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How to Fly With An Emotional Support Animal?

Posted on June 20, 2023 by Patricia Thompson

In 2020, flying with an emotional support animal was straightforward. Anyone holding an ESA Letter from a licensed doctor could travel in almost every airline of America. But, as per the new guidelines passed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in January 2021, many popular airline companies stopped accepting Emotional Support Animals on their carrier.

The changes in the traveling guidelines came into action because people misused the rights given to ESAs for traveling in air carriers. In recent years, passengers traveled with their miniature horses, pot-bellied pigs, and even a peacock on-board, which is inconvenient and dangerous for other passengers.

The ban on the air travel of Emotional Support Animals is very disappointing for those who took assistance from ESAs for their medical disability on flights.

Despite the DoT rules, several airlines such as Latam Airlines, Virgin Australia, and Volaris still allow emotional support animals on-board. For that, you are required to fulfil the air travel criteria.

In this article, we’ll discuss the complete process of flying with an emotional support animal and tips to ensure that you can travel safely and securely with your emotional support animal. So let us begin!

How to fly with an ESA

What is Required For Flying With An Emotional Support Animal?

You will require an ESA letter signed by a LMHP to fly with your emotional support animal in an airline that is still accepting ESAs. Additionally, the airline may require your doctor to fill their form. It is essential to Submit all the required documents and a copy of an ESA letter before 48 hours of boarding.

If you’re looking for a legitimate ESA letter provider, Fast ESA Letter is the most trusted and reliable source for getting a valid ESA letter online. 

Tips For Flying With Your Emotional Support Animal.

We advise you to take care of a few things before flying with your emotional support animal. These are:

ESAs Needs To Be Well-Behaved

The more well-behaved your ESA is, the less likely the chances of someone asking you questions about your ESA as you board your flight. If your ESA is well-behaved, traveling with your ESA will be easy for you.

Reduce The Intake Of Food Before The Flight

Limit the food intake that your ESA can consume before the flight to avoid the tendency to “defecate or urinate” during the flight. Additionally, if your ESA is a dog, they could get motion sickness, so feed them at least 6 to 7 hours before boarding.

Get A Comfortable Seat In The Flight

If possible, sit in front as it is typically more spacious and comfortable. Your ESA will enjoy more and exhibit less stress while traveling if you can provide more space for them.

Make Your ESA Comfortable In Using Carrier

Ensure that your ESA has as little stress as possible during the flight to have a comfortable and safe journey. Allow your ESA to become used to the carrier if you’re using one so that they can feel somewhat like home. Give their favorite toys to entice them into their carrier, and allow them to play or rest there as much as possible.

Things To Carry With You When Traveling With An ESA In Airlines.

When preparing for travel with your emotional support animal, it’s important to pack essential supplies for your ESA to ensure their well-being and comfort throughout the journey.

  • Pack enough food, plus extra in case of delays.
  • Pack your ESA’s favorite toys for encouragement or distractions during travel.
  • Pack your ESA’s medications for the duration of the trip.
  • Pack an ample supply of waste bags.
  • Pack a leash or harness to keep your ESA under control.
  • Carry the ESA letter, vaccination records, and any other required documentation.

Every Airline May Have Different Policies Regarding ESA.

When flying with an emotional support animal, it’s important to recognize that each airline may have different requirements and policies. Here are some key areas where airlines may differ in their guidelines:

  • Documentation
  • Advance Notice
  • Size Restrictions
  • Carrier or Crate Requirements
  • Additional Fees

All the related information can usually be found on the airline’s website or by contacting customer service directly. By proactively notifying the airline about your ESA, you can ensure a smoother travel experience and avoid unnecessary complications.

Which Airlines Are Not Accepting Emotional Support Animals?

Most domestic airlines, including United Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier, Alaska, and even Southwest Airlines, have decided to stop allowing ESAs to fly to comply with the new rule issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation. However, the owners of psychiatric service dogs can still fly with their PSD or Psychiatric service dog without paying any fees or charges if they have a valid PSD letter.

