Traveling With Your Emotional Support Animal

Airlines have become friendlier towards letting emotional support animals (ESA) on board. If you have an ESA certification that proves your disability and need for an assistance animal, you would not be charged with fees to take your animal on board. However, you still need to respect the laws of all airlines. Different airlines have more or less different rules and regulations pertaining to ESAs. Airlines require your ESA to be gentle and well-behaved to avoid destruction along the aisle and for other passengers. You could collaborate with your healthcare provider to train the animal to remain calm, gentle and unrestrictive.  Respect the airlines and you can enjoy a smooth flight with your ESA.

The Air Carrier Access Act allows emotionally unstable people to be accompanied with an ESA, without the owner being obligated to pay charges. Airlines require documents that confirm your diagnosed disability, from licensed professionals. Airlines may require your mental health professional to fill a short form that confirms your disability. Always keep an ID card with you while traveling. ESAs might be required to wear service patches or vests.

Checking in at Airport

If it’s your first time, it’s natural to feel anxious traveling with an animal. Inform the airlines one week prior to your schedule and inquire about the requirements, even if you know the requirements because airlines revise and update their rules. Your ESA should have a solid-color vest or patch on, with an attaché photo ID as this makes identification for airlines easier.

Inform the representative that the animal is an ESA. You would be required to verify the tasks that your ESA performs according to your disabilities. Airline personnel would require you to show a letter confirming your disability and need for an ESA, by a licensed professional. It’s better to send your letter to your desired airline a week prior to flying as this would save you time and embarrassment.

Airline Requirements

  • Although several US airlines have been permissive about ESAs inside cabin, Delta airlines has imposed stricter rules, effective since March 1, 2018. This is because untrained ESAs and dog attack in June. ESA owners should send verified documents of their disability and need for ESA to airlines in advance. Also, respect the rules of airlines as they are trying to ensure passenger safety.
  • American Airlines require a letter acknowledging your disability and certifying your need for an ESA, by a licensed professional. Furthermore, the airline also needs the date of approval of your form.
  • Jet Blue Airline requires certification that the ESA is performing tasks according to your disability needs. The letter should not be more than a year old.

You can’t take peacocks on board. Peacocks can’t function as ESA. Also peacocks don’t tend to survive through the flight. Make sure that the animals are not too large or heavy. Respect other passengers’ safety and space. Train your animals to be gentle and disciplined. Your ESA should not display any threatening behaviors.