Which Airlines Allow Emotional Support Animals in 2024

Which Airlines Allow Emotional Support Animals in 2024

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In recent years, people with mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have embraced emotional support animals (ESAs) and the important role they play in their lives. These animals give their owners emotional support, companionship, and a feeling of safety, which helps them deal with their symptoms and live fuller lives.

With this growing awareness, more and more people want to register their pets as ESAs. This has led to stricter policies regarding the transportation of ESAs, especially among the major airlines.

In this article, we will look at which airlines currently allow emotional support animals on their flights. If you own an ESA or are considering registering your pet as an ESA, you should know how these policies affect you and your pet.

Emotional Support Dog ready to travel with an ESA letter

What Airlines Allow Emotional Support Animals?

Many airlines allow passengers to fly with their ESAs, but not always in the cabin. The specific rules and regulations vary by airline. For example, some airlines will let you fly with an emotional support dog, but only if you can supply proper documentation from a mental health provider, proof of training, and/or a pet passport. Other airlines require that the emotional support dog is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you for the flight’s duration.

When figuring out which flight to book, carefully read the airline’s rules for ​​allowing emotional support animals and service dogs to ensure your furry friend can travel with you.

  • Airlines That Allow Pets Inside the Cabin:

Many airlines permit pets to travel in the cabin as long as they are small enough to remain in their pet carrier, which should be tucked under the seat for the entire flight. Some of the most pet-friendly airlines that allow pets as carry-ons include American, United, Delta, Alaska Airlines, Spirit, Southwest Airlines, and Frontier.

  • Airlines That Allow Pets In Cargo:

Many airlines allow emotional support animals inside the lower deck of an aircraft, otherwise known as the cargo space. Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines have programs allowing passengers to transport pets as checked baggage and offer climate-controlled cargo holds. This is referred to as a checked pet. American Airlines only allows active-duty U.S. military members and U.S. State Department personnel traveling on official orders to check an emotional support pet.

It’s important to note that there is some variation across airlines regarding the policies and procedures that must be followed while traveling with an emotional support animal.

Can I Take My Emotional Support Animal on International Flights?

Every airline and country has different rules and regulations regarding emotional support animals on international flights. It is important to check with the specific airline and understand their requirements before traveling with an emotional support animal internationally.

Additionally, every country has its own laws and policies about travelers bringing animals to and from the country. For example, some countries have strict quarantine rules. Others require specific health certificates and vaccination records. It is best to check with the country’s embassy or consulate for their current policies on emotional support animals and international travel. This will help ensure you and your emotional support animal have a smooth trip.

Which Airlines Banned Emotional Support Animals on Planes? 

In recent years, several airlines have banned emotional support animals from flying in the cabin. This is because of health and safety concerns and the fact that more and more people are trying to fly with animals that are not appropriately trained. In most cases, only service animals are accepted in the cabin for individuals with a qualifying mental or emotional disability.

The airlines listed below no longer accept emotional support animal booking on flights.

As of March 1, 2021, United Airlines no longer accepts emotional support animals on flights. Only service animals that are specially trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability are permitted on board.

  • American Airlines

As of July 1, 2021, American Airlines announced they would no longer accept emotional support animals as service animals. The airline only allows fully-trained service dogs to fly in the cabin at no charge.

  • Southwest Airlines

As of January 11, 2021, Southwest Airlines no longer accepts emotional support animals on flights. Only trained service animals are allowed on board.

  • Frontier Airlines 

As of February 1, 2021, Frontier no longer accepts ESAs onboard.

  • JetBlue Airways

As of December 1, 2020, JetBlue no longer accepts emotional support animals on flights. Only trained service animals are permitted on the flight.

  • Delta Air Lines 

As of December 2018, Delta Air Lines no longer accepts emotional support animals on flights.

  • Air Canada

In 2021, Air Canada stated that the airline would no longer accept emotional support animals on any flights.

