ESA Letter Requirements for Flying

Flying can be a stressful experience, which can be compounded if you struggle with an emotional disability. An emotional support animal (ESA) can help relieve the anxiety of air travel, but in order to get your pet into the cabin, you must follow certain letter requirements. Here’s what you need to know about flying with your ESA.

Prepare Before You Board

Studies show interacting with pets reduces anxiety and loneliness, lowers blood pressure, decreases the perception of pain and promotes social engagement for all individuals and can be therapeutic for those with emotional or mental disorders. The Air Carrier Access Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination, but it’s best to request accommodations well in advance of your flight. Most carriers require up to 48 hours notice for special accommodations. Fax them a copy of your prescription letter so they have time to verify its validity and make any necessary modifications.

Letter Requirements

The letter you submit must be less than a year old and be on your healthcare professional’s official letterhead. It should state your therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist’s credentials and include the following information:

  • That you have a disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • Your pet’s presence is necessary to your treatment and health both during the flight and once you arrive.
  • The letter’s author is a licensed professional currently providing treatment for your condition.

While airport staff can’t ask specifics about the nature of your disability, they can call your mental health professional to inquire about the letter’s validity.


Order your ESA letter for airlines from us, or find out more about how our service works for you.

Download our 2018 PDF Guide to flying with your pet for your prep checklist at home and for each airline.