Which Airlines Are Still Accepting Emotional Support Animals?

Certain ESA-friendly airlines are still allowing ESAs on flights. But as airline policies are changing quickly, checking and confirming your airline’s policy before booking the flight is important. We have compiled a list of airlines that are accepting ESAs to fly with their owners:

Latam Airlines

Latam Airlines allow emotional support animals on flights, but only dogs. Your
emotional support dog must be at least four months old to fly on Latam Airlines. During the flight, ensure that your ESA is well-behaved and should not show any signs of inappropriate behavior such as barking, snarling, or jumping on other passengers. Also, your ESA dog cannot occupy more space than you, obstruct aisles, or sit in the emergency exit.

Virgin Australia

Only dogs can fly as emotional support animals in Virginia Australia Airlines. ESAs are required to fit under your seat feet and should not block aisles or the seats of other passengers. Before departing, you must obtain permission to take an emotional support animal overseas.

Volaris

You can only travel with your emotional support dog on Volaris Airlines. Your emotional support dog should be small to sit between your feet without sticking out into the aisle or taking up any of the other passenger seats. ESA dogs are expected to behave appropriately in the airline and obey their owner’s commands.

It’s important to note that, Every ESA dog must always be leashed and harnessed. If taking a local flight, you must check in at least 3 hours before departure; if taking an international flight, you must check in at least 4 hours before departure.

Pets Provide Social Support

Every human needs a network of support, whether friends, family, colleagues, or animals. Though pets cannot communicate with you or give you advice, they can offer the same psychological benefits as you get from human interaction. Hence, they can provide the same social support by bringing down the symptoms of loneliness, stress, and anxiety.

Pets Keep You Active and Fit

Many people with pets like dogs in their homes are highly active than those who don’t own a dog or other pets. A 15 to 30-minute walk a day with your pet can make you stay physically active all day. If you can’t walk with your pet, you can even play with them in your backyard or nearby garden. It will also provide the same impact on your physical health as a walk could have.

Having a pet-like dog can make you feel more secure.

Large dog breeds like German shepherds and Great Danes are great deterrents from outside threats, allowing their owners to feel safer. They are popular for their loyalty, confidence, and protective instincts.

Heart Health Benefits:

Research suggests pet owners have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. The presence of a pet may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They can also promote a healthier heart.

Routine and Responsibility:

Owning a pet introduces structure and responsibility into your life. Caring for their daily needs, such as feeding, grooming, and walking, establishes a routine and a sense of purpose. This can be especially beneficial if you thrive on a consistent schedule.

Increased Happiness:

Pets bring joy and happiness into our lives. Their friendly and playful nature can boost mood and happiness, leading to a more positive outlook. Moreover, their unconditional love can also fill us with positivity.

Which Pet Is Better For Our Health?

Every animal is different from one another and has its way and advantages on the health of their owners. But dogs and cats are the best canines to improve mental and physical health. Having dogs and cats as pets keeps you physically fit and reduces the symptoms of mental health disabilities you might face.

End Note:

Being a pet parent can save lives and has numerous positive effects on one’s physical and mental health, as mentioned above. Pets do so much for us! And this should never be one-sided. That’s why we should also cherish them by caring for them and keeping them happy and healthy so they can enjoy their life.

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson is a highly skilled clinical psychologist with over five years of expertise in the field. She possesses extensive knowledge and experience in using clinical guidance and providing recommendations for emotional support animals (ESAs) as a form of treatment for mental illness. Patricia's profound understanding of the therapeutic benefits of ESAs enables her to offer valuable insights and practical advice to individuals seeking emotional support. In addition to her clinical practice, Patricia also writes for Fast ESA Letter, sharing her expertise and advocating for the importance of ESAs in mental health care.

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