Can I Bring My Emotional Support Animal on a Plane?
Yes. Federal regulations allow emotional support animals of all types to travel on airplanes. They can sit in the cabin with the owner, outside of a carrier. There is no charge if the owner has the right documentation, which can be a letter from a doctor or other mental health professional. The animal must be manageable and there must be adequate space onboard the plane. The airlines can ask people traveling with ESAs for the documentation, but are not required to.
Emotional support animals help people by being companions. The provide a valuable service to people while traveling or during a stressful situation.
Some things that you may need to keep in mind when you plan to fly with your ESA for the first time include…
- Explaining to the airline that your animal is an emotional support animal and not a service dog.
- Identifying the patches on your animal
- An attached photo ID card identifying your animal as an ESA from a legitimate company.
- A certification document from a legitimate registry company or a qualified physician.
- A letter from your therapist, psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional prescribing you to have an ESA. If your therapist is not willing to write a qualifying letter, you can get one from your medical doctor which is generally accepted by most airlines.
The Air Carrier Access Act allows for an emotional support animal to fly with a mentally or emotionally impaired individual.
What if the airline/apartment requires an extra form?
If the airline or apartment requires you to have an extra form for your emotional support animal, there are additional forms to show you need the ESA. It is at the discretion of your medical professional who is treating your mental health disorder whether they fill out the form for you.
Airlines may need an advanced notice for some accommodations, such as medical equipment or an electric wheelchair. They may also require notice for an ESA, depending on the individual airline guidelines. You will need to find out what the requirements are from the specific airline that you are traveling with.
The Air Carrier Access Act of 1990 requires that all airlines accommodate ESA owners who have verified IDs. ESA owners do not have to sit in any particular location, unless the animal is large enough to obstruct the aisle.
The Air Carrier Act also restricts airlines from charging additional fees to a passenger who has an emotional support animal.