14 CFR Part 382 is the part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule in the Air Carrier Access Act which prohibits air travel discrimination against disabled persons. By definition and in relation to emotional support animals, this means any individual who has a mental impairment that, substantially limits any major life activity (including caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working), has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment as a result of the attitudes of others toward such an impairment will not be discriminated against on the basis of disability, and will be provided with accessible services and accommodations by the airline.
CFR 382.27(g) states: if a passenger does not meet advance notice or check-in requirements you establish consistent with this section, you must still provide the service or accommodation if you can do so by making reasonable efforts, without delaying the flight.
The Air Carrier Access Act protects persons with disabilities from discrimination and assures accessibility or accommodation. On flights 8 hours or longer, the carrier may require individuals traveling with service animals to provide 48 hours advance notice and check in 1 hour before the general public check-in time. However, carriers may require passengers traveling with emotional support animals to provide 48 hours advance notice and check in 1 hour before normal check in time, for any and all domestic flights.
Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and 14 CFR Part 382, Service animals are any animal trained to provide assistance to a qualified person with a disability; or any animal shown by documentation to be necessary for the emotional well-being of a passenger. Service animals are differentiated from emotional support animals as in the 48-hour notice example, while still being recognized as service animals.
Permissible documentation of an emotional support animal must be:
- Current (no older than one year from the date of the passenger’s initial scheduled flight)
- On licensed mental health professional’s letterhead (psychiatrist, psychologist, LCSW, etc.)
And the letter must state the following:
- The passenger has a disability recognized in the DSM IV
- The passenger needs the emotional support animal as accommodation for air travel (or at the destination)
- The individual providing the assessment is a licensed mental health professional, and the passenger is under his or her professional care
- The date and type of the professional’s license, and the jurisdiction under which it was issued.
If you need to travel with your emotional support animal, you may purchase your emotional support letter for airlines directly from our clinical psychologist.
Learn more about traveling or housing with your emotional support animal in our emotional support animal letter FAQ.
Additional resources explaining the ruling are available at Cornell University’s website:
- Airlines must permit disabled passengers to travel with service animals (service animals being previously defined as inclusive of emotional support animals)
- The purpose of Section 382.1 [Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)Title 14 Chapter II Subchapter D Part 382 Subpart A]
- Terms defined
Certain airlines require additional documentation of training and/or vaccination, such as Delta and United Airlines. Always check your airlines disability concierge desk for emotional support animal requirements.