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Additional Airlines That Banned Emotional Support Animals on Planes:

  • Sun Country
  • WestJet
  • Korean Air
  • Qatar Airways
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Eva Air
  • Turkish Airlines

It’s important to note that these policies are subject to change, and every airline has different requirements for traveling with an emotional support animal, service dog, or regular pet.

Airline Requirements and Processes for Flying With an Emotional Support Animal

Airline requirements and processes for flying with an emotional support animal can vary depending on the airline. However, as a general rule, most airlines require the following:

  1. Obtain Your Emotional Support Animal Pet Passport: Whether flying within state lines or internationally, all ESA owners should have a valid pet passport for their emotional support animal. A pet passport is a document that verifies that your ESA is up-to-date with their vaccinations and that they are in overall good health.
  2. Obtain a Medical Assessment Letter: Most airlines allowing emotional support animals will require a letter from your mental health professional stating that you have an emotional or mental disability and that the ESA is necessary for your health. The letter should be on the professional’s letterhead and should include the professional’s contact information.
  3. Get Vaccine Cards and Health Certificates: To travel with an ESA on flights, ESA owners may have to show proof of vaccinations and animal health.
  4. Book Your Flight and Inform the Airline of Any Checked Pets: ESA owners should inform the airline ahead of time that they will be traveling with an ESA.
  5. Complete the Sanitation Form: ESA owners must fill out a sanitation form that states the animal won’t need to relieve itself on board.

Do I Need to Pay to Fly With an Emotional Support Animal on a Plane?

Some airlines may charge a fee for flying with an emotional support animal; others may not. The fee is different for each airline, so it’s best to get specific information from the airline you plan to fly with.

Also, airlines may have specific rules and requirements about traveling with an emotional support animal, so it is important to check with the airline ahead of time and bring any necessary paperwork.

How Do I Get An ESA or PSD For Travel?

ESA Pet can help you obtain an emotional support animal or a psychiatric service dog letter for travel. ESA Pet is a reliable service that connects you with a qualified mental health professional who can issue an ESA letter. All you have to do is follow these simple steps:

Fill Out the Simple 2-Minute Screening

Complete a brief questionnaire and answer a few easy questions. Your answers to this survey will assist the mental health care provider in determining if you are eligible for an emotional support animal. The survey is confidential, ensuring only authorized professionals can access your responses.

Connect With a Qualified Medical Professional

After making a secure payment, you will be connected to a licensed healthcare professional in your state. They will assess your mental and emotional well-being and decide if an emotional support animal would benefit you.

Get Your ESA Letter

The licensed healthcare professional will provide a signed ESA letter if you are qualified. You will receive an electronic copy of the ESA letter within three working days.

Get an ESA letter for travel today by completing this online screening questionnaire. Our licensed mental health professionals are here to help you determine if an ESA is right for you and provide you with the necessary documentation to travel with your animal.

What Animals Are Permitted as Emotional Support Animals on Planes?

Any type of animal can be an emotional support animal, including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, miniature horses, etc. As long as the animal is not dangerous to the public, it can become an ESA. However, the most common emotional support animals are dogs and cats.

It is important to note that airlines may have rules restricting the type of animal that can be designated as an emotional support animal on board. It’s best to check with the airline directly for their specific policies regarding emotional support animals to ensure the animal you wish to travel with meets the airline’s requirements.

Are There Any Breed or Size Restrictions for Emotional Support Animals on Planes?

Some airlines may have specific breed and size restrictions for assistance animals. While airlines cannot put weight limits on a trained service animal (as long as the animal behaves well and doesn’t pose a threat to the safety of others), the same is not true of ESAs.

For example, some airlines may not allow certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls or bulldogs, to fly as emotional support animals due to concerns about aggressive behavior. Other airlines may have size restrictions for ESAs, not allowing animals that weigh more than a certain amount or that take up more than a certain amount of space in the cabin.

