
WestJet's Travel Requirements
WestJet has different requirements based on where a passenger is traveling with a pet or service dog.
Hawaii has special requirements regarding bringing pets to the islands. To learn about the restrictions and what to expect, passengers should visit Hawaii's Department of Agriculture.
There are a number of restrictions regarding pets or service dogs traveling internationally. Service dogs are not permitted on flights that go to or from Bridgetown, Barbados or Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica. Pre-approval is required for service dogs to travel to a variety of other destinations.
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos
There are currently temporary restrictions regarding animals returning to the United States from high-risk countries. For dogs that have been in a high-risk country in the previous six months, the owner must provide a CDC Dog Import Permit that provides the CDC's advance approval. There are no appeals if an import is denied.
Pettable's Tips on How To Fly With Your ESA and Psychiatric Service Dogs
Flying with your ESA or psychiatric service dog doesn't need to be a headache.
1. Understand The Restrictions
To prevent any unexpected headaches along the way, it helps to understand the restrictions first. An ESA is no longer protected under the ACAA, so expect to pay pet-related fees when traveling with an ESA in the cabin. Pets traveling in the cabin are subject to size restrictions as well. Psychiatric service dogs fall under service dog restrictions and can travel in the cabin but must perform a task for the passenger.
2. Gather Documentation Early
The earlier documentation is gathered, the easier it will be for a flight to go smoothly. Whether traveling with a pet or a service dog, it is important to keep an updated copy of vaccination records and proof of good health on hand. Service dogs should also have their USDOT form and PSD letter on hand.
3. Ask Questions
Passengers who aren't sure about the WestJet service dog policy should never assume, as it could lead to delays or even refusal of travel. If you have any questions regarding traveling with a pet or a service dog, contact the airline for clarification by calling 1-888-937-8538.
Do Service Dogs Fly For Free on WestJet?
Service dogs that are well-trained, perform a task, and travel with the proper documentation fly free in the cabin on WestJet.
Does WestJet Allow ESA Dogs?
As of August 2021, WestJet no longer allows ESA dogs to travel for free. They must travel following pet guidelines.
Can WestJet Deny My ESA?
WestJet can deny an ESA or any other animal that poses a threat to passengers or crew.
Which Airlines Are Still Allowing ESA Dogs?
Several airlines still allow ESAs, including Latam Airlines and Volaris. International airlines that allow ESAs include Air France, China Airlines, and AsianaAir, among others. Because policies change often, it's always a good idea to call the specific airline.
Can My Dog Sit on My Lap During a WestJet Flight?
WestJet does not allow dogs to sit on their owner's laps during flights. Non-service dogs must remain confined to their kennels.