The Bottom Line
- Does WestJet Still Accept ESA Letters? As of August 5, 2021, WestJet no longer accepts ESA letters or recognizes emotional support animals as service animals. Instead, they must adhere to the company’s standard pet policies.
- Does WestJet Accept Pets? Yes, WestJet allows small dogs and cats (and some domesticated birds) to travel in the cabin as long as they meet certain requirements, with pet kennel fees ranging from $50-$118. Larger domesticated pets may travel as an item in the checked baggage with similar fees, but they are subject to some size requirements.
- Do Psychiatric Service Dogs Fly for Free? Psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) and other service dogs fly free of charge with WestJet and WestJet Encore. However, they must be properly trained by a service dog training specialist to perform tasks directly related to the disability of a qualifying individual. Also, you are limited to one service dog per disabled person.
- How to Get a Psychiatric Service Dog - To get your own psychiatric service dog, it must be trained to perform specific tasks that benefit your disability, preferably trained by a specialist in PSD training, such as Pettable. If you don’t already have a canine in mind, the professionals at Pettable can help you find the perfect service dog for your needs.
- How to Qualify for a Psychiatric Service Dog - To qualify for a PSD, an individual must be diagnosed with a psychiatric disability by a licensed mental health professional (LMPH). Qualifying disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
- How to Get Started - You can get started by taking the easy Pettable online PSD training assessment, connecting with a licensed mental health professional, and enrolling in online PSD training.
What is WestJet’s Pet Policy?
WestJet accepts small cats and dogs in the cabin for flights within Canada and the United States, as well as larger domesticated animals with a checked kennel. Cats and dogs must have proof of current rabies vaccination, and they must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you in an approved pet carrier. Pets may not be accompanied by a minor and cannot be younger than eight weeks.
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 on WestJet with a Pet or Emotional Support Animal
To fly with your pet on a WestJet flight, you should arrive at the boarding gate at least 40 minutes earlier than you otherwise would to ensure a smooth boarding. If you arrive 10 minutes or less before boarding, you will be denied. It’s recommended that your pet should be fed and watered within four hours of the flight, exercised to avoid overexcitement, and taken for a potty break before boarding.
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 a Legitimate Psychiatric Service Dog — Pettable’s Process
With Pettable, getting a PSD has never been easier. We offer a premier online PSD training program that lets you train your dog at your convenience. Just complete our online assessment, meet with a licensed mental health professional (LMPH), and enroll in the training program. If you don’t already have a canine companion in mind, we can help you find the perfect dog for you and your disability.
Take our Brief Assessment
First, take our online PSD quiz, which takes about 3 minutes to complete. This assessment is necessary in order for us to determine your eligibility and need for a PSD prior to connecting you with a licensed clinician.
Consult with a Licensed Mental Health Professional
After the assessment, you will schedule a virtual consultation with a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) in your state of residence. In the consultation, the clinician will assess your mental health and determine if you qualify for a service animal. If you are approved, you can begin training your service dog immediately with Pettable's PSD training plan. The LMHP can also write you a PSD letter that confirms your need for a service dog.
Train Your Psychiatric Service Dog
Finally, the most important step toward getting your own psychiatric service dog is training. If you need professional and convenient training, enroll in Pettable’s online program, which is adaptable to suit your and your dog’s needs. Plus, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee that your dog’s training will provide everything you need for your new life with a service dog.
Get a PSD Letter
For additional peace of mind, we can also issue you an official PSD letter, which while it is optional, can be extremely useful in situations where your condition is called into question. Since you’re already working with the friendly professionals at Pettable, we’ll happily give you this document that certainly doesn’t hurt to have.
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
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 behaving 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 Breed Restrictions
WestJet will not accept dog breeds that appear aggressive or pose a potential threat to other travelers. Also, dogs that are banned in Ontario or Toronto are not permitted to fly through their airports, and Pit Bull Terriers are not permitted in any airport in Ontario. Strong breeds must be transported in a CR-82 standard kennel and can only be booked by an IPATA Registered Agent. Also, all Pitbull breeds are banned in Ontario.
The airline typically accepts brachycephalic breeds (such as a Boxer, Pug, or Shar-Pei) pending veterinary health checks, but will deny them during times with high temperatures. Also, hairless cat and dog breeds are typically not accepted from November 1st through March 31st to avoid traveling during excessively cold weather.
Breeds subject to these conditions include:
- Boston Terriers
- Toy Spaniels
- Apple-Faced Chihuahuas
- British Hairless
- Bambino (Cat)
- Sphynx (Cat)
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.
4. Make Sure Your Pet is Well-Trained
To ensure that your pet has the best flying experience, they need to be well-trained in behavior as well as any necessary PSD training for service dogs. Pettable offers an online dog training course that’s as convenient as it is helpful. After all, well-trained pets will likely travel more easil
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 a 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.