Learn more about flying with dogs

What Are the Rights and Protections Afforded to Travelers With Emotional Support Animals Under the Air Carrier Access Act?

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. According to this law, airlines are required to allow passengers with disabilities to travel with their service animals in the plane’s cabin free of charge.

As of December 2020, the Air Carrier Access Act no longer considers an emotional support animal to be a service animal. This means that it does not afford protection to emotional support animals, only those considered service animals. Under the ACAA, a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Airlines must also treat psychiatric service dogs like any other service dog.

However, airlines can require individuals traveling with a service animal to provide certain documents before travel, such as DOT service animal form(s). They can also require that the service dog is harnessed or leashed at all times and that the animal can fit within its handler’s foot space on the plane.

Tips for Flying With an Emotional Support Dog

Since emotional support animals are no longer protected under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), it is critical to make preparations ahead of time to ensure that there are no unexpected complications when traveling with your ESA.

Here are some tips for flying with an emotional support dog:

Know the Rules

Know the rules and regulations of the airline you are flying with and the airports you will be traveling through. Each airline has different policies and requirements for flying with emotional support dogs, so make sure you are familiar with them before you book your flight.

Get Proof That Your Pet Is Healthy

Airlines often require proof of vaccinations and a health check-up for an emotional support animal. Make sure your ESA is up to date on all necessary vaccinations and have their health records with you when you travel.

Check for Breed Restrictions

It’s important to check for breed restrictions with the airline before booking a flight with your emotional support dog. Some airlines have specific restrictions and may not allow certain breeds of dogs to fly in the cabin.

It is also important to check for any size restrictions. Some airlines have a weight limit for dogs that can travel in the cabin. It is good to find out the carrier’s dimensions that your ESA will travel in and compare it to the airline’s rules.

Prepare for Fees

Some airlines may charge additional fees for flying with a pet or emotional support dog. This is often referred to as a pet fee or kennel fee. Make sure you are aware of these fees before booking your trip and budget accordingly.

Have the Proper Paperwork

Airlines will typically require you to provide a letter from a licensed mental health professional stating that you have a mental or emotional health condition and that the presence of your emotional support dog is necessary for your well-being. Make sure you have this letter handy and any other required paperwork when traveling.

Get Your ESA Used to a Pet Carrier

If you’re going to use a pet kennel or carrier, take the time to get your ESA used to it before traveling. Use lots of treats to get your ESA into its carrier, and let it play and sleep there as much as possible. You could even do some practice runs. For example, put your ESA in its carrier and go to a public place.

Ensure Safety With Collar and ID Tags

Make sure your emotional support animal is wearing its collar and ID tags at all times. This will help to ensure their safety in case they become separated from you at the airport or during the flight.

Use a Leash or Harness While Traveling

Using a leash or harness while traveling with an emotional support dog is an important safety measure. These items can help prevent your dog from getting loose in the cabin of the plane, which can be dangerous for both your ESA and other passengers.

Comply With the Airline’s Pet Policy

It is important to comply with the airline’s pet policy when traveling. Each airline has its own set of rules and regulations regarding emotional support animals, and it is very important to familiarize yourself with these policies before booking your flight.

Tire Out Your Dog Before You Fly

Tiring out your emotional support dog before a long flight will be beneficial for both you and your pet. A tired dog is likely to be relaxed during the flight, making the experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

Complete Sanitation Form

If you are flying with your ESA for more than 8 hours, you will likely be required to fill out a relief attestation form or sanitation form. On the form, you must state that your emotional support dog will not relieve itself on the flight or can do so in a sanitary way.

Tech Good Behavior 

Your ESA will need to maintain their composure throughout the duration of the flight. If they become aggressive in any way, there is a possibility that they will be moved to the plane’s cargo hold or removed from the flight entirely.

Dog travelling with an ESA letter following Airline requirements

What Documentation Is Required to Travel With an Emotional Support Animal?

