Are you planning on traveling with an emotional support animal? Regulations have changed recently, and traveling with a service dog versus an emotional support animal may require a little extra planning. There are a few things to know ahead of time that will make the process smoother.
6 Tips for Traveling With an Emotional Support Animal
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Traveling With an Emotional Support Animal
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to allow trained service dogs to fly, but the same doesn’t apply to emotional support animals (ESAs) and service animals other than dogs. It’s up to individual airlines when it comes to allowing ESAs.
There are some airlines that will still transport emotional support animals, yet almost all require additional fees and in some cases documentation. If you’re wondering whether you’ll be able to travel with your ESA, these tips will help you avoid bumps in the road.
1. Choose an Airline That Accommodates Emotional Support Animals
Lots of major airlines have chosen not to transport emotional support animals in aircraft cabins since the Department of Transportation changed its requirements. including United, American, JetBlue, Frontier, Alaska, and Southwest Airlines. There are, however, a handful of airlines that will transport emotional support animals.
The first step to successfully traveling with an emotional support animal is choosing airlines that do accommodate ESAs. Airlines that do so include Latam Airlines, Norwegian Air, Volaris, China Air, and WestJet.
2. Get an ESA Letter
Airlines that do allow emotional support animals to travel may ask for documentation. Having an emotional support animal letter (ESA letter), whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, will help illustrate to their airlines your need for your ESA on the flight.
We recommend retaining a digital copy of your ESA letter that you can access on your phone, but it doesn’t hurt to print a physical copy for the airline as well.
3. Inform The Airline You Have an ESA
Informing the airline ahead of time that you’ll be traveling with an emotional support animal is another good way to ensure no issues on the day of your travel. Most airlines prefer to know when a passenger will be traveling with an ESA at least 48 hours in advance, if not at the time of your booking.
Calling your airline directly to book your flight and ask if there are any special requirements or steps you should take to make your flight go more smoothly for both you and your ESA.
4. Select A More Spacious Seat
When booking your travel, if you plan to have an emotional support animal with you it can be helpful to have a little extra leg room. Most airlines will still require emotional support animals to be small enough to fit in a pet carrier which will in turn fit under the seat in front of you (usually 20-25 pounds).
The more room you have for yourself and your emotional support animal on your journey, the better. It will make it easier for you to check on them and experience their presence, and easier for them to avoid becoming stressed in ultra-cramped areas.
5. Make Sure Your ESA is Healthy
Making sure they’re healthy before traveling with your emotional support animal is the safest way to bring them on your trip for them, for you, and for your fellow passengers. Some airlines will require a recent vet check-up, proof of shots, or a clean bill of health from a veterinarian before allowing your emotional support animal to fly with you.
6. Make Sure Your ESA is Well Behaved
Even though ESAs don’t have to be specifically trained to perform certain tasks like service dogs do, it’s important they still be well-behaved.
Airlines can deny transportation if the dog violates safety regulations. This could include the dog being too big or too heavy to ride in the cabin of the plane, but also if the dog’s behavior or presence poses a direct threat to others. Being on their best behavior is the best way to make sure your emotional support animal can join you on your journey.
Traveling with a Service Dog
Traveling with a service dog affords the handler a few more rights than traveling with an emotional support animal. As we mentioned, airlines have to recognize dogs as service animals and transport them for individuals with disabilities under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). Dogs must meet the requirements of being trained as service animals, which means trained to perform specific tasks related to their handler’s disability. They’re not required, however, to recognize any other species of animal as service animals or to transport emotional support animals, companion animals, or service dogs who are still in training.
How to Get an ESA Letter with Pettable
Pettable can provide you with the resources to get your emotional support animal letter with a satisfaction guarantee. If your letter doesn’t work for your needs, we’ll reimburse you 100%. Here’s how to get your ESA letter with Pettable:
Complete Our Assessment
Pettable’s 3-minute assessment will determine your eligibility for an emotional support animal, and get you approved for the next steps toward your ESA letter.
Consult With a Licensed Mental Health Professional
After the assessment, Pettable will match you with one of our licensed healthcare professionals in your state. Our clinicians are world-class, experienced with ESAs, and ready to help you determine your specific needs.
Receive Your ESA Letter
Our therapists are both professional and efficient and will get your ESA letter to you in a timely manner. Let us know whether you need a letter for housing, travel, or a combination of the two and we’ll provide you with the necessary documents.