03 - Feb - 2023

Read This Before You Travel With ESA

March 30, 2022 0

The comfort provided by Emotional Support Animals (ESA) is most needed in the current pandemic situation. Studies have found that the pandemic crisis is triggering mental health conditions in the US population. In this time of uncertainty, mental health is equally important as our physical health. The required support and comfort levels can be fulfilled by ESA. It offers relief to be able to take your ESA rightfully wherever you go, including on flights.

Due to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), commercial airlines were bound to allow passengers to fly with their ESA in the cabin. Unfortunately, the new regulations released by the US Department of Transportation suggested that ESA is no longer accepted. Does that mean the rule is basically increasing the stress level for the US population?

When you get an ESA certificate for travel, you were expected to fly with your dog without paying unfair pet deposits. Now the airlines are only accepting trained service dogs. Where does that leave a pet parent with a legit ESA certificate? Who would take care of your mental comfort when you are on a plane? Do you have to cancel your travel plans?

A couple of things have changed, that doesn’t mean you can’t live your life peacefully. Keep the new documentation guidelines in mind and follow the tips discussed in this post to find a way to fulfil your disability-related need.

Why ESA are no longer accepted on planes?

Before your furry friend has to face the misfortune of getting rejected on an airplane cabin, you need to know everything about the new policies.

The new guideline by the US Department of Transportation leaves the decision on the airlines to whether or not to accept the ESA. However, it is speculated that due to the recent economic crisis, when restricted lockdowns affected the number of flights, airplanes are looking for ways to recover from losses. As a result, most airlines have found a way to make profits by charging the airfare for pets which are recognized as ESA.

Can you still travel with your ESA on a plane?

Yes, you can! However, your furry friend’s journey is subject to charges determined by the airline. As mentioned earlier, the decision to accept or reject ESA was left on the airlines. So before you make travel plans, consider checking with the airlines and remain stress free.

Most airlines are charging for ESA, though some international flights are still accepting ESA in the cabin without any additional charges. For instance, China Air, Latam Airlines, Volaris, Westjet, Virgin Australia and more. The rule may be slightly different; for instance, you have to complete additional formalities such as medication form, vaccination documentation, and sanitization form. Consider checking the policies at least 48 prior to your flight.

What should you know about flying with ESA?

You can get an ESA letter for travel for all sizes, ages and breeds of dog. However, air carrier rules have gotten stricter regarding the size of the dog. Most domestic carriers are allowing only a pet which is less than 20LB. Whereas, Latam Airlines and Singapore Airline mandate that ESA has to be at least 4 months of age.

ESA which are still allowed in the cabin are expected to sit under the seat or at your feet. If you are travelling with a large dog that might occupy a lot of space, then you have to face difficulties in getting the final approval. Here are some useful tips to fly with your four-legged support companion without any hassle:

  • Make sure you have a legit ESA letter for travel. The letters are usually valid for only one year. Make sure you have renewed the ESA letter to avoid any inconvenience.
  • Inform 48 hours prior to the flight, so the airline can assign a suitable and comfortable seat
  • Confirm the route of the flight, only direct flights to and from the USA are accepting ESA
  • Make sure that your pet is well behaved and trained enough to obey the commands
  • Inability to control the urge to relieve itself may create sanitization issues in the cabin. To avoid these, take a moisture absorbent fabric that you can place under your ESA for a stress-free flight.
  • Few airlines mandate that the ESA have to be leashed or harnessed to avoid disturbance
  • Don’t forget to check all the necessary documentation, such as health certificate, rabies vaccination, acknowledgement form, sanitization form (if needed) and additional behaviour certificate for some breeds. 

Final Thoughts

Dogs make wonderful support animals. However, some breeds are too heavy or large and for some breeds, sitting quietly is a challenge. The nature of your dog might create problems if you are planning to travel with them.

You wanted a dog to relieve your anxiety and not because you wanted to create stressful situations while travelling. In such a case, a psychiatric service dog (PSD) would be of great help. ESA is believed to offer unconditional love, whereas PSDs are trained pets that can rightfully travel with their owner in the cabin. To need more guidance for the ESA letter and PSD letter, you can contact our support staff right now.


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