The holiday season is fast approaching, which means millions will be traveling, flying across the country or globe to be with the people they love. Despite the joy of the holiday season, the travel stress is still real. With flight delays, potential bad weather, and flu season, there is so much to worry about. The last thing you need is to worry about taking your service animal or emotional support animal with you. Here is the ultimate guide to Flying with an ESA this season.
Changing Airline Rules
In recent years, the laws regarding traveling with emotional support animals have changed due to decisions made by the Department of Transportation in 2021. Airlines are no longer required to let individuals travel with emotional support animals fly, only those with trained service animals. Due to this, rules and regulations vary widely by individual airlines. Research the specific airline you plan on flying with in advance to view their specific policy when it comes to emotional support animals and service animal requirements. If your animal is under 20lbs, some airlines will let you take them aboard if you pay a modest pet fee. Some airlines that still accept emotional support animals include JSX, Latam Airlines, and Volaris.
Difference Between Emotional Support Animal and Service Animal
An emotional support animal is an animal that provides support, comfort, and aid simply through its presence, and they are protected under the Fair Housing Act (HUD). Service animals are usually dogs trained do specific tasks in relation to their owners physical or mental disability and are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Emotional support animals can live with you regardless of pet policy or fees. However, they cannot travel with you or go with you into public places. Service animals on the other hand are considered necessary medical equipment and can accompany you virtually anywhere, including aboard flights.
Does Your Emotional Support Animal Qualify as a Psychiatric Service Dog?
If you have an emotional support animal you want to travel with, it might be worth seeing if it qualifies as a psychiatric service dog. A psychiatric service animal is a dog who is trained to do a specific task or tasks in relation to their owner’s mental illness or disability. They are just like regular service animals except specifically for mental health conditions. They are under the same regulations and rules as other service animals, meaning you can fly with them.
Emotional support animals can often easily be trained to do tasks related to your mental health, like reminding you to take your medication on time, standing on you during panic attacks, or distracting you from obsessive-compulsive thoughts. Take our online pre-screening quiz to find out if you may qualify for certifying your emotional support animal as psychiatric service dog, enabling you to travel with it with ease.
Qualifications For Traveling With your Service Animal
In order to fly with your service animal or psychiatric service dog, you must have a service animal letter of certification. This is an official letter written by a medical or mental health professional verifying your condition or disability and your need for the animal. Airlines will require this letter and service animal ID, and also ask your dog to be leashed or harnessed and well behaved at all times. Service animals must be trained to be calm and relaxed, even in stressful, chaotic environments like the airport. If the service animal shows aggression, is destructive, disruptive, or otherwise misbehaved, airlines hold the right to refuse it onboard.
United Support Animals – Flying with an ESA
The holidays are approaching quickly, which means the time to get your service animal letter of certification is now. You can get a letter from our experts at United Support Animal today. Take our pre-screening test now or call us at 800-918-3151 to start Flying with an ESA today! Check our United Animal Support shop.