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Flying with an emotional support animal? Here’s what you need to know

It was a moment of joy for people when they learned about the law permitting ESAs to accompany their owners on planes. The law was passed by Congress in 1986 and since then many passengers have enjoyed the privilege to fly with an emotional support animal. In fact, flying with an ESA has become a common sight these days. From mini horses to cats, dogs, and hamsters, the US Department of Transportation allows an ESA to travel in the cabin of the aircraft subject to the rules listed under the Air Carrier Access Act.

The Air Carrier Access Act requires you to comply with certain rules. You can fly with your ESA without any additional cost but you need to have an ESA letter and your ESA should be well behaved and trained to travel without causing any inconvenience to other passengers. You can give your ESA home training while ensuring your ESAs safety and comfort. This will save you money and a simple flying experience will turn into a pleasant bliss.

However, it is vital to note that in the past few years a new concern has cropped up. Potential complications caused by some animals during the flight. All these incidents are causing inconvenience to individuals who are in genuine need of animal support. To ensure that the airline’s policies do not ban your ESA from flying you need to go through the list of airlines mentioned below.

American Airlines

American Airlines grants permission to individuals who require emotional support to fly with their ESAs. But you have to consider a few things. First and foremost, to fly with an ESA you need to have supporting documents, in the form of an emotional support animal travel letter issued by a licensed mental health practitioner. Second, the ESA travel letter should mention the year of travel, and third, it should have a recognized mental disability.

Besides documentation, as per the guidelines given by American Airlines, you should also take note of the following details:

  • Only one ESA per person.
  • The ESA should be well-behaved.
  • The airlines accept dogs, cats, hamsters, and miniature horses.
  • The ESA should be 4 months or older.
  • The ESA must stay under the seat, on the lap or should fit at the feet.
  • The ESA should not roam near block aisles and exit rows.

In addition to this, if you choose to place your ESA in a kennel ensure that the kennel is safely placed in front of your feet or under the seat. Emotional support animals are not allowed to sit on the seats. American Airlines also require you to submit three forms if you are on board for a long journey. The documents are an ESA letter signed by a licensed LMHP, a veterinary health form, and a form related to animal behavior. All the forms must adhere to 48-hour submission deadline.

JetBlue Airlines

If you are flying with your ESA on JetBlue Airlines book submit three forms to the airline authorities 48 hours before the flight.

  • Mental health professional form (ESA letter)
  • Confirmation of emotional support form
  • Veterinary health form

So, make sure you fill all the forms properly and keep the required documents with you. Additionally, JetBlue will accept animals allowed by the U.S. Department of Transportation including cats, dogs, and miniature horses. According to the rules established by JetBlue Airlines, all ESAs must remain on the floor, i.e, in front of the owner’s feet, under the seat or on the lap. You can secure your ESA in a kennel and place it beneath the seat. Also, ensure that your pet is well-behaved, tidy and vaccinated because some states will take your ESAs health into account.

Southwest Airlines

A passenger with an emotional disability listed under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) can fly with SouthWest Airlines provided the medical condition is clearly mentioned in the ESA letter. The letter must come from a licensed mental health practitioner, psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed therapist only.

According to the rules stated by SouthWest Airlines you are not required to submit additional forms. As of 2019, a valid ESA letter should be enough for you and your ESA to board the plane. Flying with an ESA on this airline also requires you to keep some things in mind. You have to ensure that your pet is sitting on your lap, under the seat, or at your feet. Your ESA cannot go anywhere near other passengers or the exit doors and you can travel with only one emotional support animal.

Also, make sure that you submit the form 48 hours before the flight and bring the required documents along with you.

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines acknowledges the requirements of individuals in need of emotional support. But an ESA owner has to fulfill certain criteria. The airline will highly appreciate an early notification along with an emotional support animal letter from a licensed mental health practitioner. Your ESA, however, has to stay on the floor, he or she should be tidy, well mannered, and leashed if necessary.

In addition to this, you have to submit three forms ( Veterinary health form, Medical form, and confirmation of animal training form) to fly safely with your pet. Also, don’t forget to carry your ESA letter with you. The authorities might require the same for verification. If in case you have more than one emotional support animal, ensure that you travel with one. In case of your ESA seating arrangement, either keep him or her on the lap or under the seat. This way you will be to fly with your pet safely.

[sc_fs_faq sc_id=”fs_faqrxfu74pdr” html=”true” headline=”h2″ img=”” question=”Can I take my ESA on the plane?” img_alt=”” css_class=”” ]The US Department of Transportation acknowledges patients with physical and emotional disabilities. Under the Air Carrier Access Act any individual with a mental disability can travel with an emotional support animal provided they have a valid ESA letter.

  • You can travel with your emotional support animal if the ESA is well-trained and well-behaved.
  • The ESA is not a threat to the passengers.
  • The ESA assists your emotional disability.
  • As an ESA owner, you are carrying an ESA letter and required documents.

All the conditions listed above will help you fly safely with your emotional support animal. So, make sure you follow the guidelines before booking a flight.[/sc_fs_faq]

Characteristics of an ESA letter for an airline

According to the guidelines provided by the government, your ESA letter must have:

  • A recognized medical condition as mentioned under the DSM-IV.
  • Regular supervision under a licensed mental health professional.
  • The letter should not exceed one year from the flight date.
  • Confirmation on how will an ESA support the emotional health of an individual.
  • Doctor’s stamp, signature, letterhead, date of issuance.

If your ESA letter has the aforesaid elements you will be able to fly with your ESA easily. But it is noteworthy that you have to keep the airline guidelines in mind and train your ESA. This will help you keep your emotional support animal safe as well as well-conducted during the flight.

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