Flying with an Emotional Support Animal

Friday, January 17, 2020 15:49:00 PM America/Los_Angeles

Many people would love to have the company of their furry friend during their flight, there are some individuals who need the support of their companion to get through it. Emotional support animals help people who struggle with conditions like anxiety get through difficult times. If you have an emotional support animal, you may find yourself having to arrange for your companion's travel for your next flight.

What are the requirements when traveling with an emotional support animal?

When traveling with your emotional support animal, you will not be asked to pay the regular travel fee to have your companion along with you, but you will be required to meet a few qualifications and provide documentation before your pet is allowed to travel in the cabin with you. To get your pet on the flight, you must:
  • Have an emotional or mental disability as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Require the animal during your transportation to your final destination
  • Have an ESA letter that is provided by a doctor or mental health professional verifying that you need to have the animal accompanying you.

In addition to providing the documentation above, most airlines will require that the animal be well behaved, even tempered and trained before boarding and that you notify them in advance - most likely 48 hours - for them to be able to verify the travel documents

What to Expect While Traveling

When traveling with your emotional support animal, you should be prepared to show the appropriate documentation throughout your travels to airline officials. You may also want to pre-plan your designated breaks throughout your trip so that your pet will be able to relieve themselves during long travel days. Many airports offer dog bathrooms or fake grass areas for your pet to go during a layover. If there are no designated areas on your trip, you may want to be sure to travel with a pet potty to use during stops. When planning your trip be sure to know the kennel policies and make sure your pet traveler meets the requirements that are necessary for each airline that you will be traveling with. If your pet is not used to traveling in a kennel, it will be important to get your pet used to the crate so that they do not exhibit bad behavior or make a lot of noise during your travels.

What Airlines Are Best for Traveling With an Emotional Support Animal?

There are many airlines that are known for providing travel for ESA animals with proper documentation. Some of the major airlines that are best for traveling with your companion include:

Southwest Airlines

Southwest will allow an emotional support animal to travel in the main cabin with you as long as your final destination is not Jamaica. You will be required to produce an ESA letter from your health professional, and they request that you notify them or indicate that you have a disability requirement when booking your travel.

Delta Airlines

Delta allows emotional support animals with proper documentation but requires that the pet stay at your feet throughout the trip and at no time are allowed to be on the seat. They also request advanced notification, and the animal be properly trained and well-behaved.

American Airlines

You will be required to provide documentation to American Airlines at least two days before your scheduled flight if you want your emotional support animal to fly in the cabin with you. They also require that your emotional support animal letter is issued within the same year that you are traveling.

Jet Blue Airlines

Jet Blue has similar requirements to other airlines except that they require the letter to include the booking number of your flight. They do limit the type of animal and do not accommodate animals that would be considered unusual, such as rodents, reptiles, or spiders. They also require that your emotional support animal stay in a kennel.

ESA Travel Checklist

To make your travels with you emotional support animal easier for both you and your pet, make sure that you have you include the following items when packing for your trip.
  • ESA letter
  • Copy of vaccinations - While this is not often required, it doesn't hurt to have.
  • Collar and identification
  • Dog potty- we recommend Bark Potty!
  • Treats
  • Leash and harness
  • Airline approved kennel or carrier
  • Bowl for water
  • A toy that will fit in their carrier
Knowing the regulations and requirements of airlines will make your travel with your emotional support animal less stressful for all parties involved. If you are unsure of what you need, don't be afraid to contact the airline's customer support number to find out more information.