Airline Requirements: Traveling with an Emotional Support Animal

There are a few things in life that make a flight trip a bit easier, especially for those suffering from mental health problems. Some find comfort in music, taking solace in the tunes of their favorite artists. Others seek companionship, whether it’s with friends, family, or a significant other. Yet, you would never find love and appreciation as you would with an emotional support animal. They will always be around from the moment you have them, and they would never leave your side, no matter what. To take your emotional support animal with you anywhere, especially on airplanes, you need to understand some requirements.

Traveling with Animals

The Animal

While there are no general stipulations as to what your emotional support animal should be, they are most often either dogs or cats. This is what most airlines would accept, and most other animals might not be permitted with you on the plane — though in some cases a well-trained miniature horse might be allowed as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). They need to be at least four months of age to be permitted on board a plane, and it goes without saying, your cat or dog need to be clean and well trained. You can’t exactly have them peeing in the aisle, because this might affect you taking them along on any future flights.

The ESA should also have the necessary vaccination and documentation. Your emotional support pet should be able to fit on your feet or in your lap, without disrupting the overall peace inside the cabin. Even if they are put in a kennel, it must fit under the seat right in front of you.

ESA Letter

If you have a dog, for instance, your letter should specify why you need them to alleviate some of your mental health problems, while stating what those problems are. It’s important to note that Emotional support dogs can be taken on airlines if you have the proof from a licensed therapist that you do indeed need them with you and it is paramount to your mental health that they go wherever you go. Your medical condition needs to be included within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the letter should not be older than one year if you want to take your dog or cat with you on the plane.

Emotional Support Pet

Other Terms and Conditions

For most airlines, you can only travel with just one ESA, even if you have more than one –– which is possible; there are no laws against getting several ESA animals, as long as you choose only one to travel with. You can’t place the animals in the aisle or exit row, and they definitely can’t occupy an empty seat next to their owner. However, if your emotional support animal is too big to fit on your feet, you need to change your reservation and book a flight with a seat next to yours, and basically buy your ESA a ticket. Some airlines require further forms to be filled if the flight duration is over 8 hours.

On Board Behavior

It is a given that your emotional support animal can’t do some things on the plane. For starters, they can’t eat off the passenger tray, and as mentioned earlier, they need to be really well trained so they could behave on the flight. They can’t growl or try to bite passengers, and they definitely shouldn’t be lunging or jumping at people in the cabin. If they displayed tendencies to do any of those things, the airlines reserve their rights not to allow the ESA into the cabin. You should also keep your emotional support animal under control all the time using a leash or harness.

On Board Behavior

Fees

If your emotional support animal fulfills all the requirements, they can travel with you free of charge as long as you provide the ESA letter. This is assuming they can fit on your feet. But you should know that if they make any problems on the plane or display behaviors as the ones mentioned above, without control by the owner, they will be treated as regular pets and you will have to pay fees for their trip with you.

Emotional support animals are life savers for owners who suffer from depression and stress. You should be able to take them with you wherever you want without complications, and you can do that. But you just need to make sure they comply with all airline regulations, and always get the ESA letter from your therapist as soon as possible.

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