New Airline Policies for Your Emotional Support Animal

  • Check Updated Rules Before Flying With Your Emotional Support Animal
These US Airlines Have Banned Emotional Support Animals

These US Airlines Have Banned Emotional Support Animals

As of March 2021, seven airlines have banned emotional support animals under the new guidelines issued by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Alaska Airlines was the first to officially ban ESA’s followed by Delta, JetBlue, American, Frontier, United, and Southwest Airlines.

The new rule defines emotional support animals as pets and recognizes only service dogs as animals qualified to travel in-cabin. Each airline is allowed to permit only two service animals, regardless of the breed type.

The new guidelines were issued in the light of reports and pleas submitted by both airlines and passengers in the past few years. As a result, the DOT no longer considers emotional support animals as service animals.

The only exception, in this case, is that because emotional support animals will be categorized as normal pets, they can fly in cargo, provided the owner pays additional fees.

To put things into perspective, here’s a detailed discussion on how you can travel with your pet in the Airlines that no longer allow emotional support animals.

Alaska Airlines

As per the new guidelines issued by Alaska Airlines, it will continue to accept emotional support animals under reservations booked before February, 28th, 2021. This means that the airline no longer accepts ESA’s. Also, once the rule comes into full-effect, no emotional support can fly in-cabin without paying additional fees.

For those who wish to fly with Alaska Airlines will be subject to a pet carriage fee of $100 or more both in-cabin and cargo compartment. So, make sure that you contact the Airline authorities to make the flying arrangements.

NOTE: Space for a pet in cargo or in-cabin is subject to availability. Only animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits, and domestic household birds are allowed to fly in the passenger cabin.

American Airlines

American Airlines no longer allows emotional support animals to be treated as service animals. Just like Alaska, American Airlines, too, require ESA to fly as normal pets. This means that you have to fly with your ESA either as a carry-on or inside a cargo subject to a fee ($125 or more) and airline requirements.

Note: You can travel with dogs and cats as carry-on or cargo. However, the rule is subject to American Airline pet standards, which include exclusivity of certain breed types.

Delta Airlines

Taking a critical stance on emotional support animals, Delta Airlines decided to ban ESA’s from flying in-cabin in January 2021. Delta along with other airlines took this step to ensure that no one manages to exploit the loophole in federal regulations to avoid pet fees.

However, animals that no longer fall under the category of service animals, in particular, dogs will be allowed to fly in the cargo inside a carrier under the passenger seat. Of course, in-carrier flying will be subject to certain rules. One of them being that passengers will be required to pay a one-way fee of $125.

Note: Passengers who fail to meet the requirements will not be able to fly with Delta Airlines.

JetBlue Airlines

JetBlue Airlines have banned emotional support animals, but you can still fly with your pet provided, of course, you follow the rules mentioned below:

  1. Only one small dog per passenger is allowed to travel in the cabin in an FAA-approved carrier under the passenger seat.
  2. The passenger must pay an additional one-way fee of $125 for the pet.
  3. JetBlue allows four pets per flight.
  4. Pet booking must be made in advance
  5. Your pet must be vaccinated, and don't forget to carry the pet ID tag and license.
  6. Pets are allowed to travel on domestic flights.

Note: The weight of your pet and carrier must not exceed 20 pounds.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines stopped accepting reservation requests for ESA’s after 11th January. From then on, the airline allows only trained dogs (service dogs) to travel freely inside the cabin. Rest assured, emotional support animals can fly as other pets in the cargo or inside a carrier small enough to fit underneath the passenger seat. This also indicates that Frontier Airlines will only accept small dogs and cats from here on.

Note: According to the notice issued by Frontier Airlines, emotional support animals will be allowed to fly in a carrier as per the airlines' pet policies.

United Airlines

Regulations regarding the emotional support ban on United Airlines came into effect on 11th January. Automatically suggesting that just like other airlines, even United will allow only service animals to fly for free inside the cabin.

As far as emotional support animals are concerned, they can fly as normal pets inside a carrier or cargo, but the passenger has to pay a fee to bring them as a carry-on.

Note: The pet fee starts at $125 per flight, and the passenger must make a booking in advance.

Southwest Airlines

After 1st March, Southwest Airlines has not accepted emotional support animals to fly in-cabin for free. The statement issued on 25th January clearly stated that no pets except service animals will be able to fly for free. Some animals will be allowed to fly, but they must be all relegated to their respective carriers.

Not only this, but the airline authorities also went on to say that the passenger flying with a pet is subject to follow the guidelines issued by the airline staff. For instance, flying with more than one pet means extra fees, and each passenger will be required to meet certain requirements, such as the weight of the animal along with size.

Note: Pets will be accepted by the airlines on a first-come basis, and a maximum of six pets are allowed per flight. In addition to this, the passenger must check-in a few hours before the boarding time.

So far, only seven airlines have banned emotional support animals. Most likely, other airlines will also follow the trail. For now, make sure that you check with the airline authorities before booking your next flight.

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