The specific documentation required to travel with an emotional support animal (ESA) can vary depending on the airline you are flying with.

However, airlines typically require the following documents:

  1. Letter From a Licensed Mental Health Professional: To travel with an emotional support animal, you will most likely need documentation from a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist, stating that the animal provides emotional support and is necessary for your mental health. The ESA letter should include the professional’s name, contact information, and their license or certification number.
  2. Health Records and Proof of Vaccinations: In addition to documentation from a licensed mental health professional, you may also need to provide proof that your emotional support animal is up-to-date on its vaccinations and in good health.
  3. ID Card or Vest for the Animal: Having an ID card or vest for your emotional support animal can help to identify the animal as a legitimate ESA.
  4. Training or Behavior Certificates: Some airlines may want proof that the animal has been trained. This helps to ensure they will behave in public and not threaten the safety of passengers or crew members.
  5. Recent Photo: Some airlines may also want to see a recent photo of the animal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Fly With a Large ESA Dog?

Yes, you can fly with a large ESA dog as long as the airline has no size restrictions. But each airline has its own rules about traveling with an ESA dog, so it’s important to check with the airline you’ll be flying with to find out if there are any size restrictions in the cabin of an airplane. 

Can You Take an Emotional Support Animal on a Plane?

You can bring an emotional support animal (ESA) on a plane. Still, you will need to check the airline’s rules and regulations regarding emotional support animals ahead of time. Because the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) no longer protects emotional support animals, many airlines have policies restricting them from flying in the cabin of an airplane. They now only accommodate service dogs trained to perform a specific task for a person with a disability. 

What Animal Is Best for Anxiety and Depression on a Flight?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to determining the best animal for providing emotional support for anxiety and depression on a flight. However, dogs are often regarded as the best emotional support animals because they are highly trainable and can learn various tasks that can help ease their owner’s anxiety and depression symptoms, such as providing deep pressure therapy, getting medications, or providing distractions. 

Still, different animals can have different effects on people, and what works for one person may not work for another. As long as the ESA is providing love, comfort, and companionship, they are doing a great job. 

Where Will My Emotional Support Animal Have to Sit on the Flight?

The rules of the airline determine where you can sit with your emotional support animal on a flight. Some airlines may require emotional support animals to sit on the floor at the passenger’s feet, while others may let them sit on a passenger’s lap or in their own seat.

Can You Take an ESA on an International Flight?

Yes, you can take an emotional support animal (ESA) on an international flight as long as the airline and country permit it. You should check with the airline ahead of time and research the laws and regulations in that country.

It’s also important to consider any quarantine laws that apply if you’re taking an ESA with you on an international flight. Some countries may have strict laws for animals entering and leaving the country. Overall, it’s best to plan ahead as much as possible to ensure a smooth international travel experience with your ESA.

What’s the Difference Between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal?

A service animal and an emotional support animal (ESA) are both types of animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities, but they are different in terms of their training and responsibilities. A service animal is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, such as a blind person or a person who is deaf. Service animals are allowed to accompany their owners in public places, like on airplanes. 

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that provides comfort and companionship to someone with a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression. Unlike service animals, ESAs are not trained to perform specific tasks and are not protected under the ADA. 

Can Emotional Support Animals Be Denied Boarding Due to Behavior Issues?

Yes, emotional support animals can be denied boarding due to behavior issues. Airlines have the right to refuse to let emotional support animals on board if they act aggressively or are a danger to the health or safety of other passengers or the crew.

What Distinguishes Psychiatric-Trained Service Dogs From Emotional Support Dogs?

A psychiatric-trained service dog is trained to perform specific tasks that assist an individual with a psychiatric disability, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. These dogs can remind their owner to take their medication, provide deep pressure therapy during panic attacks, or alert their owner to hallucinations or similar symptoms. On the other hand, an emotional support dog provides support and companionship to someone suffering from a mental or emotional condition, like depression or anxiety.